This piece appears in the Fall 2013 issue of Cinema Scope.
As an agent for acclimation, alcohol is one of our most proven resources. In the cinema of Hong Sangsoo, it’s less a casual commodity than a conduit for conducive social interaction, a property of both emotionally collateral and physically direct engagement. The characters portrayed in the prolific South Korean auteur’s work drink incessantly, to the point of excess and usually beyond, beer and soju bottles strewn geometrically across dining tables in an array of intuitive designs (and never further than arm’s reach, of course). As befits a filmography featuring heavy drinkers, written and directed by a heavy drinker—Hong is known to encourage, shall we say, method acting as the occasion sees fit—Hong’s narratives are often unpredictable proceedings, as restless or volatile as any given individual in the director’s dilated purview. It’s almost as if in Hong’s universe, as opposed to (most of) our everyday lives, liquor itself is the constant and emotion is the variable, as likely to facilitate communication as it is to reduce the same to simply a series of loaded, unconscious mannerisms.