January 27, 2017No Comments

Your Name, Makoto Shinkai, 2016

Here it is, the animation film to make you feel old and obsolete beyond recycling. Your Name is a racing experience from top to bottom, a charge of intense visual and aural elements (of the “never before seen” caliber - made in Japan style).

On top of the sensorial rush, lies the actual story, that for the most part needs a hand map to follow.

We’re following two teenagers who:

- dream of each other;

- literally swap between each other’s bodies;

- love each other obsessively;

- are part of a planetary event where parts of a comet (yep) come crashing on Japan;

- time travel IN DIFFERENT moment while body swapping.

Confusing as it is, the film delivers pleasure - you giggle at its insane details and colours.

January 11, 2017No Comments

Tokyo Story, Yasujiro Ozu, 1953

Frequently featured on the 1st position in lists of Best Movies of all times, Tokyo Story takes its subject, conflict and eventually huge gentle power from the never-ending source: FAMILY. As as I keep repeating, family is art’s most interesting source of conflict.

A couple of elderly parents visit their children in post-war Tokyo. For them, the voyage is a rare event. Once there, they exude modesty and admiration for the lives of their grown up children. But the children are busy, they’re modern people and soon enough the parents become a slight burden. No one’s available to be with them, and as the children realise this, they buy their parents’ a ticket to a seaside resort for a couple of days. There’s a touch of goodness from the widow of one of their sons, dead in the war, interpreted by the wonderful Setsuko Hara.

By choosing an editing style that favours down-time, Yasujiro Ozu clears any intensity from the conflict. But like a cook who slow-boils them veggies, this technique distills the emotions between the family members and present the viewer with the most delicate and unpretentious portrait of human nature.

The parents decide to leave early, sensing that they’re mostly in the way of their kids life. A week later, out of thin air, the mother dies and the children make the voyage themselves, in the opposite direction. 

I was more touched by the Late Spring / Early Summer films, probably because of their more explicit themes and conflicts (love, relationships, loneliness).

The film lacks any moral judgment, the parents’ attitude dissolves any grudges that we, the audience, might develop towards their uncaring children. 
Roger Ebert’s review of Tokyo Story is a wonderful love letter. 

To be read when feeling blue.

November 29, 2016No Comments

Hanezu, Naomi Kawase, 2011

Naomi Kawase is a director coming from Japan. She’s simply awesome. Actually, she’s more than a film director, she’s a poet. Hanezu is more a poem than a film. In it, a sculptor has a relationship with a married woman. Everything is calm, they meet, they’re delicate. The sculptor has a nest of sparrows in the ceiling of his house. At her house, the woman has a bird in a cage. A mythological love story between mountains is intertwined. Because Kawase filmed and edited the movie itself, the movie has an eerie feel. There are images of flowers, of bugs crawling on the grass. Everything mounts to a feeling.

Hanezu, at times, feels like the Japanese version of a W. Herzog movie.

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