Futatsume no Mado (Still the Water, 2014)

There’s a languorous pace to this small-town drama from Japanese director Naomi Kawase, though it starts with the shocking image of a heavily-tattooed man drowned face down in the crashing surf. After that everything settles down a little into a story of a young man Kaito (Nijiro Murakami) and woman Kyoko (Jun Yoshinaga) getting to know one another, cycling home from school, hanging out with their respective families, every so often flaring up with a little hint of some deeper, buried emotions. It’s a narrative which follows the crashing of the waves on the shore, as the title suggests, and fans of pathetic fallacy will find plenty of it in this film. It’s also deeply imbued with a sense of the spiritual dimension of nature — Kyoko’s dying mother, for example, is a village shaman, and there’s an almost mystical dimension to the ancient banyan tree outside their back door, as indeed there is to much of the film. Yet none of this is forced by the film (the trailer is another matter entirely). It reminds me of Terrence Malick’s vision of war in The Thin Red Line, a film far more about man’s relationship to nature than it ever was a story about war. Here we have a different genre (the coming-of-age film) similarly refracted through a story of two humans within a larger system. There’s still a certain underlying portentousness, but it’s matched by a simple lyricism that I at least enjoyed.

© Asmik Ace

Director/Writer Naomi Kawase | Cinematographer Yutaka Yamazaki | Starring Nijiro Murakami, Jun Yoshinaga | Length 110 minutes || Seen at Curzon Bloomsbury, London, Sunday 5 July 2015


Kiseki (I Wish, 2011)

This is a short review, as again I’ve let myself get behind in my write-ups at this busy time of year…

FILM REVIEW || Director/Writer Hirokazu Koreeda | Cinematographer Yutaka Yamazaki | Starring Koki Maeda, Oshiro Maeda | Length 128 minutes | Seen at home (Blu-ray), London, Monday 16 December 2013 || My Rating 4 stars excellent

© Gaga

I think it’s clear at this point that Japanese director Hirokazu Koreeda likes to make films about kids and their families, like a rather more sensitive rendering of the themes of earlier Steven Spielberg movies. His Like Father, Like Son was one of my favourite films at this year’s London Film Festival, and this previous film (only released in UK cinemas earlier this year) is also a delight. Both films feature families split apart — in this case by divorce — but I Wish takes the children as its protagonists, lending it also a sense of real child-like wonder.

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