1:00pm Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors (126m)
An early experiment in bifurcation and repetition, Hong’s third feature anticipates much of his later work while also enduring as one of his most visually ambitious and formally audacious films. A filmmaker (Moon Seung-kun) introduces his friend, a well-to-do gallerist (Jeong Bo-seok), to another friend, a television writer (the late, great Lee Eun-ju), unwittingly setting the stage for the type of psychodramatic love triangle that’s squarely within director Hong’s wheelhouse. But then, just as the story seems to end, it begins all over again, with new details foregrounded, others changed or removed… In short, Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors is a consummately Hongian investigation into the vagaries of the heart.
3:15pm Right Now, Wrong Then (121m)
Ham Chun-su (Jung Jae-young) is an art-film director who has come to Suwon for a screening of one of his movies. He meets Yoon Hee-jung (Kim Minhee), a fledgling artist. She’s never seen any of his films but knows he’s famous; he’d like to see her paintings and then go for sushi and soju. Every word, every pause, every facial expression, and every movement is a negotiation between revelation and concealment: too far over the line for Chun-su and he’s suddenly a middle-aged man on the prowl who uses insights as tools of seduction; too far for Hee-jung and she’s suddenly acquiescing to a man who’s leaving the next day. So they walk the fine line all the way to a tough and mordantly funny end point, at which time… we begin again, but now with different emotional dynamics. Hong achieves a maximum of layered nuance with a minimum of people, places, and incidents. An NYFF53 selection.