Hirokazu Kore-eda

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Michael Kerpan
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Re: Hirokazu Kore-eda

#176 Post by Michael Kerpan » Fri Feb 21, 2020 10:27 am

Still Walking has grown on me with each revisitation (but then so do all of HK's other films). Kirin Kiki (Grandma) was one of Japan's great treasures. Her performance in Shoplifters (when she was presumably already quite ill -- or ill enough to imagine and portray being gravely ill uncannily convincingly) was quite amazing. KK's presence in a film was always somerthing that would make me want to see it. By the time Still Walking appeared, I no longer held any grudge against You.

After Life (for me) seems less and less "whimsical" with each watching. By this point, after almost 20 years, it hardly registers that way at all. ;-)

I love that Nobody Knows was filmed in real time -- and that the kids actually lived as a virtual family during the course of the film. I wonder how many other films actually register real physical growth of child characters between start and finish?

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Re: Hirokazu Kore-eda

#177 Post by longstone » Fri Feb 21, 2020 6:56 pm

I can't really pick a favourite, After Life was the first one I saw and it was the interview scenes that really caught my attention, then I think it was a DVD of Nobody Knows that I saw next and that really blew me away, it was full of small details like the sweets and weeds etc. and the acting of the children seemed amazing and of course it was emotionally tough subject matter. I hadn't really got any idea who Kore-eda was but those two films made me want to find out more and the connection I found between the two films seemed to be improvisation or rather a lack of script maybe for the interviewees and the children, at least that's how it struck me at the time. But then I tracked down a Japanese DVD of Maborosi and at the same time I bought The Mourning Forest by Naomi Kawase because I had read there was some similarity and connection between the directors. Those two films made an interesting pairing and seemed to be covering some similar territory. After this I filled in the gaps and tried to see the new releases as each came out if they came to a local cinema and have enjoyed them all. I haven't seen The Truth yet, has anyone had a chance to catch that at all ? I think it hits the U.K. in May. I am curious as to how I'll feel about that as I was drawn to the other films in the first place because they were set in Japan but the trailer looks interesting.

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Re: Hirokazu Kore-eda

#178 Post by The Curious Sofa » Sat Feb 22, 2020 3:52 am

While very different in terms of style, thematically Maborosi reminded me of Jonathan Glazers later Birth. Both are about women for whom the grief over their first husband doesn’t get any better, even after remarrying. Both end at a beach, with the second husband being confronted with his inconsolable wife. Maborosi lacks the central reincarnation angle of Birth, but that turns out to have been a MacGuffin all along.

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Re: Hirokazu Kore-eda

#179 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sat Feb 22, 2020 10:03 am

Well, in Maborosi...
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...Kore'eda leads us to believe the wife IS ultimately consoled
;-)

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Re: Hirokazu Kore-eda

#180 Post by longstone » Sat May 23, 2020 4:26 pm

The Truth has been released on Blu-ray in the UK last week via Curzon/Artificial Eye, I don't think I've read about this release here yet ? It's a bare bones release with no extras bar a trailer but I really enjoyed the film. The acting from Deneuve and Binoche seemed great to me, I've enjoyed all Kore-eda's Japanese films so was worried about him working in a different language but he seems to have pulled it off.

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Re: Hirokazu Kore-eda

#181 Post by cowboydan » Sun May 24, 2020 1:40 am

I hope there is a US release on the way for The Truth. I'm still upset that Magnolia only gave Shoplifters a DVD release with no blu-ray.

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Re: Hirokazu Kore-eda

#182 Post by DeprongMori » Sun Jun 07, 2020 4:26 pm

I have a question regarding Distance, which I expect few have seen due to its lack of availability outside of Japan.

My question is regarding Atsushi and his “father” Tanabe.
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My reading of Atsushi is based on inferences throughout the film. The escaped cult member Asano suspects that Atsushi is not in fact the brother of one of the cult members of the compound, as Atsushi has contended. Yet Atsushi has kept up this pretense successfully for three years in the annual memorial pilgrimage. Who is he and what is his motivation for attending the annual memorials?

At the end of the film it is revealed that Atsushi is also not the actual son of Tanabe as he has claimed, as the appearance of the real son to the hospital after Tanabe’s death reveals. The fact that the real son has never visited the hospital while Tanabe was alive points to a sense of shame about the father.

Following Tanabe’s death, Atsushi sets alight the torn remnants of a family photo album, returns to the pier, drops a pair of lilies sacred to the cult in the water, then and subsequently the pier that had served as memorial site. He speaks only the word “father”.

At this point it seems clear that Atsushi was/is a member of the larger Ark of Truth cult, but was never at the headquarters or privy to the poisoning plans. His actions seem consonant with a conflicted cult member who loved the cult and its philosophy but has a sense of guilt about the poisonings.

Less clear to me is whether Tanabe was in fact the cult’s leader, who Atsushi has been visiting. While it is mentioned by one of the pilgrims that the leader had committed suicide after the poisonings, that information seems to be more in the form of rumor rather than certainty. Or, is Tanabe one of the thousands of civilians who were sickened but not killed in the poison attack? That Tanabe was the cult leader seems supported by the details of Atsushi’s final visit to the pier, and his sense of expiation after the long healing vigil between the family members and Sakata, and Tanabe’s death. The sense of shame that prevents Tanabe’s real son from visiting the hospital also points to Tanabe being the cult leader. But I remain unsure.

I revisited the end of the film with special attention to the police interview. Atsushi is asked about his work in the flower shop and whether he was influenced. He states that he doesn‘t believe he was influenced, but that he can never forget the smell of the lilies.
Anyone have thoughts on this?
Last edited by DeprongMori on Tue Jun 09, 2020 5:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Hirokazu Kore-eda

#183 Post by yoshimori » Mon Jun 08, 2020 3:10 am

re: DeprongMori's question about Distance.

Not an answer, but ...
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All from memory, so, correct me if I'm wrong.

Near the beginning of the film, Atsushi "builds" a family on his computer from the photos he's got scattered on his desk. The characters in the computer family are himself, a sister (the young cult woman), a mother we never otherwise see, and a father. The emotional sense of the scene, it seems to me, is that Atsushi is desperate to be part of a family. This is the (or at least a) core of the movie. It starts with Atsushi in the flower shop and ends with Atsushi's dropping the lilies and saying "father" at the pier.

So, one question probably is, are these people in the computer mock-up his actual family? And if so, or even if not, what happened to his family?

I always sensed the man burning the family photos at the end of the film -- and this action suggests he was a cult member, if not necessarily the cult leader -- was Atsushi's father. Partly because of the association of Atsushi and the aforementioned photo collection. And partly because that man is addressed in a scene (a shot down a staircase), a scene that takes place a few minutes before or after the photo burning scene, by his wife, who asks him whether or not he even cares about their children, again suggesting, because of the various connections and because most of the film's other final scenes are about Atsushi (return to the hospital, the police interview, his return to the pier), that one of those children is Atsushi.

The Asano character's suggestion that Atsushi is not the young cult woman's brother -- is it because the brother is supposed to be dead? I forget -- should probably be taken with at least a tiny grain of salt. It's plausible that a cult leader and his faithful daughter might deny the existence (or present existence if they claim he's dead) of a family member who is not a believer. But that's just speculation on my part.

The relationships here aren't obvious, of course, but my sense was that Atsushi was indeed the girl's brother -- their rapport in that incredible scene between them at the pond, the one that includes the story of the "solitary bird", seems a mixture of comfortability and tension that makes sense of a brother-sister pair, only one of whom follows the cult leader -- and that they both were the cult leader's children, and that the man in the hospital is just some father-substitute for Atsushi, given his actual father's (the cult leader's) death.

...

Either that, or Atsushi is a ghost! [Just kidding, though someone I know who saw the film actually suggested that.]

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Re: Hirokazu Kore-eda

#184 Post by DeprongMori » Mon Jun 08, 2020 4:16 am

Yoshimori, thank you for your insights on Distance.
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I had utterly missed Atsushi’s construction of a family on the computer. There were a couple of points in the film where I might have mistaken one character for another. Your recollections helped me reconstruct several things I had misconstrued. For example, I had assumed the man burning the photo album was Atsushi, but now it is apparent it was the “real” son. Given the importance of constructed families in Kore-eda’s films, these re-pairings and ambiguities of family membership are to be expected.
The film obviously rewards multiple viewings.

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Re: Hirokazu Kore-eda

#185 Post by Michael Kerpan » Mon Jun 08, 2020 9:31 am

My sense (after multiple viewings)...
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Atsushi was the son of the cult leader -- who basically abandoned his family at the point he decided to devote all his efforts to leading his cult -- and A's mother wanted nothing to do with the cult

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Re: Hirokazu Kore-eda

#186 Post by yoshimori » Mon Jun 08, 2020 10:31 am

MichaelK:

Yes. Yours is the short and sweet version of what I was trying to say.

I'm curious to know what you think of the Asano character's contention that Atsushi is not who he says he is. And what you make of the hospital visits.

DeprongM:
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Perhaps I was unclear, but I meant to suggest that the man burning the photos was Atsushi's father, the cult leader, at the time when he left his wife (Atsushi's mother).

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Re: Hirokazu Kore-eda

#187 Post by Michael Kerpan » Mon Jun 08, 2020 1:03 pm

I think Atsushi...
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...did lots of research on the attack survivors and discovered the old man was pretty much neglected and alone in the hospital, so he "adopted" him as a sort of restitution for his father's action.
Also, I just assumed it was Atsushi burning the photos -- followed by his torchjjing of the pier -- sort of totally cutting off his connection to his father at last.

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Re: Hirokazu Kore-eda

#188 Post by yoshimori » Mon Jun 08, 2020 2:58 pm

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The adoption makes perfect sense.

But I'm pretty sure that's not Atsushi burning the photos. Different build. Very different head shape and hair. Out-of-character costume.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/flampmx3qus5a ... 7.jpg?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/x3lim75720cpm ... 6.jpg?dl=0

And the photos the man burns are a couple generations older than the ones on Atsushi's desk. And they're in an album - which Atsushi's desk photos and all the other photos the "kids" share in the film aren't. And the first shot of the burning comes immediately after the wife address the father (both off-screen in that shot of the staircase). Not definitive, I guess - and the mystery, ambiguity, hiddenness is big part of the pleasure of the film - but ...

Still, in the end, like the man-in-the-burning-scene's erasing his connection to his family, Atsushi burns the pier associated with his father.

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Re: Hirokazu Kore-eda

#189 Post by Michael Kerpan » Mon Jun 08, 2020 4:59 pm

Distance is one of those (rare) films that I re-watched the very next day after my first viewing. ;-) (Hong's Virgin Stripped Bare and Takahata's Grave of the Fireflies were others). It needed a prompt second viewing in order to allow real (reel?) "processing" to begin.

As to the photo burning scene, I must admit I didn't pay enough attention to clothing....

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Re: Hirokazu Kore-eda

#190 Post by DeprongMori » Wed Jun 10, 2020 3:03 am

Just watched Distance a second time with more of an eye toward the ambiguities in the story. Its nuanced examination of Kore-eda’s favored theme of “family” has put the film among my favorites of the filmmaker.

Even with a keen eye and ear lent to the film, Kore-eda preserves some mysteries. A few things though became clearer.
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In the police interview, it was made pretty clear the Atsushi was a cult member in the broader cult. While the flashbacks of Atsushi with Yûko left ambiguous whether she was in fact his sister, my conclusion from Sakata’s (the escaped cultist’s) doubts about their relationship and the police interview was that Atsushi knew her from the flower shop. Atsushi was hungry for family and connection he did not have, so attached himself to the cult leader as his “father” and Yûko (after her death) as his “sister”. There would be no reason for any of the others in the pilgrimage to doubt his claim of relationship to Yûko. My conjecture is still just conjecture.

In this second viewing it became crystal clear to me that Tanabe (who Atsushi was visiting in the hospital) was in fact the cult leader, despite the police telling Atsushi during interrogation that he had committed suicide. One of my initial sources of confusion was assuming the man burning the photo album was one of the characters we had previously been introduced to. It was in fact Tanabe’s estranged son. The photos were previously seen in Tanabe’s photo album and the son would have retrieved the album after his death. The loss of his father to the religious cult had not only estranged him from his father, but from his wife and children, as can be gathered from the brief snippets of conversation in the final scenes.

The house of “the real son” was a house of wealth and prestige — spacious, multistory, and well-appointed woodwork — likely that of the cult leader himself, now occupied by his son’s family. (All the other characters live in apartments.) Illuminated in the entryway was a vase of the golden-veined lilies sacred to the cult, as vividly recalled by Sakata. The cult created a series of new family relationships while leaving a multitude of destroyed family relationships in its wake.

Atsushi’s deep processing with the family survivors and with the insider Sakata gave him new perspectives on his adopted family. Whereas on the trip home he had indicated he would come again next year, upon learning of his “father’s” death, he returned to the reservoir to say his final goodbye to his “father”, and literally burned all bridges back.

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Re: Hirokazu Kore-eda

#191 Post by Michael Kerpan » Mon Jul 20, 2020 10:11 am

My copy of The Truth finally arrived from Amazon UK (about 6 weeks after it was first ordered). It is a decent release of the film itself, but utterly barebones (other than a trailer).

I worried about how well HK would do working in French and English. I shouldn't have. The performances here are are as fine as the ones in his Japanese films. Binoche and Hawke (even) come across very much as real. Deneuve is, of course, larger than life -- but then again that is the essence of her character. Really found nothing to niggle at. So Kore-eda is, in my book, still batting 1000.

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Re: Hirokazu Kore-eda

#192 Post by dadaistnun » Tue Aug 04, 2020 5:15 pm

Regarding the Distance discussion upthread:
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I, too, was a bit confused over who was burning the photos, but the suggestion that it is Tanabe's real son makes sense. The photo album was in Tanabe's possession when Atsushi visits him at the beginning of the film, and since the nurse mentioned that the son visited only after Tanabe had died, it seems a logical enough inference. Add this to the family photo collage Atsushi is making, and it all does suggest a person without any real family. One subtle touch I only noticed upon re-watch: when the group is at the noodle shop after catching a ride back to town, the other three members of the quartet (leaving Sakata aside as he's not one of the initial group) all receive phone calls from people checking on them since they were missing and without cell reception overnight. At a couple of points, the camera pans down the restaurant counter and we see Atsushi has his phone to his ear as well -- but he's the only one not actually speaking to anyone.
I thought the film was remarkable. I'm finally getting around to more Kore-eda after having only seen (and loving) Shoplifters. Watched Maborosi, After Life, and Distance (twice) over the last few days and have been knocked out by every one.

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Re: Hirokazu Kore-eda

#193 Post by Michael Kerpan » Tue Aug 04, 2020 6:01 pm

dadaistnun -- So glad you are exploring Kore'eda. I find all his films "remarkable" -- each in its own way. Right now I'm revisiting his one and only mini-series (Going My Home, 2012). At 9.5 hours (or so) it has a different feel from the movies -- but it is better than I remembered (last seen 7 or so years ago).

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Re: Hirokazu Kore-eda

#194 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Aug 05, 2020 11:55 am

Going My Home (Kore'eda 2012) (re-visited)

Kore'eda's one and only mini-series. Because it lasts 9.5 hours it has a somewhat "looser" and more leisurely feel than his films. But it covers many of his most central themes -- parents and children, coping with loss (and anticipation of this as well), opportunities lost and found AND cooking, lots of cooking. As usual, he has a superb cast -- but it seems to take a little time for some to settle comfortably in their roles (but they all do, well before the end). The primary locale for this is a village (slowly depopulating) in mountainous Nagano.-- which expected some degree of revival with building of a giant dam, but instead began dwindling even faster after it was finished. The ostensible plot involves various characters searching for some mythical "little people" called kuna (who have some association with the world of the dead). Probably not a good starting place for anyone not already acquainted with Kore'eda's work -- but an enjoyable show for those already attracted to his style and themes. I have to say I really loved this overall this time around.

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Re: Hirokazu Kore-eda

#195 Post by DeprongMori » Wed Aug 05, 2020 12:07 pm

Michael Kerpan wrote:
Wed Aug 05, 2020 11:55 am
Going My Home (Kore'eda 2012) (re-visited)

Kore'eda's one and only mini-series. Because it lasts 9.5 hours it has a somewhat "looser" and more leisurely feel than his films. But it covers many of his most central themes -- parents and children, coping with loss (and anticipation of this as well), opportunities lost and found AND cooking, lots of cooking. As usual, he has a superb cast -- but it seems to take a little time for some to settle comfortably in their roles (but they all do, well before the end). The primary locale for this is a village (slowly depopulating) in mountainous Nagano.-- which expected some degree of revival with building of a giant dam, but instead began dwindling even faster after it was finished. The ostensible plot involves various characters searching for some mythical "little people" called kuna (who have some association with the world of the dead). Probably not a good starting place for anyone not already acquainted with Kore'eda's work -- but an enjoyable show for those already attracted to his style and themes. I have to say I really loved this overall this time around.
Where is this available? (Either streaming or physical media.)

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Re: Hirokazu Kore-eda

#196 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Aug 05, 2020 12:31 pm

I have a Taiwanese (I think) DVD with decent (probably fan-created) subs. Apparently there was another Chinese release with terrible subs.

This is what the one I have looks like: https://www.dvdplanetstore.pk/shop/drama/going-my-home/

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Re: Hirokazu Kore-eda

#197 Post by The Fanciful Norwegian » Wed Aug 26, 2020 12:22 pm

With The Truth having come out pretty well by all accounts (still need to see it myself), Koreeda will continue his world tour with a CJ Entertainment-distributed project with the working title Broker, to star Song Kang-ho, Bae Doona, and Gang Dong-won. The story will involve a baby hatch where mothers can safely leave infants they're not able to care for themselves.

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