Little White Lies #95

LWLies 95: The Decision to Leave issue

Dive in to the deceptively tranquil waters of Park Chan-wook’s sensational, genre-splicing detective yarn.

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.

On the cover

For this issue we ushered in the services of illustrator Michael Dunbabin to create a portrait of the Chinese actor Tang Wei which offers a modern riff on a selection of classic noir film posters. Other amazing illustration work is featured in this issue from Ben Giles, Jen Yoon, Stéphanie Sergeant, Julia Plath, Ben Turner and HuanHuan Wang.

In this issue

Lead Review: Decision to Leave

Hannah Strong grapples with the nerve-rattling melodrama of Park Chan-wook’s stunning latest.

Shadows and Fog

Iana Murray talks to the enigmatic Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook about the precision required to make a film like Decision to Leave.

Animal Instinct

Actor Tang Wei on her extraordinary, multifaceted central performance in Park Chan-wook’s new film.

A Dark Turn

Korean leading man Park Hae-il on why he represents a new kind of character for Park Chan-wook

Park Chan-wook: A Space Odyssey

A dossier of five essays exploring the significance of rooms and interior spaces in the cinema of Park Chan-wook, by David Jenkins, Josh Slater-Williams, Saffron Maeve, Lillian Crawford, Leila Latif.

The Ballad of Scottie and Madeleine

Mark Asch and Sophie Monks Kaufman enter into a dialogue on the interpretive vortex that is Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo.

Ten Green Bottles

Jake Cole celebrates another – and very different – Korean maestro, the maker of acerbic, tipsy relationship miniatures, Hong Sang-soo.

Threads #23: The Plaster

Christina Newland pulls off the cinematic plaster to see what’s left underneath.