- 1.0 viewing Dec 2018
- There are three brilliant scenes in the 148 minute film— leaving the theater I thought it was a recommend but those scenes are lingering with me which leads me to believe it could be higher
- One of the scenes is the long tracking shot opening as we follow Ah-in Yoo’s character down the street
- The second transcendent scene/moment, is the long take that floats during her jazz striptease. I’d like to look at my watch when I see it on Blu-ray to see if I’m right- but it feels like it happens about half way through the film which would be a nice touch formally. – that entire scene is great—the Miles Davis—that entire longer scene (not just the epic shot of her dancing) was shot entirely during a beautiful magic hour– one of the scenes of the year
- Based on a South Korean book, but also on Faulkner which is mentioned in the text—as is Gatsby and that’s hard to turn off… adds to the film
- The three characters are confidently built and so well developed. Ah-in Yoo is stuck, Steven Yeun is the perfect mysterious Gatsby and Jong-seo Jun is both haunted and hypnotic- cries- tortured
- There’s a lot going on here in the narrative- we have memory as a subject coming up again and again- Ah-in Yoo’s character doesn’t remember her, prank calls, she’s had plastic surgery, she gives the great speech about pantomiming and then she disappearing like a “puff of smoke”
- Lots of the film is Ah-in Yoo following Yeun’s character- much like Vertigo
- Very dense and novelist
- Love the greenhouse burning—there’s a shot of an art gallery in the film where it’s in the background as well
- Is this the story of a suicidal girl (Jong-seo Jun), the mind of a schizophrenic monster (Ah-in Yoo)? An abductor (Yeun)
- The third and final transcendent stylistic scene is the final killing- wow
2.0 viewing January 2019
- the score by Mowg is probably the score of the year in 2018
- there are reoccurring scenes which lines up so well formally- twice, one of Steven Yeun’s girlfriends (guests at the party) tells a story, shows naivite. First Jong-seo June does it about the bushman and the great hunger and then the next girl (after her disappearance) does it about the Chinese. Ah-in Yoo makes eye contact with Yeun who is yawning. Then he smirks.
- amazing subtext talking about the burning as a potential code for taking women
- scenes are purposefully contradictory. Does Jong-seo Jun’s character fall in the well? Yoo’s mom remembers it. Her family says she’s lying. Twice, again Ah-In Yoo doesn’t remember a story from her past- doesn’t recognize her.
- every nuance is important (or potentially) Trump and immigration on the news, Unemployment rate
- prank calls, often Chang-dong Lee cuts to Ah-in Yoo waking up- was what just happened before a dream? Does this happen- just before the epic finale are are watching him typing. Is he finally writing? Does the finale happen?
- a Must-See film I believe
The troubled female character disappearing midway through the film is also clearly influenced by Vertigo as well, not just the scenes of Jong-su following Ben. Same with Jong-su’s utter fixation on solving the mystery of Hae-mi’s disappearance just as Scotty was obsessed with Madeleine’s. And there were other various points throughout the runtime that I felt “damn, this is like an Asian Hitchcock film!”
It was only right at the end, when Jong-su killed Ben, that it hit me that – so long as your reading of the film is that Jong-su is actually at least somewhat sane and Ben really is the actual villain as he is in Jong-su’s mind – Ben only told Jong-su about the greenhouse burnings, which are fake, to make sure Jong-su would be away from Seoul when he kidnapped Hae-mi. When did this happen for you, Drake, or anyone else here that has seen the film?
And also, when did this film become a MP for any of you, if we are in agreement that it is one? I thought it was just a MS (and there’s no shame in being a MS) up until the scene where the 3 are at Jong-su’s farm, smoking weed and Hae-mi starts dancing.
I also think Yoo Ah-in deserves a mention alongside Yeun in the Best Male Performances when you update the 2018 page. They’re both on a great level of transcendence but we get more of Yoo since he’s the main character, although Yeun’s performance when his character gets killed is just unbelievable.
At the same time, Ben probably wouldn’t have gone to the meeting and left his car without a weapon if he really killed her. Jong-su actually finding Hae-mi, who Ben would know is dead or something else, would have him much too suspicious of a trap. He’s too smart to fall for that. All I’ve determined from this analysis is that I will be left thinking about this film for weeks, months, and years.
@Zane- and yes- this one really stuck with me as well!
@Zane- great share- yes- the scene of the three at magic hour there with the sun going down is a fabulous scene
[…] Burning – Chang-dong Lee […]
Burning (2018) additional thoughts
I’ve posted a lot about this film on the 2018 page but here are some more thoughts
The sex scene around the 15 min mark uses canted angles, the film is shown from the perspective of Jong-su who is basically every scene. The majority of sex scenes in movies, especially those with late teens/young adults, are unrealistic in my opinion. This scene is a little uncomfortable and awkward which makes me think it may have been Jong-su first time, I think the camera angles along with the music create a distinct vibe putting us in the mind of Jong-su with is crucial given that he is obviously an introvert. In his review for Taxi Driver, Roger Ebert stated the following:
“One of the hardest things for a director to do is to suggest a character’s interior state without using dialog; one of Scorsese’s greatest achievements in “Taxi Driver” is to take us inside Travis Bickle’s point of view.”
The scenes with Jong-su father and the scene with Jong-su mother gives us further insight into how he got the way he is today; this film is a phenomenal character study and dispenses various aspects of his backstory through the film
There have been countless love triangles throughout movie history but this one is different from any other that I’ve seen. Ben and Jong-su have a sort of mutual curiosity about each other. The 1st time I watched it I remember thinking Ben acted smugly toward Jong-su and to a certain degree he does. But one of the things I found interesting was in the scene where Jong-su follows Ben into a café. Ben is reading something from William Faulkner suggesting a level of respect or at least intrigue that Ben has for Jong-su whose favorite author is Faulkner. Jong-su is intrigued by Ben and while yes Jong-su does seem to be somewhat envious of him, he also has a certain fascination with Ben who he refers to as “The Great Gatsby”
Formally I like the repetition with Ben’s latest girlfriend near the end of the film who takes on the role Hae-mi had before, basically being judged by his callous rich friends who are laughing at her more than laughing with her, with Ben seeming bored just as he probably did with Hae-mi.
A few weeks ago I watched Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) which I had seen before a couple of times over the years. It’s one of those movies famous for its lack of resolution. I recently found out that the author of the book (which served as the screen play for the film) actually did give her publisher an explanation of what happened to the girls, which is the mystery central to the movie. When I learned this I was initially excited to find out but have yet to read it and am now leaning toward not reading it as I think it makes the movie stronger. With Burning (2018) I think I may be at the point where I actually prefer to not have a clear-cut explanation