a page of madness

film writing by nicholas vroman

Chasing Santa Claus / サンタクロースをつかまえて

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imagesIn the flood of documentaries that Japanese filmmakers have been producing about 3.11, there’s an egregious lack of deep thinking. There are the endless sentimental and programmatic NHK documents of the tragedy and the rebuilding that at least have the means and the mandate to document everything they can. Filmmakers with lesser means have brought their own versions to the screen – among the best being Toshi Fujiwara’s No Man’s Zone and Tetsue Matsuaki’s Tokyo Drifter. And then there’s Hiroki Iwabuchi’s Chasing Santa Claus. Iwabuchi follows a hackneyed person documentary style, interviewing members of his family, second-rate musicians and city officials to talk about the annual Christmastime illumination festival in Sendagi and how it brought renewed hope to its citizenry. Give me a fuckin’ break. It’s not that the folks of Sendai don’t need rituals and celebrations to deal with 3.11, but the reification of Japan’s crassest, most thoughtless and insincere of commercial traditions – Christmas – shows Iwabuchi hasn’t given half a thought to the meaning of 3.11, nor to what makes a worthwhile documentary about it.

Originally published in EL Magazine, December 2012.

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Written by Nicholas Vroman

December 2, 2012 at 2:06 am

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