Author Topic: Hirokazu Koreeda  (Read 5374 times)

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Lottery

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Hirokazu Koreeda
« on: December 10, 2013, 09:06:03 AM »
+1
The other day I made a comment in the Idiot Box about not having watched any of Hirokazu Koreeda's works but I expected that I would like them. I've actually held this feeling for a number of years now, never getting around to watching them. But I watched Still Walking earlier. It was pretty close to perfect. A family drama that's presented beautifully. It unfolds in this brilliantly naturalistic way and even in the more obviously dramatic moments, there's this sense of calm. I think with these sort of family dramas, the setting- the actual presence of Japanese culture just seems so fitting. I can't seem to find any other appropriate comparisons but this certainly felt like a more contemporary Ozu film. Most of the characters seem so deep in their creation and that feels present even in off-handed comments or remarks. There are also just fantastic snapshots of family life which really come across as warm and real.
I think I have to watch this dude's other works soon and return with comments. I probably should have listened to my intuition sooner.






jenkins

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Re: Hirokazu Koreeda
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2013, 12:03:44 AM »
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"the actual presence of Japanese culture just seems so fitting." mhmm. i forget i'm not japanese when i watch koreeda's movies, because i forget i'm not a character. i like koreeda's movies because i like people and movies, and he's good with both

the characters are built from where they are. from what they see. from what they experience. that's what i most love, always. the characters couldn't exist anywhere else. through that he's able to convince me of both the place and person

they soooo emotional. after life is famous for being a poetic movie about death. i.e., it's like a zombie movie and, yes, the zombies are feelings. my favorite is nobody knows (of course). all that city, its people, and shared pulses. still life is criterion and i think you gave a lovely description. though, it's so easy to say ozu!
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Lottery

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Re: Hirokazu Koreeda
« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2013, 12:22:54 AM »
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It is way too easy to say Ozu. Most of the other Japanese stuff I watch includes either samurai, folk-tales, gangsters and creepy children and not nearly enough domestic life.

jenkins

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Re: Hirokazu Koreeda
« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2013, 11:16:14 AM »
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tokyo sonata and all about lily chou-chou spring to my mind as recent(ish) personal favorites

while searching for japanese movie magazines i found:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shomingeki

(this is the entire wikipedia entry):
Quote
Shomin-geki (庶民劇?) is a pseudo-Japanese word invented by Western film scholars. It describes a genre of realist film and television or theater plays in Japan which focuses on the lives of common working class people.

Mikio Naruse (19051969) and Yasujirō Ozu (19031963) were two prominent directors considered to work primarily in the field of shomin-geki. In Japanese the word for this genre of films is shōshimin-eiga.
that's kinda cool. kinda wtf
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Lottery

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Re: Hirokazu Koreeda
« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2013, 08:23:47 AM »
+1
Jenkins! Jenkins!

SPOILERS FOR NOBODY KNOWS

I just watched Nobody Knows and it was brilliant and all but I'm struggling so much with the ending.
The film starts of as this naive, simplistically idealistic form of independence. And while I was upset by the neglectful nature of the mother I really wasn't prepared for the the devastating final scenes. It's just that it goes from light drama about these four kids and it just gradually starts descending into this terrible depravity which is notable as the film is not remotely graphic or visibly intense in nature. And then when it happens, when Yuki dies and gets buried, it was so saddening, Koreeda's peaceful directing just made the occurrence so much worse. And its only then you truly realise how messed up these kids got. This film is doesn't adhere to typical flow of dramatic tension. You have this underlying conflict and the actual drama doesn't peak swiftly and obviously like other films, it occurs lightly and even in those final scenes that style is kept. There is no major shift in tension. It just happens and Koreeda chooses not to exploit it.
And they just...go on, living like that. It left me upset. Despite their experience and despite Yuki's death, they insist on living like that.
Funnily, I was aware of the case this was based on and didn't make the connection until I bloody read about it. It was worse in real life. Chilling.
 
Anyway with all that emotional stuff out of the way, I'll just talk about the other things. Those kids were utterly superb. I couldn't believe how well those characters were developed and how natural they were. They were so distinct in their personalities. Similarly, all the other characters were great too- the mother (she's good at playing the laidback/neglectful young mother), Saki etc. Also the camera work was great, in both the cramped interors and the outside areas. There is this curious moment near the end when there are tilted locked shots and it feels weird, it's brief but still odd. As of now, I probably like Still Walking more but this one was fantastic too. I think I might catch one of Koreeda's earlier ones, they seem to differ stylistically from his later stuff.


jenkins

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Re: Hirokazu Koreeda
« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2013, 10:34:23 AM »
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hell yeah. i support your feelings and reactions
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Lottery

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Re: Hirokazu Koreeda
« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2013, 09:59:54 AM »
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I watched After Life and it was kinda brilliant.
A neat little concept, fantastically portrayed. The recollections of the memories and lives were fluid and natural. As were the scenes where they were filmed. The old woman's song/dance for example was just one of those touching stories. Like with the other Koreeda films I've seen, the development/progress of the dramatic conflict was uniquely done. The shift from the interviews, the documentary-like filming to the important dramatic idea of the film was great. It just appears so unassuming, the way how it rose from the earlier sections.|A great collection of characters too, all unique and interesting. It really leaves you wondering about some of the other staff in the film.
Good stuff.


Lottery

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Re: Hirokazu Koreeda
« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2014, 07:44:19 AM »
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I watched Koreeda's 2011 effort, I Wish. It was a lovely little thing. Out of the films I've watched, this is his cutest and lightest in tone. There is a shared line of stories from a number of the characters which occur in the form of a wish- not just natural 'want' but an actual miracle they wish to occur. It's a touching idea that a kid may believe- especially if they were desperate enugh. The amount of screentime dedicated to the wishes may appear uneven at first but it becomes apaprent how they all fit into the story- aside from the main two children, there is a notable emphasis on one of the children, the girl who aspires to be an actress.
Once again, the drama is light in nature and while one might wish for a major peak in a drama (which almost happens in a flashback to a domestic argument), it would ultimately make the mood of the film uneven. I think if someone needed a reason to criticise Koreeda, they could probably attack the lack of major dramatic tension. But a lot the dramatic ideas in the film are internalised or are not expressed 'violently' and that could most definitely be a reflection of the culture. Once again I'm drawn into Koreeda's beautifully natural portrayal of domestic life. I think one of the most remarkable things about Koreeda is his skill with children, he is some sort of wizard god at directing children. Thankfully the kids in this have a far more upbeat experience in this than in Nobody Knows. It was also a pleasure seeing some of the actors from Still Walking make an appearance in this.
Ultimately this film is about acceptance- I wouldn't say it makes a statement as it never appears as adamant as that but rather it gently moves towards the idea.



Lottery

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Re: Hirokazu Koreeda
« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2014, 08:45:44 AM »
+2
Watched Maborosi. It's a very still and solemn effort, a far cry from Koreeda's later work. So far, I've had little respect to Koreeda's chronology as a director and I have visited his films in a rather order- maybe I should have approached it chronologically but this process of discovery has been fun. This seems like Koreeda at his most primitive and most dark, yet I have not seen Distance, so who knows. The basic elements of his work are here but there's this great sadness permeating it, something which I saw in Still Walking but it's conveyed completely differently here. The film is deliberate in its sense of pace and composition, everything thing is kept low and level- you can't exactly say that not much happens in this film because every scene has its value in the development of the tone of the film. In the lead role is Makiko Esumi, known as a model before her debut in this film. She does a great job, her moods seem to dictate the mood and space of the entire film. In the early scences, her character is positively upbeat and happy but the sudden tragedy that hits her, changes her personality entirely. And while she does manage to restore her family life, she doesn't appear to truly recover her former nature. She and a number of the characters in the film are dressed in black for a large amount of the film, already leading to funeral atmosphere on a superficial level. This film is a meditation on loss, uncertainty and the ultimate question behind suicide, 'why?'. The response given to this question in the end is both mystifying and deeply sorrowful.

Perhaps this is the sort of film Ozu would be making today if he had severe depression.


wilder

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Re: Hirokazu Koreeda
« Reply #9 on: January 07, 2014, 05:35:39 PM »
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I saw a print of Maborosi a few months ago. It's a really beautiful looking movie. Not much to add, but your description reminds me of what Jim Jarmusch says in the Z Channel documentary in regard to Antonioni.

She does a great job, her moods seem to dictate the mood and space of the entire film.

Quote from: Jim Jarmusch
Antonioni is not necessarily about the logical structure of a dramatic story, but about atmosphere and nuance and a kind of emotional tension that exists more like weather.

It's a film I'd like to see again. Milestone is apparently planning a blu-ray release at some point.

Lottery

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Re: Hirokazu Koreeda
« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2014, 09:35:57 AM »
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I watched Koreeda's 2001 work Distance after deciding to watch the rest of his films in chronological order. From a visual perspective, this is Koreeda at his naturalistic, using the hand-held, naturally lit style to its fullest. Occasionally distracting but it serves the story well, simply laying the events out as they are. We can see how this film bridges his style from After Life to Nobody Knows and because of this, his evolution starts making a lot more sense to me. There are even throwbacks to the interview documentary aspects of After Life.
Once again, Koreeda takes an interesting but simple idea and uses in an affecting but unassuming manner. The film revolves around four people, relatives of a cult-members that carried out an attack that left a great number of people dead. This group  join together every year on the anniversary of the attacks to pay their respects. A certain event results in them spending the night in the cult's former base-of-operations along with a former cult member.
While the story unfolds in a manner typical to Koreeda's films, one of the most interesting developments in the film is the presence of a mystery. I won't say much more on that except that it did add something to the film in its own ambiguous manner. It feels like a ghost story that never was, it has the right ingredients: a horrible past event, isolation in an cabin, a mysterious figure etc but in a way, it really is a ghost story- with numerous flashbacks to the time before the attacks, showing the deteriorating relationships between the protagonists and their cult-bound relatives. In a way, Maborosi, After Life and Distance seem to form a loose trilogy focused on the reflection on death, loss and past life.
While Maborosi always has an atmosphere of loss, Distance initially presents this thematic element as something belong to the past. While the protagonists meet for a rather serious occasion, their behaviour together appears to be polite and affable. For the most part these attitudes are kept throughout the film even when the characters are forced to think about the cast put the flashbacks give an indication to a more troublesome and confusing past.
I think I'll come to miss this dark and natural Koreeda. While his later films do have an air of naturalism to them (notably in the performances), they seem far more 'put together'. That said- this is a very specific moment in his career, Maborosi was very much 'put together' while this and large sections of After life really did feel like Koreeda sneaking around real happenings with a camera on his shoulder. I found this quote, something he said which sums things up pretty well.
 
I wanted to create a big lie, meaning the opposite of the documentary-style, naturalist, contemporary films I've been doing...So far I've tried to use naturalism to search for reality, but now I will try total fiction to search for that reality.

I hope that one day he'll come back to this very dark and free form of filmmaking.
Also, once again I was pleased to see some familiar faces from Koreeda's other works, it was very close to becoming an After Life reunion.


Lottery

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Re: Hirokazu Koreeda
« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2014, 08:29:02 AM »
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Watched Hana. An entertaining film which is very different from Koreeda's other work. It's quite charming and warm- the closest point of reference is probably I Wish but even then it's quite removed. Hana is an interesting take on the samurai retribution theme, it's a comedy-drama than anything. There's a colourful cast of characters and while the community focus is fun, it occasionally causes confusion or leads to some odd ends.
I'd hate to call this lesser Koreeda but there's a brilliant and focussed film within Hana but I didn't see it. But perhaps I didn't want to see it anyway because by the end I was pretty content. There's scenes of laughter and tension, some rather surprising moments but above all there's some great character building. I was pretty happy to see a samurai film with heart and minimal swordplay.
I look forward to Koreeda experimenting with genres and styles in the future



Lottery

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Re: Hirokazu Koreeda
« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2014, 08:41:25 AM »
+2
Just watched Air Doll. I think the initial presentation may make people confuse it for some sort of quirky, sexy dramedy but no, this is some serious existential shit, a wide meditation on life and it's surprisingly dark overall. It has a fairly tale atmosphere but despite it's certain level of whimsy, this is a sad and lonely tale. Doona Bae did a great job as the inflatable sex doll turned into cute longing robo-fairy. I can't honestly say that I was entirely drawn in for the total length of the film, I didn't love it like Koreeda's other works but it was well made and I really did not anticipate how somber and introspective this film could get.


Lottery

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Re: Hirokazu Koreeda
« Reply #13 on: January 16, 2014, 11:02:16 PM »
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Anyway, so yeah, I'm pretty Koreeda'd out but I've come to the conclusion that Hirokazu Koreeda is kinda brilliant.

His latest film, Like Father Like Son actually come out last year but I'm not sure when I'll be able to catch that one.

Looks very Koreeda, a logical continuation of his current style.
Dreamworks/Steven Spielberg just bought the rights for a US remake but we'll see if that actually gets anywhere.

The man's pretty consistent with his releases, so we should expect his next film around 2015.

Cloudy

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Re: Hirokazu Koreeda
« Reply #14 on: March 04, 2014, 12:30:13 AM »
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We have similar tastes in movies, curious which one you think I should start off with, which one you think I'd dig/you dig the most.

 

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