'Woman Is The Future Of Man' & 'Tale Of Cinema'
(Kim Taewoo, Yoo Jitae, Sung Hyunah, Lee Kiwoo, Uhm Jiwon, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (2004/2005) 2018 / Arrow Films UK)
Overview: This collection brings together 'Women is the Future of Man' and 'Tale of Cinema', the fifth and sixth films by Hong Sangsoo, the masterful South Korean filmmaker who has been favorably compared to that great French observer of human foibles, Eric Rohmer.
Blu-ray Verdict: 'Woman is the Future of Man' tells of two long-time friends, a filmmaker (Kim Taewoo) and a teacher (Yoo Jitae), who have had an affair with the same woman (Sung Hyunah). The friends decide to meet the girl one more time and see what happens, but not everything goes according to either of their plans.
This was a thoroughly engrossing film. Superb acting, believable characters, and a story that holds your interest. That said, you could dismiss the story as just another slice-of-life piece because it does boil down to a simple tale of two old friends getting together for a visit. Still, we care about what happens to everyone involved.
There was certainly an ethereal quality to this film and an indefinable stamp of a director unto himself. The decors are simple and not manipulated but at the same time there is a depth and simplicity in each shot. There is such a control of what we the viewer can see and what is not shown.
The relationships are complex and real. The tension is palpable in several scenes. My heart really went out to the characters during the course of the film. I even had a change of heart. I didn't feel manipulated by the nature of the characters but I felt free to choose. A second viewing might be rewarding to see another perspective.
In contrast to others I found the soundtrack unique and appropriate. I also appreciate that, like Rohmer, there is humor throughout the film.
'Tale of Cinema' uses the trope of a film within a film to tell two stories, that of a depressive young man (Lee Kiwoo) who forms a suicide pact with a friend (Uhm Jiwon); and the tale of a filmmaker (Kim Sangkyung) who sees see a film that he believes was based on his life; and who meets the actress from the film with view to turning their onscreen relationship into reality.
Hong was back for the third time at the New York Film Festival with this appealing self-reflexive look at ineffectual young men who happen to be filmmakers. The first segment is a film about such a man (Lee Kiwoo), who is tall and handsome but directionless. He meets an old girlfriend (Uhm Jiwon) and eventually talks her into committing suicide with him, though the attempt ends comically.
Ten years later, the star, who was also the director, is now famous and ill. His co-star, the girl, is a successful actress. She encounters a classmate of the filmmaker, also handsome, now down on his luck, who claims his story was appropriated in the film, and it seems like it is going to repeat itself as he leaches onto her and they spend a drunken night together.
What's interesting is the way Hong slides from glamorous ennui to comical mediocrity in his meandering New Wave-ish sequences in a brightly lit but tacky urban Korea. Is Seoul really anything like Paris? Perhaps not. But Hong's sweetly melancholy film with its gentle convolutions lingers pleasantly in the mind. These are both Widescreen Presentations (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and this Special Edition Blu-ray comes with the Special Features of:
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
Newly translated optional English subtitles
Newly filmed introductions to both films by Asian cinema expert Tony Rayns
Interviews with Kim Sangkyung, Lee Kiwoo and Uhm Jiwon, the stars of 'Tale of Cinema'
Introduction to 'Woman is the Future of Man' by director Martin Scorsese
The Making of 'Woman is the Future of Man', a featurette on the film s production
Interviews with the actors of 'Woman is the Future of Man'
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Scott Saslow
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the films by Michael Sicinski.