ContactSales: Finecut, Seoul ([email protected])
Premiere: Venice Film Festival (Orizzonti, closing film), 11 Sep 2010. Theatrical release: South Korea, 16 Sep 2010.
Presented by Jeonwonsa Film (SK). Produced by Jeonwonsa Film (SK). Executive producer: Hong Sang-soo. Producer: Kim Gyeong-heui.
Script: Hong Sang-soo (A Day for Incantation 주문을 외울날 — I; King of Kisses 키스왕 — II; After the Snowstorm 폭설후 — III; Oki's Movie 옥희의 영화 — IV). Photography: Park Hong-ryeol, Ji Yun-jeong. Editing: Ham Seong-weon. Music: Wi Jeong-yun, Elgar (Pomp and Circumstance Marches, No. 1, Trio). Art direction: uncredited. Sound: Lee Yu-rim, Kim Mil.
Cast: Lee Seon-gyun (Nam Jin-gu — I, II, III, IV), Jeong Yu-mi (Jeong Ok-heui — II, III, IV), Mun Seong-geun (Professor Song — I, II, III, IV), Seo Yeong-hwa (Jang Su-yang — I), Song Gi-hyeong (Professor Oh — I, III), Jo Seong-deok (Professor Bang — I), Baek Jeong-rim (Baek Hye-rim — I), Jeong Ji-hye (student — I), Lee Chae-eun (woman in audience — I), Bae Ju-yeon (Q&A moderator — I), Kim Jin-gyeong (Ok-heui's girl friend — II), Shin Seon, Eom Tae-gu, Seo Jeong-hyeon (Jin-gu's classmates — II), Park Seo-yeon (Yang-sun — II).
Oki's Movie 옥희의 영화
Contemporary light comedy
2010, colour, 1.85:1, 80 mins
Directed by Hong Sang-soo (홍상수 | 洪常秀)
By Derek Elley
Sat, 05 February 2011, 15:50 PM (HKT)
Hong Sang-soo at his most compact and charming, in a four-part tale of love and film-making. Festivals, niche theatrical and ancillary.
Seoul, winter, the present day. A Day for Incantation: On his way to a screening of one of his films, struggling shorts director Nam Jin-gu (Lee Seon-gyun) is nagged by his wife Jang Su-yang (Seo Yeong-hwa) about his drinking, and he wonders if she is having an affaire with a guy called Yeong-su. Nam's onetime professor at film school, Song (Mun Seong-geun), tells him that film-making as an art is now dead. Nam remembers his first meeting with his wife, then an impressionable amateur photographer, on a park bench. At a dinner with film-school staff, Nam gets drunk and into a quarrel with Song, about whom he's heard a disquieting rumour. Afterwards, at the Q&A for his film, Nam is asked by a member of the audience (Lee Chae-eun) whether it's true he was dating the actress at the time and is therefore responsible for ruining her life. Nam says he has quit directing. King of Kisses: Some years earlier, Nam sees fellow student Jeong Ok-heui (Jeong Yu-mi) at film school and tries to go out with her, claiming he's never dated a woman before. When they smooch in a greenhouse, she says he's a good kisser. She's still getting over a relationship with an older man but finally gives in to Nam's persistence, and they sleep together and date. After the Snowstorm: Following a heavy bout of snow, only Nam and Jeong turn up one day for Prof. Song's class, and the three end up talking about relationships. Song has already decided to quit teaching. Oki's Movie: Jeong narrates her own short movie based on her relationships with two guys, an "older man" and a "younger man", with whom she separately went walking with one winter on Mt. Acha, south of Seoul.
Oki's Movie 옥희의 영화 (2010) is the most compact of HONG Sang-soo 홍상수 | 洪常秀's 11 features so far, but also, ironically, one of its richest. Skittish, pared-down, and playing like notes for a much bigger film, it once again features a film-maker as its central character but once again is not about film-making: Hong is one of the few writer-directors who can get away with what is often a story crutch for younger, wannabe "auteurs" with nothing else to say. And the essential joke is that, in the end, the film is not really about the character it seems to be focusing on: shorts director Nam Jin-gu (played in typically doleful style by LEE Seon-gyun 이선균 | 李善均, the North Korean student in Hong's Night and Day 밤과 낮 (2007)) serves as simply an extended introduction to the central character, fellow film student Jeong Ok-heui (JEONG Yu-mi 정유미 | 鄭有美), who doesn't even appear until some way in but has the last word on the men in her life in her own short movie that gives the film its title.
Structured as four short films with repeated characters, the movie plays with the audience in a way not seen since Hong's Tale of Cinema 극장전 (2005). Not only are flashbacks not clearly signalled but also it only gradually becomes evident that only the first short film (A Day for Incantation 주문을 외울날) is set in the present. Ironically scored to the uplifting strains of Elgar's most famous Pomp and Circumstance march — better known to British viewers as England's unofficial national anthem Land of Hope and Glory — the episode presents Jin-gu at the end of his short career as a film director, mangled in an embarrassing post-screening Q&A (one of the film's most squirmily true moments), nagged by his wife about his drinking, and told by his former film-school professor that film-making as an art is dead.
The subsequent short movies describe his time at film school, courting Ok-heui and, as the focus slowly shifts to her, being subjected to some loving but ruthless analysis via her own short movie. Hong, whose cynical take on his characters and his own profession has always been his saving grace, raises the final question that movies can only show part of the truth at best. And if there is a truth to be shown, it's more than likely that the woman will reveal it.
Jeong — not to be confused with the identically named bit-actress of horror films like Cello 첼로 (2005) and The Doll Master 인형사 (2004) — has quietly been building a career in a variety of films (monster movie Chaw 차우 (2009), arty extravagance Café Noir 카페 느와르 (2009)) and previously played the wife of the main character's friend in Hong's Like You Know It All 잘 알지도 못하면서 (2009). In Oki, her fragile appeal is underpinned by a quiet strength and straightforwardness that provides a nice balance to Lee's dopey Jin-gu. Industry veteran MUN Seong-geun 문성근 | 文盛槿 is perfectly cast as the film professor, his benign expression saying much more than the lines put into his mouth. Though Oki seems a less ambitious work than Hong's other film of 2010, Hahaha 하하하 (2010), it touches parts that movie doesn't reach in all its drinking-and-eating scenes — and merits an extra point for doing so.