Saturday, 27 August 2016

Still Life | Jia Zhangke, 2006

"My part of China is on a banknote, too."

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Woman is the Future of Man | Hong Sang-soo, 2004

A brown-green sack with a white drawstring cord. Once, this bag was owned by a male university student, who had filled it with pebbles and punched it every morning and night to make his fist stronger. When he brings a girl back to his place during the daytime, he demonstrates his technique off the clock, beaming. She looks on. They have sex. He comes too soon.

Years pass. The student, now a married professor of Western art, sees a man carrying a similar green-brown sack over his shoulder in the snow. Snow, he says, makes him sentimental, but he lives in the past whatever the weather. He watches this man, a stranger, for a while. Seeing this bag means something to him. It reminds him of his younger days, when showing off his punches was enough to impress girls. Now, those times seem to be getting further and further away. In his eyes, his life used to be better, easier, more exciting.

But now he has a wife, a home, a promising career. He's not a student anymore — he's a man. Youth is something to grow out of, not to cling onto. The memories he wallows in are not good ones. They're empty, unsatisfying, regressive. His bag of pebbles should be a thing of the past. He shouldn't need them anymore. But he's still in his parents' home, punching a bag of stones, hoping to impress a girl. He never sees the man with the bag make it round the corner. Maybe he doesn't want to.

Friday, 5 August 2016

Moonlight Whispers | Akihiko Shiota, 1999

"You were an impossible dream. I'm just happy to be near you."
"I'm right here."

But then distance is all there is. Eye contact refracted through rain and separated by glass. This love is unrecognisable. It's dry and it's wet -- but it's still real. It's just not what it was.