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MIFF09 review: STILL WALKING (dir. Hirokazu Kore-eda)

still walking

Review by Conall Cash (catabloguing.wordpress.com)

Lately it seems like every year a new film shows up that either proclaims itself or is proclaimed by the most audible voices in criticism as an hommage to the films of Yasujiro Ozu. The latest is Still Walking, by Hirokazu Kore-eda, but already in that act of naming its director we notice something that immediately distinguishes this film from the crowd. Ozu adoration takes on many forms, produces very different effects – sublimity in Hou Hsaio-hsien; devastating pathos in Aki Kaurismaki; mysticist mediocrity in Wim Wenders; inert banality in Vincent Gallo – but it is almost never, interestingly, to be seen in the work of a Japanese filmmaker. Ozu’s body of work is so fundamental to the history of Japanese cinema that inevitably it has been ‘internalized’; just as no Hollywood director can entirely evade the influence of John Ford or Howard Hawks, no Japanese filmmaker can make a film that is not ‘after Ozu,’ inflected by his influence upon how cinema is made in Japan. What this typically means is that, unlike foreign directors who respond to particular, individual attributes of Ozu’s cinema – his unmoving, low-to-the-floor camera setups; his expression of the passing of time and of the generations through the visual motif of the changing seasons; or his achievement of meaning through indirection, with complex and painful emotions and ideas conveyed through mundane everyday conversation – a Japanese filmmaker is unlikely to consider these as isolatable, individually definable elements, but rather as constitutive of the very cinematic air he or she naturally breathes. Great Japanese cinema has been made by positively vomiting up this influence, performing a kind of self-asphyxiation rather than permitting this air to enter the lungs, eviscerating its every molecule in the pursuit of new forms – see the films of Shohei Imamura. Kore-eda’s achievement with Still Walking, on the other hand, is effectively to have found a way to breathe the air of Ozu afresh, to reconcile the foundational, inalienably Japanese Ozu with the versions of him found in his foreign disciples; to make a film that is simultaneously a conscious hommage and that takes itself seriously as living, breathing cinema, with responsibilities towards its own identity and those of its characters. Continue reading

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Tarantino is a hack, Murakami gets adapted and Shia LaBoeuf likes his mum ‘that way’.

405px-Precious2009posterYou know that upcoming movie Precious, the one about the obese illiterate black female teenager who gets raped by her father and abused by her mother? The one that stars Mariah Carey?! It now has a gnarly poster and trailer. [The Black Snob]

Life just gets worse and worse for the kids from Slumdog Millionnaire who are apparently set for life due to trust funds hastily set up by the film’s producers. There’s some joke to be made here about the irony of a rags-to-riches fairytale movie being played by actors who went from rags to HAVING THEIR SHANTY HOUSE BULLDOZED BY THE GOVERNMENT LEAVING THEM HOMELESS. But it’s all pretty fucking sad. [Defamer] Continue reading


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You must watch SUMMER HOURS. It might be the best film of the year.


[SUMMER HOURS trailer here.]

Olivier Assayas’ Summer Hours is the second in a series of films to be sponsored by the Musée d’Orsay and following Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s Flight of the Red Balloon, it indicates that the Parisian museum is kicking ass at curating films by some of the world’s most outstanding and edgiest filmmakers even if they are not the most famous auteurs. Continue reading


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