Thursday, January 21

Music has right to movies: Tokyo Sonata (Japan, 2008) and Swing Girls (Japan, 2004)

Four independent movements, varying in mood, tempo, and secrets. It's a bittersweet symphony this life, so sings Richard Ashcroft, but bittersweet is too romantic. Knee-busting loneliness on a cellular level symphony, and because the family in Tokyo Sonata is painfully ordinary, it's impossible not too see how snugly the shoe fits. Director Kiyoshi Kurosawa conducts with deliberate stillness; the same silent, steady style which made Kairo equally horrifying and heartbreaking. When the father practically loses everything in one day, and when each family member begin to stumble toward hope, or the mere idea of it, it becomes an exhilarating race. To the starting line. ***** (The Region 3 DVD has decent subtitles but is sorely lacking in extras.)

Feel good done right: convincingly silly, irrationally musical, with a relaxed awesomeness at the end. Swing Girls follows the Water Boys formula but the segment with the mushrooms and the wild boar makes the former the better comedy. Or maybe I just have a soft spot for big band swing. The film does bring back the (mam)moths in the stomach when music was just discovered. It's not a point in time; it's layers (emotions, excitement) that expand and melt into each other. The more you learned, the more you craved, the more you held on. The Region 3 DVD has a Making Of which showed how the girls, through blistered lips and tears, learned each of their instruments. It just made me love the film more. ****


dodo dayao said...

Mismo, Thor. Perfect one-two combo. Pantanggal ng umay ika nga. Hehe. But I re-wached parts of Tokyo Sonata again,including the ending, and found it a little more hopeful the second time around. The light that crosses the wife's face on the beach would've been trite in the wrong hands but it feels almost transcendent in Kiyoshi's. I think this was/is my favorite film of 2009.

Kevin (Ket) said...

I hope Netflix carries Tokyo Sonata soon. I've read about it recently and now I'm interested in seeing it.

Yeah, I finally caved and got an account with an online rental service. As you know, up until now I've been looking for a job and suddenly I'm confronted with a lot of want-to-see-but-not-buy movies. They carry Tears of the Black Tiger too, something I plan to rent in time.

Tomorrow, Syndromes and a Century should be arriving at my house!

Thor Bee said...

Dodo: It has become one of my all-time favorites, too. Kiyoshi's ability to overlap conflicting emotions in a breath is...impeccable. Now I want to rewatch Kairo again.

Kevin: Hope you get to see this. I know you're a fan of layered characterization (of ordinary people) and this won't disappoint. Excited to hear your thoughts on Syndromes. That and Blissfully Yours alternate at being my Apichatpong favorites.

chard bolisay said...

Wasak ang Tokyo Sonata! Nasa Top Ten. Haha. Ang Kairo napanood ko sa Eiga Sai!

Kevin (Ket) said...

I just watched it yesterday afternoon, actually. It is a movie that definitely is meant to be interpreted in different ways. And if the differences in the reviews of Wisekwai and Coffee Coffee and More Coffee are anything to go by, everybody has ideas about why faced such heavy censorship in Thailand.

I think the cuts are pretty ridiculous. But then again, I'm not Thai so I haven't the slightest idea what Conservative Thai ideology is like. Is the image of a Buddhist monk playing the guitar really so offensive?

Kevin (Ket) said...

Just finished Tokyo Sonata earlier. Brought up strong, familiar feelings of shame and fear of unemployment and demoralizing thoughts like "What if I never get a real job?"

Was definitely a small, but thought-provoking movie.