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 Post subject: Re: Hong Sangsoo
PostPosted: Wed Jul 31, 2013 3:50 pm 
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Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm
I think he's been on a very strong streak lately too - it's a few films in the middle period where I think he's at his weakest. Though I still reckon his first four films are his four best. It's probably no coincidence that they're his four most varied ones. The Day the Pig Fell into the Well is still the odd one out in his oeuvre, but it was my first Hong, coming quite out of nowhere, and I still love it. I consider Kangwon Province and Virgin Stripped Bare just about perfect movies, executed at an extremely high level of structural, literary and technical sophistication, so it's very hard for me to consider his later work as it's evolved as 'improvements' on those two.

The Ozu comparison is spot on, however, and I can't even think of any other contemporary filmmakers for whom it would be apt.

EDIT: Oh yeah, Kangwon Province gets a shout-out in the new film, as does (hilariously) Hong fan Martin Scorsese.


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 Post subject: Re: Hong Sangsoo
PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2013 9:29 pm 
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artfilmfan wrote:
I've also been wondering about the PQ of these Blu-ray releases. Can't wait for someone to post some screen captures for comparison to the DVDs.

I watched the Kangwon Province DVD (the version from the Spectrum 3-disc boxset) over the weekend with an Oppo BDP-80 and Sony LED TV and was pleasantly surprised how good the upconverted picture looked ... so good to the point that I'm having second thought about buying the upcoming Blu-ray release.

I've just had a quick look at the Virgin Stripped Bare Blu, and it looks great. The photography on this film was always ultra-high contrast, so you're never going to get much greyscale in a transfer (or if you do, it's probably been botched), but this looks crisp and sharp, with natural grain and nothing I could spot in the way of digital artifacts.

I compared it with the old Spectrum DVD, which is artifacts-a-go-go by comparison: lots of digital noise in the place of grain, haloes around everything. It's like watching two different films. i.e. it's like watching Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors.


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 Post subject: Re: Hong Sangsoo
PostPosted: Fri Aug 02, 2013 5:14 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2009 4:46 pm
Sweet! Thanks for the checkup. I'm gonna order both Virgin and Power. Hopefully the second will be an even greater revelation.


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 Post subject: Re: Hong Sangsoo
PostPosted: Fri Aug 02, 2013 7:33 pm 

Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 9:11 pm
Thanks for the report on Virgin, zedz. Please let us know about Kangwon when you get to it.


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 Post subject: Re: Hong Sangsoo
PostPosted: Sun Aug 04, 2013 10:05 pm 

Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2011 3:17 pm
AlexHansen wrote:
Whew for a second there I thought another release had been announced. My wallet needs a little recovery time.

There was one moment of funkiness in Turning Gate when they're drinking in the room with red tinted lights, but other than that it looked good to me. Woman is the Future of Man looked pretty fabulous during a quick peek (at least compared to the transfer Netflix is/was streaming).

Also Hahaha and Like You Know It All are streaming on Hulu, along with Virgin. No idea about the quality, but at least they're available.


Both Turning Gate and WFM looked great to me, with my glasses on.

What I thought was interesting was the trailer for Turning Gate. Watching the trailer really made me rethink the movie because if I had seen the trailer before seeing the film, I would have thought it was a romantic comedy, not a drama. Have I been missing the point this whole time?


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 Post subject: Re: Hong Sangsoo
PostPosted: Tue Aug 06, 2013 4:23 am 
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Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 4:04 am
Location: high in the Custerdome
I've been on the fence about these for a while now, but finally took the plunge with three titles - went for YesAsia as they still had the Night and Day LE in stock, plus they're currently offering free international shipping, AND on top of that a free DVD with a purchase of three Korean films. Slightly more expensive than KimchiDVD, but the free shipping more or less evens it out.


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 Post subject: Re: Hong Sangsoo
PostPosted: Tue Aug 06, 2013 4:46 pm 
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Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm
Yesasia is very reliable, and they always offer free international shipping for purchases over a certain (reasonable) amount. Their free DVD offers are as highly variable as you'd expect, but I've never received anything totally unwatchable (or unsubbed) from them. At least it gives me a window on what contemporary mainstream Korean cinema is all about.


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 Post subject: Re: Hong Sangsoo
PostPosted: Tue Aug 13, 2013 12:56 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 12:58 pm
These four films are available on Amazon Instant free with Prime:

The Power of Kangwon Province
Oki's Movie
HaHaHa
Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors


I've never seen a Hong Sang-soo film before, any recommendations on which of these to start with?


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 Post subject: Re: Hong Sangsoo
PostPosted: Tue Aug 13, 2013 1:01 pm 
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Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2012 12:16 pm
Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors This one. With the caveat that the previously available North American DVD versions and streaming files (like the one on Netflix) don't look that great and there may be some minor intertitle issues depending on where that streaming file is from. Be patient with the film for an hour or so and you will be rewarded.


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 Post subject: Re: Hong Sangsoo
PostPosted: Tue Aug 13, 2013 1:02 pm 

Joined: Mon Jul 29, 2013 2:52 pm
Those are all absolutely phenomenal movies. I'd go ahead and go with the two earliest ones there: POWER OF KANGWON PROVINCE and VIRGIN STRIPPED BARE BY HER BACHELORS, in that order. They are generally considered two of his major works, and both very firmly represent thematic, stylistic, and narrative ideas which Hong will stick with throughout his career(tantalizing two part structures and formal patterns, investigations into the shortcomings of the male ego, uses of long takes and nuanced staging). Then go with the HAHAHA and OKI'S MOVIE.


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 Post subject: Re: Hong Sangsoo
PostPosted: Tue Aug 13, 2013 3:47 pm 
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Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm
warren oates wrote:
Be patient with the film for an hour or so and you will be rewarded.

That's a nice way of putting it.


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 Post subject: Re: Hong Sangsoo
PostPosted: Wed Aug 21, 2013 9:18 pm 
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Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm
Are all of the films on Amazon Instant as distractingly open matte as The Power of Kangwon Province? It seriously has a mic in every other shot.


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 Post subject: Re: Hong Sangsoo
PostPosted: Wed Aug 21, 2013 10:47 pm 
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Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2004 12:20 pm
The original dvd of Kangwon was presented that way. A later rerelease had the film cropped to 1.85:1 or something close to that.

Hopefully the blu-ray will be matted properly, but it sounds like Amazon instant has the old version.


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 Post subject: Re: Hong Sangsoo
PostPosted: Wed Aug 21, 2013 10:51 pm 
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Virgin Stripped Bare is, in some ways, a sexually violent film! I wasn't expecting that. Formally, it is a fascinating take on the bifurcated, altered narrative; I enjoyed its reluctance to fix itself from one perspective or another with each pass, and as one critic wrote (and as others on this thread suggest), the way it jogs and challenges your memory when a fork becomes a spoon--this is a way to involve the viewer in the characters' own possible vagaries and delusions when it comes to interpreting the development of courtship, humiliation, sexual prowess, etc. I look forward to seeing his other films.

The version I saw, by the way, is weakly subtitled, to the point where section titles are not translated. In Kyung Hyun Kim's book on Korean cinema, the section titles, excluding the subdivisions numerically ordered, are translated as "Day's Wait," "Perhaps Coincidence," "Suspended Cable Car," "Perhaps Intention," "Naught Shall Go Ill When You Find Your Mare." These alone provide further intriguing complications, particularly the questionable differences between a "coincidence" and an "intention." In what way is the first pass (perhaps) a coincidence, while the second is (perhaps) intended? Does the modifier "perhaps" simply make the assignment of "coincidence" and "intention" arbitrary, or are we to read the second pass as somehow distinct in the level of calculation involved, perhaps on the part of the characters? (I'm thinking here in particular of the glove retrieval scene which seems remarkably coincidental to the point that the viewer may suspect calculation and harmless duplicity, particularly on the part of Su-jong the second time around.)

The final title is a quote from A Midsummer Night's Dream, which, given that it's Puck's line as he applies love potion, might implicate Hong Sangsoo as a perverse matchmaker, calibrating each character's desire and repulsion differently from pass to pass. But it's also ironic, if we consider that there is certainly no restoration of "order" by the end of the film, particularly in the wake of Chae-hun's sad and somewhat vacuous final remark.


Last edited by gcgiles1dollarbin on Wed Aug 21, 2013 10:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Hong Sangsoo
PostPosted: Wed Aug 21, 2013 10:58 pm 
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Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm
feihong wrote:
The original dvd of Kangwon was presented that way. A later rerelease had the film cropped to 1.85:1 or something close to that.

Hopefully the blu-ray will be matted properly, but it sounds like Amazon instant has the old version.

That's probably the case because the transfer is perfect otherwise.


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 Post subject: Re: Hong Sangsoo
PostPosted: Thu Aug 22, 2013 12:07 am 
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Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2004 12:20 pm
I think it was Spectrum that released the Korean open-matte dvd? And there was a Tai Seng disc that was, I think a port of that disc. Later Spectrum boxed the first three of Hong's films in one package and the transfer of Kangwon in that set was anamorphic widescreen, at long last. Though for myself I was never really distracted by the microphone when I watched the old disc. It became one of my favorite movies with the microphone bobbing all around up there.


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 Post subject: Re: Hong Sangsoo
PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2013 10:39 pm 

Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2011 3:17 pm
Just received Power. I haven't had a chance to put it in, I am disappointed with the packaging. While I liked the packaging on the previous releases, this one was a little off. The font size is a little too large, and the script on the cover is pretty poorly placed. I will report back after I watch it.


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 Post subject: Re: Hong Sangsoo
PostPosted: Thu Sep 12, 2013 2:43 am 
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I got Power last week and watched it. It looks much better than the DVDs did, so that's cool. But it's hard for me to gauge the degree of noise reduction on the disc. The lower contrast scenes, like the initial scene in the train and the scene where Sangwon visits the professor at his apartment and leaves his umbrella, look fairly soft. In many of the outdoor scenes I thought I could see a fine grain structure. But then, I saw The Day a Pig Fell Into the Well in 35mm and I thought it looked soft there.

The film sounded really good, and the subtitles read well. The whole film seemed to move faster than I remembered it moving. And the movie was as great as I remember it being. The disc seems to me a good investment.

My feeling is that the covers of all these redone discs are not as good as the they were on any of the former packages. I think Turning Gate being done all in black is a huge step down from the very vibrant and lively promotional art they used for the dvd box. And the original Spectrum DVD of Kangwon had a great high-contrast black-and-white image of the Sangwon and Jisook embracing that carried all the somber weight of the film and expressed it in a very dynamic way. The new blu-ray covers look to me like they're done without much skill or sophistication, and they come off as very impersonal.


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 Post subject: Re: Hong Sangsoo
PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2013 12:22 pm 

Joined: Mon Jul 29, 2013 2:52 pm
DVDBeaver review of the blu-ray edition of TURNING GATE

It's a bit cropped, though not badly, but something about the PQ feels off.


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 Post subject: Re: Hong Sangsoo
PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2013 11:16 pm 
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Location: New England
Got the DVD of Nobody's Daughter Haewon today -- so, of course, I had to watch it. I liked this a lot -- but there are some temporal mysteries here that will require sorting out (ditto some issues of reality versus fantasy).

Also got the Blus of Virgin and Kangwon Province. I took a peek at the former -- and thought this looked more faded -- or otherwise less contrasty -- than the original Korean DVD, but I'm relying on long-ago memory. I will have to steel myself to watch this, as I've not yet managed to re-watch any film starring poor LEE Eun-joo since her suicide.


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 Post subject: Re: Hong Sangsoo
PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2013 8:57 pm 

Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 9:11 pm
People in the screen captures (except the scene in the hotel room) from the Turning Gate Blu-ray shown on DVDBeaver look pale. I hope the Blu-ray of Kangwon Province looks warmer/better than that.


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 Post subject: Re: Hong Sangsoo
PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2013 10:24 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 19, 2008 10:39 pm
Location: Idaho
I only just realized I could be taking caps of all these (picked up an external drive a couple of weeks ago). Let me snag a few off of Kangwon and I'll post them in the appropriate thread, editing this post when I do.

EDIT: Random snags.


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 Post subject: Re: Hong Sangsoo
PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2013 11:44 pm 

Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 9:11 pm
Thanks, Alex. They look vibrant and certainly look much better than those from Turning Gate. I've just checked the DVD from the Spectrum boxset to compare screen capture 1 that you posted. With an Oppo player and a Sony LED TV setup, the Blu-ray image looks a little pale. But the difference is not much. However, looking at screen caps 3 & 6, I see the paleness in them. I'll check those scenes on the DVD at another time.

Overall, I think most people would be pleased with this Blu-ray.


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 Post subject: Re: Hong Sangsoo
PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2013 12:00 am 
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Location: New England
I got an external drive so I could make screen captures (for Region A BRs, at least) -- but can't do screen captures.


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 Post subject: Re: Hong Sangsoo
PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2013 3:41 am 
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Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2004 12:20 pm
Not really hoping for a miracle here, I think both Kangwon and Turning Gate turned out pretty well. They are sure satisfactory improvements over the SD editions. Much more depth and detail.


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