I saw this film yesterday at the CineQuest festival in San Jose. Based on a number of the comments I overheard after the showing, I think a number of people considered it rather slow and dull. But I found it a truly beautiful and different piece of film making. There's very little story and the pace is leisurely (to say the least). But it's one of those films where if you hang in there and give it a chance it becomes richly rewarding. The photography (both in color and black and white) is gorgeous. There is also a deepening sense of truly getting to know a unique corner of Tokyo. From what I know of traditional Japanese drama, there is also a real influence of a certain kind of Noh-theater aesthetic that makes the piece kind of magical and mysterious. All in all, it really stuck with me and I'm still thinking about it a day later. But there isn't a strong sense of a narrative drive or of a well-constructed plot where characters are solving problems or overcoming obstacles or any of the traditional elements of story telling. So if you come in expecting that kind of experience you will be frustrated and probably bored. But if you can "quiet your mind" and accept the film on its own terms, it is wonderful and enlightening.
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