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Jun Ichikawa – Tony Takitani

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    Ugetsu

    I’ve had this dvd for a while, but didn’t watch it – it was one of those dvd’s I like to keep for a rainy day when I’m too lazy to go out to the rental shop. But in honour of Ichikawa’s death, I thought I’d watch it. I’ve been intrigued by it as I love Haruki Murakami’s books, but I was somewhat mystified as to how this particular story could be made into a movie, it seemed to me to be very uncinematic (I’m one of those sad movie buff types who can’t read a book without thinking if it could be made into a movie). I must admit its also a story I didn’t particularly like – one of those stories where Murakami seems more in love with the idea of the story than the characters.

    Its a very surprising adaption of a story as its hardly an adaption at all – the whole movie is almost a direct shooting of the story, almost as if watching a slideshow as an anonymous narrator tells the story almost word for word as Murakami wrote it. The cinematography is mesmerising, very beautiful. I won’t do a spoiler for those who haven’t seen it or read the story, but it is essentially about a deeply lonely and shy man who marries a beautiful woman who is obsessed by shopping.

    I watched it with a Chinese friend who dislikes the Japanese and regularly informs me that my taste in cinema sucks. Oddly enough, she loved it. For me, I couldn’t help thinking of Kurosawa’s comment recorded by Richie: ‘Thats the thing about most Japanese films, they don’t care anything about people. Then they go and call it artless simplicity or something and terribly Japanese…. Most Japanese pictures lack any real depth at all.’ If ever there was a movie that this quote could apply to, Tony Takitani is it (inevitably, it was adored by most western critics, going by Rottentomatoes.com).

    Oh well, maybe I’ll watch it again and find some depths in it… but sadly I find movies like this – all aesthetics, no intelligence – to be vaguely depressing, and not in the way they intend.

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    Vili Maunula

    Thanks for the warning, Ugetsu! Although, the way you describe and criticise the movie actually made me very curious to see it! ­čÖé

    Films with more aesthetics than feelings to them have been also in my mind recently after I watched the three movies Stanley Kubrick directed before Spartacus (Killer’s Kiss, The Killing and Paths of Glory). I have always considered Kubrick something of a cold intellectual auteur with an odd sense of humour, and I don’t think that those three films really changed that opinion in any way. (Don’t get me wrong, though, all three are definitely worth watching.)

    As a complete contrast, I also finally watched Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali, therefore starting the Apu trilogy (I bought the Artificial Eye set a few months ago). Although it wasn’t quite (yet) the “sun and the moon” experience as has been advertised by some, I really enjoyed the film on every level and I’m now looking forward to sitting down with the other two.

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