The Day He Arrives
(Book chon bang hyang). High Modernist master of contemporary South Korean cinema Hong Sang-soo returns, and then returns again, to his cherished tableaux of endlessly looped and ever loopier time travels in his latest tale of Seoul and its sad-sack cineastes. A black-and-white variation on Hong's now-trademark twice-told tales about increasingly drunken filmmakers (this time incarnated by actor Yu Jun-sang) embarking on doomed journeys to reunite with mistreated old flames, the movie is both a comedy of errors (men rarely look more foolish than under Hong's withering eye) and a nightmare vision of a tormented creator ten times darker than Barton Fink. For long-standing Hong fans, many of The Day He Arrives's eccentric and occasionally surrealist mannerisms may seem all but folkloric: characters who double one another, or scenes that recur with varying conclusions. Even the flaky Euro-zoom-ins Hong has been using since 2004's Woman Is the Future of Man now feel like auteurist flourishes, though they're even funnier this time around-a bit like the zoom-ins in Buñuel's final films, tightening in on characters as they begin to narrate us off on some new plot tangent, never to return. Except that Hong's characters always do, over and over again, to hilarious and sometimes heartbreaking effect.