A real moviegeek or a tired old cynic?

Some of you have pointed out that in the last few months it seems like I was disappointed by most of the stuff I saw in the cinema.

This came just at the time when I was about to choose which film to review next, of the ones I’ve seen in the last couple of days: “The Roommate” (A thriller, which is usually a genre I love), “the extraordinary adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec” (By Luc Besson who made La Femme Nikita and leon, 2 of my favourites ever!), or “Hachi” (By the director of one of the film I love the most, What’s eating Gilbert Grape)… And you know what?! I really didn’t like any of them!

It made me think: when did I become such a cynic?

It is so unlike me… I’ve always been the positive one, the smiley person who tries to look for bright side…

I love going to the movies and there’s nothing I cherish more than loosing myself in a good flick.

Whenever I go and watch something, I’m always hoping this might be the one that makes me go back to being a kid, or makes me cry or laugh with tears in my eyes, or forget about my deadlines at work and my worries at home…

The fact that I have not liked a lot films recently is probably indicative of the way cinema is today. Most of these films are just products”: they are made by a committee of advertisers, or people who need to balance their books at the end of the year.

There are very few mavericks, or real storytellers out there… Most of them prefer to play it safe and give us what their recent surveys told them they should give us.

Or is it me who is just getting pickier and pickier? Why do I seem to be the only one who thought “The King’s Speech” was a pretty average film crowd pleaser?

Why didn’t I like Scream 4, when in fact it did exactly what the “tin” said?

Should I have got lost in the colours of “Rio”, forgetting about the fact that the story line was so damn predictable?

Why wasn’t I swept away by the quirkiness of “Rubber“?

Why was I so cold in front of that tragedy that was “Rabbit hole“?

Why couldn’t I just laugh watching “The Dilemma” while everybody else was in tears around me in the theatre?

Why couldn’t I just go with “The Adjustment Bureau“, instead of looking for all the plot holes?

Why wasn’t I enchanted by Submarine?

And why am I more terrorized than excited by the idea of the forthcoming Tintin movie by Spielberg (a director I love making a film about my ultimate childhood hero?) … Why am I so afraid I’ll be disappointed?

Am I growing old and just tired of movies or are there just fewer and fewer fresh good things our there?

Still Walking – (Criterion Collection) Review

STILL WALKING (2008) 

Directed by Hirokazu Koreeda. Starring Yoshio HaradaHiroshi AbeYui Natsukawa.

This is a strange choice from somebody like me who’s always attracted by Hollywood blockbusters and Oscar-worthy-type-of -movies. In fact “Still Walking” is a small, intimate and charming Japanese film by the ever interesting director Hirokazu Koreeda. I stumbled across his work, almost by mistake a few years ago with the beautiful (and most moving) Nobody Knows and ever since then I’ve been trying to catch up with his work. Still walking is coming out on a special Criterion DVD on the 8th of February 2011 and if you are into Japanese cinema at its best or small intimate family dramas done with the lightest touch and the most naturalistic approach, this is probably one for you. Anyone else should probably pass on, however, even thought this is really far from the movies I usually watch I did find Still walking very touching and more than 2 weeks after I saw it, I keep on thinking about it. This is one of those films that stays with you, long after the credits have finished rolling.

I must confess it took me a while to get into it. The beginning felt a bit too staged. Both the use of static camerawork framing the scenes and the dialogue didn’t seem quite right.

The film clearly aims to capture how people relate to each other within a family environment. Particular attention is given to their actions within the daily routine, however some of it felt a bit too indulgent (The preparation of the food for example seem to go on for quite a long time) and take you away from what’s really the key of the story: the interaction between all the character. And that interaction works as a treat!

The film is essentially an intimate family drama about a man visiting his elderly parents for the anniversary of the death of his eldest brother,  fifteen years before. Behind the lovely summer day, the comfortable house and unchanging as the mother’s homemade feast, everyone in the family has subtly changed.

Kore-eda is a master of building a scene that seems absolutely normal but hides something completely different underneath. It’s as if the picture told you something and the dialogue something else… People sit around the table, eat their food, make small talk: everything seems normal in the gentle summer breeze  as the static camera frames the action in almost unedited sequences and then all of a sudden comes a line of dialogue (sometimes even off camera) that makes you see everything in a complete different light. It’s all handled with the most natural approach even if not always very subtle. However I must say, I am relying on the subtitles to understand the dialogue, and I am sure those are probably trimmed down a bit too much: some of the nuances are most likely lost in translation. However with my western eyes I found some of the details of Japanese “normal country life” fascinating and almost mesmerizing: all the business of taking off the shoes, or the pouring of water over the tomb stones makes it all look like a complete different world, but then things like the ordering of take away sushi or the little boy mixing sodas in the same glass gives it a strange sense of familiarity.

As the film unravels the audience gets closer and closer to each member of the family, starts to hear their thoughts and feel their pain and at the end, the fact that it was a Japanese family is pretty irrelevant.

7.5/10

Still Walking (Criterion Collection)comes out on February 8, 2011

SPECIAL FEATURES:
  • New high-definition digital transfer, approved by director Hirokazu Kore-eda and director of photography Yutaka Yamazaki
  • New video interviews with Kore-eda and Yamazaki
  • Making “Still Walking”
  • Trailer
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by film critic Dennis Lim and recipes for the food prepared in the film

OTHER RELATED REVIEWS:

Rabbit Hole

%d bloggers like this: