A spell of time in the life of a family living in rural Tochigi prefecture, north of Tokyo. Though her husband is busy working at an office, Yoshiko is not an ordinary housewife, instead ... See full summary »
In the port city of Icheon, five female friends struggle to stay close while forging a life for themselves after high school. When one of the group, upwardly-mobile Hae-ju, moves to Seoul, ... See full summary »
After inadvertently killing his girlfriend, a man (Asano) flees Macau for Thailand in an attempt to cope with his guilt, and avoid possible arrest. But the relocation doesn't prevent his problems from following him, as his new friends could be potential enemies.
Set during Japan's Shogun era, this film looks at life in a samurai compound where young warriors are trained in swordfighting. A number of interpersonal conflicts are brewing in the ... See full summary »
Tsai Ming-liang returns with this latest entry in his Walker series, in which his monk acquires an unexpected acolyte in the form of Denis Lavant as he makes his way through the streets of a sun-dappled Marseille.
Director Kazuo Hara tells the tale of the eponymous Chika and four different relationships she has during the turbulent political climate of the 1970s. Four different actresses play the ... See full summary »
Tomiko is a conductor in a rural bus driven by the handsome Niitaka. Tomiko had received a letter from her best friend Tsuyako, a conductor in another bus company, just after Tsuyako was ... See full summary »
Drawing influence from the street musicians of Miyagi, four high school students form a band and spend their free time practicing for their school's upcoming festival. When the festival is ... See full summary »
She's water, he's fire, and if you expect to get more plot than this, forget it. This is very much a character and atmosphere piece, and the story that comes
together around Hidenori Sugimori's astounding visuals is powerful and well
told, without the typical (and western) dramatic elements that drive a narrative forward. The climatic scenes here are about texture, not tension.
I loved this film and felt it to be in the same strong but under-appreciated
showings of, say, Terrence Malick and David Gordon Green--filmmakers that
know something about light and sound and the importance of these to good
cinematic story telling. We should expect more from visual narrative, and Mizu No Onna doesn't disappoint; still, there's something missing here that takes
away from the elegance that might have been more fully achieved. I think it's in the attempt to find a beginning, middle and end to a story which should have
built quietly to an emotional intensity, then broke off, as happens in life.
Closure is a western psychological requirement (why denouement?); life is seldom so
neat. In trying to give too much mythic and story significance to its characters, the film undoes its own beautifully told story. The symbols of the Elements (fire, water) are everywhere, and they're not always given to us poetically. We're hit over the head with them, and more: we're given a village idiot, who will, in the best narrative tradition, foretell or undo; a strange demi-god. There's no need for any of this, especially since the visuals and sound do such a good job at giving over the story. Still, this is a powerful and successful effort.
Special mention goes to Yoko Kanno whose classically-drawn score completes
the powerful sight and sound experience.
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