1:30 Claire’s Camera (69m) + Lost in the Mountains (31m)
Hong’s 20th feature—one of his three films to premiere in 2017—is a light, sunny divertissement shot on the fly during the Cannes Film Festival. Set far from the red-carpet pomp, Claire’s Camera is a cautionary tale about mixing business with pleasure, and in its way no less philosophical than other recent Hong works. A sales agent (Kim Minhee) is fired mid-festival for her “dishonesty”—which turns out to be code for sleeping with a director who’s also involved with her boss. The revelations emerge with the help of a French tourist named Claire (Isabelle Huppert), a detective of sorts who helps others see their situations more clearly. Kim and Huppert make for a delightful pair amid the kind of cross-cultural comedy that also defined Hong’s Huppert-starring In Another Country.
In Lost in the Mountains, one of Hong’s rare shorts, a young writer drives from Seoul to Jeonju to visit her best friend, but winds up getting entangled with a former professor and an ex-boyfriend, resulting in a journey of mortification and self-discovery.
3:30 Hotel by the River (96m)
Two tales intersect at a riverside hotel: an elderly poet (Ki Joo-bong), invited to stay there for free by the owner and sensing his life drawing to a close, summons his two estranged sons; and a young woman (Kim Minhee) nursing a recently broken heart is visited by a friend who tries to console her. At times these threads overlap; at others, they run tantalizingly close but remain detached. Using a stark black-and-white palette and handheld cinematography (by frequent DP Kim Hyung-ku), Hong crafts an affecting examination of family, mortality, and the ways in which we attempt to heal wounds old and fresh. An NYFF56 selection.