Don't ask me why I decided to reboot and start from square one. I just did.
“The Smile” is a fun little music video from Shinkai Makoto that retains negligible cinematic merit. In theme and content, it appears to be a continuation or a reimagination of ”She and Her Cat”, replacing the cat with the hamster and the overwhelming despair with comparative lightness. The girl and the hamster are beautifully drawn, and while Shinkai's editing hasn't improved to a large extent, the short flows better than a couple of his previous efforts.
“Voices of a Distant Star” cannot be praised for a solid introduction. It begins pointing at an extremely awkward, shaky, and genuinely disappointing direction. The oddly drawn faces of the characters, especially Nagamine, remind me of nothing better than sketchers who are exceptional in drawing everything but human faces. Fortunately, the short gradually becomes a better experience – maturing from its exhausting cacophony – with the sci-fi elements slowly settling in. The narrative remains oddly convoluted, especially the fast-paced sequences…
Kitano cooks a blend of tranquillity and violence. He seasons it with a generous amount of comedy, and finally adds to the plating sublime cinematography. The result is wonderful, yet the genuine surprise of the taste hardly lies in the cooking process. Never before have I seen a film where the characters – regardless of their likeability – so easily drown themselves in a world of acute danger. They do so without panic or dread. They are numb and the society that supervised their journey to the direction of no return now accuses them of insensibility. Well done, Kitano!
A well-constructed light sci-fi world, life lessons from an Edward Yang movie, and references to All About Lily Chou-Chou can all be detected in Kogonada's sophomore feature. In other words, After Yang incorporates aspects, notions, and objects that I value both personally and as a cinephile. But when the story overuses subtlety, it loses all credibility and becomes pretentious to the point of becoming dreadfully tedious. The visual appeal is still strong, but nothing else seems to leave positive impact. In the hands of a better director, such as Kore-eda or Patrick Tam, the film could've reached a different destiny.