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The List Thus Far (Certified Weird Movies)

3 Women (1977)

8 1/2 (1963)

The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953)

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension (1984)

Akira (1988)

Alice [Neco Z Alenky] (1988)

Alice in Wonderland (1966)

Allegro non Troppo (1976)

Altered States (1980)

The American Astronaut (2001)

Antichrist (2009)

Archangel (1990)

Bad Boy Bubby (1993)

Barbarella (1968)

Barton Fink (1991)

The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961)

Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

Begotten (1991)

Being John Malkovich (1999)

Belle de Jour (1967)

Black Swan (2010)

Blood Diner (1987)

Blood Tea and Red String (2006)

A Boy and His Dog (1975)

Branded to Kill (1967)

Brazil (1985)

Bronson (2008)

Careful (1992)

Carnival of Souls (1962)

Cemetery Man [Dellamorte Dellamore] (1994)

Un Chien Andalou (1929)

The City of Lost Children [La cité des enfants perdus] (1995)

Clean, Shaven (1993)

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Cowards Bend the Knee, or, the Blue Hands (2003)

Daisies [Sedmikrásky] (1966)

The Dark Backward (1991)

Dead Man (1995)

Dead Ringers (1988)

Delicatessen (1991)

Dillinger is Dead (1969)

Doggiewogiez! Poochiewoochiez! (2012)

Dogtooth [Kynodontas] (2009)

Dogville (2003)

Donnie Darko (2001)

Don't Look Now (1973)

Elevator Movie (2004)

Enemy (2013)

Enter the Void (2009)

Eraserhead (1977)

Escape from Tomorrow (2013)

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Even Dwarfs Started Small (1970)

Evil Dead II (1987)

Eyes Without a Face [Les Yeux sans Visage] (1965)

Fantastic Planet [La Planète Sauvage] (1973)

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

Fellini Satyricon (1969)

Final Flesh (2009)

Forbidden Zone (1982)

Funky Forest: The First Contact (2005)

Glen or Glenda (1953)

Gothic (1986)

Gozu (2003)

La Grande Bouffe (1973)

Greaser's Palace (1972)

Gummo (1997)

Häxan [Witchcraft Through the Ages] (1922)

Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)

Help! Help! The Globolinks [Hilfe! Hilfe! Die Globolinks] (1969)

Holy Motors (2012)

The Holy Mountain (1973)

The Horrors of Spider Island [Ein Toter hing im Netz] (1960)

House [Hausu] (1977)

Howl's Moving Castle (2004)

I Can See You (2008)

Idiots and Angels (2008)

I'm A Cyborg, But That's OK [Saibogujiman Kwenchana] (2006)

The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle (2009)

L'Immortelle (1963)

Ink (2009)

INLAND EMPIRE (2006)

Institute Benjamenta, or This Dream People Call Human Life (1995)

Jacob's Ladder (1990)

John Dies at the End (2012)

Johnny Got His Gun (1971)

Keyhole (2011)

Kontroll (2003)

Kung Fu Hustle (2004)

Kwaidan (1964)

The Lair of the White Worm (1988)

The Legend of Suram Fortress [Ambavi Suramis Tsikhitsa] (1984)

Lisztomania (1975)

Little Otik [Otesánek] (2000)

Lost Highway (1997)

Love Exposure (2008)

Lucifer Rising (1981)

Maelstrom (2000)

Malpertuis (1972)

Maniac (1934)

Marquis (1989)

Meshes of the Afternoon (1943)

The Milky Way [La Voie Lactee] (1969)

Mr. Nobody (2009)

Mulholland Drive (2001)

Naked Lunch (1991)

Night of the Hunter (1955)

Night Train to Terror (1985)

Nosferatu (1922)

Nostalghia (1983)

O Lucky Man! (1973)

Pan's Labyrinth (2006)

Paprika (2006)

Performance (1968/1970)

Persona (1966)

Phantasm (1979)

Pi (1998)

The Pillow Book (1996)

Pink Flamingos (1972)

Pink Floyd the Wall (1982)

Prospero's Books (1991)

The Red Squirrel [La Ardilla Roja] (1993)

The Reflecting Skin (1990)

Repo Man (1984)

A Report on the Party and Guests (1966)

Repulsion (1965)

Robot Monster (1953)

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

Rubber (2010)

Run Lola Run (1998)

The Saddest Music in the World (2003)

Sans Soleil (1983)

Santa Sangre (1989)

The Science of Sleep (2006)

A Serious Man (2009)

Shanks (1974)

Shock Corridor (1963)

Silent Hill (2006)

Sin City (2005)

The Singing Ringing Tree (1957)

Skidoo (1968)

Solaris [Solyaris] (1972) -

Songs from the Second Floor (2000)

Stalker (1979)

Steppenwolf (1974)

Strange Frame: Love & Sax (2012)

Suspiria (1977)

Sweet Movie (1974)

The Swimmer (1968)

Synecdoche, New York (2008)

Tales from the Quadead Zone (1987)

Taxidermia (2006)

Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989)

Tideland (2005)

Time Bandits (1981)

The Tin Drum (1979)

Tokyo Gore Police (2008)

El Topo (1970)

Toto the Hero [Toto le Heros] (1991)

Trash Humpers (2009)

The Tree of Life (2011)

The Trial (1962)

The Triplets of Belleville (2003)

Tromeo & Juliet (1996)

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010)

Upstream Color (2013)

Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (1970)

Vertigo (1958)

Videodrome (1983)

Visitor Q (2001)

Waking Life (2001)

Weekend (1967)

The Wicker Man (1973)

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

Yellow Submarine (1968)

You, the Living [Du Levande] (2007)

Zardoz (1974)

CAPSULE: THE DAY HE ARRIVES (2011)

DIRECTED BY: Sang-soo Hong

FEATURING: Jun-Sang Yu, Bo-kyung Kim, Sang Jung Kim

PLOT: A director who no longer makes movies arrives in Seoul to touch bases with an old friend; he gets drunk, meets various acquaintances and colleagues, and then situations start to repeat themselves, with variations.

Still from The Day He Arrives (2011)

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: It’s got a subtly weird edge to it, but like its protagonist the film is too meandering and listless to demand more than our temporary interest.

COMMENTS: The Day He Arrives probably resembles nothing so much as a series of hazy recollections of a blackout drinking binge, where events keep getting jumbled up and you can’t remember whether it was Monday of Tuesday night when you mashed faces with that waitress in the alley, or even whether it really happened or you just wanted it to. The story starts with film director Sungjoon arriving in Seoul to meet an old friend; he’s stood up, but he encounters an actress he used to know, spends an evening getting drunk with three films students, then makes his way to the apartment of an ex-girlfriend to make a pathetic, teary pass at her. The next day (at least, we assume its the next day) he meets the same actress again, then meets up with his friend. They go to a bar with the friend’s girlfriend for a night of drinking, and are joined by the bar’s owner, who looks exactly like the girlfriend whose apartment the director just left the night before with promises that they would never meet again. From this point on, events in the story begin repeating themselves, but with variations. Every day, Sungjoon runs into the actress again on the street, and every night he and his friend return to the bar (ironically called “Novel”), sometimes joined by a new companion. Lines of dialogue and events repeat themselves, and characters we’ve seen interacting together before act as if they’ve never met. Each time Sungoon accidentally bumps into the actress on the street, however, they remember their last conversation, implying a chronologically continuity at odds with the fugue-like repetitions of the barroom scenes. After going on like this for a little while, the film ends arbitraily. Overall, Day paints a portrait of a man adrift in the world, a man who’s smart and observant yet doomed to make the same mistakes over and over. He’s a lost soul, but in an extremely polite and genteel way. The Day He Arrives is unique, but it inevitably evokes comparisons to many previous movies, from Last Year in Marienbad to Groundhog Day to (thanks to the actress playing dual roles) Vertigo. With its dramatic relationship basis enhanced by curious narrative experiments whose significance is not at all clear, it’s also reminiscent of Abbas Kiarostami’s recent Certified Copy.  Of those two films, I preferred Day, because it’s more economical (i.e. shorter) and it has a better sense of humor than the often self-important Copy. I suspect anyone who liked the one will respond well to the other. Both movies appear aimed at sophisticated viewers who consider subtlety an unconditional virtue. I can’t say I subscribe to that view: I prefer movies that transcend the mundane rather than wallowing in it, movies with a “wow” factor. Lacking that, a movie should at least offer an engaging plot, characters I can care about, or a stimulating intellectual idea to mull over; this movie makes a stab only at the last of these criteria. The Day He Arrives never gets around to suggesting what it’s about (which isn’t necessarily a problem); it also never makes a case as to why we should care (which is a problem).

Sang-soo Hong’s movies all feature lots and lots of drinking. If his hour-long interview included on the Day He Arrives is to be believed, his cinematic depictions of marathon drinking bouts come from personal experience.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“Hong offers a strange mixture of magic, mystery, rueful melodrama and dry comedy that’s like absolutely nothing else.”–Andre O’Hehir, Salon.com (contemporaneous)

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