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Sungam (Youngho Kim) battles displacement and loneliness in Hong Sang-soo’s NIGHT AND DAY

NIGHT AND DAY (BAM GUAN NAT) (Hong Sang-soo, 2008)
Film Society of Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater
165 West 65th St. at Amsterdam Ave.
Friday, September 20, 9:00
Series runs September 20-26

Korean writer-director Hong Sang-soo returned to the New York Film Festival for the fifth time with Night and Day, a character-driven tale about displacement and loneliness. Youngho Kim stars as Sungam, a married painter in his forties who flees South Korea for France after having been turned in for smoking marijuana with U.S. tourists. A fish out of water in Paris, he settles into a Korean neighborhood, spending most of his time with two young art students, Yujeong (Eunhye Park) and Hyunju (Minjeong Seo). He also meets an old girlfriend, Minsun (Youjin Kim), who is still attracted to him. And every night he calls his wife, Sungin (Sujung Hwang), wondering when he’ll be able to return home. Hong (Woman Is the Future of Man, Tale of Cinema) tells the story in a diary-like manner, with interstitials acting like calendar pages. Sometimes a day can be filled with talk of art, a party, and a chance encounter, while others can consist of a brief, random event with no real bearing on the plot, reminiscent of Jim Jarmusch’s Stranger Than Paradise, just without the existential cynicism and dark humor. As with 2006’s Woman on the Beach, Hong lets Night and Day go on too long (it clocks in at 141 minutes), with too many inconsequential (even if entertaining) vignettes, but it’s so much fun watching Youngho’s compelling performance that you just might not care about the length. Night and Day is screening September 20 at 9:00 as part of the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s “NYFF: Opening Act” series, featuring sixteen films from directors whose latest works will be shown at the fifty-first New York Film Festival, which runs September 27 through October 13. “NYFF: Opening Act” also includes outstanding films as Spike Jonze’s Adaptation., Paul Greengrass’s Bloody Sunday, Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Maborosi, Joel Coen’s Miller’s Crossing, and Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Pulse. Hong’s delightful Nobody’s Daughter Haewon screens at this year’s New York Film Festival on September 29 and 30.

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