Burning

Burning ★★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

My Favorite Films, "ranked"

Film Club Ranked

On rewatch, BURNING's cracked my all-time top five. And tbh, you could write a book about this thing. It is one of the deepest, most complicated, awe-inspiring and cerebral experiences one can have with cinema. At its core, of course, it is about class, and how humanity determines what is true. But, it is also about gender, family, society, and a plethora of other "big ideas." After watching BURNING for the first time, I understood but didn't quite grasp the magnitude of its class consciousness. So, on this watch, observing the relationships between the classes was something I focused on. Therefore, most of my notes below will be focusing on that. Again, this will be an unabridged collection of my notes on the film. I realize it deserves a proper review, and I'm sure I'll get to it again before the year's end (*wink wink* Hey there, Brandon. *nudge nudge*). But, this is all I got for now going into my discussion with my friends tomorrow morning. Enjoy the thorough insight into my "process."

Opens with our protagonist carrying a heavy load; manual labor. Am I overanalyzing here?

By pantomiming the tangerine, she’s implementing a faux reality, just like Lee Jongsu does later in the film with his limited perspective

“The trick is, instead of thinking there is a tangerine here, you need to forget that there isn’t one. The important thing is that you have to really want one.” Just how Jongsu wants Ben to be the killer

City vs countryside, real versus fake, rich vs poor

Only one cow left. Dying power, “great hunger” of the rural class?

Fucks her looking at her closet, jacks off to Namsan Tower. Why? Aspirations for material things? What do these images mean?

The proletariat father is the “protagonist” of story according to his lawyer. Stubborn and prideful?

He’s like a chauffeur with Ben in the back. They could’ve just taken the hyper efficient AREX line into the city. But that wouldn’t fit would it?

“If only I could vanish”

“To put it simply, I play.” Rich labor versus poor labor. We don’t know what the rich do to make their money either

Jongsu kitchen vs Ben kitchen

That yawn may be my favorite moment of the film.

Jongsu has his own mini proletariat revolution at the end of the film. But, what’s his evidence?

Greenhouse metaphor for the proletariat? “All it takes is ten minutes to burn it all down and never get caught?”

“In korea there are thousands of useless, filthy, unpleasant greenhouses.”

Think about the jewelry in his bathroom: hardly pearls and diamonds. “Burning down greenhouses” = killing *what kind* of women?

Reduced to a number at the factory job or whatever

As Jongsu’s chase begins, for the first time we see shots of Ben without Jongsu, sort of from his perspective. However, I don’t think it’s as clear cut as this. I think they are how Jongsu is perceiving (or fabricating?) these moments from Bens perspective. How he thinks he would react

Chang-dong in the perfect meta way also manipulates our own understanding of Jongsu’s perspective what with Jongsu maybe waking up from a dream after following Ben

Anybody who thinks the cat answering to “boil” is falling for the same trap Jongsu is. Their prejudices are convincing them they are right. But, what do we all know really?

The scene where Ben puts makeup on the girl is the most baffling of them all. When Jongsu starts writing we start seeing things from Ben’s perspective.

The one take climax is blowing my mind

A lot of the reactions I’ve seen to this film are people trying to find out its mysteries, which is valid, as humans have always been in a desperate but futile search for the truth. But, I do think that when we engage with the “human trafficking theory” or “Ben and Jongsu are one and the same” or whatever else many smart people have come up, it’s sort of missing the point. We’ll never know the truth. Everything else is just speculation. And if you leave BURNING thinking “I’ve got it all figured out! Ben was an alien the whole time!” then again, you’re making a claim without evidence, falling into the same trap as Jongsu. Fucking brilliant.

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