Kim Ki-duk

(Last call for the postdoc positions I advertised earlier. Application deadline is tomorrow morning Italian time, tonight American time.)

Last weekend I was saddened to hear of the death of Korean filmmaker Kim Ki-duk. Kim was in Latvia, preparing to shoot a movie there. He disappeared about a week ago, and it then transpired that he had been hospitalized with Covid symptoms, and died last Friday from Covid complications.

In the early 2000s, living in the San Francisco Bay Area offered me several opportunities to discover cinema that was new to me. There were the several film festivals held each year in San Francisco, the wonderful retrospectives at the Castro Theater. There was also Netflix, that at the time operated by renting DVDs by mail (I am feeling like grandpa Simpson telling stories here) and whose catalog was basically every movie ever released in the US. I discovered the work of Hirokazu Kore-eda and Wong Kar-Wai, whose movies are now among my favorites, and I watched some challenging but rewarding movies by the likes of Tsai Ming-Lian and Hou Hsiao-Hsien. So, when it came out, I watched “3-iron” by Kim Ki-duk, an amazing movie on the theme of the poor being invisible to the rich, but taken to extreme and fantastical places.

I was reminded of that time during our first lockdown last Spring. After having watched a lot of TV series, I felt like I had to do something a bit more soul-nourishing before the lockdown ended. So I resolved to watch Tarkovsky’s “Solaris” and “Stalker”, which I had never seen. Compared with movies I had watched 15+ years ago like those of Tsai Ming-Lian and Hou Hsiao-Hsien, or like “3-iron”, “Solaris” was like a Michael Bay movie full of explosions and car chases, but I still had a really hard time getting into it. I ended up watching it over five or six sittings, across a couple of weeks (the lockdown actually ended before I was done watching it). I still haven’t seen “Stalker”. I suppose that twelve years of smartphone usage accounts for the difference in attention span.