22 July 2018


'Will you s**k me off...?'

'I want to have a drink with you, Sir.'

'You're all animals! You and that bastard just want sex. Real animals!'

'The myth of virginity means that the girls have a price on them.'

I loved, loved, loved this one. It's exactly my type of film. It's a relationship drama with a love triangle (well, sex triangle would be more accurate, lol) in it that bears out all my bitter feminist theories about men and women. Woo-hoo!

Men only use women for sex, they think about sex twenty-four-seven and will try to get it even under the most inappropriate of circumstances. If there's even the slightest chance of their getting a leg-over, they will take it. Women give in to them because what else is there to do? 

It's just the way of the world, the way it's always been and the way it always will be. Forever and ever, Amen, although I'm loath to introduce a prayer in the review of a film in which a man demands an opportunistic blowjob from a woman in front of an innocent dog. A dog, I ask you! Why not just take the party in to the local church, have sex on the altar and be done with it...? Tsk tsk. Perverts.

Okay, so we've got two South Korean guys meeting up for the first time in ages. Lee Mun-ho is married now and living in a big fancy house, the type that has a box on the locked front gate and you talk into the box and the person inside the house buzzes you in.

I'd be pretty happy if I lived in a house like that. I wouldn't need to go looking for any extra-marital excitement or jollies if I lived in a smashing house like that. The house would be compensation enough for any jollies I was missing out on.

Lee is a University Art teacher who dreams of getting tenure one day. I think that's where you get, like, ultimate job security and they can't fire you no matter how shit you are. I know Ross Geller, palaeontologist, was pretty pleased when he got tenure in the museum in FRIENDS.

Ditto Lisa Simpson's teacher Miss Hoover in THE SIMPSONS. Miss Hoover was so happy she let Ralph Wiggum teach the class for a bit while she took it easy, lol. No need to do your job properly when you've got tenure. That's my understanding of it anyway.

Kim Hyeon-gon, Lee's old friend, has just graduated from an American film school and now he thinks he's da shit. I mean, he thinks he is da fucking bomb, he's got such a high opinion of himself. I don't like this guy. He's slimy and sly-looking and certainly his later actions all bear out this first impression. 

Lee is slimy too but he's drop-dead gorgeous, having played the handsome villain in the legendary OLDBOY that same year. Ergo, I don't mind Lee so much. Another sad truth about men and women, y'all, so listen up. Women will take endless shit from a guy if he's easy on the eye. It's sad but true, sooooo true.

Even while they're in the restaurant reminiscing about old times, Lee and Kim each hit on the same waitress in the sleaziest of ways. Kim tells the pretty young thing that he wants to put her in a film because he's a big-shot movie director.

The very much married Lee tells her he's an artist and how would she like to pose nude for him sometime. The waitress wisely turns 'em both down. When they're not sleazing on the waitress, the two men, they're eyeing up an attractive young woman across the street who's waiting for a lift from someone. They've got sex on the brain, these two.

Then the two lads get the bright idea of calling on Kim's former girlfriend, Park Seon-hwa, the girlfriend he left behind him when he fecked off to America without a backward glance. She was in bits at the airport as he callously made her promise to 'wait for him,' while he no doubt screwed his way around the USA, never giving the poor girl a thought. This is obviously where Lee gets the idea of consoling the poor distraught woman with his dick. It's a dirty job but someone's gotta do it, right?

Park is a woman who has been much used and abused by men, and that includes Kim and Lee, our two friends. In one flashback, we see her being forced into a car by an angry ex-boyfriend fresh out of his military service. We're not surprised to hear later that he rapes her when he gets her into his hotel room.

Kim's response to Park's being raped is to have sex with her straightaway, after first washing her in a post-rape shower. 'I'm making love to you to cleanse you, do you understand?' he tells the grateful, tearful girl. 

'Will I really be clean again?' she sobs heartbrokenly to Kim, seemingly unaware that she's being used and bullshitted once again. Isn't having sex with a just-been-raped woman a kind of rape in itself, or am I just being too politically correct here?

We also see that Park and the lying, cheating Lee have a seedy history together. He nearly rapes her once, only backing off when, for once, she gets justifiably angry. 'I told you to stop!' she says. 'I didn't understand,' he blusters pathetically. What, you didn't understand that no means no, a**hole? 'Course you didn't. The word 'no' is just so ambiguous, who could ever really understand its true meaning or be expected to...?

Another time, we see the pair having quick sex in Lee's bedroom while his Mum and younger brother are out. She asks him if he always comes so quickly and he remarks that she hasn't bothered to shave her legs. 

It's the coldest, most unromantic encounter ever and the two draw apart physically and mentally the second it's over, Lee to smoke a bored post-coital cigarette and Park to huddle under the duvet, as far away from Lee as possible.

So, what's going to happen when Lee, Kim and Park, who now manages a bar in a hotel, meet up again after all this time? Park has a new swishy haircut but does she have a new confident attitude to match? Or will she immediately start buying into Lee's and Kim's bullshit as she always does?

It remains to be seen, of course, but let's just say that the behaviour of the three of them towards the end, especially of Lee the great Art teacher, leaves a lot to be desired. It's so true to life though that you simply cannot fault its realism.

This is exactly the way men and women behave towards each other. Forget your hearts and flowers and your fairytale weddings and your storybook endings. What it all comes down to is a patch of wet cold semen on dirty sheets and a promised phone call that never comes. That's what so-called love is. This director's got it spot-on. And this film won't lie to you, any more than I would. Watch it. It's illuminating. I feel vindicated.

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 Woman 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.

Woman 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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