Sunday, 30 October 2011

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Hahaha - KFF 2011

Opinion: A-

Despite experiencing a drag as the film progressed with every glass of alcohol taken in by the two narrating male protagonists, the direction by Hong Sang-Soo warranted attention. Narration structure wasn't conventional and it's critically the characters of their stories that remained deeply embedded in our minds regardless of the happenings. Depiction of their accounts of summer were realistically raw like its camera work that often went on free willed zooming and panning.

Filmmaker CHO Moon-kyung plans to leave Seoul to live in Canada. So days before his departure, he meets his close friend BANG Joong-sik who is a film critic, at a nearby mountain to drink 'makgeolli' a Korean traditional alcoholic beverage made from rice. After a few rounds, they find out that coincidentally, they have both been to the same small seaside town, Tong-young recently. They decide to reveal their accounts of the trip over drinks, under the condition that they only stick to pleasant memories. Not realizing that they were in the same place, at the same time, and with the same people, the two men's reminiscence of a hot summer unfolds like a catalogue of memories.

Correct me if I'm wrong (I'm not a native Korean language speaker), "Hahaha" literally translates into "Summer Summer Sumer" in Korean.

The film begins with black and white stills of a drinking session of our two protagonists who were sharing their memories of bliss and love. The recounts were subsequently depicted in colour and motion. This method of narration immediately flagged my attention as the conventions were apparently reversed.

The past was seemingly the focus of the film, instead of the present.

Thereafter, we were treated to various random chapters of the happenings taking place in the small town Tong-young. Allow me to be honest, wth several single long takes some chapters really lost my attention span as they went on doing minute affairs that didn't matter.

What kept me glued from start till end was the interesting direction by Hong (which earned him the Un Certain Regard award at Cannes 2010) as well as the characters. Especially Moon So-ri, who never ceased to amaze us with her superb performance. I've seen films with her in it and they were mostly well-acted. Her rendition of the "average face with nice legs" tour guide had apparently revealed how child-like filmmaker Cho was.

For judging merely by her facade.

In fact, the entire film had several instances set up to portrait the amateurish minds of wannabe filmmakers and critics. There was this illusion event where Cho met with a legendary deity figure and took advice from his wise words. Also evident were adamant explanations of the world by Bang that were highly deemed as over-sensitive and senseless.

But life is such, and I simply liked the way it was made with such rawness without the calculated structure and form as exercised by Hong. We were often treated to mindless zooming in and out for no apparent reason other than to follow something that caught the camera's eye. Composition was not planned in any manner as it seemed.

With such, the mise-en-scene was weak but worked to the film's advantage.

Two good buddies sharing their experience recount with the thought that they were sharing something new and different to each other and not realising that chapters of their tales were actually intertwined. There's something in it that I couldn't place a finger to, in a good sense.

Somethings in life are just as such, unexplainable and best left as such.

Arguably, the film might not feature a good story to tell as they were merely recounts of possibly anyone's vacation, but the direction and characters really left a deep impression.

Perhaps it is through those where life truly means something through nothing.


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