Blu-Ray Review: Woman is the Future of Man, Tale of Cinema: Two Films by Hong Sangsoo

Since Shiri caused a box office sensation during the dying embers of the last century, the South Korean film industry has had a new lease of life. Whilst stylish thrillers, comedies and horrors have dominated much of the domestic market, there are a group of directors whose style, vision and audacity have caused ripples across the world. These include the likes of Lee Chang-dong, Bong Joon-ho, Kim Jee-woon, Kim Jee-woon, Kim Ki-duk, Park Chan-wook and Hong Sang-soo. Hong, in particular, has a very unique and singular eye. Since 1996 he’s made, on average, one film per year; becoming more prolific as time passes. However, in 2005 and 2006 he made a pair of complementarity film which defined his future output.

Woman is the Future of Man

Lee Mun-ho (Yoo Ji-tae), a university art teacher, meets up with an old friend Kim Hyeon-gon (Kim Tae-woo), a film school graduate who has recently returned to Korea. Kim convinces him to visit his ex-girlfriend Park Seon-hwa (Sung Hyun-ah). As the three reminisce over a night of drinking, secrets, enmities and attractions float to the surface. Woman is the Future of Man stands up as a bold film-making; both in terms of visual and thematic choices but also in the way it’s constructed. The relationship dynamics between the trio constantly evolve, allowing a flux which eventually reverts to form. It’s a fascinating and thought-provoking drama about relationships and gender dynamics.

Tale of Cinema

Tong-Su (Sang-kyung Kim) is a bitter and directionless film graduate. His former tutor, a famous film director, is seriously ill in hospital. There’s a class reunion organised to raise money for treatment, but he’s not going. Tong-Su believes the director stole his real-life story for one of his most famous short films, but when he meets the star (Ji-won Uhm) he must face up to his past. Tale of Cinema deals with many of the same themes as ‘Future of Man’. However, by using the film within a film dual narrative, Hong allows his protagonist an epiphany of self-reflection. It’s a perfect companion piece and a poetic meditation on self-determination.

Special Edition Contents:

  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
  • Original 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Newly translated optional English subtitles
  • Newly filmed introductions to both films by Asian cinema expert Tony Rayns
  • Interviews with Kim Sangkyung, Lee Kiwoo and Uhm Jiwon, the stars of Tale of Cinema
  • Introduction to Woman is the Future of Man by director Martin Scorsese
  • The Making Woman is the Future of Man, a featurette on the film’s production
  • Interviews with the actors of Woman is the Future of Man
  • Original trailers
  • Stills gallery
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Scott Saslow

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the films by Michael Sicinski

Woman is the Future of Man, Tale of Cinema: Two Films by Hong Sangsoo is released on Blu-ray by Arrow Academy on 16 July.

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