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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A very rewarding Korean drama...June 20 2007
- Published on Amazon.com
Hong Sangsoo is a film professor turned director. I have seen only 2 of his films, "Virgin stripped bare by her Bachelors" and this one; "WOMAN IS THE FUTURE OF MAN". The director is an artist concerned with alienation and the "battle of the sexes". Sangsoo definitely has a fondness for subtle symbolism and repetition in tales of unsympathetic relations and the mistake of always trying to recapture the past, not being able to let go.
This director is a minimalist and a very strict one at that. He avoids cinematic manipulations like close-ups. Most scenes in his movies are done in 1 take, wide shots and limits camera movement. He gives his performers a wide berth to fill a scene. I think he uses an observational perspective.
The tale begins when 2 old chums meet for a lazy afternoon, which will lead to a drunken weekend. Munho (Jitae Yu) is a married art teacher, while his friend, Hunjoon (Teawoo Kim) had just returned from his film studies from the U.S. the screenplay is about "slow reveal", blossoming occurrances and "woman..." starts with Munho making a point not to invite Hunjoon into his home. Munho offers Hunjoon to walk into the backyard to walk on fresh snow. Two of the potent symbolisms are shown when Hunjoon takes a few steps on the snow and backtracks in them on purpose so that the path will seem like it had suddenly stopped. As for this scene; it is a piece of symbolism: 1)an abandoned path (stopped walking forward)means no set direction or I suppose from the title's standpoint "no future" 2)Hunjoon walking backwards in his steps means a desire to go back and relive the past.
As for the act that Munho didn't let his friend inside his home, Munho has harbored anger when Hunjoon gave his spouse an " friendly American" hug when they went to visit him in the States before. Munho is a man of resentment and insecurity.
This becomes the premise of the film. The 2 men-kids drink and eventually reminisce about a shared romance back in the college days, Sunhwa (Hyeona Seong, The Intimate, Time). They inadvertently decide to see her and in turn, their past failings resurface. For Hunjoon, he remembers Sunhwa as a fragile girl that he had mistreated. He took advantage of her when he supposedly tried to "cleanse" her (by having sex with her) after she was raped by an old school chum, then dumping her to attend film school in America. For Munho, he dated her while Hunjoon was in the states attending film school. He remembers her as an awkward sexual conquest. The ultimate irony is that the two men are unable to see their shortcomings when it comes to women, they express their frustrations in their drunken pleas for punishment, at the same time, they are pathetic and ignorant--they are doomed to commit their past mistakes.
VIDEO/AUDIO: ANAMORPHIC WIDESCREEN. The transfer is kept simple, not very striking. The PQ is not vibrant, somewhat soft and lacking in contrast. But is very clean, free of print damage. Korean Language 5.1 Dolby and 2.0 surround with English subs. EXTRAS: Liner notes by Michael Atkinson and Kyung Hyun Kim. French and Korean Theatrical Trailers. Introduction by Martin Scorsese (this is very nice). Interviews with the three leads & Making of Featurette . OVERALL: WOMAN IS THE FUTURE OF MAN is a very rewarding drama. The dvd is not technically sound, but this film has a lot to offer fans of Korean "art" films. RECOMMENDED!! (4 stars)
Warning: Wear Your Boots Before WatchingJuly 28 2014
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When the theme of a film is distasteful, the viewer has the unpleasant task of deciding whether to pan the film for incompetent acting/scripting/directing/filming or to praise it as a purposefully artistic foray into the unwelcome dredges of the human condition. With WOMAN IS THE FUTURE OF MAN, I deem that director Hong Sangsoo has nudged the viewer into accepting the crass realization that some men and some more women are so lacking in self-esteem and basic human decency that this viewer's take on humanity is as pitifully wretched as intended. Everyone in the cast is victim or perpetrator or enabler or taker. The two leads are male friends from way back. One is art teacher Munho (Jitae Yu) and the other is Hunjoon (Teawoo Kim). What they share is a deadening of the human soul. Both are insensitive, self-justifying, and more than a little whiny. Hunjoon broke up a long time relation with Sunha (Hyeon-an Seong) in a crass manner that left her crushed as he disappeared for years with no contact from him. During Hunjoon's absence, Munho had his own fling with her even though he has a wife whom he says he loves. Both men run into Sunha again and sure enough Sunha falls into bed with Hunjoon and immediately following agrees to a sex act with Munho. There is no shortage of such vapid women who are only too willing to be victimized. In one egregious case, a raped woman approached Munho telling him of her ordeal; he responds by telling her that the only way to "cleanse" herself is to have sex with him. It is hard to imagine any rape victim accepting this logic. In another very nearly equally disturbing case is a student of Munho's who shamelessly throws herself at him and both wind up in some filthy motel where she performs a surprisingly graphic sex act on him. There is literally no one with a conscience. Everyone is hurting to some degree and others add to that hurt by taking unfair advantage of position or power. The camera work often breaks suddenly from one distressing scene to another with the actors now in a new scene to continue their moral mayhem. A deadening blanket of falling snow is ubiquitous, suggesting the coldness and sterility of the humans populating an enervated landscape. If woman is truly the future of man, then this film is a powerfully painful reminder that if anyone in the blighted unfertile country of Korea has a relationship worth keeping, then that person should count his/her blessings or risk turning into soul-numbed basket cases like Munho or Hunjoon. Though I give it four stars, I warn the viewer that this movie succeeds only too well in sucking you into the moral visionary muck of director Hong Sangsoo.
5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A complex film, but to what end?June 8 2007
- Published on Amazon.com
Two old friends, getting on middle-aged and separated for unclear reasons, reunite at lunch and a series of further meetings, reminisce about the old days. They are a natty, complacently married, professor, Munto, and a leaner, more intense film maker, Hun-joon. They talk about an old girlfriend of Hun-joon's, Sunhwa (who seemingly Munho also had an affair with). Various tensions rise up in sudden flashes breaking the calm surface of renewed friendship. Eventually the two go to find Sunhwa, who now works as a bar girl (or manager of a bar), and go back to her apartment for a night of drinking and revelry. Afterward, Munho runs into some students, is cajoled into more drinking with them. Without, hopefully, giving away too much that's about it, and we leave Munho standing on a dawning street, waiting for a cab. Incidentally, there is a good deal of obsession with sex, mostly neither interesting nor titillating, including a scene or two approaching soft core status.
Much of the story is told in flashbacks (or fantasies or dream sequences or ...), and given that not a lot of effort seems to have been made (via makeup or whatever) to distinguish the 20-something flashbackees from the current 40'ish (at a guess) protagonists, it is sometimes difficult to tell which is which. Another viewing would certainly clarify some of what is going on, and I certainly enjoy films which challenge one to untangle every nuance through repeated viewings (see my reviews of "Fallen Angels" (Fallen Angels) and "Flower Island" (Flower Island), for instance). But one has to care enough, about the characters or the film itself, one has to sense that there will be something added beyond, say, simply getting the chronology straight, to make the investment of time and effort, and I couldn't get up the enthusiasm on either count, so returned it without a second go. The two men were stereotypical male jerks, the women basic dishrags, with no seeming commentary about it. It's not an awful film, and maybe I'm missing out, but I just couldn't get into it enough to bother getting into it enough
A great erotic and raw Korean movieAug. 24 2013
Michael Douglas Neely
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I always love Korean movies because they are so raw and in your face. This movie is no exception. There is a lot a erotic stuff in this movie, but the movie is well done. Korean movies like this never bore me. There are a bunch of scenes that blow my mind.
4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Don't bother...April 16 2008
- Published on Amazon.com
Another reviewer's comparison with Jules & Jim suggests so much more than is here: more charisma, more beauty, more humor, more pathos... being sorry I let the video box's reviews & description draw me in, I'm writing this in the hope of sparing others a similar several hours of misery (or maybe it just seems that long!). The direction and timing are indulgent. The narrative is under-written and ineffective. The sex scenes are disgusting enough to at least have the potential to slow overpopulation. The point-of-view, mostly male, is more simple than that of the most simple-minded male, unless this is how it is in Korea. There is way too much gratuitious depiction of women enduring humiliation, exploitation, and a horribly primitive hierarchy. BTW, the interviews with the actors (one of the DVD's "extras") revealed that some scenes were done w/ the actors actually drunk - an idea they seemed to feel was somehow exciting, revolutionary, perhaps even avant garde - er, no - or, more to the point, it didn't save this tripe, and may have been part of the problem. This director needs to take a course in Jim Jarmusch over and over until he gets the point of true minimalism - and, perhaps, a sense of humor.