Leesong Hee-il Trilogy Review: 백야 (White Night), 지난여름, 갑자기 (Suddenly, Last Summer) & 남쪽으로 간다 (Going South)

11 thoughts on “Leesong Hee-il Trilogy Review: 백야 (White Night), 지난여름, 갑자기 (Suddenly, Last Summer) & 남쪽으로 간다 (Going South)”

  1. Interesting because of the directorial talent but the subject matter is ultimately not my cup of tea. Some of these guys sound like predatory monsters actually. There was a French film called… Love Songs I believe which had a gay character who stalked another guy. I thought it was intensely creepy.

    1. These films aren’t creepy.

      Leesong Hee-il is very sensitive filmmaker, he portrays characters that are flawed and sometimes deeply troubled but none is really a bad person.

      I think it’s just a certain kind of rap that “gay films” get that keeps people away (my guess would be that the majority of the audience were male, gay couples), but many films that feature gay relationships are not like they are stereotyped to be.

      Would you think the same (that the subject matter isn’t your cup of tea) if the characters were male/female? Though homosexuality is a subject matter here in the sense that some of the characters struggle with society’s judgement of them, ultimately these films are about their feelings, similar to other, intense films (e.g. Nemuri Yusurika/Sleep).

      Yes, they are somewhat graphic (these particular ones only mildly so, no more than, say, Kim Ki-duk’s Spring Summer Autumn Winter…and Spring) but I also don’t see a difference whether I watch a hetero- or a homosexual couple making out on the screen. I mean, it’s equally embarrassing, isn’t it? 😉

      To me, they are just films, not ‘gay films’ (I never label them as such, I refuse to have a gay/queer tag or category on this blog, at most I’ll mention that I happened to see them at that particular festival, but that’s where these films still mostly screen*). I think if you like films about the human experience and its struggles, they are worth your while.

      *Indeed, I refused information about my sexuality/race/disability in the post-festival survey, indeed any survey. I think only when we’ve dropped all these labels, will these things have been normalised in society. Truth be told, I’m breaking my own rule here by specifically talking about what I’m doing/not doing, because that means I’m reinforcing the fact that these things are still ‘issues’.

      1. Hmm, I did question whether it was the fact that the protagonists were gay was my major problem or if it was just the story of each tale and to be honest I felt it was the story. There wasn’t a hook. I enjoy drama (take a look at some of my older euro-movie reviews) but I draw the line at some point where it ceases to interest me and these just did not interest me because they seemed so slight. Forgive me for being reductionist but each story sounded like two guys, one in denial about being gay and the other aggressively gay, the end. If it was a question of race I would feel the same. Sorry, but I want something more. Add a thriller element or something.

        As far as the creepy part goes… I find that the idea that a guy can stalk/spike the drink of another person (male or female/ex-boyfriend or total stranger) is very creepy. If the person spiking the drink was a woman I would feel the same way because they are essentially committing an act that robs a person of their freedom and that is scary.

        If the film had the guy driving his drugged ex to a fun house where he proceeded to chase him around wearing a mask and it turned into a horror film then I would have been much more interested 😉

        I laud your refusal to use labels and I think that such things are nonsense – everybody is an individual and they should exercise their freedom and not let things like labels dictate what the way they think. I think I have written such things in older reviews when I was reading up about existentialism.

    1. The films have only screened at film festivals so far, I’m not sure if they have even been released in Korean cinemas yet? No DVDs yet either, I believe.

      I don’t encourage downloading, so no links on this page I’m afraid.


  2. all I need now is the english subtitle for suddenly last summer. it is actually better than I expected somehow. I like the last part of the movie. touched my heart so deep *cries

    1. Subtitles are hard to come by, unfortunately. That’s why I try to catch these films at festivals – because otherwise you just can’t be sure that there will ever be a release with subtitles.

      Suddenly Last Summer was my favourite of the three, it’s touching, sensitively done and asks such difficult, but important questions that simply have no straight answer no matter how much we’d like to pretend they do.

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