South Korea, 2010, 116 min
Synonymous with the explosion of vital South Korean cinema, iconoclast Hong Sang-sooís growing body of playful, pleasantly challenging work has earned the auteur a favored place in the lexicon of modern film. Often employing protagonists who are filmmakers and professors (inviting autobiographical comparisons), and spiked with a healthy dose of drunkenness and alienation, Hongís explorations of memory, desire and self-interest make a lasting impression the world over. In this latest feature, which took top prize in last yearís Cannes Film Festivalís Un Certain Regard section, a filmmaker meets up with a close friend for farewell drinks before departing from Korea. Upon discovering they both recently returned from the same spiritual seaside town, the two men agree to swap fond memories for each sip. As the simple stories unfold in flashback, only the audience can realize that their accounts take place at the same time, and with the same people. Fans of the auteurís usual cynicism and concealed layers of meaning may be pleasantly surprised by the refreshing air of sweetness that quietly percolates here among his favorite preoccupations. With composed irreverence and a delicate but potent swirl of chance encounters, nostalgia, heartbreak and grace, Hong delivers his most sincere work.