Grass Screen 5 articles

Grass

2018

Grass Poster
  • The film raises countless engaging questions (see below). It feels as if it takes place over the course of a single afternoon and evening, but out in front of the café, a pot with young sprouts is shown in a later shot to be flourishing with full-grown leaves. I’ll freely admit to being both stumped and captivated by this latest collaboration between Hong and Kim, a project that seems to be growing darker with each new chapter.

  • Without reinventing the Hong wheel even a little bit, “Grass” is a deceptively potent entry in the canon, a thimbleful of purest, concentrated Hong-brand soju. It may be yet another series of two-way or three-way conversations, that take place in a shared public space over cups of coffee and, later, stiffer drinks. But it’s almost as though those elements have become generic constructs in Hong’s work, so familiar from other titles of his that here they require no set up or explanation.

  • Hong's willful disinterest in the absurd requirements that world-renowned filmmakers must continually produce bigger, more ambitious films makes him one of the most unabashedly honest and modest of contemporary auteurs. . . . A brief but truly unexpected use of lens focus and shadowplay, for this usually formally minimalist director, ripples with uncertainty. Whatever state of existence Grass is taking place on, one thing is for certain: It’s Hongian playfulness of surprisingly soulful intrigue.

  • The result is an exquisite hangout movie whose probing, sardonic approach to character and conversation treads familiar terrain for the increasingly prolific Korean director. Indeed Hong confronts this would-be criticism head-on, with Jung Jinyoung’s filmmaker voicing his fears about “recycling material”. Yet though its themes aren’t exactly experimental, its slim 66-minute running time is, dispensing with the arbitrary idea that a fully formed film need fit neatly within the 90-minute model.

  • With its laconic pacing, voyeuristic zooms, and badinage between despondent men and women, Grass fits comfortably within Hong’s aesthetic; thematically, it again explores the ontological pain of everyday existence, and the tumult that rises between lonely souls. In quotidian imagery — a half-empty cup of coffee, a cigarette smoked alone, a MacBook in a coffee shop window — Hong finds poetry.

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