1089 After Life

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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swo17
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1089 After Life

#1 Post by swo17 » Mon May 17, 2021 1:51 pm

After Life

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If you could choose only one memory to hold on to for eternity, what would it be? That's the question at the heart of Hirokazu Kore-eda's revelatory international breakthrough, a bittersweet fantasia in which the recently deceased find themselves in a limbo realm where they must select a single cherished moment from their life to be recreated on film for them to take into the next world. After Life's high-concept premise is grounded in Kore‑eda's documentary-like approach to the material, which he shaped through interviews with hundreds of Japanese citizens. What emerges is a panoramic vision of the human experience—its ephemeral joys and lingering regrets—and a quietly profound meditation on memory, our interconnectedness, and the amberlike power of cinema to freeze time.

DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES

• New 2K restoration, approved by writer-director Hirokazu Kore-eda, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• Audio commentary featuring film scholar Linda Ehrlich
• New interviews with Kore-eda, stills photographer–cinematographer Masayoshi Sukita, and cinematographer Yutaka Yamazaki
• Deleted scenes
• Trailer
• PLUS: An essay by novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen

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hearthesilence
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Re: 1089 After Life

#2 Post by hearthesilence » Mon May 17, 2021 2:31 pm

Is this likely the same transfer used for the BFI's Hirokazu Kore-eda box set released in 2019?

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Re: 1089 After Life

#3 Post by pistolwink » Tue May 18, 2021 10:33 pm

Great movie, though (inevitable forum-whine ahead) it would have been nice to include the powerful Kore-eda documentary, Without Memory, that immediately preceded and inspired After Life.

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Re: 1089 After Life

#4 Post by DeprongMori » Tue May 18, 2021 11:37 pm

pistolwink wrote:
Tue May 18, 2021 10:33 pm
Great movie, though (inevitable forum-whine ahead) it would have been nice to include the powerful Kore-eda documentary, Without Memory, that immediately preceded and inspired After Life.
From what I understand, he really doesn’t want to see his documentary work re-issued. I would love to see his documentaries as well.

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Re: 1089 After Life

#5 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed May 19, 2021 12:18 am

A number of years ago, a documentary box set was scheduled -- and then scrubbed. His Cocco documentary (on a quirky Okinawan singer), made after the start of his feature film career, might still be available on (unsubbed) DVD. I liked it -- but would have liked it more with subs, I suspect.

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Re: 1089 After Life

#6 Post by pistolwink » Thu May 20, 2021 2:55 pm

I thought there had been a Japanese DVD release of his documentaries -- maybe a non-commercial one? Or maybe I am half-remembering the same thing you mention.

If Kore-eda doesn't want folks to see them, then there's not much to be done. Alas.

Also, I know this is just promotional copy, but in re.
amberlike power of cinema to freeze time.
I always thought that among the various takeaways from After Life was that film is actually unable to really "freeze time" or recreate the past, i.e. it's about the inevitable insufficiency not just of cinema but of memory itself.

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Re: 1089 After Life

#7 Post by colinr0380 » Thu May 20, 2021 3:26 pm

I would agree both with the Criterion write up and pistolwink in that the film feels about the way that your 'perfect memory' shifts with the act of remembrance into being something else, as surrounding life around it slips away and the person exists in one 'trapped in amber' moment. But that is where the bittersweet element comes in, as its never going to be a 'true' recreation in that sense, because actual lived life is a series of moments that are forever ending and looked back upon through a haze of nostalgia.

If this film is at all sentimental it only feels so in the initial, impossible, somewhat melancholy premise that you can capture a perfect moment, albeit in a waystation that exists beyond one's death. Yet the sheer ability of capturing the moment (that gets associated in a fascinating, complex manner with the down to earth mechanical processes of photography and moviemaking that showcases a wonderful vibrancy and verve of shared communal work to realise someone's dreams. The ending of the process of making the film being another form of 'passing on') in a way means that you cease to exist in the here and now (or even in purgatory) anymore.

That's what makes the film have a slightly disturbing tinge to it as well, though this may just be my cynicism breaking through again! To fixate on a period of one's life so singularly is to leave linear time behind and enter another realm altogether. Going from the realm of the creator to that of the viewer? From behind the camera or writing the script or acting in the film, to being in the cinema audience, forever watching the same single movie on a loop? I would class myself very much as a voyeur rather than a protagonist, but still I would quite like an endless variety of content to spend eternity with!

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Re: 1089 After Life

#8 Post by pistolwink » Thu May 20, 2021 3:59 pm

All of the Kore-eda films I've seen have a few twee, sentimental trappings that stick uncomfortably in the memory (the ukulele musical motif in Nobody Knows continues to annoy me almost 20 years later; it seems to belong in a cell phone ad) but when I revisit the movies they usually feel much less sentimental than I had remembered, more astrigent -- to their credit. I don't think it's just you who find the premise of this film disturbing. Any film that confronts the finality of death as this one does -- even if it does so through the vehicle of a fantastical vision of an afterlife -- is bound to have a disturbing element.

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Re: 1089 After Life

#9 Post by Michael Kerpan » Thu May 20, 2021 6:00 pm

As I understand it, the American (western) write-ups are a bit misleading. It is not that one is going to spend all the rest of eternity alone with just that one memory -- rather it is a little souvenir one gets to take along into whatever future life (lives) one passes on to. One has it as a precious treasure forever, no matter what else happens. in all one's futures.

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Re: 1089 After Life

#10 Post by colinr0380 » Fri May 21, 2021 12:21 pm

I think that most of Kore-eda's films have that interesting aspect about them that the 'sentimental set up' for the story at some point ends up falling away for something less flashy but far more moving and profound. Where the plans and dramas of the characters (that often don't work out the way they were intended to) fade out for a meditation on the nature of just existing in the world and letting life flow onward even if there are obstacles in the way. Even a film such as Like Father, Like Son with its rather hackneyed swapped at birth premise manages to include a number of perfect low key moments that deepen its story so much: particularly the son's digital camera library photo montage at the end which finally lets his point of view about being treated as 'interchangeable' by his father get aired.

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Michael Kerpan
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Re: 1089 After Life

#11 Post by Michael Kerpan » Fri May 21, 2021 3:51 pm

I have a particular fondness for Like Father Like Son (And So, At Last, I Become a Father). I never get tired of stories that features adults finally growing up (which I feel is more the core theme than the swapped at birth kick-off).

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Re: 1089 After Life

#12 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri May 21, 2021 4:01 pm

Michael Kerpan wrote:
Fri May 21, 2021 3:51 pm
I have a particular fondness for Like Father Like Son (And So, At Last, I Become a Father). I never get tired of stories that features adults finally growing up (which I feel is more the core theme than the swapped at birth kick-off).
I do as well, it's one of my favorite Kore-eda films, and one that I think gets undervalued in his body of work. As I mentioned in the filmmaker's thread, it's "a fascinating portrait of nature/nurture testing and how asserting a framework or one's will doesn't necessarily help or change a situation that has taken on its own organic process." It's been too long since I've seen it to draw on particulars, but I recall being transfixed with empathy for all parties trying to make sense of a situation that is elusively out of their control, yet affirming that desire to issue control over it. It's basically an ethical dilemma in the form of a parable for attempting to flex agency within the serenity prayer, without accounting for its spiritually-surrendering ethos, thus reflexively demonstrating the need for people to say it to themselves all the time in the eternal struggle of where to act and when to let go.

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Re: 1089 After Life

#13 Post by Michael Kerpan » Fri May 21, 2021 6:51 pm

It also has a sociopolitical aspect -- rejection of the work culture that intrerferes with the sort of traditional role fathers ought to be able to play. Presumably our adult protagonist "inherited" his attitude to fatherhood, but having seen an alternative perspective, makes an effort to change.

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Re: 1089 After Life

#14 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri May 21, 2021 7:04 pm

Michael Kerpan wrote:
Fri May 21, 2021 6:51 pm
It also has a sociopolitical aspect -- rejection of the work culture that intrerferes with the sort of traditional role fathers ought to be able to play. Presumably our adult protagonist "inherited" his attitude to fatherhood, but having seen an alternative perspective, makes an effort to change.
Good point, Michael, and I absolutely agree though should have clarified- the issue is not universally psychological divorced from cultural context. They're absolutely related, which is another weight against us relinquishing control. Our conditioned responses from ingrained social politics have a very strong influence on those inhibitions.

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Re: 1089 After Life

#15 Post by phoenix474 » Mon Jul 26, 2021 12:16 pm


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Re: 1089 After Life

#16 Post by DeprongMori » Mon Jul 26, 2021 12:57 pm

Linda Ehrlich’s commentary on Milestone’s release of Maborosi was superb and added much to my already deep appreciation of the film. Even though I have the BFI Of Flesh and Blood: The Cinema of Hirokazu Koreeda box set, I’m tempted to double-dip on the Criterion After Life for Ehrlich’s commentary.

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Re: 1089 After Life

#17 Post by jegharfangetmigenmyg » Tue Sep 21, 2021 3:42 am

I don't understand why they sourced this from a blown-up 35mm if the 16mm source material is available. I get that the theatrical look of the film is reproduced this way, but why not aim for the sharpest and most refined version of that beautiful thick 16mm that can be found on Criterion's Pennebakers and Maysles?

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Re: 1089 After Life

#18 Post by The Fanciful Norwegian » Tue Sep 21, 2021 11:17 am

Parts of the movie were shot in 35 and even 8mm and it was probably deemed impractical to go back and scan everything from the original negatives. Most likely the 35mm dupe negative is the best source incorporating all of the footage.

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Re: 1089 After Life

#19 Post by jegharfangetmigenmyg » Tue Sep 21, 2021 3:32 pm

The Fanciful Norwegian wrote:
Tue Sep 21, 2021 11:17 am
Parts of the movie were shot in 35 and even 8mm and it was probably deemed impractical to go back and scan everything from the original negatives. Most likely the 35mm dupe negative is the best source incorporating all of the footage.
Ah, OK. That makes sense, then. I didn't know that it was partially shot on multiple stock types. I understood it as having been shot exclusively on 16mm and blown up to 35mm for cinema projection.

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Re: 1089 After Life

#20 Post by pistolwink » Fri Sep 24, 2021 3:33 pm

Weren't the "memory" scenes shot on 35mm and the "limbo" stuff shot on 16mm, or something like that? (Or maybe the "memory" scenes were on 8mm? Boy, I should re-watch this....)

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Re: 1089 After Life

#21 Post by yoshimori » Fri Sep 24, 2021 5:08 pm

At least the bulk of the film was shot on 16mm -- you can clearly see the grain associated with the small format throughout. Kore'eda claims his choice was driven by the desire to let the interviewees tell their stories uninterrupted; and the large film loads the 16mm camera could accommodate lasted 10 minutes, so ...

It's possible the "memories" at the end were shot on 35 (definitely not 8mm), but I'd have to see the film again to be sure. It's on the re-watch pile, but ...

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