Saturday, 14 February 2015

Tale of Cinema [2005]

Tale of Cinema, though not as structurally innovative as his earlier film Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, was in keeping with Hong Sang-soo’s position as one of contemporary cinema’s most cheeky pranksters and his proclivity towards episodic filmmaking comprising of characters from the movie industry. With ‘anxiety of influence’ as the dominant theme of this unabashedly self-reflexive film, it saw the introduction of the active zoom shot as a signature aesthetic. Like Murtova’s The Asthenic Syndrome, the deadpan narrative was divided into 2 halves, with the first being a film within a film presented as the film itself. The film begins with the seemingly straight-forward story of a shy and introverted guy (Lee Gi-woo) accidentally running into a store employee (Eom Ji-weon) who he used to hold a candle for during their high school days, and the two deciding to end their lives at a non-descript hotel room. As the 2nd half begins, we realize that the 1st was a movie being watched by, among others, by a struggling loner (Kim Sang-gyeong) with clumsy social skills who was a batch-mate of the film’s director (Lee). He has a curious camaraderie with the director bordering between respect and jealousy, is obsessed with the beautiful actress (Eom), and subconsciously wants to reenact the events of the movie, though, according to him, the movie was stolen from his life. The idea of art imitating life, and vice varsa, thus, formed a sly thematic strand, along with the ideas of voyeurism and urban existential crisis. The tonal drift from sentimental romanticism and melodrama in the 1st half to wry cynicism and subversive humour in the 2nd was particularly noteworthy.

Director: Hong Sang-soo
Genre: Drama
Language: Korean
Country: South Korea

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