NYFF 2022: Against Time, The Novelist’s Film, Pacifiction | Festivals & Awards

The exciting part is where we look at a movie demanding our full attention and we get to decide what it means. The flickering tableaux seem to form crude shapes in their nigh-subliminal form, and the movie is successful as the gathering of shapes, but also Russell’s imbued it with his own personal losses, his own travels, his people, his places, his world. Avant-garde film can be a clinical measurement of time and tide, but it can also be a window into the soul of its creator. Russell and I have never met, but I think I know a little more about him with every film of his I see. “Against Time” is a magnificent movie, I hope to see more movies with its mix of autobiographical immediacy and pleasing geometry before the year is out. In general, I hope more artists are encouraged to follow their plotless instincts to find something else true and beautiful, something outside of the western image consumption.

It’s easy to find stagnation when you want to see innovation, to see the new. I like Hong Sang-soo as much as the next cinephile but my patience with his stagnation is starting to wear. A few years back, when he semi-publicly left his wife for actress Kim Min-Hee, his movies started to feel like confessions, which was exactly the kind of exciting perverse thing of which classic melodramas are made. Now it’s 2022 and I wonder how much innovation Hong’s still getting up to. People tell me “Walk Up” is his most exciting in years, and I have to take them at their word. I saw “The Novelist’s Film” and I’m left with questions.

Kim plays an actress who only works for friends. Our hero is a novelist who demands to know of her ex-boyfriend, a director, why he didn’t try harder to adapt her novel before the deal to adapt it fell through. I’ve seen Hong’s characters sit around a table drinking Soju more times than I’ve seen my own family in the last 6 years, I guess I want to know where this project leads. What next? Will there be a Hong movie that rewards our faith in his lifelong and life-destroying project? Will Hong sang-soo produce a movie as exciting as the idea of being Hong Sang-soo, funded by festivals to chase his every whim and will? I liked “The Novelist’s Film” well enough, there was one composition in particular that struck me as more beautiful than anything he’s composed since 2010, but in general I think his aimlessness is being subsidized to his own artistic oblivion. I haven’t yet felt that Hong’s ideas aren’t something I couldn’t get from re-watching Eric Rohmer movies. When Hong dies we’ll know exactly what he was thinking and feeling to the second, and what will we have learned?

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