Sunday, March 17, 2024

Ranking the Films of Hong Sang-soo

In 2011, I was foolish enough to think I could catch-up to all of Hong Sang-soo's films. I had that crazy belief after I saw 3 of his newest films in cinemas in 2010. However, I didn’t anticipate the prolific output of Hong Sang-soo where he went from a single film per year to as many as 3 in 2017 and multiple 2 films per year outputs (2018, 2021, 2022, 2023). As of Mar 2024, these are the 31 directed features to his name (not including shorts):

1. The Day a Pig Fell Into the Well (1996)
2. The Power of Kangwon Province (1998)
3. Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors (2000)
4. On the Occasion of Remembering the Turning Gate (2002)
5. Woman Is the Future of Man (2004)
6. Tale of Cinema (2005)
7. Woman on the Beach (2006)
8. Night and Day (2008)
9. Like You Know It All (2009)
10. Hahaha (2010)
11. Oki’s Movie (2010)
12. The Day He Arrives (2011)
13. In Another Country (2012)
14. Nobody’s Daughter Haewon (2013)
15. Our Sunhi (2013)
16. Hill of Freedom (2014)
17. Right Now, Wrong Then (2015)
18. Yourself and Yours (2016)
19. On the Beach at Night Alone (2017)
20. Claire’s Camera (2017)
21. The Day After (2017)
22. Grass (2018)
23. Hotel by the River (2018)
24. The Woman Who Ran (2020)
25. Introduction (2021)
26. In Front of Your Face (2021)
27. The Novelist’s Film (2022)
28. Walk Up (2022)
29. In Water (2023)
30. In Our Day (2023)
31. A Traveler’s Needs (2024)

In 2011, I had seen 5 of his 12 features to-date so I was 7 films behind. Now, I have seen 24/31 of his features so the gap is still amazingly at 7. One reason why this gap exists is because his films are not easily available via legal means. No single streaming service or traditional Blu-Ray/DVD distributor holds all the rights to his movies. Not attending film festivals also restricts my ability to view his new films. So in a sense, I will always be a few years behind in seeing his films and if his output remains at 2-3 films per year, chances are that gap will always stay at 5-7 films if not more.

Still, I am determined to close the gap after drawing inspiration from reading Dennis Lim’s excellent book on Hong Sang-soo’s Tale of Cinema. Lim uses that singular film as a basis to examine the various themes and styles found in Hong’s cinema. I will expand on some of these aspects in a future entry but for now, I want to list my Top 10 Hong Sang-soo films to place a marker to examine his future films against.

Top 10 Hong Sang-soo films

1. Right Now, Wrong Then (2015)
2. The Day He Arrives (2011)
3. Tale of Cinema (2005)
4. Like You Know It All (2009)
5. The Day After (2017)
6. In Front of Your Face (2021)
7. Woman Is the Future of Man (2004)
8. On the Beach at Night Alone (2017)
9. Night and Day (2008)
10. In Another Country (2012)

Wednesday, March 06, 2024

Top Brazilian Films of All Time

The inspiration to make this list came after reading Filipe Furtado’s list of 10 Great Brazilian films.

These words by Filipe ring true with a slight change that UK can be replaced by majority of countries in the world: “Like many important filmographies of the global south, Brazilian cinema doesn’t circulate much in the UK, which can make the prospect of discovering it even more daunting.”

I have only seen 6 of 10 films in Filipe’s list but more telling is that I haven’t even heard of the remaining 4 films or seen any references to them in any film articles or books previously. Beyond these 4 films, there are numerous more worthy Brazilian films to be seen. That being said, I have decided to list my Top 10 knowing full well that this list will change over the years once I am able to see more vital Brazilian films.

Top 10 Brazilian Films

1. Black God, White Devil (1964, Glauber Rocha)
2. Limite (1931, Mario Peixoto)
3. Cabra Marcado para Morrer / Twenty Years Later (1984, Eduardo Coutinho)
4. Vidas Secas / Barren Lives (1963, Nelson Pereira dos Santos)
5. Pixote (1980, Hector Babenco)
6. Terra em Transe / Entranced Earth (1967, Glauber Rocha)
7. Cinema, Aspirins and Vultures (2005, Marcelo Gomes)
8. Neigboring Sounds (2012, Kleber Mendonça Filho)
9. A Febre / The Fever (2019, Maya Da-Rin)
10. Noite Vazia / Men and Women (1964, Walter Hugo Khouri)

Honourable Mentions (10 more films):

Barravento (1962, Glauber Rocha)
The House of Sand (2005, Andrucha Waddington)
O Padre e a Moça / The Priest and the Girl (1965, Joaquim Pedro de Andrade)
Central Station (1998, Walter Salles)
City of God (2002, Fernando Meirelles/Kátia Lund)
Carandiru (2003, Hector Babenco)
The Middle of the World (2003, Vicente Amorim)
Avenida Brasília Formosa (2010, Gabriel Mascaro)
O Pagador de Promessas / The Given Word (1962, Anselmo Duarte)
The Conspirators (1972, Joaquim Pedro de Andrade)