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Tales of Cinema: The Films of Hong Sang-soo

Jun 3 — Jun 19, 2016

Presented in cooperation with The Korea Society

The films of South Korean director Hong Sang-soo are at once deceptively simple and dense with subtle shades of meaning. Hong is often compared to legendary French filmmakers Éric Rohmer—for his extended dialogue scenes and his acute moral vision—and Alain Resnais—for his abiding fascination with the function (or malfunction) of memory and the structure of storytelling. Yet his films are firmly grounded in the social and sexual politics, and drinking rituals, of his native South Korea. Each new Hong movie stands on its own virtues, while also seeming like a new episode in a vast overarching serial narrative, a grand super-story about ceaseless self-sabotage, blinkered yearning, male vanity, the resolute failure to learn from mistakes, and the moments of tenderness and beauty which could almost, maybe redeem the whole human comedy.

His characters are borne back into the past by regret. They make bad decisions under the influence of lots and lots of soju—the South Korean national drink—then wake up the next day and make the same bad decisions over again. But what Hong’s films show, often through patterned, multi-part narratives, is that no two slices of life are ever cut exactly the same, and that an infinite variety is there to be dug out by anyone who looks at routine closely enough. Frequently dealing with rude, clumsy, boorish, wrong-footed, and inebriate folly, Hong’s films are, paradoxically, among the most delicate being made today.

All films directed by Hong Sang-soo.