Fearful Symmetry: The Films of Lee Changdong
Screening Dates
  • June 8, 2023 7:00
  • June 11, 2023 6:00
  • June 24, 2023 8:50
New Restoration

Necessary to any introduction to the Korean New Wave … A work of deep conviction, passion, and anger.”

Rahul Hamid, Senses of Cinema

Lee Changdong’s second feature, a cubist portrait of a soldier turned cop turned business professional, turns the normal rules of chronology inside out, all while in full gallop across the terrain of two decades of Korean history. In this vortex of time, we move forward, while Yong-ho (Sol Kyunggu) is repeatedly revived, contradicted, obliterated, and redescribed in events that map onto an extreme picaresque through the past, beginning with the edge of the millennium and ending just before the Gwangju massacre. It would be impossible to miss the cast’s fiercely committed performances or Lee Jaejin’s bright and haunting score, but what marks this as Lee’s first masterpiece is how these elements, coupled to the dream-logic recurrence of actors, songs, objects, and lines of dialogue, ignite a sense of all-consuming mystery. If life, as in Kierkegaard’s line, can only be understood backwards, but lived forwards, Lee lets us have it both ways at once.

In Korean with English subtitles

“[A film] I return to again and again … Startling, devastating … [Peppermint Candy] allows us to feel the impact of historical reality.” Hannah Bae, Catapult

Might look from on high like a scathing critique of an entire generation … But on the ground it’s the film’s ineluctable shape and pounding melancholy that you can’t forget.” Michael Atkinson, Village Voice

Co-presented with the Korean Film Festival Canada

The June 8 screening of Peppermint Candy will include opening remarks by Michael Scoular, The Cinematheque’s Programming Associate.