(aka 'Woman on the Beach' or 'Haebyonui yoin')

Directed by Sang-soo Hong
South Korea 
2006

Joong Rae (Kim Seung Woo) goes on a road trip to the west coast with his friend Chang Wook (Kim Tae Woo) and Chang Wook's girlfriend Moon Sook (Ko Hyun Jung). In the beautiful beach setting of Shinduri, Joong Rae and Moon Suk find themselves attracted to each other and spend a passionate night together. But where does life go the morning after?
One of the most eclectic directors in Korea, for the last ten years Hong Sang Soo has been redefining the idea of arthouse. Ever since his 1996 debut The Day a Pig Fell Into the Well, Hong has brilliantly explored the hypocrisy and everyday life of the planet's most mysterious creatures: men. Following 2005's introspective Tale of Cinema, Hong's latest film Woman on the Beach may be his most accessible to date. Starring Ko Hyun Jung (Spring Days), Kim Seung Woo (Hotelier), and Kim Tae Woo (Woman is the Future of Man), Woman on the Beach is more than a road movie or a romance drama, it's a Hong Sang Soo film.

  ****

Where Hong Sang-soo’s dramas differ from Eric Rohmer’s, other than all the ways that come with being Korean not French, is notably in the egotism mitigated by irony of having one the main characters in his movies often happen to be a handsome, hunky famous director. In this one it’s a “Director Kim,” as he’s respectfully addressed (Kim Joong-rae, played by Kim Seung-woo) who goes to the somewhat sterile environment of the semi-deserted Shinduri beach resort on Korea’s west coast with his production designer, Won Chang-wook (Kim Tae-woo) in hopes of ending a creative block and penning the treatment for his next film. Won brings along a girlfriend, composer Kim Moon-sook (Ko Hyun-joung, a former TV star) and competition gets blatantly going when Director Kim takes Moon-sook aside and frankly says he’s interested in her and asks her whether she’d prefer him over the designer, given a free choice.

The blatancy of Joong-rae’s authority is underlined by his being older, better-looking, physically bigger and stronger-looking, and possessed of a deeper voice. In comparison Won's a mild, slightly nerdy fellow. But despite that, Joong-rae’s not an out-and-out winner. He's comically chauvinistic in the way he damns the lady’s music with faint praise. And in the time that follows he proves to be neurotic and indecisive, stuffing his hands in his jeans and wiggling around on his legs with comic unease. Moon-sook’s dating men when living in Germany he admits is a turn-on for temporary dating, but the opposite for a long-term relationship. He has a serious hangup about mating with a woman who's experienced. Like a good Eric Rohmer character, he hesitates and they discuss. Moon-sook winds up saying that he's wonderful to her as a director, but in other ways just "a typical Korean man."

Excerpt from Chris Knipp at CineScene located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: September 9th, 2006 - Toronto Film Festival

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DVD Comparison:

BitWin - Region 3 - NTSC vs. New Yorker - Region 1 - NTSC

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Distribution BitWin - Region 3 - NTSC New Yorker - Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 2:08:00  2:08:04
Video 1.78:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.42 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
1.85:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.39 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Bitrate:  New Yorker

Audio Korean (Dolby Digital 2.0)  Korean (Dolby Digital 5.1), Korean (Dolby Digital 2.0) 
Subtitles English, Korean, None English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: BitWin

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1

Edition Details:

• 2 'Making of' (in Korean only - no subs) 

DVD Release Date: November 6th, 2006

Keep Case
Chapters: 18

Release Information:
Studio: New Yorker

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1

Edition Details:

• 'Making of' (in Korean - English subs - 16:52)

• Interview with cinematographer Hyung-ku Kim  (in Korean - English subs -16:18)

• Interview with music director Yong-jin Jeong  (in Korean - English subs -6:34)

• trailer (1:58)

• 6-page booklet (interview with Hong, and color photos)

DVD Release Date: December 30th, 2008

Keep Case
Chapters: 18

 

Comments:

ADDITION: New Yorker - Region 1 - NTSC - December 08': In a strange twist it is the New Yorker that is progressive and the older (now out-of-print) BitWin that is interlaced. Looking closely the dual-layered, anamorphic New Yorker disc improves in other areas as well in regards to the image which is tighter, has less artifacts and it appears that the R3 is slightly boosted. The bitrate indicates the new transfer may be from an analog source and while never pristine is certainly serviceable and a decent representation of the film on SD-DVD.

New Yorker gives Woman on the Beach a superfluous 5.1 audio option to go along with the 2.0 channel. The subtitles are optional.

The New Yorker also includes some keen extras (all in Korean with English subtitles) with an interesting 'Making of' and two interviews. The first one is with cinematographer Hyung-ku Kim and the next with music director Yong-jin Jeong. There is also a theatrical trailer for the film, a 6-page liner notes booklet which includes an interview with director Hong, and some color photos.

Solid job by New Yorker - the film is wonderful and we can certainly recommend this DVD!   

***

A dual-layered DVD but still a non-progressive transfer. It looks a little thin but will hold up well on a tube. Colors bleed a bit and sharpness is a notch below what you might expect for a film from 2006. Subtitles are decent - font is a little thick. Extras are only in Korean.

Another smashing low-key film from Sang-soo Hong (Tale of Cinema, On the Occasion of Remembering the Turning Gate). Well worth a visit if you missed it at the Festival. Price might be a little rich for the DVD transfer, but the film is worth it. 

Gary W. Tooze

 

 



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DVD Box Cover

   

Thinking of buying from YesAsia? CLICK HERE and use THIS UPDATED BEAVER PAGE to source their very best...

Distribution BitWin - Region 3 - NTSC New Yorker - Region 1 - NTSC




 

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