Hong Sangsoo

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barbarella satyricon
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Re: Hong Sangsoo

#451 Post by barbarella satyricon » Tue May 25, 2021 9:38 am

dadaistnun wrote:
Tue May 25, 2021 8:19 am
Here's the 2-minute video he sent accepting the award. Begins with his acceptance speech (in English) and then, well, you'll see.
Michael Kerpan wrote:
Tue May 25, 2021 9:05 am
dadaistnun -- that video is utterly adorable. Thanks for the link.
Loved it as well – thanks, dadaistnun!

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swo17
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Re: Hong Sangsoo

#452 Post by swo17 » Tue May 25, 2021 9:51 am

Michael Kerpan wrote:
Tue May 25, 2021 9:05 am
Richard Brody has a very nice review of one of my favorite HSS films A Tale of Cinema in the New Yorker:

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/the-f ... s-theatres (might be pay-walled)

Apparently this is being theatrically released in the USA for the first time -- I hope this presages a bluray release.
Tale of Cinema is already out on Blu-ray from Arrow Academy

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Re: Hong Sangsoo

#453 Post by Michael Kerpan » Tue May 25, 2021 10:12 am

swo17 wrote:
Tue May 25, 2021 9:51 am
Tale of Cinema is already out on Blu-ray from Arrow Academy
For region A? (Arrows page says Region B -- I've never tested this release in my region A bluray player...)

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Re: Hong Sangsoo

#454 Post by swo17 » Tue May 25, 2021 10:22 am

Yes, it was a joint US/UK release. You can buy the US release at Amazon, DeepDiscount, B&N.com, etc. I might think that the UK release would also be Region A compatible but I couldn't say for sure

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barbarella satyricon
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Re: Hong Sangsoo

#455 Post by barbarella satyricon » Tue May 25, 2021 10:54 am

Michael Kerpan wrote:
Tue May 25, 2021 10:12 am
For region A? (Arrows page says Region B -- I've never tested this release in my region A bluray player...)
I have the region A version of that Arrow release, Tale of Cinema paired with Woman Is the Future of Man.

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Re: Hong Sangsoo

#456 Post by Michael Kerpan » Tue May 25, 2021 10:56 am

I wonder if these really are different -- or is it just the labeling on the package? I may have to experiment....

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barbarella satyricon
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Re: Hong Sangsoo

#457 Post by barbarella satyricon » Tue May 25, 2021 11:20 am

From the synopses on the sleeve, the “u” is retained for “favourably”, but then dropped for “behavior”, so maybe the disc plays two ways as well? Only half joking.

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Re: Hong Sangsoo

#458 Post by The Fanciful Norwegian » Tue May 25, 2021 12:06 pm

I set my multi-region player to Region B and the U.S. release worked fine, even though the packaging only indicates Region A. So it's a pretty safe bet the UK release would work in a Region A player as well. I think dual-region titles from Arrow are exactly the same on disc for the U.S. and UK editions, to the extent that their release of Suzuki's Born Under Crossed Stars uses seamless branching for a cockfighting scene cut in the UK (the scene is there on a Region A player but replaced by a black screen on a Region B player).

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Re: Hong Sangsoo

#459 Post by Michael Kerpan » Tue May 25, 2021 1:18 pm

Thanks, Fanciful Norwegian!

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barbarella satyricon
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Re: Hong Sangsoo

#460 Post by barbarella satyricon » Thu Jun 03, 2021 12:00 pm

Virgin Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors (Korean title of which appears to be a more compact exclamation of the main character’s name: Oh! Soojung), after a first viewing a few weeks ago, is one of the Hongs I remain ambivalent about. I watched the whole thing with interest and a certain degree of investment in the characters, but, in sum, Hong’s project here seems more an exercise in narrative form rather than content. I do enjoy that kind of movie homework, as much as the next person on these boards, but this one left me with a feeling of diminishing returns, of a narrative theorem bound up in the threads of its own hypotheses.

Thinking about it over the past weeks, I think the movie had specifically two Hong-ian traits or tropes that kept me at arm’s length. The first might be its retold/revised Rashomon-narrative construct. A later film, Right Now, Wrong Then, watched a few seasons ago and having a similar structure (if I’m remembering correctly), was also one I remained cool on, and the return to a drinking location at around the midway point of Soojung, signaling a narrative looping back, found me with a distinct feeling of story-fatigue. The movie remained just interesting to me after that point, contemplating the plot from a remove.

The second thing is perhaps more a personal quirk of spectatorship, discovered while watching, some seasons ago, On the Occasion of Remembering the Turning Gate.

Turning Gate is, to my mind, the quintessential Hong film. Piecing together the trajectory of Hong’s career, by way of this extended dive into his filmography in recent seasons, it was this film that felt to me, for whatever reason, like the moment when Hong became Hong, or, at least, the point where his particular craft and vision come together in a distinct and undeniable way. It is, to my eyes, in recalling certain scenes and sequences, within the bounds of its subtle, unshowy visual strategies, a cinematographically immaculate work. Seemingly incidental elements such as the color of certain garments – a bright orange-red t-shirt, a green turtleneck sweater – and how they form concentrated masses of tonal vibration against the neutral earth-tone backdrops of rural landscapes and architecture – the whole film is a structurally and tonally perfect one in my mind.

And I still ended up selling off the nice-looking Korean blu ray of the thing, because the film contained, as I found it to be, an almost intolerably intimate sex scene, the one occurring in a hotel room in the film’s second half. Normally not a prude in such matters, having more recently just kind of blinked through a decades-late first viewing of Eyes Wide Shut (perhaps the distanciating effect of all those masks), I wondered what it was that made me kind of curl in on myself during this particular one-take medium-shot humping scene. The softcore-level explicitness cut with recognizably mundane detailing? The awareness of the performers’ efforts in realizing the degree of realism, and the attendant consideration of what kinds of, uh, accoutrements were the essential “costuming” in the scene, the sheathing barrier between all that bared skin?

The only other movie scene that set me off in a comparable way might be Halle Berry and Billy Bob T. fixing to break that couch in Monster’s Ball. End of oversharing, here.

Which is all a long way of saying that I found that this movie, Virgin, or Soojung, also skirted that line of uncomfortable intimacy for me, if not to the same degree (the camera is placed a ways away from the bed in the hotel room scene here), then to similar feelings of voyeuristic intrusion (even from several feet away, it is apparent that the performers are engaging in unsimulated acts of, what is the term, heavy petting). Between the
SpoilerShow
sexual assault/attempted rape in the cramped guest house room and the unexplained but plainly presented scene of incestuous goings-on in Soojung’s bedroom,
the film has such a creepingly oppressive atmosphere of sexual danger and debasement (perhaps a thematic extension of Soojung’s internalized ambivalence and fear in regards to sex), that I find I can’t read the final
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deflowering scene as simply the prelude to an unambiguously happily-ever-after ending (even as the title of that final section of the film is apparently a Korean saying which translates as something like “All goes well once you find your perfect match”).

To be heavy-handed about it, the final stripping bare is an event that leaves, both literally and figuratively, a mark, and I can’t be sure that Soojung’s smile and gaze in the last shot – a weirdly and slightly off-kilter framing in that shot too, in my recollection – are indicative only of clear resolution, or perhaps also of some more deeply ingrained detachment and resignation.

Those two qualities seem to me to be the character’s most pervasive ones throughout the film, and the ambiguous nature of the twice-told narrative makes me wonder (albeit without any great feeling of investment) if the whole thing isn’t just a series of hypothetical takes, narrative and performative exercises on the themes of sex and social mores, centered around a young woman whose passively unexplored depths of unhappiness are pinned, narrowly, rather coarsely, on her sexual status.

And although it’s neither here nor there, the death of Lee Eun-Ju in 2005, by suicide, may be coloring (casting a pall on) some of what I’m saying here, what I felt to be an unshakable undercurrent of dread and defeat in the film.
And having written all that, I can still see how the ending is also perfectly readable as a happy and hopeful one for the couple. That’s the reading I’d like to hang the movie on, to shelve it as more or less a resolved narrative in my mind. But the film, with its narrative tricks and turns, doesn’t seem to allow for that in any watertight way.

I haven’t read through all the preceding pages of this thread, but I do recall reading a post by therewillbeblus likening the narrative puzzle here to the one in Mulholland Drive. Without citing explicit parallels, that’s a comparison that just feels right to me, especially with that passing but weirdly unnerving detail of both male characters luring Soojung into the isolated side street, to show her (I’m recalling from memory) “a strange man with a girl”, which may or may not be describing the aforementioned
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scene of assault in the rented room.
That I’ve written this much shows that there is something to the film, of course, and to wrap, I’ll say that I found some of the high-contrast b&w cinematography here, in its low-key way, just the most moodily atmospheric this side of Müller or Lubtchansky. Still, the movie was a tricky one for me, though surely worthy of a revisit because of that.

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Re: Hong Sangsoo

#461 Post by therewillbeblus » Thu Jun 03, 2021 1:32 pm

I read the bifurcation in both Virgin and Right Now, Wrong Then to be less of a Rashomon-aping narrative that meditates on how perspective is fallible, or objectively addressing hypothetical takes, and more of an inverted and deeper use of that gimmick to expose our inner subjective natures, wish-fulfillments, negative core beliefs, and semi-conscious sources of shame. One half is the 'reality' of a character's defective traits or impotences in action, and the other is the 'fantasy' of the validation they seek. I don't recall specifics in the film, but I find Hong to be one of the most courageous filmmakers working today because he renders himself naked before us in his work, exhibiting that his mind and/or behavior may wander towards manipulation, abuse, impulsive fury, selfishness, pathetic withdrawal, and other socially and personally-damnable qualities. Through form he also generates validation for why one would uncomfortably suppress these thoughts and feelings, by doing so himself in and with the film. He also validates the subjective truths of his experience like Yvonne Rainer's attitude towards the relationship between personal perceptions and objectivity- in the ending of Virgin and, more confidently, in choosing his solipsistic experience as the only one that matters when in love, and shared with his new love, in Right Now, Wrong Then, which tows the line in grounding himself to his internal logic without issuing nervous apologies to the public who simply cannot- nor should expect to- access this truth.

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Re: Hong Sangsoo

#462 Post by barbarella satyricon » Wed Jun 09, 2021 7:03 am

Had a chance to watch two of the most recent Hongs, one being the fairly polished and crisp-looking The Woman Who Ran, in color, and the monochrome Introduction, which is by far the roughest-looking film from Hong I’ve seen, looking almost like it was shot on a phone camera? I saw the latter first and wondered if there was something wrong in the projection booth or with the digital file the theater had received, but when I was at a screening of Woman a few days later, at a different venue, the projectionist there started up Introduction by mistake, and it looked as soft and out-of-focus as it had at the other cinema.

At just under 70 minutes, Introduction feels a bit like just that — a short work that sketches out a network of relationships, personality types, and dramatic conflicts and then concludes on that extended introduction. I happened to watch it around the time I was writing myself in circles with my previous post on Virgin Stripped Bare, and like that film, this one’s also divided into numbered chapters or sections (with the second and the third of three focused more demonstrably on the motif of introductions, of meetings). And I thought it a funny bit of consonance with what I was saying about sex scenes in Hong films when the young actor character, in his meeting with a potential mentor and benefactor, played by Ki Joo-Bong, explains that he had walked away from a career in acting because
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of his objection to performing in intimate scenes with, in a paraphrase of his words, women whom he has to hold as though he really loves them.

The older actor’s response to this – a soju-fueled tirade that takes on the tone of a cri de coeur – really gives a good shaking-up to the overall tonal placidity of the movie, I thought. A jolting bit of (drunk?) acting from Ki, and heavy in thematic import as well, speaking, perhaps, to broader authorial and philosophical proclivities across Hong’s ouevre.
It’s surely a minor work, but I found that small instances of structural loveliness and grace in the screenplay lingered in the memory. It was good to see Ye Ji-Won in a Hong movie again, a familiar face from way back as Turning Gate and then Hahaha. She’s an actress who seems to be embodying herself and playing no one else when she is on the screen. She has a real calming, familiar presence here, and the way that the movie’s disjointed timeframe eventually clarifies for the viewer that her character is (most likely, though not completely spelled out as such)
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the main character’s stepmother, his father’s partner and assistant at the clinic, makes the earlier scene in the movie’s first section – the conversation during the snowfall – more lovely and poignant in hindsight. The father will apparently just keep the son waiting and waiting. The mother is shown to be more involved, but also fault-finding and distant. It’s the stepmother who asks if he remembers what he once told her, that he loved her, and he says yes, he does. They have a good laugh and a hug, and reaffirm those remembered ties.
It’s a movie of mostly light touches like this, and I thought that I may have been reading too much into a
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possible gay subtext in the relationship between the main character and his friend, as it seemed to be a hitherto novel element in Hong’s filmography, but then the same-sex couple in the first part of The Woman Who Ran, the earlier film, showed that the theme had already been introduced, and perhaps other more subtle, passing details in Introduction might support such a reading.
It’s a movie that was decidedly underwhelming while I was watching it (probably owing in part to the inconsistencies in the visuals), but it’s grown considerably, if not dramatically, in thematic subtlety and richness in my mind since.

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Re: Hong Sangsoo

#463 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Jun 09, 2021 10:18 am

I am very envious of you. barbarella satyricon. How/where did you manage to see these?

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Re: Hong Sangsoo

#464 Post by barbarella satyricon » Wed Jun 09, 2021 11:08 am

I’m currently in Seoul, and the local cinematheque has been screening a three-film program of Hong, with Hotel by the River being the third feature along with the other two. I saw Woman there, and Introduction at another theater, as that one’s still in its first run over here. Neither screenings were subtitled, of course, but I’ve picked up enough Korean in the past few years to manage to follow along. These, incidentally, were the first Hong films I saw in a theater.

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Re: Hong Sangsoo

#465 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Jun 09, 2021 12:16 pm

For a while, at least, it was possible to see some current Hong films screened theatrically (and not just at either the MFA or Harvard Film Archive) here in Boston. I wonder if those days are a thing of the past (even after the pandemic is finally over).

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Re: Hong Sangsoo

#466 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed Jun 09, 2021 12:53 pm

Michael, I'm almost certain that The Woman Who Ran played virtual screenings through either the Brattle, Coolidge Corner, or Kendal Sq this year.. though I can't find confirmation anywhere online

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Re: Hong Sangsoo

#467 Post by The Fanciful Norwegian » Wed Jun 09, 2021 1:55 pm

barbarella satyricon wrote:
Wed Jun 09, 2021 11:08 am
I’m currently in Seoul, and the local cinematheque has been screening a three-film program of Hong, with Hotel by the River being the third feature along with the other two. I saw Woman there, and Introduction at another theater, as that one’s still in its first run over here. Neither screenings were subtitled, of course, but I’ve picked up enough Korean in the past few years to manage to follow along. These, incidentally, were the first Hong films I saw in a theater.
You might already know this, but the Korean Film Council maintains a list of domestic films screening in Seoul with English subtitles, which is rare but does occasionally happen with things on either end of the "commercial"/"indie" scale (i.e. the very biggest blockbusters and the smaller festival/arthouse films). Introduction is currently among them: http://www.koreanfilm.or.kr/eng/schedul ... hedule.jsp
therewillbeblus wrote:
Wed Jun 09, 2021 12:53 pm
Michael, I'm almost certain that The Woman Who Ran played virtual screenings through either the Brattle, Coolidge Corner, or Kendal Sq this year.. though I can't find confirmation anywhere online
It's had a fair number of virtual festival screenings but not a standard run (virtual or otherwise) yet. The Gene Siskel Film Center is selling tickets for virtual screenings next month, so I'm guessing other venues will be showing it around the same time.

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Re: Hong Sangsoo

#468 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Jun 09, 2021 2:18 pm

There is very little advertising of what might actually be available in Boston anymore. One pretty much needs to check theater websites directly. I look forward to seeing Woman Who Ran eventually -- one way or another.

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Re: Hong Sangsoo

#469 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed Jun 09, 2021 3:28 pm

Michael, you can subscribe to the core theatres that do tend to screen these limited releases and they send you regular email updates. I'm not a member at any of those theatres (anymore) but still get emails regularly.

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barbarella satyricon
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Re: Hong Sangsoo

#470 Post by barbarella satyricon » Thu Jun 10, 2021 7:33 am

The Fanciful Norwegian wrote:
Wed Jun 09, 2021 1:55 pm
You might already know this, but the Korean Film Council maintains a list of domestic films screening in Seoul with English subtitles, which is rare but does occasionally happen with things on either end of the "commercial"/"indie" scale (i.e. the very biggest blockbusters and the smaller festival/arthouse films). Introduction is currently among them
I didn’t know about those listings - thanks for the tip, Fanciful Norwegian. I see that one of the venues listed for Introduction, emu cinema, is the setting / shooting location for the final part of The Woman Who Ran.

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barbarella satyricon
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Re: Hong Sangsoo

#471 Post by barbarella satyricon » Wed Jun 16, 2021 12:33 am

Lincoln Center has also announced The Woman Who Ran as part of their summer lineup.

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