[HanCinema's Film Review] "Now Playing"

The first segment of the "Now Playing" omnibus posits a very simple question. Why do people go to movies? Is it because they like movies? Well...not really no. For most people movies are just a social event, like a date, where they can forget the drudgery of their actual lives and pretend like love exists. This opening segment sets the tone for the next two- where movies are exposited as generally pointless gimmicks designed to make certain people feel better themselves more than they are things intended to actually be watched.

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I'm not sure whether I disliked "Now Playing" so much as I am just thoroughly sick of the concept. There's times it feels like every other movie I watch is some kind of meta-commentary on the film-making process. Any of you looking to get into the movie review racket should keep this in mind- excessive film study turns your brain into mush. There is no real point in trying to watch every movie that ever existed so please, whatever you do, don't try.

...Anyway, back on topic. The second segment solidifies the idea of film as a gimmick by taking the meta-commentary joke to a ridiculous extreme. This short film quite literally consists of us seeing a short part of a short film, a backout to a film about the people who made the short film, then we see the people who made the short film do some other social thing, then we find out that was also a short film by another group of people who then go on to another social event and then...

All right, do you see what I mean now about my brain slowly turning into mush? I don't even remember how many times this gimmick was repeated. At several points I laughed at the absurdity of it all. I can't tell whether this was supposed to be a parody of a Hong Sang-soo film or a tribute to Hong Sang-soo film or whether the filmmakers had even heard of Hong Sang-soo, they just wanted to push this gimmick beyond all possible reason.

Now, the final segment- probably the most straightforward of the bunch. It's about a couple of not terribly interesting people who attempt to break into the interesting person short-film racket by making a movie about their rather unremarkable relationship that purports to make some sort of larger statement about what love is. Even though the aspiring filmmakers are in their late twenties, they genuinely don't seem to have any idea what they actually want to see.

It's time like this I can't figure out whether meta-films are about the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in the glass, or the rage of Caliban not seeing his own face in the glass. I want to hate the (literal) filmmakers in the second segment for being overly clever and yet also hate the (representational) filmmakers in the third segment for not being clever enough. So thank you "Now Playing", for managing to thoroughly confuse the dickens out of me. At least the first segment managed to remind me that movies aren't that big a deal compared to real life anyway.

Review by William Schwartz

"Now Playing" is directed by Kang Kyung-tae, Koo Kyo-hwan, Yi Okseop, Yoon Seong-ho and features Jung Yeon-joo, Park Jong-hwan, Baek Seung-hwa, Baek Soo-jang and Park Min-ji.

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