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Oki’s Movie

Posted by martinteller on March 9, 2013

Four short films, all centering around three characters: Jingu (Seon-gyun Lee), Oki (Yu-mi Jeong) and Professor Song (Seong-kun Mun).  In the first, Oki appears only briefly as the wife of Jingu, a fairly successful director and film professor.  Jingu does a Q&A after one of his screenings and is accosted by a friend of a former student and lover.  In the second, Jingu and Oki are both film students.  Jingu carries a major torch for Oki (unbeknownst to him, she’s had an affair with Song) to the point of stalking her.  In the third, Song imparts some wisdom upon Jingu and Oki when they’re the only ones to show up for class after a major snowstorm.  In the fourth, Oki reflects on a pair of hikes two years apart… one with Song, one with Jingu.

I know I said I was going to stick with Hong Sang-soo’s earlier works for now, but when the opportunity to watch this film came up, I decided to take it.  At first I regretted this decision.  Although there are funny moments in the first two shorts, it felt too much like a retread of Hong’s obsessions that I wasn’t that interested in to begin with.  Jerky guys (often directors) getting drunk and clumsily trying to get laid, fooling themselves that their efforts and intentions are somehow romantic.  Although the structure was mildly intriguing, again it struck me as an empty construct, and again I wasn’t the slightest bit intrigued by Hong’s camera style (those damn zooms!).  Auteurism is grand when you enjoy a director’s tics… when you don’t, the repetitions become tiresome.

But the last two shorts earned a lot of goodwill.  The tone shifted in unexpected ways, even approaching poetic insight in the final segment.  The structure took on different dimensions, opening up a variety of different interpretations.  Is the final short the “real” story?  It’s the one that shares the title of the film, and the only one from Oki’s viewpoint.  Are they all different stages of the same love triangle, or are they all alternate universe iterations of it, or all just different perspectives on the same events?  It reminded me a bit of James Lee’s Waiting for Love (with “Pomp and Circumstance” taking the place of “Moonlight Sonata”).

I’m still not entirely on board with Hong, and I doubt he’ll ever be a favorite for me.  But he’s interesting enough to keep exploring.  Rating: Good (75)


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