Hello again blogging world! K.P. here to talk about two films I screened this week; Departures and The Hurt Locker.
Departures is about Daigo Kobayashi (Masahiro Motoki) a cellist in a Tokyo Orchestra. When the orchestra dissolves, Daigo is left with a large decision, to continue the cello for a living, or to seek other work. He and his wife Mika (Ryoko Hirosue) decide it best to move into the house Daigo's mother left him in her will 2 years earlier when she passed on. They can live in her house free, and not have to pay their expensive Tokyo rent. It also works out as Daigo can look for work more easily in the much smaller town of Yamagata to which they will be moving. It is the town Daigo grew up in, a town which has upheld many of it's businesses and traditions through the years. The most apparent example of this is the local town bath which is run by Tsuyako Yamashita (Kazuko Yoshiyuki). The bath has been there since Daigo was a young man, and it served as a major comfort through the rough times in his life. Not long after moving back to Yamagata, Daigo finds a job preparing the dead for their funerals. He is employed under the watchful eye of Ikuei Sasaki (Tsutomu Yamazaki). Throughout the film, Daigo struggles with the people around him not taking his profession seriously. It even affects his marriage on a small level. Daigo refuses to give in, realizing it is his fate to be doing just what he is doing. Slowly, but surely, he convinces those around him of just the same thing. All in all I thought Departures was a beautiful film. Director Yôjirô Takita really understands how to set just the right mood for each scene. The film also includes a gorgeous classical score.
My Grade: A
The Hurt Locker is directed by Kathryn Bigelow. I say this first because it is truly a director's showcase. From the first scene of this film, I was hooked. A certain intensity was felt, in my experience, among the entire audience I viewed the film with. She captured the energy, suspense, and fear of fighting for your country. The film is about a team of men assigned to dispose of bombs in Iraq. The film follows one team of men, among many, which includes Sargeant William James (Jeremy Renner), Sargeant JT Sanborn (Anthony Mackie), and Specialist Owen Eldridge (Brian Geraghty). The film shows the three men going through the up-and-downs of what every solider in their position goes through. They each have very different personal views on life, and very different struggles in their lives as well. Sargeant James particularly irritates Sgt. Sanborn and Specialist Eldridge at first, as he is replacing the dead Sargeant Thompson (Guy Pearce) and has very different views on how his job should be done. As time goes by, however, the three men learn to respect each other, and they find a friendship amidst the struggles of war. A cameo appearance is also made by Ralph Fiennes playing The Contractor Team Leader. I adored this film. It is my current number one for the year so far, followed by Cheri and Sin Nombre at two and three, respectively. It's release is getting wider, I highly recommend seeing this if possible.
My Grade: A