I’ve yet to see Hong’s Hahaha (2010) but his other meditations on the banality and transience of relationships, alcohol as a social lubricant for better or worse, time, repetition and memory have been very dear to me.
What makes Hong Sangsoo of particular interest to me is perhaps how singular he is in terms of production methods, reception, and even when compared to the work of his South Korean contemporaries. I emphasize his singularity in relation to South Korean directors because his films are often likened to those of Eric Rohmer, Robert Bresson in terms of subject matter and structure. David Bordwell finds traces of Hong’s “Asian Minimalism” in movies by Hou Hsiou-hsien, Tsao Ming-Liang, Kore-eda Hirokazu, and early Kitano Takeshi as well as the general minimalism and episodic, open-ended plot structures of Italian neorealism, and European art cinema. Unlike Im Kwon-taek his films rarely linger over natural, scenic beauty whether they take place in the city, country or by the beach. Nor does his work attempt to excavate, salvage or rearticulate essentially national traditions or values yet many of his themes – miscommunication, waiting, repetition, meaningless and/or awkward social interactions, personal or professional impotence, mundane daily activities – certainly resonate in the context of South Korea after it’s incredibly compressed modernization process.
What other filmmakers working today or in the past (other than those listed) have a similar visual style or approach these subjects in the same way as Hong Sang-soo?
Or are there individual Hong-ian films that I should put on my movie wish list?
Yeah, I’ve been working on this, but there are too many qualifiers.
When you say memory, I say Resnais.
When you say awkward social interactions, I say Andrew Bujalski.
When you say time, I say Twyker, Noe, Nolan.
When you say mundane daily activities, I say Chantal Akerman.
It’s been said he’s like Rohmer but with more alcohol. Kangwon-do ui him certainly reminded me of Rohmer
Jang Sun-soo’s “The Road to the Racetrack” had an enormous influence on Hong’s thematic concerns, and there can be found many similarities, as for instance the thwarted and sadomasochistic male-female relation, the awkward sex scenes and the occasional visits at the restaurant, especially “Night and Day” reminded me a lot of it. The Japanese director Nobuhiro Suwa also comes to mind, both in terms of style and content. His masterful debut “2/Duo” feels similar to the difficulties between man and woman in “Virgin Stripped Bare by her Bachelors”, though it’s more emotionally intense than any of Hong’s films – with the possible exception of his two final films which I haven’t seen yet. A more recent director who resembles Hong would be Ki-Yong Park, his understated and bleak “Camel(s)” probably reminds most of “The Power of Kangwon Province”.
lee chang-dong’s peppermint candy
some wong kar-wai (early works and 2046 for time, repetition and memory, but maybe it’s too baroque)
patrick tam dramas.
Rohmer is a good start off point, but in terms of his pessimism in the face of modern alienation I’ve always felt Hong was thematically close to Tsai Ming-liang.
Apparently Hong himself is a big fan of The Mother and the Whore, I believe…
Apur beat me to Road to the Racetrack, Camel(s), and 2/Duo so…LINKS!!!
Days of Being Wild signifies love, loneliness and alienation and plays on tensions between the past and present by linking them to memory, desire, time, space and environment etc. This is WKW at his most concentrated.
I’ve yet to see a film by Sang-soo but the more I read about him my curiosity is sparked.
Blue K. touched on this topic in his wonderful essay “Looking at Life Through Green-tinted Bottles of Soju: The Cinema of Hong Sang-soo”.
Terrific suggestions all! I look forward to reading Blue’s essay too.
Journal d’un cure de champagne, Ordet, Greed, L’Atalante, Le Rayon Vert.
Hong told that these five films are the references of his own films.
^^Yes, the ending of Woman on the Beach is almost certainly a reference to Rohmer’s Green Ray.
And as Apursansar already mentioned, Jang Sun-woo’s The Road to the Racetrack is a must-watch for any fan of Hong. And by extension, I’d also recommend Jean Eustache’s The Mother and the Whore. A wonderful digital film called Camel(s) by another Korean director, Park Ki-yong, also has some thematic and narrative similarities.
Some “mumblecore” films are similar to Hong’s films as well.