Archive for June 2014
Director Hiroshi Kanno makes a creditable debut with Ai to Kibo no Machi, a sprawling generational yarn that uses Fukushima, not just as a backdrop, but as the locus for the legacy and the trauma that has afflicted Japanese society. The trauma is literalized in the life of young Rie (Miku Chiba), turning tricks in Tokyo after escaping Fukushima. She ultimately faces up to guilt and remorse for her participation in a family tragedy through the help of the only superfluous character in the film, Sawada (Kohei Kuroda). Rie’s story of coming to terms intersects with the history of her mother, Aiko (Yoko Natsuki) – a love story set in Aiko’s early teenage years in the 60s and around the fateful days of 3.11 – and with the story of her grandfather, Hideo, conscripted to mine uranium during the war. The clever use of flashbacks keep the whole from falling into high melodrama (though there are plenty of melodramatic elements) and maintains a smart discourse on the nature Japan’s tragic nuclear pact and the legacy of 3.11.
Originally published in EL Magazine, June 2014.
Rikiya Imaizumi (I Catch a Terrible Cat) once again scores with a subtle and funny comedy about the love lives of twenty-somethings. The film proceeds across a series of vignettes in a La Ronde-like fashion, showing the pairings and unpairings of a bunch of young Tokyo-ites. The sometimes cruel nonchalance and imagined high seriousness of their relationships are given clever and honest workouts by a great group of actors. A particularly delicious scene involves the openly two-timing Shin (Seiji Okabe) trying to break up with one of his girlfriends, Midori, only to have the tables turned when she refuses. He comes back to his other girlfriend, Yuko, only to have her initiate their breakup. Imaizumi’s delicate direction brings out the best in his actors. If there’s any fault in Sad Tea, it’s the weak ending. A gathering of all the characters attempts to make the big statement and wrap all the loose ends up. It seems that Imaizumi dug himself too big a hole to fill it all in. Until then, it’s a great ride.
Originally published in EL Magazine, June 2014