Sunday, May 16, 2010

Tokyo Sonata (2008)

Dir: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
E1 Entertainment DVD

Kiyoshi Kurosawa is mostly known for his strange, esoteric horror films like Kairo (2001) and Cure (1997). In recent years he has delved into more normal Japanese horror territory with films like Loft (2005) that are a little more accessible and recognizable as "J-Horror" as it's been dubbed (you know a pale girl with black hair in her face). With Tokyo Sonata Kurosawa leaves horror behind for a story about a modern Japanese family that is falling apart. The father is a mid-level salary man that his just been laid off and is trying to hide it from the family. He has no discernible skills and even goes so far in an interview to say that he will do any job at a company even though the interviewer keeps asking him what talents he has and what job he wants. He can't answer at all and asks if he means karaoke when he's asking about skills. Certainly a comment on the modern business man whose only talent is making money. His wife is unappreciated and ignored and more intelligent than she's given credit for. The oldest son wants out so badly he has decided to join the U.S. Military and ship out to the Middle East. And the youngest son is awkward at school and just wants to take piano lessons which his father won't allow. He uses his lunch allowance to secretly pay for lessons upon finding out he may be a child prodigy. Things keep deteriorating from there until everyone gets a head-scratching moment that at first seemed out of place until I remembered I was watching a film by Kiyoshi Kurosawa. I felt watching it that Kurosawa was influenced to make the film from another Japanese master that he does not share a name with, Ozu. The film felt like a modern take on Ozu's quiet and reserved films dealing with similar subject matter. I had felt that Takashi Miike's Visitor Q was almost an attack on Ozu, at the very least it was an Anti-Ozu film, but this one feels more like a tribute. A beautiful and quiet film that reaffirms how interesting Kiyoshi Kurosawa can be.


No comments:

Post a Comment