Hong Sangsoo

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zedz
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Re: Hong Sang-soo

#26 Post by zedz » Thu Apr 23, 2009 6:23 pm

Michael Kerpan wrote:I received the very nice New Yorker release of Hong's Woman on the Beach just a few days after New Yorker's demise.
Do you know if the NY release superior to the Korean release? I have the latter but haven't watched it yet (and have heard bad things about it).

The non-release of Night and Day is simply bizarre. Regardless of how it ranks among Hong's works (I think it could be his best post-Virgin film) it's several times more marketable / accessible in the West than any of his other films. (Paris, for heaven's sake!)

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souvenir
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Re: Hong Sang-soo

#27 Post by souvenir » Thu Apr 23, 2009 6:35 pm

Manohla Dargis calling Night and Day "a meandering, bloated bore" and blaming "programmer loyalty" as the "only explanatation" for its inclusion at the NYFF in the NY Times probably didn't help matters (though I'd hardly agree with her assessment).

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Re: Hong Sang-soo

#28 Post by The Fanciful Norwegian » Thu Apr 23, 2009 6:52 pm

zedz wrote:Do you know if the NY release superior to the Korean release? I have the latter but haven't watched it yet (and have heard bad things about it).
The NYer wins by virtue of being progressive and having English subtitles for the extras (although this is basically just EPK material: interesting to watch once but not any sort of in-depth treatment). The problem is that both versions are clearly from the same source and that source is bad to begin with -- soft, bad colors and contrast, and small but noticeable instances of print damage that simply shouldn't exist on a 2006 film. I never saw it theatrically, but I don't believe for a second that this was the intended look. That's why I never bothered "recommending" either edition, but since there's no other options out there, the NYer is the best of a bad lot.
KeystoneCop wrote:Was the film even released theatrically in South Korea? And if so, why no DVD there yet?
It played at one theater in Seoul and at the Pusan Festival. With the Korean DVD market all but dead, I'm guessing nobody even bothered picking up the video rights.
Last edited by The Fanciful Norwegian on Thu Apr 23, 2009 6:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Hong Sang-soo

#29 Post by zedz » Thu Apr 23, 2009 6:55 pm

Thanks. Doesn't sound like any great motivation to upgrade.

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Re: Hong Sang-soo

#30 Post by Michael Kerpan » Thu Apr 23, 2009 9:16 pm

If one has the Korean DVD, there is no urgent need for the New Yorker version of Woman on the Beach -- though I think it does look better. I think the Korean version is out of print -- and I don't how one would describe the status of the orphaned New Yorker version. I just wish more people had seen and championed this film.


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Re: Hong Sang-soo

#32 Post by The Fanciful Norwegian » Thu Jun 25, 2009 1:42 am

Moon to star in Hong Sang-soo's next film
Korean auteur Hong Sang-soo has cast Venice award-winning actress Moon So-ri (Oasis) and Hong regular Kim Sang-kyung in his upcoming film.

The as-yet-untitled, low-budget film is due to start shooting in July. Hong declined to comment on details of the story, referring to his well-known mode of directing by which he continues to write and modify his scripts on set.

His recent Like You Know It All was in Cannes Directors' Fortnight where it sold to CTV International for French-speaking territories.

This year, Hong also participated in the Jeonju Digital Project omnibus with Japanese director Naomi Kawase and Filipino director Lav Diaz.

Moon So-ri previously won the Venice best actress award for her role as a physically challenged woman in Lee Chang-dong's Oasis. She also starred in films such as Im Sang-soo's drama A Good Lawyer's Wife and Yim Soon-rye's women’s handball team hit Forever the Moment.

Although it is her first time appearing on-screen in a Hong Sang-soo film, Moon So-ri previously played the voice of a Seoul girlfriend in Like You Know It All.

Kim Sang-kyung, who also starred opposite Song Kang-ho in Bong Joon-ho's thriller hit Memories Of Murder, has previously worked with Hong Sang-soo in his dramas A Tale Of Cinema and Turning Gate.

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Re: Hong Sang-soo

#33 Post by The Fanciful Norwegian » Wed Jul 08, 2009 5:46 am

Looks like the Korean DVDs of Turning Gate, Woman Is the Future of Man and Tale of Cinema are being reissued in a box set. I'd rather have Night and Day or a decent release of The Day a Pig Fell Into the Well, but whatever.

I've added a few short writeups of Like You Know It All and Lost in the Mountains, plus a link to that Koreana interview mentioned on the last page.

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Re: Hong Sang-soo

#34 Post by StevenJ0001 » Tue Aug 18, 2009 1:02 pm

An eight-film Hong Sang-soo fest coming up at LACMA (LA's wonderful but now endangered film program!), including Like You Know It All and the LA premiere of Night and Day:

http://www.lacma.org/programs/FilmSeriesSchedule.aspx

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Re: Hong Sang-soo

#35 Post by Michael Kerpan » Tue Aug 18, 2009 1:11 pm

Night and Fog has never appeared up here in New England -- and there still seems to be no DVD release anywhere.

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Re: Hong Sang-soo

#36 Post by Murdoch » Tue Aug 18, 2009 1:47 pm

Night and Day is an IFC property so there's a very minuscule chance that criterion could release it, just maybe.

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Re: Hong Sang-soo

#37 Post by orinwarf » Wed Aug 26, 2009 10:37 am

I have the great honor of introducing Hong's Night and Day when it screens in Columbia, MO as part of Passport 2009, an annual foreign film series hosted by and at Ragtag Cinema.

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Re: "Like You Know It All" on DVD 9/22/2009

#38 Post by academyleader » Sun Aug 30, 2009 10:36 am

Yesasia is listing a September 22, 2009 release for "Like You Know It All":

http://www.yesasia.com/like-you-know-it ... /info.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Hong Sang-soo

#39 Post by StevenJ0001 » Sat Sep 12, 2009 6:40 pm

Saw the first of the LACMA series last night: Like You Know It All. Wonderful! =D> Almost absurdist at times, if that's the appropriate term (hilariously fluid characters and narrative, to the point of absurdity)--took me a little by surprise after only having seen Turning Gate and Woman Is The Future of Man before this. This was certainly the funniest! Marvellous ironic humor derived from the experiences of the art filmmaker at its center.

There's a moment in the film when
SpoilerShow
the camera tilts down from a sitting couple (the subjects of the scene) toward the ground in front of their feet. The camera move seems bizarrely unmotivated until the lens zeroes in on a plump caterpillar making its way along the ground. Whether it was planned or not, the sense was that the camera operator noticed the caterpillar while shooting, and decided to divert from the actors in order to get a close shot of it!
It was the most arbitrarily delightful little surprise I've had in the cinema for a long time! :)

Hong will be there in person for a Q&A after Night and Day next Saturday night, and may introduce Turning Gate the night before also! Very exciting.

Now off to see The Day a Pig Fell into the Well, Woman on the Beach and Woman Is The Future of Man (interested to see that last one for the second time, as I didn't warm to it nearly as much as Turning Gate on first viewing).

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Re: Hong Sang-soo

#40 Post by kiddish » Sat Sep 12, 2009 7:20 pm

Saw this for the first time at LACMA too.
More of the same from Hong Sang-Soo. Loved it.
However, some of the film's comedy was almost slapstick, unlike the uncomfortable laughs generated at the expense of the main characters of his previous work (although that was there in abundance as well).
Maybe Hong Sang-Soo is succumbing to the same pressures, and addressing the criticisms, directed at the fictional filmmaker in this movie. Interested to see what this guy comes up with next.

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Re: Hong Sang-soo

#41 Post by StevenJ0001 » Tue Sep 22, 2009 12:18 pm

The LACMA series finished on a great note with Hong's live appearance. He came across as charmingly reticent but unafraid to assert his views honestly about the various questions asked.

All the films looked so beautiful on 35mm, espacially Turning Gate which, as I recall, had rich deep blacks and beautiful textures and contrast. I am hoping the DVDs of his films aren't too terrible as I intend to start collecting them. I wish Criterion or MOC would release his films, as they deserve good transfers. There's a tendency to assume films like Hong's wouldn't benefit so much from high quality masters or high def treatment, but after seeing them in nice 35mm prints, it's clear they would!

With regard to Night and Day, for me it did seem weaker than most, if not all, his other films--perhaps the change in environment messed up his rhythm a little. The performances are very broad but without the unpredictable absurdities of the Like You Know It All characters. The structure is more conventional than usual, also; and as I think somebody mentioned above, it seems especially "Rohmerian," not just in light of the setting. It's definitely interesting to see him working in such a different milieu, though, despite the fact that the characters interact in a Korean subculture within Paris, as opposed to it being a film set within Parisian culture, period. There's also a fascinating little encounter with a North Korean character--I haven't seen Hong deal explicitly with North/South relations before, unless I've missed something. The only Hong film I'm yet to see is Virgin Stripped Bare...

Manohla Dargis' review of Night and Day is really bizarre, though. Even if one agrees that it's not Hong's strongest film, to trash it with the description "a meandering, bloated bore" after praising his other films is (not quite, but kind of) like saying "Rohmer's Tales of the Four Seasons are wonderful, except A Tale of Springtime which is a pile of flaccid, aimless drivel." A comment like that just doesn't make logical sense, since Night and Day, though certainly a departure in some respects, is still unmistakably a Hong Sangsoo film and I can't see how it can be perceived to be a failure to the degree she states.

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Re: Hong Sang-soo

#42 Post by The Fanciful Norwegian » Tue Sep 29, 2009 5:37 am

I am hoping the DVDs of his films aren't too terrible as I intend to start collecting them.
The Day a Pig Fell Into the Well and Woman on the Beach are really the only films without a good release so far (except, of course, for Night and Day). They're not really terrible, just subpar. Turning Gate is heavily DNRed though. Some of the Korean editions are OOP, so good luck finding those (I'd advise picking up the three-disc box I mentioned back in July -- it's gone from YesAsia but there are still some copies on eBay).

I've got the Like You Know It All DVD and from a quick glance it looks fine -- a straightforward all-digital transfer, no doubt. A big improvement on that hideous bootleg from a couple of months back. (Where did that come from, anyway? And why oh why hasn't it happened with Night and Day?) It'll be awhile before I have a chance to actually watch it, though :(

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Re: Hong Sang-soo

#43 Post by Michael Kerpan » Tue Sep 29, 2009 8:00 am

New Yorker's short-lived release of Woman on the Beach (it came out right before the company was wiped out) is pretty decent -- a bit better than the Korean release.

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Re: Hong Sang-soo

#44 Post by colinr0380 » Wed Nov 04, 2009 8:08 am

I've finally sat down to watch my first film by Hong Sang-soo, making my way through the wonky subtitles on The Day A Pig Fell Into The Well!

Spoilers:

Despite that subtitle difficulty I liked the film very much and the way a rather banal love triangle set up gets explored through the four segments focusing on each of the four people primarily involved. I especially liked the way that the film is bookended by what could be considered as the 'main' characters in a normal film, the couple whose illicit meetings behind the backs of their girlfriend and husband respectively spark off all the trouble. The structure of moving from the novelist lover to salaryman husband, then from theatre and temp worker girlfriend to the philandering wife also creates a interesting male/female split symmetry in the film.

The main couple of lovers open up and close down the film but in between we get sections that follow their other halves in their own lives, mostly involved with just trying to keep the basics of life and work continuing with the worries about the breaking up of a relationship in the back of their minds, which we them at different stages of (the husband seems all too aware of his wife's infidelities with little proof for certain or knowledge of who she might be seeing, while the girlfriend only finds out about the relationship when she accidentally sees them together near the end of her sequence).

I very much like the way that this is just really the organising structure for the film though, and that the most interesting aspects of the film occur within these individual sequences themselves in the relationships these separate, and often separated from each other, characters have with co-workers, friends and family, even strangers. Their interactions are inflected by the difficult private relationships they are having, and reflect onto this wider structure for the audience as well as providing them with understandable motivations for why for example the novelist ends up alienating his co-workers and going to court after a brawl, or why the husband picks up a prostitute, why the girl finds it difficult to fake sex noises for an impromptu anime dubbing session, or why the wife reacts so strongly to the picture of her family in happier times being used in a photographic studio's advertising display.

Then there are the thematic links between different segments. The girl's almost naive belief in a romantic form of love suggested by her strong reaction to reading the novelist's manuscript (while he goes outside and tellingly toys with a bug, perhaps making the suggestion that he sees writing as a similar form of manipulation of another being) prevents her from being able to 'fake it' for the anime dubbing, as well as leads her to fatally rebuff another suitor. This could be contrasted with the older wife's perhaps more pragmatic attitude towards the affair - that it is a fling (the way that she attempts to leave when the novelist complains/whines that she still has sex with her husband while seeing him suggests both that he doesn't really understand the workings of an affair and her own knowledge that she cannot really look to him as understanding of her own position). This opens up ideas of affairs being more significant as a motivator to try and leave a problematic relationship - in the wife's final segment she even packs her bags and tries to see the novelist again, but since he has been unavoidably detained(!) she wanders the streets, returns to his apartment and then back to her husband in a similar 'there and back' structure that mirrors the larger structure of the film itself.

This leads to questions about what caused the breakdown of the marriage? And in her inability to contact the novelist she is pushed into confronting what seem to be the 'real' reasons for their relationship breakdown - an encounter with a relative(?) and her young son working in a chemists and seeing the staged photo of herself, her husband and their young son in the photographic studio's window (which itself beautifully suggests the facade of 'perfect' relationships - perhaps the whole film could just be seen as a 'what if?' scenario about what the lives of people we might see in such posed photographs are really like!)

This links back to a moment in the husband's section where he visits a friend and his family in the suburbs and is shown playing with their crying young son while obliviously wandering towards a balcony in maybe a subconscious attempt to do a Michael Jackson! It is underplayed at that point by the parents who just take the child from him, but looking back on it from the perspective of the couple having lost their own child, with this slight suggestion that it might have been the husband's fault for the loss, lends both of their motivations more weight than they may otherwise have had.

There are also interesting links between the husband and lover too - the husband in his dealings with the prostitute seems extremely uncomfortable and maybe just trying to get back at his wife's infidelity by having some extra-marital relations of his own. However it all goes wrong with the realisation of the lack of a condom during the rather unsexy coupling resulting in a quick trip to the doctor's office for testing! His lack of interest in the act as anything more than a way of evening the balance contrasts with the struggling novelist's casual treatment of the women he is with (though as shown above he gets upset when he thinks they've been with someone else!) The novelist is perhaps the most unsympathetic character in the film - from stealing his neighbour's fruit to publicly dumping and slapping his girlfriend in the street after she catches him philandering, he seems to deserve some sort of comeuppance. However even he in a way has sympathetic moments - the argument with the waitress which turns into a brawl with the staff, which then turns into a brawl with his co-workers when they complain about his behaviour (and after they've been 'forgetting' to invite him to the meal, forgetting his name and treating him badly during the meal), creates that horrible feeling of an escalating situation in which everybody suddenly turns against the character, and every attempt to stand up for himself just brings more approbation down onto him, as if everyone has just been waiting for the opportunity to put the boot in to present itself. There's a self destructive bent, and a self loathing one which needs the hatred of others in order to justify it, as well as the sense of powerlessness the novelist feels in the face of the judgement of others - the early scene of asking whether a potential publisher has read his manuscript only to be told in an off-hand manner that it has not even been looked at yet can in a way be seen as the motivation for his later outbursts. This does not exactly justify his actions, the way he treats his girl is particularly callous (but like Marta in Winter Light she still, fatally, sticks by him), but they come from an understandable place - impotence in life expressed in an over active libido?

I also like that the film ends extremely ambiguously - the 'guilty' are both punished and left unpunished, the 'innocent' are both destroyed and perform some of the worst acts (forgive me if I'm wrong but I sort of inferred the scene between husband and wife when she returns home to be a sort of 'weclome home rape'?), and like life it is left to the viewer to pigeonhole the characters into different roles based on what we see and can infer about their characters. Though for the good of everyone it would perhaps be best to not try to pigeonhole any of the characters as being purely good or evil, but just as having vastly different ideas of what they want out of life, and different feelings of fulfilment with the lives they actually have.

The more I think about the film, the more I like it. For such a deceptively simple construction there are a lot of fascinating layers and interactions occurring beneath the surface to discover.

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Re: Hong Sang-soo

#45 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Nov 04, 2009 8:53 am

regarding Pig: What was your take on the enigmatic spreading-of-newspapers scene at the end?

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Re: Hong Sang-soo

#46 Post by colinr0380 » Wed Nov 04, 2009 9:42 am

I'm not too sure. The way the papers are put down seem very specific and in a line towards the balcony which the wife turns to and opens the door of at the end of the shot, so I wonder if she is in some way recreating the circumstances that might have led to the death of their son - perhaps their child was playing with the paper before whatever occurred. It could also just be for the aesthetics - it leads the eye towards the balcony and seems to complete the composition of the shot, filling in the empty space of the white tiled floor in a pleasing manner. It could also stand as a literalised pathway of events leading to the present circumstances, much as each discreet section of the film takes place in one particular month from September to December.

The above is my favourite idea but it also made me think maybe the husband might be about to be killed and that is what the paper was there for, although that might only be because I was still wondering about how the mess from the other couple could best be cleared up! It didn't look like the spurned suitor had much time to prepare the ground in their case and perhaps the wife might be more methodical!

Maybe also it could link to the novelist doing freelance articles to make ends meet, and she is subconsciously linking her lover and husband together, but on this I'm a little unclear on whether the novelist was writing articles or whether this is just an assumption I'm making.

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Re: Hong Sang-soo

#47 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Nov 04, 2009 10:47 am

Interesting theories on the end of Pig. I've never really come up with a satisfying answer -- but would note its the kind of enigmatic ending that would fit nicely on the end of a Kiyoshi Kurosawa film.

As you explore Hong further, I would recomend going in chronological order to the maximum extent possible. It seems that his work (like Hou's) flows from one film to the next. I suspect you will discover that all subsequent Hong films feel "lighter" than this one (all his others have more comedic leavening).

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Re: Hong Sang-soo

#48 Post by zedz » Wed Nov 04, 2009 4:58 pm

I'll second Michael's recommendation. It's a rare luxury to be able to follow a particular director's career chronologically, and Hong really does 'evolve' (for want of a better term - I don't want to imply it's all forward progression) from one film to the next.

The darkness of Pig is folded into his next film The Power of Kangwon Province is a very interesting way, and after that it tends to get internalised. And the precise structural patterns you noted in this film get formalised for dramatic ends in Power and then even more formalised for richly comic ends in Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors. The doubled structures of those films linger for a while, break up and re-form in different ways in the subsequent films, but he frequently returns to the literary chaptering of Pig (again, this is an important part of the structural joke in Virgin).

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Re: Hong Sang-soo

#49 Post by colinr0380 » Wed Nov 04, 2009 5:42 pm

I do have The Power of Kangwon Province but after that I've only managed to get hold of a copy of A Tale of Cinema (I have kev on this forum to thank for providing me with the opportunity to pick copies of all three of these films up!) From both of your comments I might therefore squirrel away the later film until I manage to find some way of getting copies of the other earlier ones!

I think the aspect I like most about Day A Pig Fell Into The Well is the way that the 'plot' is pared down to an absolute minimum - it all comes down to behaviour and interactions between characters with our opinions about why the characters act the way that they do modified by the slightest hints of an explanation that are obliquely revealed later on, or revealed by easy to miss comments or gestures. These brief hints often raise many more questions than they answer (especially the end scene!) but at the same time feel strangely correct in not providing a simple to understand neatly tied up eureka moment for anyone, characters or audience. The Kiyoshi Kurosawa comparison seems very apt since I felt the same feeling of the film ending in an emotionally satisfying manner yet without the end of the film closing down the world of the film, rather expanding the horizons - ending a chapter of the character's lives while leaving it up to them about the direction they move in next based on their experiences over the course of the film. At least that was the impression I got from Bright Future, Doppleganger and Pulse.

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Re: Hong Sang-soo

#50 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Nov 04, 2009 5:54 pm

I like Tale of Cinema a lot -- but I would agree it might be nice to save this for a bit -- and try to track down some more earlier stuff before watching it.

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