Virtuoso Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook (The Handmaiden; Oldboy) picked up rave reviews and the Best Director Prize at Cannes for this singularly strange genre piece, a neo-noir mystery about a homicide detective who falls in love with the widow (Lust Caution’s Tang Wei) of an apparent suicide. The deceased was a mid-level bureaucrat in the department of immigration, and an older man; the widow is young, beautiful, and Chinese. She’s so apologetic about her Korean she uses a translation app on her phone during her questioning, but her words don’t allay suspicion in either language, and it emerges that the dead man used to beat her. Then again, she has an ironclad alibi.
These narrative elements are familiar from a 1001 thrillers. And yet we must be on our game; Park shuffles the pack with dizzying skill, concocting a visual syntax which is wildly original and quite idiosyncratic. Scenes are highly abbreviated, and often distilled into a handful of eye-catching compositions; he’ll place an unusual emphasis there or here, and it’s only later that everything falls into place. This is a tantalizing, teasing movie, and in its own weird way, desperately romantic.
Best Director Award, Cannes 2022
Thursday October 06
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The Grizzlie Truth
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Sarah Polley's adaptation of Miriam Toews' novel is the most compelling movie to come out the #MeToo movement to date, with stellar performances from Jessie Buckley, Rooney Mara, and Frances McDormand as Mennonite women confronting a terrible truth.
Marie Kreutzer’s biopic takes us to the late 19th century, when Empress Elisabeth of Austria has been politically sidelined. Imagining her as a proto-feminist rebel, Kreutzer is not afraid to depart from the historical record to do so.
Decision to Leave
Virtuoso Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook (The Handmaiden; Oldboy) picked up the Best Director Prize at Cannes for this teasing, tantalizing genre piece, a neo-noir mystery about a homicide detective who falls in love with the widow of an apparent suicide.
Stars at Noon
In Claire Denis's Cannes Jury prize winner, a US journalist is marooned in Managua, stripped of her passport and forced to trade sex for protection. An English businessman seems a good prospect, but gradually she sees he's in more trouble than she is.
Veteran director Jerzy Skolimowski returns in triumphant form with this tale of animal life. Sometimes harsh, sometimes sweet, always beautiful, EO tells the story of a donkey and its journey through a world dominated by humans.
Shoplifters director Kore-eda fashions a sprawling, compassionate crime story set in South Korea about a half-baked baby adoption scam led by Song Kang-ho (Parasite; The Host). Winner of Best Actor at Cannes Film Festival.
Triangle of Sadness
A luxury cruise for the super rich goes very, very wrong in this Cannes-winning social satire from the director of The Square. Uproariously funny at times and deeply cynical, this is a must-see.
Chung Seo-kyung, Park Chan-wook
Park Chan-wook has had two films win at Cannes: Oldboy (2003), which won the Grand Prix and Thirst (2009), which won the Jury Prize. His film The Handmaiden (2016) screened in competition at the 69th Cannes Film Festival, and won the BAFTA Award for Best Film Not in the English Language. From his TV series The Little Drummer Girl (2018), which screened on the BBC, to his collaboration with Apple on the short film Life is But a Dream (2022), director Park Chan-wook constructs unique cinematic worlds with his taboo-breaking storytelling, fascinating characters, and sensual visuals.
Filmography: Oldboy (2003); Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (2005); Thirst (2009); The Handmaiden (2016)