BURNING (dir. Lee Chang-dong, 2018) - Murakami adaptation feat. Yoo Ah-in, Steven Yeun, and Jeon Jong-seo

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have had to skip over the last 30+ posts so Burning isn't spoiled for me

― Dan S, Wednesday, December 12, 2018 6:38 PM (three hours ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

Yeah, sorry, we should have made a different thread.

― Frederik B, Wednesday, December 12, 2018 6:39 PM (three hours ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

Lucca is interpolating the US unto Korea instead of delving into the context.

a lesson to learn when you dive into the U.S. politics thread.

― Your sweetie-pie-coo-coo I love ya (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, December 12, 2018 7:31 PM (two hours ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

That might be the dumbest thing you've written yet.

― Frederik B, Wednesday, December 12, 2018 7:38 PM (two hours ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

Fred, go to lunch

― I have measured out my life in coffee shop loyalty cards (silby), Wednesday, December 12, 2018 7:41 PM (two hours ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

I just saw it, really liked it. Only prepared to respond to one point brought up in the other thread re: sociopathy in the players: Yeun's character reminded me most of Jeremy in Naked ("Hope I haven't given you AIDS, Sophie!"). Not as much of a cartoonish sociopath, but deadpanning "I have never cried, and I am not sure I have ever felt sadness" - along with most of his behavior and similarly ludicrous statements - lead me to believe he's more than playing a part for his own amusement and Jong-su's horror/disgust/contempt, whatever. Having said that, not sure at all what he did one way or the other..

flappy bird, Thursday, 13 December 2018 03:22 (three months ago) Permalink

I don't think it's "interpolating the US unto Korea" to say that Korea values hard work - it's a more extreme hard work culture than the US and Ben is obviously placed into that context.

Also xxxp another post in that thread, the mysterious qualities of the movie, to me, have nothing to do with whether Ben burns barns, or kills people, or not. I wasn't waiting for that to be resolved to then go "Ah, now we've solved this story".

Said director Lee Chang-dong:

"[Talks about the plot point mystery, but then] I wanted to expand this mystery through cinematic means into a commentary on the mysteries of the times we are living through, and how ambiguous our lives actually are."

abcfsk, Thursday, 13 December 2018 08:27 (three months ago) Permalink

He is a serial killer. And it's not even about solving a mystery to me, he has a little box with jewelry, and after Haemi dissapears her watch turns up in that box. And he takes her cat.

Frederik B, Thursday, 13 December 2018 08:48 (three months ago) Permalink

Actually, it's kinda hilariously misogynistic. The implication of the serial killer plot is that these women are completely ignored by Korea society. They are the disused barns that Ben are talking about, they go into debt in a desperate chance to improve their life, and if they don't succeed they have nowhere to go. Nobody cares about them. And film criticism completely doubles down on that: 'Who cares whether or not young women are getting murdered, the really important point is that this man has to deal with ambiguity. What a tragedy!'

Frederik B, Thursday, 13 December 2018 08:58 (three months ago) Permalink

That was the director saying that, not a critic.

abcfsk, Thursday, 13 December 2018 09:08 (three months ago) Permalink

Sure, but critics apparently lap it up.

Frederik B, Thursday, 13 December 2018 09:13 (three months ago) Permalink

Seems to me you're arguing in circles. You wonder why people find mysterious and ambiguous qualities in the movie. Those people say "well, it's not the murder mystery that's interestingly ambiguous, it's all these other things". You counter with "don't you care about the murder mystery?!?!".

Sure it's important how he treats Hae-mi, that's central to the movie. The movie is about her. But guess what, there's more to what the movie's saying than 'Haemi is murdered'.

abcfsk, Thursday, 13 December 2018 09:13 (three months ago) Permalink

Also, yes, the movie has Things To Say. But certainly the fascinating performances and languid terror help make it more than an Issue Movie and gives it a mystical allure.

abcfsk, Thursday, 13 December 2018 09:16 (three months ago) Permalink

There's just something wrong with the values of criticism, if this sub-Hitchcockian ambiguity rates as 'more than an Issue Movie'. It's less.

Frederik B, Thursday, 13 December 2018 09:20 (three months ago) Permalink

But the ambiguity is not Hitchcockian, the ambiguity is not about the murder!

abcfsk, Thursday, 13 December 2018 09:28 (three months ago) Permalink

That scene where Ben and Jong-su sit outside getting high was masterfully choreographed; the camera weighs each man's responses.

Your sweetie-pie-coo-coo I love ya (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 13 December 2018 12:03 (three months ago) Permalink

Me: "hilariously misogynistic"

Also me: Lars von Trier's latest is masterful.

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 13 December 2018 13:23 (three months ago) Permalink

Have you seen either of these films?

Frederik B, Thursday, 13 December 2018 13:32 (three months ago) Permalink

I wasn't all that taken with the new Lars but I don't think Fred's criticisms here are totally unfounded.

resident hack (Simon H.), Thursday, 13 December 2018 13:49 (three months ago) Permalink

The implication of the serial killer plot is that these women are completely ignored by Korea society.

isn't this clearly implied by the film regardless of whether Ben's a serial killer or not?

intheblanks, Thursday, 13 December 2018 15:08 (three months ago) Permalink

I saw the film a month ago -- who else has he possibly killed?

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 13 December 2018 15:09 (three months ago) Permalink

The rest of the women who's jewelry is in his box. The implication is that 'burning' is his way of saying killing, and he says he 'burns' about once every two months.

Frederik B, Thursday, 13 December 2018 15:13 (three months ago) Permalink

accept the mystery

devvvine, Thursday, 13 December 2018 15:58 (three months ago) Permalink

Am I right in remembering that the one and only time the film breaks from the main character's POV is the scene where Steven Yeun puts make up on the new girl?

ryan, Thursday, 13 December 2018 16:05 (three months ago) Permalink

Anyway this is a good double feature with First Reformed.

ryan, Thursday, 13 December 2018 16:05 (three months ago) Permalink

re:the film's POV, that's how i remember it, but it's been a few weeks so I may be wrong

intheblanks, Thursday, 13 December 2018 16:07 (three months ago) Permalink

a valid interp, tho not nec mine, is that the film unreels in the mind of the protagonist, so Ben's "guilt" may be his construction.

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 13 December 2018 16:36 (three months ago) Permalink

yeah, all the points fred is making about misogyny are clear whether ben's a serial killer or not. the film makes it obvious that women like hae-mi (young, from the working class, no resources/credentials/connections) are treated as totally disposable. There doesn’t actually need to be any murder for that point to be made. You can see it from Jong-su’s discussions with her family and her former coworker, as well as how ben’s friends treat her as a curio that he will eventually discard.

The whole murder thing is left ambiguous not just because it's a thriller trope to hook in credulous critics, but because it fits with the whole ben character being this big question mark. Which is linked directly to jong-su and hae-mi's inability to navigate his world, because its rules are just set up against them and anyone without money.

intheblanks, Thursday, 13 December 2018 16:45 (three months ago) Permalink

The rest of the women who's jewelry is in his box. The implication is that 'burning' is his way of saying killing, and he says he 'burns' about once every two months.

If Frederik had written these sentences last night, he would've saved himself needless angst. I'm not sure I agree, but this is a valid conclusion that echoes a few things I notice.

Your sweetie-pie-coo-coo I love ya (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 13 December 2018 16:53 (three months ago) Permalink

I wasn't going to write something so spoilery in the End of Year Thread.

Frederik B, Thursday, 13 December 2018 18:06 (three months ago) Permalink

And yeah, it's a valid interpretation that it's all in the mind of Jong-soo, but honestly that's kinda true of every crime story ever.

Frederik B, Thursday, 13 December 2018 18:11 (three months ago) Permalink

Isn't Frederik's conclusion the obvious one? It sure seemed obvious to me.

Screamin' Jay Gould (The Yellow Kid), Thursday, 13 December 2018 18:33 (three months ago) Permalink

(in terms of the box and what "Burning" means, not necessarily the quality or misogyny of the movie)

Screamin' Jay Gould (The Yellow Kid), Thursday, 13 December 2018 18:35 (three months ago) Permalink

yes it seems obvious and unambiguous imo

( ͡☉ ͜ʖ ͡☉) (jim in vancouver), Thursday, 13 December 2018 18:38 (three months ago) Permalink

"sleep, that's where I'm a viking" level stuff if you don't get that imo

( ͡☉ ͜ʖ ͡☉) (jim in vancouver), Thursday, 13 December 2018 18:39 (three months ago) Permalink

Yeah

Pierrot with a thousand farces (wins), Thursday, 13 December 2018 18:43 (three months ago) Permalink

I think the "Ben is a serial killer" view is valid, but is it really obvious and unambiguous? Like isn't Lee intentionally making it unclear by hiding the cat during the beginning section of the film? It's not like he just forgot to show the cat.

And I don't know, keeping Hae-Mi's watch or other "souvenirs" from past women, there's a creepy element to that but it seems pretty far from unambiguous evidence that the dude murders people every two months. It's definitely way less bad than what Jong-Su does in Hae-Mi's apartment.

tbh my feelings are closer to this from the other thread


Better: Ben wants Jongsu to think he's a bad ass/sociopath.

― Your sweetie-pie-coo-coo I love ya (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, December 12, 2018 2:18 PM (yesterday) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

I don't think it's out of the question that during the pivotal "I burn greenhouses" scene, that Ben is a urban trust fund guy who thinks it's funny to mess with a guy he thinks is a country rube.

intheblanks, Thursday, 13 December 2018 19:22 (three months ago) Permalink

the murder scene is so sensual - by the time Jongsu has Ben pinned against the car, it's almost a love scene

flappy bird, Thursday, 13 December 2018 19:25 (three months ago) Permalink

for sure, it definitely feels meant to mirror the scene between Jongsu and Haemi from earlier, iirc Jongsu taking off his shirt is almost an identical camera placement to when he does it in the earlier scene

intheblanks, Thursday, 13 December 2018 19:28 (three months ago) Permalink

yeah it is, good call

flappy bird, Thursday, 13 December 2018 19:31 (three months ago) Permalink

intheblanks, you did notice there was a litter box filled with cat shit, right?

Frederik B, Thursday, 13 December 2018 19:33 (three months ago) Permalink

FWIW, re the ambiguity of what Ben is or isn't, there *is* a definitive answer, according to Yeun, it's just that only he and Lee Chang-Dong know it and he is sworn to secrecy. :)

resident hack (Simon H.), Thursday, 13 December 2018 19:35 (three months ago) Permalink

this is a Murakami adaptation though, a certain amount of magical realism is to be expected. I didn't think the cat shit made the film any less ambiguous, in fact that whole part of the movie where Jongsu is cleaning an absent woman's apartment echoed Synecdoche, New York - so I don't think things that would be concrete proof in another movie necessarily have the same effect here.

xp

flappy bird, Thursday, 13 December 2018 19:36 (three months ago) Permalink

xp Yeah, of course I did, I never said Haemi didn't have a cat. I said that Lee intentionally doesn't show the cat in the early scenes in order to introduce uncertainty around the cat in the later scenes.

intheblanks, Thursday, 13 December 2018 19:37 (three months ago) Permalink

i'm not even arguing that the "ben is a serial killer" thing is wrong, it just seems odd to deny that the director intentionally makes it foggy

intheblanks, Thursday, 13 December 2018 19:39 (three months ago) Permalink

did anyone else notice how the music goes from non-diegetic to diegetic during the sunset scene? right before Haemi starts dancing, the jazz score suddenly sounds like it's coming from a car or an overhead speaker

flappy bird, Thursday, 13 December 2018 19:43 (three months ago) Permalink

like, there's another way to look at the film where a guy is increasingly and dangerously detached from the world around him--he's jobless and without prospects, he is losing his only family member to prison, he pushes away the person closest to him by calling her a whore, and is just increasingly unhinged. And he ends up concoct an elaborate conspiracy theory about this rich asshole who has this friction-free life, and who is incredibly easy to resent. So he murders him.

intheblanks, Thursday, 13 December 2018 19:46 (three months ago) Permalink

There's just nothing to indicate that Jong-soo concocts an elaborate conspiracy theory. Nothing. It's not in the film. It's just making things up to say so. He's intrigued because Ben says he burns barns, then he begins to suspect Ben is lying about burning barns, then he finds strong indications that Ben is a serial killer.

The short story can be read here, btw: https://www.mrflamm.com/uploads/2/2/0/0/2200902/barnburningbyharukimurakami.pdf?fbclid=IwAR0kDGX2j5oTA26gJTObgbv58F2UwOpwe63S3oJ9M2EXW7CCCkkTKhes3PE

Frederik B, Thursday, 13 December 2018 19:55 (three months ago) Permalink

i don't know, he murders Ben because Ben has the watch of an ex-girlfriend, and because he believes but can't really confirm with certainty that Ben also has Haemi's cat. Also because he heard Haemi have some sort of (maybe) fight with someone on the phone. Those aren't strong indicators to me, and more likely evidence of an increasingly delusional character, but ymmv.

Admittedly, I haven't read the story, so I'm only going on the film here.

intheblanks, Thursday, 13 December 2018 20:02 (three months ago) Permalink

But then what do you think happened to Haemi, and the cat for that sake? Who cleaned the flat? Why didn't a barn burn? And how did Ben get the watch? There's a simple explanation for everything in this movie, and it's you're prerogative to not believe that, but the film is only mysterious if you decide not to believe it.

The other thing, btw, is that IF Lee Chang-dong made a film where whether or not a bunch of young women are killed is just a mystery to be embraced, then that's the oldest cliché in the book, it's sexist bullshit, and it's awful that the film world is falling for that. And the implications for the film world holds true, since apparently a lot of people really do believe that, and still love the film. But that's not what Burning is. There's one story that makes everything makes sense it's just that the story - this charming man is hurting women - is one we still don't want to believe. It's not mystery against mystery, it's mystery against taboo. It's a bit like in L'Avventura, where there is a pretty reasonable and prosaic explanation for Anna's disappearance - she is depressed and commits suicide - and not anything that really speaks against it, it's just that the taboo against suicide is so strong, and the willingness to hope for her survival even stronger, that it seems otherwise.

Frederik B, Thursday, 13 December 2018 20:25 (three months ago) Permalink

Anna's suicide in L'Avventura, which was my conclusion twenty years ago, seemed less ambiguous based on her character as written and the actress' performance.

Who cleaned the flat?

Who did? I honestly don't know.

Your sweetie-pie-coo-coo I love ya (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 13 December 2018 20:34 (three months ago) Permalink

accept the mystery

― devvvine, Thursday, December 13, 2018 7:58 AM (four hours ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

the awesomeness of this post needs to be acknowledged

Οὖτις, Thursday, 13 December 2018 20:39 (three months ago) Permalink

xp i'm pretty mixed on the film; honestly i'm more inclined to agree with the "IF" analysis you say Burning isn't. I found the performances great, and the gradual build-up in sinister mood, as well as the direction in key scenes to be outstanding. That said, at a certain point I started to feel I was watching another Vertigo homage, mixed with some L'Avventura and Blow-Up/The Conversation for good measure, where there is this obsessive search by the deeply troubled man for the mystery of what happened to this woman. Obviously I'm painting those films, which I truly love, with an EXTREMELY broad brush. I'm just saying there's a tiredness to seeing that thematic ground covered yet again. I don't think that's all there is in the film, but my feelings were, ahem, ambiguous.

And for what it's worth, I don't doubt the serial killer thing because Ben is so "charming." From his introduction, he's an unlikable asshole. And I must say, commending Lee for avoiding a tired, sexist cliche in favor of the so very not cliched "serial killer" plotline is a take I wouldn't have come up with.

intheblanks, Thursday, 13 December 2018 21:15 (three months ago) Permalink

Well, I just got that take accepted as a paid assignment, so...

https://media.giphy.com/media/D16XHdsB1PBxm/giphy.gif

Frederik B, Friday, 14 December 2018 00:37 (three months ago) Permalink

Congrats, good luck with the piece

intheblanks, Friday, 14 December 2018 01:18 (three months ago) Permalink

Will this be in English?

xyzzzz__, Friday, 14 December 2018 10:08 (three months ago) Permalink

Oh no, only in Danish. And I'm not going to write it until spring, so it's a long time away.

Frederik B, Friday, 14 December 2018 13:35 (three months ago) Permalink

It's not like he just forgot to show the cat.

As with pantomime, you just have to forget that it's *not* there.

ryan, Friday, 14 December 2018 14:17 (three months ago) Permalink

There's just nothing to indicate that Jong-soo concocts an elaborate conspiracy theory. Nothing. It's not in the film.

This is heavily underscored as very possible--see my above post!

ryan, Friday, 14 December 2018 14:21 (three months ago) Permalink

One other odd element that doesn't really fit: right before Ben is stabbed he asks where Haemi is.

ryan, Friday, 14 December 2018 14:22 (three months ago) Permalink

It's a bit like in L'Avventura, where there is a pretty reasonable and prosaic explanation for Anna's disappearance - she is depressed and commits suicide - and not anything that really speaks against it, it's just that the taboo against suicide is so strong, and the willingness to hope for her survival even stronger, that it seems otherwise.

hyper-literally solving the mysteries of deliberately ambiguous narratives is massive point missing.

ryan, Friday, 14 December 2018 14:32 (three months ago) Permalink

UK release date is Feb 1st.

brokenshire (jed_), Sunday, 16 December 2018 22:16 (three months ago) Permalink

xp in the text message that summoned him there, the main character claimed he found Haemi. id have to watch it again but i think it's... ambiguous... as to whether that mean he found her dead or alive

Nhex, Monday, 17 December 2018 00:30 (three months ago) Permalink

Regardless of the realities of Ben, it's pretty key, as mentioned above, that Jongsu is shown as having troubled and problematic ideas of who and what Hae-mi is. Both director Lee and his co-screenwriter have mentioned the moment when he calls Hae-mi a whore. The film would be pretty lame if Jongsu finished the story off heroically ending the life of the woman killer Ben. Jongsu is also bad news, in a different way.

"I also wanted to make it clear that the emotions and the thoughts that Jong-su has may not be right. I wanted the audience to sort of feel that doubt and suspicion, and be aware of how unreliable this character may be. For example, when Hae-mi dances against the sunset, afterwards Jong-su tells her that she's a whore. In other scenes Jong-su shows a very passive attitude, and even in the last scene, where he commits the murder — that may or may not have been a part of reality, but I wanted the audience to follow Jong-su's narrative and put themselves in his perspective and feel his confusion and emotions, but at the same time distance themselves and look at him critically."

abcfsk, Monday, 17 December 2018 07:45 (three months ago) Permalink

Yeah it's not clear at all to me that Ben is a serial killer - all the evidence against him is circumstantial. You can't even know for sure that his cat = Haemi's cat! It's equally likely that this is a story that Jongsu wants to believe, because it fits with his suspicions about the Bens/Gatsbys of the world.

Roz, Monday, 17 December 2018 08:19 (three months ago) Permalink

Like so much of this movie is about Jongsu's insecurities and barely concealed rage - whether directed at women like Haemi, at Ben, at his inability to write like Faulkner, or at his father, and it all comes spilling out at the end.

Roz, Monday, 17 December 2018 08:26 (three months ago) Permalink

i felt that Ben was definitely a serial killer but yeah, the movie gives more attention to Jongu's story as you outline

Nhex, Tuesday, 18 December 2018 09:00 (three months ago) Permalink

Roz OTM - the evidence all points clearly towards Ben, but said evidence is entirely circumstantial, and the entirety of the ending tips toward highlighting how unbalanced the person analysing that evidence is.

sans lep (sic), Wednesday, 19 December 2018 18:48 (three months ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...

Lee will be appearing at MoMA's 6-film retro of his work in 3 weeks. I haven't seen Peppermint Candy in a long time, and two of the others ever.

https://www.moma.org/calendar/film/5043?locale=en

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 9 January 2019 18:38 (two months ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...

clearly v artfully ambiguous film

||||||||, Saturday, 2 February 2019 08:24 (one month ago) Permalink

steven yeun is so perfectly creepy

||||||||, Saturday, 2 February 2019 08:28 (one month ago) Permalink

Loved this

or something, Saturday, 2 February 2019 09:46 (one month ago) Permalink

Eric finally saw Burning

This episode of Tidying Up gets really dark pic.twitter.com/FStux31u6o

— Eric Allen Hatch (@ericallenhatch) February 13, 2019

flappy bird, Wednesday, 13 February 2019 06:10 (one month ago) Permalink

he did this one last week

BURNING (2018):

(・_・)っmaybe
(っ / Ben
Lノ┘

  ∧___∧ didn’t
⊂(・_・ ) literally
 ヽ ⊂二/ mean
 (⌒) /

/     \green-
|  ●   ● | houses
\  __ /

— Eric Allen Hatch (@ericallenhatch) February 7, 2019

The Very Fugly Caterpillar (sic), Wednesday, 13 February 2019 06:30 (one month ago) Permalink

Saw this at the weekend, just starting to engage with this thread...was Haemi even murdered?

My recollection from Murakami us that he likes people to disappear. It's there in L'avventura..

xyzzzz__, Wednesday, 13 February 2019 11:36 (one month ago) Permalink

..and other films too. Its there in Teorema.

Did Haemi and Jong-Su even know one another? Striking how he really can't remember her at all. Throws up the possibility that she appears and disappears, leaving an emptiness in Jong-Su that eventually lapses into psychosis.

xyzzzz__, Wednesday, 13 February 2019 11:42 (one month ago) Permalink

ya - he burns down relationships

xxp

||||||||, Wednesday, 13 February 2019 11:52 (one month ago) Permalink


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