Apologies for kicking things off on a morbid note, but the South Korean director Park Chan-wook will likely go to his grave being remembered for the image of a man scoffing down a live squid in his 2002 film Oldboy. Either that, or scenes of men being smacked over the head with a claw hammer which occur slightly later on in that same film. That’s not to say that Park hasn’t made anything worthwhile since that glorious, turn-of-the-century aria to violent revenge, it’s more that he’s tamped down his streak of gaudy sensationalism to focus more on the impact and emotion of the films themselves.
His brand as a filmmaker became attached to his fondness for exploring the mechanics of revenge across a trilogy of films, but more recently, he has turned to making cool, dark and menacing studies of Alfred Hitchcock, with Stoker (Shadow of a Doubt), The Handmaiden (Notorious) and his brand new one, Decision to Leave, which is clearly inspired by the cinematic vortex that is 1958’s Vertigo. The new issue of LWLies offers up an ode to this slippery neo-noir in which a simple detective story mutates into something much more complex and cerebral when clean-cut cop (Park Jae-il’s Hae-jun) falls for his prime suspect (Tang Wei’s Seo-rae).
In the issue, Park talks about his distaste for genre demarcation, and the fact that he wants to make films that transcend these simple tags. With Decision to Leave (out in UK cinemas on 21 October), the argument that he’s mellowed as a filmmaker doesn’t hold water, as even though this is a more studied and quiet film than his previous rip-roaring rampages, it still touches on big themes and radical ideas. With its modern noir trappings, we decided to make this issue by taking a stylistic cue from the films that Park clearly loves so much: those swooning romantic detective tales from classic-era Hollywood, those films where fiery love affairs are doomed by tragic circumstances.