Don't ask me why I decided to reboot and start from square one. I just did.
The Industrial Revolution as reimagined by Otomo Katsuhiro is both a visually spectacular work of art and an impassioned and expert critique of absolutist, fascist, and nationalist doctrines. Otomo rejects the conventional clash between good and evil. By including two interconnected feuds of differing societal proportions, he opts to collide philosophies, beliefs, and generations in an unceasing physical and psychological combat. In a similar vein, the movie decides against developing into a utopian fantasy. Ray, Scarlett, and the kids must fight for existence in a setting ruled by irrational aspirations. A similar fate awaits the youth of the twenty-first century.
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.
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!
How can simple horizontal camera movements add so much impact to a movie? With Dancing Girl, Shimizu Hiroshi proves that his mastery over the cinematic form was faultlessly retained till the very end of his career (He merely made two more films). The film is unlike the Shimizu works I have previously seen. It behaves more like a Kawashima movie, prompting me to miss his impeccable framing and feel disappointed. However, the core of the narrative – a delicately framed, wonderfully stifled, yet doubtlessly chaotic relationship saga – is purely Shimizu. The lead trio, especially Awashima Chikage, are brilliant.