Monday, October 05, 2009

Weekend Movie-Viewing -- the flakes, outcasts, and those living in quiet desperation edition

Aoi Tori (The Blue Bird)
Totally totally totally wonderful. A must-see. Noguchi, a kid in jr high, attempts to kill himself because of excess bullying.  (Bullying is rampant in these Japanese and Korean films.) School term starts and a new substitute teacher appears. (Their regular teacher is just really suffering from the effect of Noguchi's suicide.) No one knows the new sub but he's a sweet philosophical guy and he tells the kids to bring in Noguchi's desk. He also stutters. Each day he says good morning to Noguchi's desk. The kids keep talking to themselves: "We repented, how long is he going to do this?" The school has a suggestion box -- the Blue Bird Box-- where kids in emotional pain can put their sorrows. Everyone said they have already learned from this horrendous thing. Why is this strange guy doing this to them? Haven't they already learned? This is an exploration of guilt, of silent woundedness, and the main actor who plays Mr Muriachi has such gravitas and internal pain himself. This reminds me of the Danish film Festen (Celebration) which is also about someone challenging folks to deal with something no one wants to deal with.
Great line: "You don't have to be strong. People are all weak. That's why you should try to live earnestly."
Other great line: "i want to change. But even as I write this, I don't trust myself. Because I'm so dishonest and so cowardly."
Then there was this bit: "You can't forget (how you've hurt someone). Moving on is cowardly. The person you've wounded won't forget. They'll hate you, or forgive you, or harbor a grudge. But they won't forget. Not forgetting is taking responsibility for how you've affected someone's life" WOW!! I totally believe that's true. Sure, I have a weak spot for noble quiet heroes who challenge the world's self-righteous smugness...but I do think we can't just "forgive and forget" as some smug folks have told us to. Especially, we can't forget if we're the perpetrators. We can forgive ourselves but we must always remember that lives, family statuses, health may have been irretrievably harmed by the stuff we've "done and forgotten." It's like an adulteress forgiving herself for breaking her marriage. She can forgive herself, but how can she live irresponsibly and forget that the children of the former marriage ended up on drugs, self-destructive, etc?

The Railroad
Lonely train driver guy lives a routine life. Meanwhile grad student is having an affair with her teacher. Troubles attack them both. A lame woman throws herself in front of the train and driver has a kind of nervous break -- but must return to work soon. Grad student's lover's wife discovers affair and calls her a whore in public. (BTW, a beautiful lame woman had been giving this particular driver little donut snacks as if to too him and although he was shy he had decided he would try to win her because his father said he needed a woman. We don't really find out why the woman pin-pointed him or if she was in love with him or why she was suicidal. Maybe it was the lame leg. Watching these Asian movies, one gets the feeling that we're dealing with an art form of the missed communication and the missed moment -- until it's too late. I mean, if the beautiful lame woman had allowed the train driver to see her actually walking and had trusted him to love her, wouldn't things have been different? ) One night, drunk grad student and traumatized train driver meet each other on a train. Can they heal each other? I gotta say that the ending of this film feels right. I'm one of those "these two folks must get together and live happily ever after" kind of romance-movie-watcher. This film works.

Laundry (Korean Made but Japanese characters)
I lo love stories about mentally-challenged folks who fall in love. I so love movies about odd balls meeting and forming a peaceful haven against the world. So there I am, watching this flick about a mentally-challenged 20 year old boy who meets a heart-broken girl. He works in his grandma's laundry. As their lives got better and better and it seemed they were fated to come together, I kept looking at the time counter. Too much time left, too much time left...some disaster has to happen. That's very nerve-wracking. Towards the end I kept saying, this BETTER end well! This better BETTER end well. I almost stopped watching (cause I'm weak and wimpy like that.) It did, mercifully but it was so stressing.

Waiting in the dark
Aihiko is a Chinese-Japanese loner who likes keeping his distance from folks. Then his boss falls from the train station and Aihiko becomes a suspect. (In the beginning, one isn't sure if he's guilty or not.) He has to hide out. Because he spotted her at the train with her sole friend and realizes she's blind, he ends up in the apartment of a blind woman whose father has died and hides out there because -- well, he's mixed Japanese and Chinese so the authorities assume that of course he murdered his boss. Something happened between her mother and her father and her mother hasn't seen her in 20 years so she has no one now to take care of her but she doesn't want to go to a disabled facility. Anyway, she doesn't know Aihiko is there. But she gradually realizes someone is in her apartment. At first she thinks it's a ghost but then he helps her when she falls -- preventing something from falling on her. And they fall in love. Yes, i know...sounds weird. But sooo sooo sooo goood! Saddest scene: when blind girl has to identify father's corpse by finger-touching in morgue. Hyper-real and painful. Loved it. Especially the silent courtship. And I'll just say that the Japanese racism toward Koreans and Chinese is amazing. One learns about all these things from films. Ah, to not be gaijin! Call me hopeless but I really cannot tell the difference between Koreans, Japanese, and Koreans. But, the Japanese obviously can -- and let's just say they can be nasty to non-Japanese folks or even folks with mixed Japanese ancestry...apparently (from what I see in these films, anyway). That plus watching films about bullies and everyone in this flick saying "an incident of violence in school showed that Aihiko was a bad student" just makes one wonder. Heck, we in America (and the Japanese filmmakers) know full well why Ahiko doesn't go to the police. Minorities are always suspect.

Finally saw the end of this. Very good. Kid under house arrest sees murder. Update of Rear Window teenified. Very good.

Movies I just couldn't sit through:

The Listening Project: Documentary
4 Americans go to 14 countries to learn how others see America. Very good but too much of that CURRENT vibe where people think they're deep because they're on TV and giving us opinions. I'm like: so are you deeper than me because you have a film camera on you?

The American Ruling Class: Also a documentary
Does America have a ruling class? Okay, I pretty much agreed with this film that racism, greed, and self-interest has been disguised as national interest.and meritocracy. But, aargh! the snarkiness.

Flying Boys
Teen romance movie with come commentary about racism, classicism, and homophobia. Main character a boy and a girl, but then it's a bit like Billy Elliot and a part of me kept thinking, Oh gee, I know it...there's gonna be a gay subtext to this story. Honestly, I'm so gayed out from watching gay movies with my gay friends that I just wasn't in the mood to hear a speech about God made me gay. Most of my gay friends are fairly open about how the circumstances surrounding their orientation. Matilda at nobody passes blogspot tells about his father raping him from age four. My lesbian friends had brothers or fathers who raped them. My gay male friends had pedophiles who molested them or very odd parental issues. So I have a real dislike of lack of truth. I can sit through a movie where folks are a bit more flexible about their orientation rather than the "I was born this way" speech (which of course I understand is necessary for gay rights.) So I just stopped watching this film...cause I knew it was gonna come soon. And as I said I'm so gayed out. I'm sure my gay friends have had their film of heterosexual movies. But I doubt they were overwhelmed with movies that suddenly slipped in an interracial relationship with preachiness. It's the slipping in of stuff that gets to me. Why side-swipe folks? Am not sure if it's the Biblical Christian part of me that gets annoyed with this or the writer part. Knowing me, though, it's probably the writer part. I get tired of seeing the same old plot -- whether it's an interracial movie or a gay movie or a political movie. And gay movies often have to make a swipe against religion and Christianity...which is just so much annoyance.

The Headless Horseman
A film I just couldn't sit through on Saturday. It was called The headless horseman (or something like that.) Seven kids arrive in some town that's a cross between Deliverance and Chainsaw Massacre on the anniversary of the day when the headless horseman takes kids' heads. The town is in a pact so they set out spikes on the road to trap teenagers. These in-bred folks and the horseman make our young folks drop one by one. It was so bad, so totally totally even had an ancient book and a hussy kind of Farmer's daughter who was wearing hot pants. 

Shinsub (Okay, I forgot the title)
Three girls call up the spirit (that's his name in the title) to get revenge on some girls bullying them. May I say that that's a very stupid thing to do! Well, soon people start self-immolating and the town's secret -- yep, even in Korea, small towns have secrets that calls for restless vengeful ghosts. Okay, so there I was...happily watching it when I thought... "know what? I'm not gonna watch this." I don't know why. Maybe I couldn't deal with another evil teenage girl clique movie. Possession films really have to be good to grab me. But it could also mean that -- for all their horror troubles-- the girls and their victims were a bit too normal for me. I like oddballs as I said.  That's about it.

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