Best of Korean Cinema #2 – Day and Night
Welcome to the second edition of the best of Korean new wave cinema, here on sound of sight. A running series of articles that comes out every two weeks, in it we look at the best 21st century Korea has to offer on cinema screens. Whether that is big names like Park Chan Wook and Kim Jee Woon or unknown curios that deserve the coverage. Each article will cover two thematically similar films, this time its two films from 2011 in Sang-Soo Hong’s The Day he arrives, and Sung-Hyun Yoon’s, Bleak Night.
The Day He Arrives
Directed by Sang-Soo Hong
Screenplay by Sang-Soo Hong
The Day He Arrives is a 2011 film by director Sang-Soo Hong about a director who now teaches in the Korean Countryside returning to Seoul for a weekend. At first Sungjoon (Jun-Sang Yu) wanders around town, phoning people and happens upon an actor he worked with, before visiting an ex-girlfriend who he had a messy break-up with has a few drinks with a group of film students.
Hong’s film is a piece driven by its themes. The themes that the director is fascinated with are the cycles of life and the repetition therein. As such the structure after the set-up is just that, a series of similar scenes in which the group drink, talk and leave the bar with many of the same events occurring, such as the bar owner being missing, re-appearing and offering the party food, bookmarked by further discussions. The next scene repeats those beats only with a slight difference, maybe there will be a new member to the party or Sungjoon may play the piano, but the scene structure repeats itself over and over from the midpoint (of the 80 minute running time).