23 July 2018



This is an odd one. If I hadn't had a sneaky peek at the online promotional material, I might have had a hard time figuring this one out. As it is, I reckon anyone watching it without any prior knowledge of the plot will be scratching their heads big-time about halfway through the film, muttering 'who the f**k's this gobshite now, and where have all the other gobshites gone...?'

Here's what happens, anyway. A young South Korean school-leaver called Sangwon is taking an aimless stroll when he accidentally encounters his former classmate Yongsil working away in an optician's store. She's really pleased to see him, way more pleased than he is to see her, methinks. They begin a sort of relationship, one that's plagued by Sangwon's dreadful indecisiveness.

Starting a relationship with Sangwon is possibly the worst thing that could happen to Yongsil. She's young, bright and pretty and she has plans to learn Japanese and to maybe go and live in Japan someday. She actually wants to improve her life situation and is prepared to work hard for it.

She seems to have her head screwed on all right, but then the mopey, drippy wishy-washy Sangwon comes along and her plans for bettering herself go pretty much out the window. We've all been there, giving up what we really want, suppressing our own inner desires just to go along with what some bloke wants. Oooops, sorry, my innate bitterness just fell out there, I'd better pop it right back in before it can do any more damage, lol.

And what the diddly-dickens does Sangwon want? Well, it's even worse than we thought. It's way more dreadful than just getting her pissed and having awkward uncomfortable sex with her, which he does I think on their first night together. What he really wants is for the pair of them to commit suicide together, for real. Oh shit...

I don't know why Yongsil would even consider ending her life just because Sangwon tells her it would be nice if the two of them died together in each others' arms. Some girls possibly consider dying with a boyfriend to be romantic, in a kind of TWILIGHT-y way, but they're not looking at the big picture, that's the trouble. They can't see past the hollowed-out cheekbones and huge dark eyes of the anaemic milksop of a love interest.

Sangwon and Yongsil purchase a shitload of sleeping tablets or paracetamol at different chemists. They have to go to different chemists because you can't walk into a pharmacy and announce, good day to you, Apothecary, I'm intending to shuffle off my mortal coil later on and so I need a job-lot of your finest paracetamol post-haste, please and thank you very much. Pharmacists are wise to this kind of lark. You don't stand a chance so don't even bother.

Sangwon buys 'em both writing paper so that they can pen suicide notes for any loved ones. They take showers so that they're nice and clean for killing themselves. Well, you wouldn't want the Coroner and his minions to think you were a grubby little urchin now, would you, with underwear to rival Baldrick's from BLACKADDER? No, of course not. Ya gotta gussy yourself up right nice for dem autopsy peeps. Then the young couple make themselves comfortable on the floor behind closed doors and down the pills...

I think that's as far as I'll take you guys. This takes care of the first half of the movie and it's straightforward enough, I think. It's after this bit that things start going cuckoo-bananas in the film. I personally feel that what the film-maker's done with his two halves of film here is an interesting experiment that maybe falls a bit flat, not least because it's so bloody confusing.

If you can follow it, you'll be nodding sagely, stroking your beard and saying knowingly, yes, yes, I see where the director's coming from. If you can't follow it, and like I said, I could only follow it after sneaking a peek at an online synopsis, then that's some mighty tough titty right there. Mighty tough titty, y'all.

Maybe you could make yourself believe that you've been watching two short films mashed
together. Or maybe you could get a smarter friend to explain the plot. I'd be totally lost without mine. Without her, I'd never have understood the intricacies of FINDING NEMO or deciphered the mystery behind SHREK 3. And as for MINIONS, well, you can just fuhgeddaboutit it, lol.

She had TALE OF CINEMA sussed in no time, my smarter mate. Well, actually, it took her a bit longer this time. Well, to tell the truth, it took her a lot longer than usual. To be honest, she's still at it, closeted away from the world in my house, determined not to let it lick her.

I've got to bring her back some Chinese food and news of the outside world in a bit. All those weeks holed up at my place watching and re-watching the fillum, trying to get it to give up its secrets, have taken a terrible toll on her. She is now heavily addicted to egg fu yung, the poor dear. 

Listen, wait there while I run up the road to the Golden Dragon. I'll be right back, only unlike every person who ever says this in a horror film ever, I actually mean it. Stay right there. Don't move a muscle. If you're very good, I'll bring you back a Number Twenty-Seven with half-rice, half-chips...

WOMAN IS THE FUTURE OF MAN and TALE OF CINEMA are available to buy now from ARROW VIDEO, as part of the box-set called TWO FILMS BY HONG SANG-SOO.

This collection brings together Women is the Future of Man and Tale of Cinema, the fifth and sixth films by Hong Sangsoo, the masterful South Korean filmmaker who has been favourably compared to that great French observer of human foibles, Eric Rohmer.

Women is the Future of Man tells of two long-time friends, a filmmaker (Kim Taewoo) and a teacher (Yoo Jitae), who have had an affair with the same woman (Sung Hyunah). The friends decide to meet the girl one more time and see what happens...

Tale of Cinema uses the trope of a film within a film to tell two stories, that of a depressive young man (Lee Kiwoo) who forms a suicide pact with a friend (Uhm Jiwon); and the tale of a filmmaker (Kim Sangkyung) who sees a film that he believes was based on his life, and who meets the actress from the film with a view to turning their onscreen relationship into reality.

With these critically-acclaimed films, presented here in High Definition for the first time with a wealth of extras, Hong Sangsoo employs his idiosyncratic, measured style to create two compelling and truthful tapestries of human emotion and behaviour.

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation.
Original 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio.
Newly translated optional English subtitles.

Newly-filmed introductions to both films by Asian cinema expert Tony Rayns.
Interviews with Kim Sangkyung, Lee Kiwoo and Uhm Jiwon, the stars of Tale of Cinema.
Introduction to Woman is the Future of Man by director Martin Scorsese.
The Making of Woman is the Future of Man, a featurette on the film’s production.
Interviews with the actors of Woman is the Future of Man.
Original trailers.
Stills gallery.
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Scott Saslow.
First pressing only: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the films by Michael Sicinski.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger, poet and book-and-movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


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