quarta-feira, 4 de agosto de 2010

Lovers Corner #1 - Cedric's Choices

Lovers Corner is a place where you can publish your own reviews about Japanese Cinema. If you have a review of a film you want to see at Nihon Cine Art just send it to Eigagogo@gmail.com with your name. Thank you!

Noisy Requiem (1988)
(Tsuito no Zawameki, 1988)

This epic-scale, pessimistic and elliptical work about the outcasts and lowest forms of living in Osaka is one of the most memorable, gut-wrecking productions of cinema, I dare to say. No matter how much the characters struggle, they can’t improve their conditions of living. That might be seen as the effect of post-war economic growth in Japan, which inevitably left outsiders residing in the corrupted, seedy urban landscapes of the poorest Osakan neighborhood. That’s one of the main aspects of this kaleidoscopic feature, to explore the many forms of degraded life: Makoto, a man who kills women in order to take organs to stuff his beloved mannequin, as if that was going to bring her to life, a midget couple who have to face discrimination and employ Makoto as a sewage cleaner, a bum who finds the mannequin with shocking consequences, and a young couple in love – probably the purest of all characters, who even play a child’s game that resembles hopscotch in an abandoned warehouse. These two can be called the luckiest, since they have what the others don’t: love. But it doesn’t mean they’ll meet a happy fate, after all, in this work, no matter the persons’ condition, they get even deeper. The first dialogues of the movie are exchanged by two school girls who talk about the dream one had: A boy was feeding pigeons, but a white one couldn’t get the food because of the others. Corpses appear, are eaten by the pigeons, and the white bird is turned into a crow. Makoto was feeding pigeons in that park previously, before killing many of those. That scene fits in another important aspect, introduced in the dream and present throughout the movie, about tarnished purity – best exemplified by the couple – caused by society. Never humans seemed so brutal to one another, and still we could find beauty in the scenery, even if for a short moments. The melancholic and at times funerary music by Shigeo Suganuma adds an emotional impact that makes the fate of the characters seem even more painful, although it ends the movie on a peaceful tune, reminding one of a requiem.

Narita: Heita Village (1973)(Sanrizuka: Heta Buraku, 1973)

Heta Village (1973) is Shinsuke Ogawa’s sixth entry to his Narita series, filmed between 1967 and 1977, about the struggles occurred in Narita to protest the impending demolition of the village to make way for an airport. It differs a lot in style from the fourth installment, The Peasants of the Second Fortress (1971): The latter shows directly the confrontation between the people and the riot police, while the former is much more lyrical for showing carefully conducted Buddhist and traditional ceremonies, besides the stories of many dwellers from the titular village (an old woman who almost got killed by her husband in her 20’s, the relocation of a graveyard caused by the government’s destruction of an ancient burial ground). That different perception of reality reminds one of Ogawa’s later A Japanese Village – Furuyashikimura (1982), more preoccupied too with anthropological matters and the connection between man and nature (In the 1973 production, the pro-airport families left their land, and the relation becomes evident with the quote “When the farmers see these fields… It makes them feel as if their flesh is rotting”). But Heta Village continues the main story, even if in a new way from Peasants: the conflict is presented only by its effects to the people. One of the most important “subplots” involves the unjust arrest of some of the denizens’ sons for the death of three policemen – who not even died in action – and Ogawa with his team show the aftermath of the event until the youths get back from prison, 90 days later. During the festival, a father from one of these young men rises and state what might sum up the admirable (although at times violent) determination of the villagers: “Even though they have been arrested, their spirits have not been imprisoned” . Magnificent."

by Cedric Alexander

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