Monday, January 17, 2011

Still Walking

My friends tell me: Why do you waste your time watching all those esoteric foreign language films? Why don’t you do something worthwhile.

I tell them, there is nothing worthwhile than experiencing life. I have lived life over and over again though the movies. I have been to places beyond imagination through the movies.

Right now, I am spending time with the Yokoyama family in Japan. The family has gathered to commemorate the death anniversary of their eldest son Junpei. There’s is the second son Royta, who has recently married a window with a son, and daughter Chinami, her husband and their two children. There are the parents, the now-retired doctor father and the housewife mother, who have still not recovered from the death. Visiting a child’s grave is the biggest burden for a parent, says the mother matter-of-factly.

Nothing much happen in the 24 hour the movie depicts. There are a lot of things that shimmer below the surface, below the banal talks at the dinner table, so much so that you are reminded of your family. Tolstoy said all happy families are alike. All unhappy families are unhappy in their own ways. Then perhaps, the idea of a happy family is a myth. And unhappy families learn to go along and continue to walk ahead.

Earlier, I had a major problem with slow movies. There are some films which are pretentiously slow. And there are other films which are slow because it’s a device to invite the audience live with the film’s characters.

In Still Walking, you live with the characters.

The 2008 film is directed by Hirokazu Koreeda, whom Roger Ebert calls the cinematic heir to Yasujiro Ozu, and this is not an exaggeration. He has been making movies since 1995, and critics would make you believe, each of his films — Maborosi (1995) After Life (1998) Distance (2001) Nobody Knows (2004) Hana (2006) — are a gem.

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