Hotel by the River + Introduction
1:00 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.
2:45 Introduction (66m)
In Hong’s steady yet playful hands, even the simplest premise can become a puzzle box of unpredictable, poignant human behavior. There could be no better example of his casual mastery than this breezy yet complexly structured study of a group of characters—most crucially parents and their grown offspring—trying to relate to one another via a series of thwarted or stunted meetings and introductions, centered around a young man (Shin Seok-ho) on the cusp of adulthood, confused about his romantic relationships and professional goals. It’s a film that keeps opening up to the viewer through digressions and reversals, leading to one of Hong’s most amusingly unsettling soju-soaked outbursts. An NYFF59 selection.