Matthew’s Video Store: “In Front of Your Face’s” Simplistic Mastery and the Park & Market Theater

With the new Park & Market UCSD building opening in downtown San Diego, it opens up a new avenue for foreign cinema for both general audiences and avid filmgoers.

UC San Diego recently opened a new building in downtown San Diego, simply called UC San Diego @ Park & Market. It is just across the street from the Park & Market stop on the Blue Line Trolley, perfect for those looking for a reason to use the recent Blue Line extension. Within this building, there is a new theater, “Digital Gym Cinema.” It’s small, housing only 58 seats, but it shows a wide variety of foreign films, something desperately needed in the environment of our current cinema. The tickets are also relatively cheap, $10 for a UCSD student and $12 for general admission (both with a $1 service fee if ordered online) and there is no reserved seating. Unfortunately, the building is often locked and you must dial the front desk number provided on a sign outside the entrance in order to enter. Regardless, a cinema that runs foreign and independent cinema should be welcomed, and there is no better way to welcome it than to attend.

One of the films shown recently was “In Front of Your Face.” Directed by Hong Sang-soo, a prolific South Korean director, the film subtly yet unabashedly touches on the small, imperfect beauties in our lives which should be cherished. The film follows Jeongok (Yunhee Cho) as she visits her sister Sangok (Lee Hye-yeong) in South Korea and reconnects with her childhood.

As the film opens, we see Jeongok clutch her stomach, an obvious — perhaps overly so — indication of illness. From this scene, the movie sways into her interactions with her sister; the illness is left undiscussed, yet it lingers in the back of your mind. “Is her illness why she took this trip?” becomes the clear question, which slowly answers itself over the course of the film.

Jeongok explores the areas most sacred to her, remembering moments and adventures from her childhood. While on a walk with her sister, we discover she was a small actor many years ago. She visits her old house, which has been remodeled, and Sang-soo rests the camera on her standing in the garden, surrounded by foliage. Physically intertwined with the yard around her, the bittersweet remembrance of home and childhood emanate from the frame while she explores the greenery. Jeongok reminisces with the new resident, discussing how much has changed since she left for America.

Jeongok eventually meets with a director, Jaewon (Kwon Hae-hyo), who has wanted to cast her in a future film since seeing a clip of her which deeply affected him. Throughout their meeting, they weave on and off-topic, with Jaewon asking if she plays guitar; she studied for a short time years ago. He playfully demands she play. Sang-soo lingers on this setting, Jaewon listening wistfully while Jeongok imperfectly plays the guitar. This beautiful moment encapsulates the overarching theme of the film; Jeongok frequently pauses, sures her hands, and continues — yet this magical tune rises above these imperfections, becoming more moving each time she errs, and picks up again.

The film’s simple cinematography lends itself well to the flow and tone of the film. Shot with natural lighting and sparse camera movement, the lighting overexposed on a bright day, the small mismatches of audio between cuts; it feels natural, as it should feel. The intentional imperfections highlight the beauty found within the imperfections in our own lives. Sang-soo’s use of slow zooms — often first on Jeongok, then out to her surroundings — creates an intimate link between her and the world around her. These notions eek out of the film; when first viewing, its lighthearted nature slowly warms you up to the complex ideas expressed within. These difficult realities seem to lay undisturbed, then slowly it begins to connect, the loneliness of finding that while you were away, your home has moved on; praying that you become the person that deserves the unexpected kindness of others; the immediate and terrifying confrontation with death. But ultimately, it melds into acceptance. The absurdity that death is soon approaching is reconciled with the inelegant and beautiful connections Jeongok finds between strangers and family alike.

This was my first film from Hong Sang-soo and, although the magnitude of his filmography intimidates me, “In Front of Your Face” certainly started out on the right foot. Simple, elegant, and moving, it charmingly navigated these complex topics as a most pure form of cinema.

Image courtesy of Hector Arrieta

6 thoughts on “Matthew’s Video Store: “In Front of Your Face’s” Simplistic Mastery and the Park & Market Theater

  1. Editing videos is a favorite requirement of young people today, being able to make unique videos for themselves to post on social networking sites is an extremely favorite thing of many young people today. There are many tools for you to use, but which is the best support tool for you. Today I would like to introduce the Efectum Ocean Of APK application that allows you to edit videos according to your preferences.

  2. The topic you mentioned is very good, this is a topic that I am very passionate about, now in my life and work I find it very necessary to use photo and video editing applications, it helps us.

  3. The topic you mentioned is very good, this is a topic that I am very passionate about, now in my life and work I find it very necessary to use photo and video editing applications, it helps us. so many.

  4. Another great Sunday because a new “Matthew’s Video Store” review was dropped…

Comments are closed.