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On the Occasion of Remembering the Turning Gate More at IMDbPro »Saenghwalui balgyeon (original title)

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22 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

A New Antonioni?

9/10
Author: kinolieber
7 October 2002

This low key, insightful, and ultimately devastating film quietly observes a callow young man in his search for love. Utterly ill-equipped for the challenge, he bounces from one encounter to another, hoping that he'll find the connection to life that's missing in his life, but instead, he causes pain wherever he goes in his self-absorbed quest. When he finally utters the words "I love you" they are hollow and come immediately after his admission of dishonesty, manipulation and deception.

There's a sad charm to the guy, especially if you identify even a little with his plight, and that takes some of the sting out of the film maker's subtle satire.

I was reminded often of Antonioni who also analyzed the failed searching of young people for love and connection in a culture that left them hopelessly alienated and cut off from each other except for their sexual couplings, which seemed to leave them even more selfish and heartless.

The performances are sublime, especially Sang Mi Chu, who lights up the film the minute she appears.

Not as depressing as I may have made it sound, it has moments of humor, and not a little affection for its characters.

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17 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Quest for love

Author: alberto-27 from Strasbourg
1 February 2004

This film is about the quest of love of a young man. It is extremely realistic, especially in the description of a self-cantered central character who seems always a little surprised at what is happening to him.

The film is NOT a romantic comedy. It is not even a comedy, or a drama, or whatever category you usually put movies in. It is a transposition of life, with all its ambiguities, its unaccomplished desires, its eternal quests.

The direction is minimalist but effective. The acting is sublime. If you are not worried to watch a movie which shows things that might be happening to you, go and see it.

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14 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Very Straightforward film

10/10
Author: Louka from Seoul Korea
25 July 2002

Well I've heard a lot about the director, Hong Sang Soo, and his works, which seemed to be getting good responses from critics continuously. But never watched his work before. Maybe it was that critics saying good things about a film and you don't want to see it.

But my friends watched this and they all recommended it and so I gave it a shot. Well I was astonished. This film deals with relationships-especially relationships between men and women, can be called a comedy impov, but there¡¯s not a single sweet moment that we usually see in romantic comedies.

This film shows us two successive love affairs a man experience and it¡¯s really amazing how the director portrays them perceiving their relationship on their own ground. The characters are all everyday figures, sometimes you feel ashamed just looking at them because they could be you in your past relations. Again Very Straightforward film and if you want something sweet avoid this one, but if you want something that raise something to think about, go for it, watch it, feel ashamed and think over it.

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12 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Series of social events wrenched with untamed liaisons

8/10
Author: Gigo_Satana from Oriental State of Mind
5 May 2005

I think it's safe to assume that if you sought this film out on your own or were strongly urged by someone close to watch it, after reading or hearing its vividly gloomy description - chances are that this film will draw near to what you have envisioned and even surpass it. The reason why I say this is because such genre in film, although easily recognizable and independently existent in almost every country, is the embodiment of films described as "acquired taste".

Crafting such films is not an easy task and sometimes enjoying them is as hard, but ultimately rewarding. I always look forward to them, because they often reflect life in such ways that make me blush, feel saddened or merely reminiscent of a similar situation from a personal experience which I never thought possible to see through someone else's eyes.

This film is a fine example of that type of cinema, which isn't cautious, shy nor uncertain of what it wants you to see. Obviously the actors and their delivery is the stronghold of this experience because it tends to bravely strip down to sincere dialogs, perceptive expressions and ordinarily enjoyable landscapes. Something that I always look forward to in Hong's films, no matter how unconventional the tales sometimes tend to be.

Going into the details of the film's plot would be unreasonable due to the nature of its intent or the lack of it, besides other reviews here have given enough insight as it is. In a sentence this has become Hong's favorite set ups in films, where a man and a woman who haven't seen each other in some time meet and share few uncomfortable and sexual situations en route of heavy drinking and eating.

Watch this film on any given day, under any type of a weather, with whomever you desire, because the unfortunate truth is that Seon-young's unintended journey will either fascinate you with its symbolic realism or repel you with its decision not to pass through the turning gate.

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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

quiet but very intense

9/10
Author: kmevy from Graz, Austria
21 August 2006

From the very start i was caught up in the pacing of this film. Everything felt so down-to-earth and therefore so natural.

But as it is often the case with those calm movies, there is, in truth, a lot of noise behind these curtains of silence. You can't see it directly but after looking at all these details, and there are a lot of them, frictions are just popping out everywhere. Every single spoken word has then a special meaning.

Technically the film is simply dull. No music, at least i don't remember, very simple camera angles etc. It felt more like a theater-play than a film. The only difference was having the real environment, but even that was not so important. There were only some "items", which played a key-role, like the turning gate, but they were also replaceable with a stage-backdrop.

So that is the risk that some might be bored to death when they happen to run into this film. For myself it was just fascinating. A 10/10 as a theater play ... but, because of the unused potential of "film-techniques", a 9/10 as a movie.

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6 out of 40 people found the following review useful:

Art-House Pornography (aka An Ode to a Meaningless Life)

1/10
Author: ebossert from United States
19 January 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Let me set the stage. I love well-crafted art-house dramas and romances from East Asia. Christmas In August (1998), One Fine Spring Day (2001), Spring Summer Fall Winter and Spring (2003), Asako In Ruby Shoes (2000), Rules of Dating (2005), Art Museum By the Zoo (1998), and most of Yasujiro Ozu's films were very enjoyable to me. Add another 200 or so similar films to that recommendation list, and one could be forgiven to conclude that I not only like deliberately-paced, slow-burning art-house cinema, but I'm actually a big fan of the genre.

To date I've seen four of Sang-soo Hong's films and one thing is certain: the artistic merits of Virgin Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors (2000) was a fluke of sorts within Hong's otherwise unimpressive portfolio that treads dangerously close to mirroring something you'd see on Cinemax Late Night. A half dozen sex scenes? Check. Complete absence of character development? Check. Dull-as-dirt filler material? Check. In all honesty, there's very little (if anything) that distinguishes Hong's films from "tummy stick" fests.

Take Turning Gate as an example. A guy meets a girl, "bangs" her senseless, then stops seeing her. The same guy later meets another girl, "bangs" her senseless, then stops seeing her. The film ends. I'm not exaggerating when I say that this summary adequately covers any and all content this movie has to offer. You may wonder how on earth the running time clocks in at 115 minutes. I'll tell you. The characters walk around a lot, wait for cabs, and participate in some of the most boring conversations to ever grace celluloid.

The whole point of minimalization in film-making is to recreate the charming, intriguing scenarios that occupy everyday life while avoiding the uninteresting staleness surrounding those moments (watch an Ozu film if you can't get your head around this concept). For instance, the relationship with my first girlfriend could provide enough content for an interesting film, but a director is misguided if he thinks that showing me on the toilet for five minutes is going to provide any sort of entertainment value. Will someone please inform Tsai Ming-liang of this?

Now, Hong is not quite as bad as Tsai. He's close, but Turning Gate isn't quite the abhorrent "masterpiece" of trashiness that Viva L'Amour (1994) is. Both directors do make significant contributions to "Laundry" film-making though – which means that their focus on realism gives these hacks a free pass to make movies that are completely devoid of content or insight. For me personally, watching people pick each other up and "bang" is the equivalent of watching someone do their laundry. Hong's only good film – Virgin Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors – kept me interested in the "hunt" for two hours, which is something you can't say for his other, lesser efforts.

If the director actually gave me some content to help me understand why these people live this way and how that lifestyle affects them, then I'd surely enjoy it more. One Fine Spring Day, for example, does a wonderful job of showing the emotional roller-coaster of a typical relationship from beginning to end. Unfortunately, Turning Gate (as well as most of Hong's other movies) is so devoid of content that the only people that will enjoy this movie are those who say to themselves, "Man, I yearn to remember the days when I banged a different person every week with no strings attached."

Don't misunderstand me. I love films with sex, but I need something interesting or intriguing to keep me engaged. Strange Circus (2005) had copious amounts of explicit sex, but it had psychological concepts behind them. Ardor (2002), The Isle (2000), and a few of the positively aforementioned films all had some steamy sex in them, but there was enough content that raised the experience above Playboy Channel trash. Hong ventures into that trashy realm far too often.

To close, I'd like to also communicate my displeasure with other reviewers who have imposed informative psychological content INTO the film when the filmmaker himself failed to do so. I read statements like, "It is a transposition of life, with all its ambiguities, its unaccomplished desires, its eternal quests" or "Every single spoken word has a special meaning" and think to myself, "How the hell was any of this communicated through this film?" It's a double-edged sword, I'm afraid. If someone is willing to project that much meaning into Turning Gate, then you surely must give a movie like Show Girls the same consideration.

After watching over 2,000 East Asian films I've been able to identify the types of movies that are a waste of time. The exploitation genre (e.g., The Untold Story or Kichiku Dai Enkai) is one example. Art-house cinema is full of traps, because amongst the many amazing films within this genre there are some truly inept flops that are so unambitious and mind-numbingly awful that one simply cannot avoid an occasional pitfall here or there. I resent directors like Hong who entice me with one good entry, only to then clobber me over the head with three steaming piles of pig manure.

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