While Hong’s often mischievous films are largely an acquired taste, their charms often lie both directly on the surface and deep within, as is the case in Hotel by the River. Working with familiar faces Ki Joo-bong (who won Best Actor at the Locarno Film Festival), Kim Min-hee, and a host of others, Hong focuses on a shabby resort hotel where two charmingly funny stories intersect. One follows an aging poet (Ki) holed up with his bickering adult sons—the three forming a hilarious and inept trio with nowhere to go and little to do other than reminisce and get drunk. Meanwhile, a young woman (Kim) reeling from a breakup spends the weekend with a friend. Subtly interweaving these stories, Hong continues his career-long examination of modern life’s peculiarities, consistently offering an off-kilter, charming perspective.
Filmography: Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors (2000), Woman Is the Future of Man (2004), Hahaha (2010), Our Sunhi (2013), Right Now, Wrong Then (2015), Claire’s Camera (2017)