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Sep 2

While visiting my parents’ house, I found my old VHS copy of the Star Wars Trilogy, released back in 1995.

Sep 1

September in Film

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Coherence, directed by James Ward Byrkit. With Emily Baldoni, Maury Sterling, and Nicholas Brendon.

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The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, directed by Ned Benson. Starring Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Viola Davis, Ciaran Hinds, and William Hurt.

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The Drop, directed by Michael R. Roskam. Starring Tom Hardy, James Gandolfini, and Noomi Rapace.

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This is Where I Leave You, directed by Shawn Levy. Featuring Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Adam Driver, Corey Stoll, and Jane Fonda.

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The Equalizer, directed by Antoine Fuqua. Starring Denzel Washington, Marton Csokas, and Chloe Grace Moretz.

parcematone:

Singing in front of Glenn Fogel artworks at PICA

parcematone:

Singing in front of Glenn Fogel artworks at PICA

I get into those conversations with people who ask, “Why are you charging nine dollars for your download? It should be free.” And I think, how much money did you just pay for that shitty magazine that has bikini-clad girls printed on virgin paper? You destroyed a forest, and you’re forwarding weird femininity and gender issues. You’re going to read that for a month. If you like my record, you’re going to listen to it for years.

- musician Rebecca Gates.  The complete Paris Review interview can be read here.

One to Watch: Drama Hank and Asha (2013), directed by James E. Duff.

Synopsis: A young Indian woman pursuing her film studies in Prague sends a video message to a documentarian in New York.  When he responds with a video of his own, an unlikely relationship begins.

Brie Larson.

Brie Larson.

Lilting (2014), directed by Hong Khaou.

Lilting (2014), directed by Hong Khaou.

Film Review: Like Father, Like Son (2013)

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Directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda.  Starring Masaharu Fukuyama, Machiko Ono, Lily Franky, Yoko Maki, and Keita Ninomiya.

When hearing the words “sentimental family drama”, one tends to think of cheesy, overwrought movies that play on TV any hour of the day due to their inoffensiveness.  At least that’s the western connotation, where a lot of shouting and crying passes for character development until everyone inevitably realizes family is what matters.  Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda’s work could also be described as sentimental - After Life (1998) for instance deals with how the dead must decide the single happiest moment in their lives to re-experience for eternity - but the word takes on a different, deeper meaning in Kore-eda’s hands.

In Like Father, Like Son, successful architect Ryota Nonomiya and his wife Midori are shocked to learn their six-year-old boy Keita is not in fact their biological child.  Due to an inexplicable error at the hospital, two boys were switched at birth; the other child, named Ryusei, was raised by the Saiki family: easygoing Yudai, who owns a five-and-dime general goods store and his wife Yukari, a restaurant server.  After a few awkward meetings between both couples, it’s agreed Keita and Ryusei will spend the coming weekends with their birth parents, a transitional step before a permanent exchange occurs.  But with an obvious divide between income class and parenting styles, it’s clear that once this swap is done, neither child will ever see the family who initially raised him.

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You can predict what follows - disagreements between husband and wife, scenes of both boys crying as they’re separated from the parents they’ve grown to love.  Except these things don’t happen.  Kore-eda takes your standard emotional turns and either eliminates them or has them occur offscreen.  In their place are surprising and gracefully crafted moments just as heart-wrenching.  Like Ryota’s sudden suggestion to take both boys by paying the Saikis for Ryusei (an offer that gets him slapped literally and figuratively); or Midori silently taking down pictures of Keita in their apartment, as if even the memory of him is forbidden to stay.  At one point Keita asks Ryota if his new father Mr. Saiki will love him more than Ryota does.  Yes, comes the cold response.  But we can’t tell if Ryota truly believes this or is merely trying to soften the blow for Keita.  What makes Kore-eda’s quiet style so enjoyable is that he leaves room for the viewer’s imagination to fill in the emotional gaps.  

Family does matter to Kore-eda but what’s fascinating about his work is the family unit isn’t always the traditional concept, nor is it constant.  In Nobody Knows (2004), four underage half-siblings survive together in Tokyo without the supervision of adults.  Still Walking (2008) meanwhile has the prodigal son returning to mourn his dead brother with a widow and her young boy, much to the chagrin of his elderly parents.  There’s a moment during Like Father, Like Son when Ryota confronts the nurse who switched the two babies, lamenting how she’s destroyed his family.  He’s right of course; regardless whether he keeps Keita or takes Ryusei, he loses a son and the question of “what if” lingers forever.  Kore-eda to his credit doesn’t pretend to have easy answers and moreover makes the plight of both boys just as poignant.  There’s great sorrow and hardship in the world, the film seems to be saying, but if one can find refuge in family - whatever form that takes - it may provide enough hope to soldier on.

korineharmonies:

Like Father, Like Son (2013) - Hirokazu Koreeda

Tom Waits.

Tom Waits.