Ad Lib Night (2006) (South Korea)

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Ad Lib Night (2006) (South Korea)

Postby justindeimen » Sat Apr 21, 2007 10:21 am

Ad Lib Night

What Ad Lib Night accomplishes in its simplicity is nothing short of exceptional. The delicate minimalism employed in Lee Yoon-kis third feature is tremendously absorbing and is just handled with immense grace. The stealthily devastating isolation of big city living is evoked by a mysterious doppelgangers acceptance to stand beside a dying man in proxy of his runaway daughter. While its key sequences involve the enchantingly doleful stranger, her identity is the least important aspect of the film. This gesture of good faith, which spans a single night in the household, becomes a gentle and emotional narrative that taps into the pulse of young adults, scurrying to depart from their familial tethers and seeking independence. It develops an intricate, underlying tapestry of shame, guilt, responsibility and maturation. Lees camera acts as a silent, vacant observer. With great clarity and poignancy the camera weaves in and out of conversations held between the family members gathered around the deathbed. The streamlined economy of his static camerawork witnesses the different dynamics and insecurities of the close extended family members through their dialogue and (or lack of) physical expressions. The mood remains plaintive and avoids the trappings of a melodrama by dividing the focus onto the different energies of each character dealing with the situation at hand. The bittersweet melancholy resonating from its final scenes ruminates on the bonds we take for granted and the kinships we have lost.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Re: Ad Lib Night (2006) (South Korea)

Postby hengcs » Sat Apr 21, 2007 10:26 am

i am watching on monday ...

wow ... 4.5 stars from u ...
but minimalist approach?!
oh no ... i hope i survive it (cos too exhausted with work and film fest recently) ... ha ha ha

Re: Ad Lib Night (2006) (South Korea)

Postby justindeimen » Sat Apr 21, 2007 10:57 am

It's slow moving in the traditonal sense. If you don't mind being a spectator to extended conversations and prolonged eye contact then you'll probably get something out of it.

Re: Ad Lib Night (2006) (South Korea)

Postby hengcs » Mon Apr 23, 2007 3:32 pm

Ab Lib Night (Aju Teukbyeolhan Sonnim) (2006) (Korea)

I will write something if time permits ...

Surprisingly, the director was present.

In the introduction, he said ... He was happy to be at lovely Singapore again ... He was here two years ago with his first film "This Charming Girl" ... This film (Ad Lib Night) is about a journey/trip made by a girl, a turning point which changes her life, not a major turning point, but still a turning point nonetheless ... I hope you people will also enjoy the journey/trip ...

Recommended. Actually, I thought it was not as "minimalistic" as I have anticipated (cf. Kim Ki Duk or Tsai Ming Liang's films). It is peppered with dialogues throughout, but it has little happenings/events ... ... If you like Hou Hsiao Hsien's style, you will like this film ...

Q & A
(Not with the entire audience, but with a few individuals at the foyer after the film. Again, the following is loosely translated and recorded for its gist rather than in verbatim)

Q: What inspired the film?
A: It is based on a Japanese short story. I used about 40% of the story, and improvised the rest. I have to add more stuff/stories to the other characters to evoke more melancholy ...

Q: What do you hope people take away from this film?
A: Relationship with others, not just the family, but also friends and others ...

Q: Is there a reason why all the protagonist in your film is a female?
A: Ha ... that is just a coincidence. I simply like to film stories about lonely people and relationship ...

Q: In the show, the girl was waiting for a guy whom she might even sleep with for money ... this is the theme in another film Samaria (aka Samaritan Girl) ... is this a prevalent problem in Korea?
A: Hmmm ... I dont think so ...

Q: Who are the directors that inspire you?
A: Hou Hsiao Hsien. In fact, I even had a dinner with him two years ago (in Singapore International Film Festival) when SIFF had a retrospective on Hou's films, and I was invited for featuring "This Charming Girl".

Q: Are there Korean directors that you like?
A: Lee Chang Dong

That's abt it ...


PS: Given that there are 25 min to the next screening, I am still not sure why the Q&A is done at the foyer (or should i say the walking isle?! sigh). Is it by the request of the director? If he is shy, I think I am okay with it. However, if it is due to "cleaning" for the next screening, I think it could have been better. Although it is less formal, less than 3 to 5 people stayed and talked to the director (some are not even aware of his presence because they came into the theater after the intro) ... what a wasted opportunity ... Hopefully, it will be better next time ...

Re: Ad Lib Night (2006) (South Korea)

Postby arsaib4 » Thu Aug 02, 2007 9:33 pm


In some ways similar to the titular character of Lee Yoon-kis accomplished and celebrated debut feature, This Charming Girl (2004), the young female protagonist of his thoroughly engaging new film, Ad Lib Night (Aju teukbyeolhan sonnim), turns out to be a solemn and melancholic individual who the proceedings gradually peel away in an attempt to excavate the subjects mental and emotional inhibitions. Initially seen waiting for someone at a street corner in Seoul, this anonymous girl (Han Hyo-ju) is approached by a couple of young provincial men who appear to have mistaken her for a dying man's runaway daughter they're trying to find in order to fulfill his last wish.

After hesitantly assenting to their offer, which requires her to pretend in front of the morphine-injected cancer patient, she is whisked away to the suburban working-class neighborhood where a few family and friends have gathered, and in some cases, selfishly so. Lee shows a great eye and ear for the ambient, humor-laden occurrences as this "very special guest," which is what the Korean title roughly translates to, slowly becomes acclimated with the surroundings. The perpetually bickering yet curiously close-knit clan, whose members probably wouldnt look out of place in Martels claustrophobic milieus, eventually succumbs to the filmmakers deliberately methodical pacing and lightly detached air, which further eschews sensational variations of satire and melodrama.

Reportedly shot in 10 days on digital video, this subtle and subdued effort eventually raises numerous points regarding familial and personal responsibility, modern isolation and emotional longing. Incidentally, Lee recently stated in an interview that "I do have an interest in stories about peoples inner feelings, exploring the pain or trauma any of us feel in a lifetime." And Ad Lib Night only comes full-circle once, in a couple of delicately realized sequences, the true identity of its protagonist is revealed. The film then not only earns its tears but also begins to expand in memory.


*AD LIB NIGHT premiered at the 2006 Pusan Film Festival. Now available on English subtitled Korean (Region-3/NTSC) DVD from HB Ent. As usual, the extra features -- making of doc, premiere video, photo shoots, TV spots, etc. -- aren't subtitled, though that didn't prevent me from viewing them. Besides THIS CHARMING GIRL and AD LIB NIGHT, the only other film Lee had directed so far is LOVE TALK (2005), which I haven't seen at this point.

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