The STACKS: Video Essay — A Different Kind of Cinema: The Films of Hong Sang-soo

The STACKS comprise of Stephen and Jack. They put out videos, podcasts and…. Whatever they feel like.

With the increased global interest in South Korean cinema, the country’s output has gained a specific reputation. The most popular filmmakers are stylistically connected and, to a great extent, have extremity in common.

Hong Sang-soo, a popular director but nowhere near as known as Bong Joon-ho or Park Chan-wook, has a frighteningly prolific output. In 2021 alone, he released two features and one short – and another film of his is about to hit the festival circuit. His work though (though definitely indebted to the work of Éric Rohmer) feels different, especially when compared to his fellow South Korean filmmakers.

His films are accused frequently, and pejoratively, of overt repetition. But, this criticism is misguided. Or, at least, framing it as a criticism is misguided. Though his work is marked by thematic and stylistic repetition, he has crafted out his own genre, his own type of cinema.

In this essay, Stephen takes you through the key features of Hong Sang-soo’s cinema and throws out some recommendations along the way.

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