Writing about it from the New York Film Festival last year, I despaired of Hong Sang-soo's hilarious ode to expat sexual frustration Night and Day ever seeing "any kind of meaningful U.S. release." And while this may only be meaningful to residents of what we natives call the tri-state area, the good news is that the picture begins a week-long run at Manhattan's Anthology Film Archive today.
Given its very explicit sex talk and the serious emotional dysfunction of nearly all its characters—and, yes, its generous length—Night and Day sometimes plays like a Korean take on Eustache's The Mother and the Whore. Only minus the lost idealism, and filtered through some vintage Woody Allen. For this is, in fact, one of Hong's most laugh-out-loud hilarious films, largely on account of the hapless [protagonist] Kim, who seems constitutionally incapable of doing or saying the right thing at any given time. "I like the image...but not the title," he dopily muses, standing in front of Courbet's "L'Origine du Monde" on a visit to the Musee d'Orsay. The character is a disconcertingly honest portrait of male sexual desire at its most abjectly fumbling, and Hong's film is is one of the most acute depictions of how male sexual desire often gets its way, for all that. Unlike longtime Hong champion Manohla Dargis, who lamented in the Times that this picture is "bloated," I believe Hong needs to draw things out here so as to make his theme really register. So many times watching this I thought, "This is what people mean when they talk about 'painfully funny'."
So if you're around and have a few hours to spare, check it out. Bet you'll think much better of your own love life afterwards.