September 2018 Capsules

Hahaha
I can’t say if this technique is totally unprecedented in film, but Hong’s decision to render Hahaha‘s present-day scenes exclusively in black-and-white stills – à la the “previously ons” in Out 1, interestingly enough – and voiceover is at once a remarkably and counterintuitively lovely choice and so indicative of the general playfulness that marks his entire work. Though Moon-kyung says that he and Joong-sik stick to the pleasant parts of their scattered recollections, the film frequently goes down the thornier and more melancholic avenues that characterize Hong’s work, often within the same scene. In this light, and given the connotation that black-and-white and voiceover often have in more conventional films, the present almost function as the memories in this film, fragmented and constructed more out of sensations and glances than anything else. Though it will likely be the last time these friends meet for some time, it feels as if it is already passing into the recesses of their minds; what matters more is the small city of Tongyeong, and the people and places that inhabit it. A faintly ridiculous dream with a long gone admiral-hero, a piano piece, numerous scraps of poetry, the sensation of holding someone close: these are the good things in life.

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