Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Delightful Double Take

Right Now, Wrong Then (2015) - Hong
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Right Now, Wrong Then, a double take on a chance encounter is another delightful comedy of errors from Hong Sang-soo. Jeong Jae-yeong plays an arthouse movie director named Ham Chun-soo who finds himself in Suwon, a suburb of Seoul in winter, a day prior to his film screening and following discussions at the city's cultural center. The early voiceover suggests that he is contemplating banging his enthusiastic young guide from the center. Killing time at the near deserted ancient palace/tourist trap, he meets beautiful Hee-jeong (Kim Min-hee) and strikes up a conversation. Defensive at first, Hee-jeong soon finds Chun-soo more interesting once learning that he is a movie director she's heard of, even though she doesn't like watching movies or seen any of his films. He asks her to go out for coffee, even though she doesn't drink coffee or smoke (she is a sensitive type). They awkwardly flirt. It's all pleasantries and flattery. She used to be a model but now she is a painter. He wants to see her paintings, so they move to her atelier. Obviously he wants to bang her so everything that comes out of his mouth is some form of flattery. She goes along with it. Then they go to sushi for dinner and soju. They get shitfaced, still flattering each other but neither making the ultimate move. Hee-jeong suggests they go together to a party of her friends that she can't excuse herself out of. He obliges. Things get uncomfortable as Hee-jeong's friends who are fans of his and start mentioning the rumors of his womanizing ways and his marriage. A disaster!

We try again. Chun-soo this time, is more forward and honest, even though what comes out of his mouth hurts Hee-jeong. As they go through the same routine as the first, this honesty gets them closer, but also it means Chun-soo get more wasted on soju and make bigger ass out of himself in front of Hee-jeong and her unsuspecting friends.

What I appreciate about Hong is not only his steadfast consistency in traipsing the stickiness of the human relationship but also his complete disregard for what he deemed unnecessary bullshit - namely excessive title sequence, dramatic music or coverage (hence the excessive used of funny, automated zooms). Coquettish Kim Min-hee is amazingly cute in this. Right Now, Wrong Then also doesn't really care much about the conventions of a do over/what if romantic comedy. The first take isn't an earth shattering catastrophe or anything and completely plausible as much as second scenario which is obviously more desirable. He plays with the notion of the games we play and certain inhibitions in our society on different occasions. It's also a delight to see reversing those roles fueled by alcohol. His jab at film critics and how to behave in front of them were also telling. All in all, the film is yet another great comedy from prolific Hong who continues building a great, unique body of work.

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