The Aso family live in the old town of Nara. One Day, Kei, one of the Aso's twin boys suddenly disappears. Five years later seventeen-year old Shun, the remaining twin, is an art student. ... See full summary »
A care-giver at a small retirement home takes one of her patients for a drive to the country, but the two wind up stranded in a forest where they embark on an exhausting and enlightening two-day journey.
Depicts the life of a family in a remote Japanese timber village. Family head Tahara Kozo lives with his mother Sachiko, wife Yasuyo, nephew Eisuke and young daughter Michiru. Economic ... See full summary »
On the subtropical Japanese island of Amami, traditions about nature remain eternal. During the full-moon night of traditional dances in August, 16-year-old Kaito discovers a dead body ... See full summary »
The manager of a pancake stall finds himself confronted with an odd but sympathetic elderly woman looking for work. A taste of her homemade bean jelly convinces him to hire her, which ... See full summary »
Two young guys work in a plant that manufactures oshibori (those moist hand-towels found in some Japanese restaurants). Their weird bond is based on uncontrollable rage--something neither ... See full summary »
Tamako graduated from a university in Tokyo, but she now lives with her father back in Kofu. Tamako doesn't help her father or tries to get a job. She spends her time just eating and sleeping throughout the four seasons of the year.
Naomi Kawase was born into a world where her parents, and most family, were absent. Chiri is the close observation of the end of the life of her foster mother, after she had turned 95. ... See full summary »
Sharasojyu, by the same filmmaker, wowed me recently. It was, as I wrote the other day, some of the best cinematic Zen I know, which in my book is the highest praise. However, inspiration can be a fickle muse as this other film demonstrates.
The difference between the two films is subtle but vital. It's not a bad film by any means, it's in the same vein about coming and going, about being there as you quietly yearn for something else. It has some of the same enveloping nature.
The first half is pretty good, a woman is torn between her reasonable but boring boyfriend, and a bohemian sculptor she knows. This is layered with love stories of their grandparents, compromised marriage and untimely death. An ancient city is being excavated nearby, as meant to point to the same cycles of life through time, memories as they're dug up.
It's just that when you set nature and mood a certain way, as the filmmaker has here, unusually sparse and quiet, it helps to take care of what you use as dramatic counterpoint. The filmmaker didn't, so all the stuff about loving, losing and memory as someone dying in the second half come off as particularly loud and constructed, almost in bad taste.
Which in turn, imbues her lovely sunsets and mountains with a sophomoric sense of importance. Whereas the other film was the quiet rustling of the forest, this is as if someone is trying to pluck each rustling sound from a synthesizer to create nature, artificial.
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