2023’s second Hong Sangsoo release (third if The Novelist’s Film came your way a bit late) is In Water, his shortest-ever feature at 61 minutes and wildest formal gambit: the entire film is out-of-focus, hardly aswim with plot to begin with. A unique sell that Cinema Guild will heroically make by pairing In Water with Pedro Costa’s fantastic short The Daughters of Fire for a “Fire+Water” double-bill that begins its run at Metrograph on December 1. With exactly one month between now and then, there is a trailer.

As Rory O’Connor said in his review out of Berlin, “Narratively it’s nothing if not succinct, and whatever In Water lacks for plot it more than makes up for in mood and ideas, as well as a kind of raw artistic honesty––regarding his work, yes, but also his sense of mortality. All of which only makes you wonder: might something be fading for the 62-year-old? Derek Jarman was losing his eyesight when he made Blue. Could Hong eventually distill his cinema to different shades of grey? In any case, you’d never doubt the sincerity. ‘I’m not the type to make films for the money. I lack the skill for that, anyway,’ Seoung-mo explains in an early scene. ‘I’m just hoping for honor.’ Amen to that.”

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