Saturday, March 23, 2013

Spring Breakers

Finally saw "Spring Breakers" at a press preview. I've been an avid fan of Harmony Korin since "Gummo," (and I even went to see an exhibition about Larry Clark held in Tokyo about a decade ago!) and as I expected, this latest film, too, didn't betray my worship.

When 'indie' directors become celebrities, (it happens also in Japanese theatre world), they often have opportunities to star popular 'idols' in thier movies. Big budgeted indie films can be on the fence, and as a consequence, it's likely that neither people who merely want to see idols nor genuine movie geeks will be satisfied with them. But Harmony Korin is an exceptional director. We can see that he always has his distinctive style regardless of budget.

Young actresses marvelously act cheeky girls who robbed a diner to make money for a spring break. But the robbery scene in this movie is very ambiguous and seems like a contemporary art version of "Pulp Fiction." A drug dealer called "Alien" played by James Franco seems like a reflection of the director himself who bacame rich, and is getting older but still working with very young people. He might feel ambivalent about American pop culture, yet he shows it sentimentally. Literally, he is "Mr.Lonely" in the dazzling world. 

 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Protagonists Looking for a Missing Cat

Some years ago, I translated a Martin McDonagh's play, "Lieutenant of Inishmore," for Japanese production. It's about a young terrorist from Inishmore island (one of the Arran Islands, Ireland) who is extremely worried about his missing pet cat. As a member of a rebel group, he kills humans cold-bloodedly, but to his little cat named Thomas, he is very very kind.

Actually, I almost forgot that the play had the missing-pet theme until I watched the DVD of the famous classic movie, "Come Back, Little Sheba" (it also was originally the play of the same title). Needless to say, its style is different than McDonagh's play, and Sheba isn't a cat, but a dog. In the movie, the couple who had the missing dog didn't mention a lot of it, although Sheba is a 'title role'. Anyway, in both "Sheba" and "Inishmore", missing pets evoke intense emotion, and play the key role while they are absent.

In Japanese literature, "Noraya" (means "Hey, Nora") by Hyakken Uchida definitely is the most famous missing-cat-themed book. It's a real story written between 1956 and 1970, in later life of Hyakken. In the form of the diary, he describes how he misses his cat named Nora that left home suddenly. As a matter of fact, nothing happens in the novel (diary?). From start to finish, he has been lamenting. But it has real poetic quality which moves us very much.

Paperback of "Noraya" with mini size Post-it (very convenient!).

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Terraferma

I saw movie preview of Terraferma directed by Emanuele Crialese, which impressed me very much. The film is about a family living on Linosa island located in between Sicillia and Africa. They used to make a living in fishing, but made up their mind to change their fishing boat into excursion cruise boat. Ironically, they started to have a hard time dealing with young backpackers from rich family and illegal imigrants they saved on the sea (because they couldn't abandon poor people) at the same time. 

The themes of the film definitely include 'poverty, disparity, and human rights' which are the big problems today's serious directors or writers have to deal with. But unlike some documentary films, there is something mythical in this excellent fiction film.
No wonder it has won many awards such as Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards and Special Jury Award in the Venice International Film festival.

I recommend this to the people bored with 'entertainments.' Don't miss it!