Sunday, October 18, 2009

Too Many Husbands

London Film Festival 2009
Too Many Husbands and Like You Know It All - very different films with a common theme - the men don't come off well in them!

Too Many Husbands

Too Many Husbands is a 1940 comedy film about a woman who loses her husband in a boating accident and remarries, only to have her first spouse reappear. The film starred Jean Arthur, Fred MacMurray and Melvyn Douglas.

It is apparently based on the 1918 play by Somerset Maugham : Home and Beauty. In the play apparently neither husband wanted the wife and each kept trying to out-noble the other and step aside, but in this film they vie for her affections, a joke which becomes slightly repetitive by the end, but is kept alive by the comic scenarios and witty dialogue.

The print is a recently restored copy by Grover Crisp from Columbia Pictures.

Like You Know It All
Hong Sang Soo's 2009 film focusses on a small-time director, Ku Kyung-Nam, and his approach to life and love now he's nearing 40.

Director Ku has been invited to serve as a judge for a small film festival. Whilst there he experiences some acidic comments from Ms Gong, the festival programmer, who seems to have some sort of emotional history with him. He also has a run in with an old friend who used to be more wild than Ku, but is now happily settled and married. Lots of drinking means he gets into trouble overnight and sleeps through all the films during the day.

Two weeks later he is in the southern island of Jeju to give a lecture when he bumps into an old teacher from his student days, who is now a famous painter, and turns out to be married to a woman Ku himself once dated and lost.

The situations are parallel in some ways, including the imagery, but ending in very different ways, and with different emotions. The film often made me laugh, but overall leaves one feeling melancholy and frustrated with Ku's self-imposed position, along with the pain of suffering the many embarrassing scenarious the film throws up. I wonder what Koreans made of it all.

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