Blog Archives

Shoplifters (2018)

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Imagine, if you will, a movie where nothing much happens. Now, imagine being captivated by it. Now imagine going away feeling like you just witnessed some of the best, most wonderful cinema you’ve seen in a while. A long while. That feeling? That’s the Kore-eda effect.

Okay, fine, it’s not like Hirokazu Kore-eda is the only director who has the deftness and sensitivity to take the mundane and make it watchable without going over the edge into sentimentality and melodrama, … (read more)

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The Third Murder (2017)

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You can call Hirokazu Kore-eda a lot of things: pretentious, navel-gazing, somnolent, repetitive, poetical and astute is just a handful. “Genre master” is most definitely not among them. Regardless of this minor hurdle, Kore-eda dips his toes into Lumet territory for his latest, The Third Murder. Even if you can conjure a marriage between Kore-eda’s signature deliberate, piercing, languid aesthetic and the conventional beats demanded of a murder mystery you wouldn’t be able to entirely capture the essence of … (read more)

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Like Father, Like Son (2013)

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Kore-eda is in my very humble opinion the most sensitive and humane filmmaker working in Japan today. His body of work is relatively small, but each film has been the product of a quiet and unassuming story-telling genius that rather than exploits people’s ugliness imbues them with the possibility of hope and redemption. He plumbs emotional depths in a way that exposes the human soul as achingly beautiful; his insight is both gentle and unflinching, and his deft, minimalist handling … (read more)

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Air Doll (Kuki Ningyo) (2009)

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We all know the story of Pinocchio, the wooden puppet who longed to be a real boy. When he finally got his wish, things didn’t go quite to plan and at one point he burns his feet off. There’s also that whole lying/long nose thing … The gist of the story is that Pinocchio is an inanimate object that is defined by his maker until he finds the gumption to go out and define himself.

Well, flash forward to 2000 … (read more)

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Still Walking (2008)

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Koreeda must be among the gentlest of modern filmmakers and Still Walking the almost perfect inverse to the so-called extremism driving populist interest in Asian cinema.

Why gentle? Koreeda takes a melodramatic premise here (concerned with the devastation that a tragic death wrecks upon surviving family members and one person connected with the incident), pads his story with bitter males and eccentric females, fiddles with a basic array of conflicts (young vs old, husband vs wife, city vs country, life … (read more)

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Hana (2006)

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Hirokazu Kore-eda’s latest work, and his first foray into the period piece, is one of those films that before you see it, you find yourself wondering: what on earth could a semi-realist director best known for emotionally honest documentary style films do with the samurai genre? How will his organic style show through? How will he achieve the unexpected charm and humour that is such a strong characteristic in all his films to date no matter what the content?

But … (read more)

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Nobody Knows (2004)

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Hirokazu Kore-eda’s docu-style drama Nobody Knows is something of a study in human devolution and flawed society. Based on the true story of a family of four abandoned by their mother, it’s perhaps not as shocking as something you might see on the nightly news, but then that wasn’t really the director’s intention, to shock. Instead, with a subtle hand, Kore-eda questions. His subtle, almost-there commentary about the state of the modern family, social and individual responsibility and the intrinsic … (read more)

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Distance (2001)

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Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Koreeda has produced a film that has touched upon one of the most sensitive issues for contemporary Japanese filmmakers: terrorist cults. Even though Koreeda’s film is fictional, there is always the inevitable comparison with the Aum cult sarin gas attack. There are a number of films, such as Canary, dealing with this sensitive problem. However, no filmmaker has probed the aftermath of the issue so poignantly and innovatively as Koreeda.

Distance has a very basic story: … (read more)

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