By Aldo Padilla
Winter is often portrayed as a time where everything stands still, where the ideas seem to be frozen, and the will to keep fighting for something in particular seem not to get out of the bed. A writer’s winter is manifested in the lack of inspiration, a continuous cold that doesn’t allow words to start flowing, a rise in the words’ viscosity, waiting for some stimuli that allow them to break the unchanging thermostat. This is often manifested in Korean cinema, where the excess of alcohol that surrounds the environment often shows itself as an answer to the continuous fight against cold.
Lee Kwangkuk’s A Tiger in Winter moves constantly in the terrain of Hong Sang-soo’s cinema, and the fact that Hong worked as his assistant director remarks this idea, though the filmmaker is more akin to the allegories than the dialog as a form of developing the history.
The lead in this film is represented by his ambiguous relationships, both with a girlfriend that disappears without a trace, or a friend that seems to support him but in a non-affectionate way, and even a former lover that reappears with strange intentions. The famous expression of “tiger in the house” that is represented in the title, represents something tense that isn’t resolved, that can be applied to this film, where the tension of all the relationships is a constant unanswered question, and the relation with the city is literally represented with a feline that has escape the zoo and is on the run in some part of Seoul.
If it sometimes it seems that the film bares no compassion with the protagonist, the instants of redemption seem to balance the constant bad adventures of Gyeongyu, his frustrated career as a writer, a book that never saw the light of day and his accident-prone sentimental and sexual life, that are confronted with times of lucidity where all his disgraces seem to make sense. If the cliché of the beaten artist that is redeemed when confronted with the underworld is present, Lee takes a step forward in a twist that breaks the structure of the previously known.
An idea that in appearance is posed as a simple one can carry infinite layers inside its conception: the montage of several incomplete films that never saw the light, an exercise that describes perfectly the title of the film, histories that are divisible between zero and take us to this concept of incommensurability. Near thirteen films that were partially lost in the midst of production problems, judicial lawsuits or just creative issues, are revived in Leandro Listorti’s La Película Infinita.
The history of each film, whether already known or not, takes us to the destiny of thousands of works of art which have a life of their own in different stages, despite living the intense stage of conception. Here the realization of the works is abruptly cut, which doesn’t allow for the interaction with a distant look. Lisorti looks to recover these lost films, which is something very akin to his work at the Museum of Cinema in Buenos Aires, where he works as a curator.
Scenes that repeat itself over and over again which show the complexity of the shooting, the bewilderment of certain images, like the one where a hostage that fight with his ties to the rhythm of a sound similar of a feline purr, the colorful scenes of an animated film that seems to take us out of reality and take infinity in a new plane. La película infinita is a constant evasion that extends in the spectator with a simple answer: where do we go with all of this? It’s likely that the idea of a complete project is something to be desired, out of these little fragments, or in the contrary, just look for the unity of the audiovisual piece, of men that continuously escape through a strange circular stair and while achieving that, all they want is to paint the cage of a canary.
If in its own way, every work of art has its degree of infinity, the case of Listorti’s film drives us to value unfinished projects that are kept away and grow old without anyone knowing. Not only incomplete projects, but scenes shot but were kept in some drawer, cut by the able hands of the editor, improvised dialogues that weren’t taken into account.
A tiger in winter
Director: Lee Kwangkuk
Editor: Son Yeonji
Prod. Designer: Cho Sangkyung
Sound Designer: Kim Pilsoo, Chung Minjoo
Music: Yeon Rimok
Cast: Lee Jinwook, Ko Hyunjoung
South Korea, 2018
La película infinita
A history of shadows IFFR
Director: Leandro Listorti
Producer: Leandro Listorti, Paula Zyngierman
Script: Leandro Listorti
Editor: Felipe Guerrero
Prod. Designer: Paula Zyngierman, Leandro Listorti
Sound Designer: Roberta Ainstein