Hong Sang-soo "has brought us eight films which felt more like eight chapters of a long novel on the life of this tremendously fascinating director, more than singular entities. You'd expect this book to continue without end. Then again, there could always be surprises along the way, like his latest chapter, Like You Know It All." At Twitch, X presents a close reading of the original title and speculates on what makes Hong's new direction such an uneasy experience for so many:
"I'm just not sure whether this pleasant limbo made of frigid respect and admiration, this book made of several chapters all somehow telling the same story has really any destination, or any closing word which will leave a lasting mark. They just seem to exist, and continue to drench our journeys to the movies with more of what they've been known for. I can't say it's terribly exciting anymore after the initial infatuation, but a film world devoid of their touch would feel somehow incomplete."
"[T]he main character is an early-career filmmaker who serves on a film festival jury - a riskily insular move from a director accused of retreading the same terrain. Yet Hong's latest, thornily entertaining depiction of mortification and presumptiveness among men, women, and mentors remains a high point of new or almost-new festival selections." In a dispatch to the L Magazine, Nicolas Rapold suggests that Hong "should maybe just have his own serial."
"As with many Hong movies past, Like You Know It All has a bifurcated structure, starting at the film festival and then restarting (at another festival) with a different set of characters, all while ruthlessly examining the foibles of its insecure, neurotic, and sometimes casually cruel hero." Scott Tobias at the AV Club: "The pleasant amble of the opening scenes gradually gives way to outright listlessness, concluding with a blunt thesis statement about the mysteries of the heart. Bottom line: Hong has made this movie before - and better."
"True," concedes Dave Filipi, film and video curator at the Wexner Center for the Arts, "it isn't as ambitious as [On the Occasion of Remembering the Turning Gate] or Woman on the Beach but I thoroughly enjoyed it and I think negative reactions to the film are a result of the high expectations Hong has created for himself."
Reviews from Cannes.
Update, 9/22: "I like Hong's women," writes Darren Hughes. "They're independent, sexually liberated, and as confused as the men, which is what makes the final scene in Like You Know It All (and its echo in A Woman on the Beach) so tender and melancholy."
TIFF 09: Index; full coverage; lineup.