Burning ★★★★★

“There are so many Gatsbys in Korea.”

Caught on the big screen again as part of MOMA’s Lee Chang Dong series. He was there in person, and spoke to many things that enchanted my viewing. One, that people tend to find the film funnier and far more fresh on repeat viewings (agree). Two, how time is as integral a part of the filmmaking syntax as both image and sound.

This time around, I came away with an entirely new appreciation for the ending.

In as far as I don’t think it ‘happened.’ What surprised me about coming to this conclusion was how much the film predicates it. Almost every character tells lies excessively. There was no well. There is no cat. That never happened. I never cry.

We already get inside Jongsu’s head during the dream sequence imagining a burning greenhouse. That final confrontation, too, is a dream. Throughout the film, three times, Ben asks Jongsu what story he is writing. Jongsu says he is unsure. But in the final scene, we reach the climax of his lie, the perfect ending he would imagine were he the protagonist of the story he wanted to tell.