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Solving Puzzles: The Cinema of Hong Sang-soo

MUBI Special

It’s a dream come true to launch a three month long “selectrospective” of one of our favourite filmmakers, and (in)arguably the most prolific too! South Korean master of awkward, tender, melancholy comedies Hong Sang-soo is revered in film festivals but his work remains largely undistributed in our country. Often compared to Éric Rohmer and Woody Allen, his films rely invariably on dialogue and conversation (frequently between characters under the effects of too much soju!) to expose the intricacies of human miscommunication. Standing as playfully complex variations on the same theme––romantic entanglements between men and women––these movies ultimately provide a unique, understated, wryly humorous take on the eternal battle of the sexes. Hong’s predilection for puzzle-like narratives that blur the lines between reality and dreams results in sophisticated yet unaffected storytelling, usually punctuated by his idiosyncratic use of the zoom.

In this series, we are focusing on his most recent works, six films all made in the past five years (!), several of which star South Korean actress and regular collaborator of the filmmaker, Kim Min-hee (The Handmaiden). Kim’s consistent yet shape-shifting presence helps define the season, which even sees her sharing screen time with French icon Isabelle Huppert in the delightful, Cannes-set breezy miniature of a film that is Claire’s Camera. We couldn’t be more proud to make Hong Sang-soo’s little seen, extraordinarily distinctive films widely available to UK audiences!

The Day After

Hong Sang-soo South Korea, 2017

Hong Sang-soo’s third film in his 2017 triptych, The Day After is a perfectly timed comedy of errors about a disastrous love triangle. As always with Hong, all that is familiar in romantic narratives is sent through a prism of peerless wit and an elliptical rephrasing of time. Sublime and superb.

Nobody's Daughter Haewon

Hong Sang-soo South Korea, 2013

Our retrospective on the Rohmerian South Korean auteur Hong Sang-soo_ continues with Nobody’s Daughter Haewon , which follows a charmingly gawky young woman navigating loneliness and failing romance—plus a Jane Birkin cameo!

Claire's Camera

Hong Sang-soo France, 2017

Shot entirely during the Cannes Film Festival, this quirky comedy is one of Hong Sang-soo’s lightest and most delightful efforts. A self-mocking take on the film industry, it stars Kim Min-hee and an irresistible Isabelle Huppert as the ultimate Frenchie, who believes that polaroids change lives!

Yourself and Yours

Hong Sang-soo South Korea, 2016

Continuing our retrospective dedicated to the hilarious, anti-romantic ingenious that is Hong Sang-soo, here is yet another wise introspection of relationships and the fragility of men. Made ecstatic with a twist of surreal ambiguity— Yourself and Yours is a delightful, cinematic jigsaw puzzle.

On the Beach at Night Alone

Hong Sang-soo South Korea, 2017

With a beautiful title akin to a painting, On the Beach at Night Alone might just be Hong at his most romantic and melancholy––and most autobiographical too! Fresh from The Handmaiden, Kim Min-hee delivers a memorable, raw performance that won her the Silver Bear for Best Actress at the Berlinale.

Right Now, Wrong Then

Hong Sang-soo South Korea, 2015

We’re ecstatic to launch a “selectrospective” of one of our favourite filmmakers: South Korean master of awkward, Hong Sang-soo! This wickedly conceptual comedy of melancholy and life choices is perfectly divided in a bifurcated structure of varying possibilities, chance, and outcome.

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