a page of madness

film writing by nicholas vroman

Engeki 1/Engeki 2 / 演劇1/演劇2

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Kazuhiro Soda’s third and fourth opus of his Observational Film Series, Engeki 1 and Engeki 2 takes on the world of theatre – specifically the theatre of Oriza Hirata. Hirata and his Seinendan theatre has been making waves internationally with his anti-Stanislavski acting approach and his discrete naturalism, even with projects flirting with the absurd. Clocking in at nearly 6 hours, the two films take on a monumental intimacy, portraying Hirata and company through rehearsals, performances, the day-to-day routines of running a company and Hirata’s teaching and lecturing gigs. Soda’s clear eye (he’s his own cameraman) follows the largely unrevealing Hirata through countless rehearsals where every moment is exactly timed and actors are completely controlled. Hirata’s almost mechanical relentlessness as he crafts his art and laughs off the impending bankruptcy of his endeavors may reveal more about the man than an outpouring of emotions or revelations from his life. The long sequences of how this man makes art are totally engrossing. Soda has perfected a documentary style that looks at surfaces revealing the depths behind them.

Originally published in EL Magazine, October 2012.


Written by Nicholas Vroman

October 2, 2012 at 9:14 am

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