Sunday, February 03, 2008

'Night & Day' and other Random Notes - Vol 3, No. 5

So I got the chance to see Hong Sang-soo's latest film NIGHT & DAY a few days ago. The film officially makes its world premier on Feb. 12 at the Berlin International Film Festival, but, well, there are ways...

Of course, I am sworn to secrecy about the film. But I can say what the press kits talk about -- it is the story of a middle-aged artist who flees to Paris after smoking a little pot in Korea. While in Paris he meets an ex-girlfriend, makes a new girlfriend, and smokes and drinks a lot.

It was Hong's longest movie so far, clocking in at 144 minutes, but it felt quite brisk and I never felt bored. Perhaps not as fun as WOMAN ON THE BEACH, but most worthwhile. I will try to write more about it after its official premier in 10 days.

  • Not that anyone asked, but here is my unofficial list of Hong Sang-soo's best films:
    1. A Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors
    2. Woman on the Beach
    3. Night and Day
    4. Turning Gate
    5. The Day a Pig Fell in the Well
    6. The Power of Kangwon Province
    7. Woman Is the Future of Man
    8. Conte du Cinema
    I would not put too much stock in that list, though. Nos. 1 and 8 are fairly entrenched, but the rest of the list fluctuates a lot day by day.

  • After the screenings, a bunch of us went to eat and drink and noraebang (because "noraebang" should be a verb at this point). Director Hong led us in a pretty brutal drinking version of Rock, Paper, Scissors. And there was much merriment. Drinking with director Hong just after watching a Hong film (full of drinking and such), is a pretty amusing experience.

  • I cannot believe I missed this news when it broke (well, actually I can... I have been swamped with work for the last couple of weeks) -- Kim Chang-ik, drummer of the great Korean rock group Sanullim, died a few days ago. Apparently there was some sort of accident in British Columbia, where he lived.

    Like Popular Gusts, I have long considered Sanullim's second album to be one of my favorites. When you have had a couple of adult beverages too many and you are at some old bar at 2 or 3 in the morning, and that great bass line from Nae Maeum-ae Judan-eul Kkalgo comes on the bar's stereo, it is one of my favorite feelings. I am just happy I was able to catch the band live in concert at their 30th anniversary show a couple of years ago.

  • A very sad story in the New York Times a couple of days ago about the fate of Michael Vick's dogs. Wonderful to see that people are trying to nurse them back to health (both physical and mental). But the story of Georgia is really heartbreaking...

  • THE WIRE. I have now managed to see the first five episodes of season five of THE WIRE, and I continue to be as impressed as ever. As I believe I said before, I am especially enjoying this season because it focuses on the Baltimore Sun newspaper, which I used to read regularly in the couple of years I spent in that city.

    What makes it even better for me is that when I was breaking into journalism a few years ago, I was working at the Joongang Daily under Hal Piper, a first-rate reporter and editor who spent most of his career at the Baltimore Sun.

    Season five has been especially controversial to some (journalists, mostly) because of its portrayal of cutbacks and the modern evolution of the news room. Some people think that David Simon, the show's creator and veteran crime reporter for The Sun, has been unduly harsh and petty about the leadership at The Sun when he was there. Others think he was spot on. There have been some great debates.

    As for Mr. Piper, he has not seen THE WIRE, but this is what he had to say about The Sun and Mr. Simon and the others:

    Yes, I knew Simon (not well), Carroll and Marimow. The latter two were my bosses in my last few years at the Sun, and I respected them a lot. I have seen what Simon says, but I think Carroll and Marimow reversed a prior decline in the quality of the Sun. When I left it in 2001 I thought it was a better paper than it had been in 10 or 15 years. Now that I am back in Baltimore, and reading the Sun again, I think it is a worse paper than I can remember in my lifetime. So, acknowledging Simon's talent -- he really was a great police reporter -- I wouldn't trust his evaluation of the paper as a whole. That said, I am dying to see the show. Some of my friends who are no longer with the paper have bit roles as reporters.

    He goes on to say: "The issue, it seems to me, is that management has made a strategic decision in favor of mediocrity (closing foreign bureaus, using mostly wire stuff for travel and book reviews, etc.)." Ouch.

    At any rate, you can read Simon's point of view about the series and Baltimore and more in this fine story.
  • 1 comment:

    Philip / London Korean Links said...

    This time, I'm going to make sure I buy the Hong dvd before it becomes unavailable. I still haven't managed to see his other more recent films because I held out for the DVDs to come down in price - which they never did :-(

    Sad news about Sanullim. I'll have to try to track down their second. I think I have a more recent album, which is also great stuff