Japan Cuts Like a Knife But It Feels So Right…? I Dunno.

by |
07/03/2008 9:00 AM |

Japan Society’s Japan Cuts: Festival of New Japanese Film kicked off last night and continues through the 13th (through this weekend it’s co-presented by the New York Asian Film Festival), and you should consider going to some of the stuff they’re showing, because it’s very good. Nicolas Rapold writes about the what-did-you-do-in-the-war-dad documentary Yasukuni and the epic radical history United Red Army (a director Q&A follows Sunday’s screening of the latter — via satellite, as the director isn’t allowed in the country due to his political affiliations). Also this weekend and early next week, I’d recommend the deadpan Adrift in Tokyo and Dainipponjin, affecting in their bone-dry absurdist humor and unforced pathos, and The Mourning Forest (pictured), a lovely movie, where the wind rippling across fields and tree branches gives nature a (not always benevolent) spiritual presence, befitting a story about a grieving nurse and elderly widower; like fellow Cannes ‘07 prizewinner Secret Sunshine, the movie is open to the often contradictory, rarely clean trajectory of extreme emotion; director Naomi Kawase’s elliptical narration de-emphasis of exposition leaves the drama unsculpted.

There’s also free shorts and independent features, and more stuff that I haven’t yet seen but will have more to say about when I do, including a tribute to the late, lamented Kon Ichikawa: they’ll be showing the first-ever English-subtitled screening of his 1976 murder myster The Inugami Family, as well as his 2006 remake of same (his last completed film), and the doting biodoc Filmful Life.