Hong Sang-soo in New York

The Daily

Hong Sang-soo's Oki's Movie (2010) opens today for a week-long run at Maysles Cinema and The Day He Arrives (2011) opens at Lincoln Plaza on Friday.

David Fear in Time Out New York on Oki's Movie: "Like Hong's masterpiece The Power of Kangwon Province (1998), this skewed look at love triangles and fuckups works the sum-of-its-parts construction to sublime effect; you'll find yourself wanting to immediately go back to the beginning and reassess every conversation, every gesture, every long-held grudge…. Forget the snark about him ransacking Eric Rohmer's bag of tricks; the gentle ironies and droll, bitter wit here prove Hong is the French New Waver's heir apparent."

For Nicolas Rapold, writing in the New York Times, "one of Mr Hong's qualities, underrated of late, is a self-effacing yet deeply considered style, applied in this movie to episodes as vivid and offhand as journal recollections (perhaps the filmmaker's). A park, an anonymous restaurant, a street curb serve as quotidian settings for the stories' rendezvous. Bracingly light on scene-setting cues, this 80-minute feature gets in and gets out, a model of editorial economy by a formidable sketch artist."

More from Michelle Orange in the Voice; Daniel Kasman and the NYFF 2010 roundup.

The L's Mark Asch on The Day He Arrives: "As in 2008's Night and Day, and elsewhere, interactions with the doppelgangers of previous romantic failures suggest something almost comically arrested in the maturity of Hong's men…. It's not so much that Hong makes the same film over and over again, but that in each of his films, a middle-aged, a coddled failure at art and mentorship makes the same mistakes over and over again, with different women and coworkers and students, during long takes of touchy, meandering interaction over tables strewn with empty bottles, and across deft structural switchbacks."

More from Daniel Kasman; and Gabe Klinger interviewed Hong last May.

Update: "Every Hong film is an investigation into the nature of communication," writes indieWIRE's Eric Kohn.

The Day He Arrives

Updates, 4/22: Manohla Dargis in the New York Times on The Day He Arrives: "If you're not paying strict attention, it's possible to miss that one actress is playing two women, both because the characters are dressed and styled differently and because this doubling is unexpected, especially given the movie's realism. The doubling, however, marks the point at which The Day He Arrives feels as if it's slipping into another register, a different realism — subjective rather than nominally objective — and what seemed like coincidences and chance repetitions (Seong-jun's meeting of the actress, the different goodbyes) appear to be forming a pattern…. As in Alain Resnais's Last Year at Marienbad, another movie in which the past collides with the present, repetition is both a theme and a narrative device in The Day He Arrives." Hong's "characters wallow, but he doesn't, and his film feels as light as Marienbad feels heavy."

In Slant, Jaime N Christley suggests that "if we were forced to construct an analogy with Woody Allen, another self-obsessed auteur Hong is frequently compared with, The Day He Arrives would be Stardust Memories, with its monochrome palette and hallucinatory apparitions who've been culled from the well of the storyteller's psyche."

In the Voice, Nick Pinkerton quotes Manny Farber on Eric Rohmer: "'Moving along through small, unpointed, often unconnected events, it gets to the component parts of this class's life.' Farber was talking about cultivated French provincials, but Hong does much the same as ethnographer of South Korean cognoscenti. And like Rohmer, Hong is wonderful with atmospheric effects, using whirling snowfalls to place his characters' inchoate longing in relief."

More from Andrew O'Hehir (Salon), Noel Murray (AV Club, B-), Keith Uhlich (Time Out New York, 4/5) and Mark Zhuravsky (Playlist, B-).

Back to Oki's Movie, "an excellent introduction for novices, distilling and compacting the familiar elements of Hong's last seven years into 80 minutes," suggests Vadim Rizov at GreenCine Daily.

Trevor Link at Spectrum Culture: "Oki’s Movie deploys Hong’s signature motifs in an almost flagrantly self-aware manner, as if just skirting self-parody’s boundary. But the constant circling and re-staging of these motifs serves an important purpose, acknowledging the intractability of Hong’s perennial thematic concern: inertia."

More from Christopher Bell (Playlist, A-) and Noel Murray (AV Club, B+).

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