The Hands of Bresson

Sundry observations on the art of cinema and world film culture

Hirokazu Kore-eda: An Interview

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Still Walking, Hirokazu Kore-eda

“A connoisseur of longing and remembrance who brings great sensitivity to each of his reflective fables, Japan’s Hirokazu Kore-eda should be better known in the States, as his films extend the tradition of world-class artists like Naruse and Ozu. Enthralled with the operation of memory and the impact of grief on the lives of everyday people, Kore-eda has created a body of work that’s as rich with feeling as it is modest in tone. In Maborosi (1995), Kore-eda told the story of a quietly devastated young widow struggling to move on after her husband commits suicide. He then departed from this film’s elegant compositions and moody, color-saturated production design to draw on the observational techniques he’d developed earlier in his career as a documentary filmmaker. After Life (1998), built around interviews he conducted with hundreds of participants, visits an institutional purgatory where the recently deceased are asked to choose a single recollection to relive for eternity as a film. Distance (2001) and Nobody Knows (2004) are both loosely based on high-profile news items: the emotional aftermath of the Aum Shinrikyo sarin-poisoning tragedy and the heartrending story of three school-age children who survived for 200 days in an apartment after being abandoned by their mother. Even Hana (2006), an Edo period piece, has none of the usual trappings of the jidai geki genre, instead emphasizing the gentle, domestic rituals of a reluctant samurai-turned-village teacher who elects not to avenge the murder of his father. Throughout these films, Kore-eda studiously avoids the pitfalls of cynicism and sentimentality, exploring the private worlds of vulnerable, emotionally complex people with extraordinary grace and subtlety.”

Click here to read my full interview with Kore-eda at Filmmaker.


Written by eyemaster

August 28, 2009 at 4:31 pm

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