5 February 2001 | theorbys
Full, full, full of painterly light
Steeped in the traditions of the lush visual beauties of Japanese cinema, and influenced by the likes of Taiwanese (?) director Hsiao Hsien Hou (I believe there are several fairly direct quotes) or the luminous cinematography of Bergman's long time cameraman, Sven Nykvist. This film directly mines the visual effects of some of the most glorious European painters of light like Vermeer, Caravaggio, and Georges de la Tour. From the subtitles it seems that MABOROSI means 'strange light' and Kore eda uses almost nothing but strange, rich luminosity to tell his story (although he also gets a fine, somber perfomance from his female lead). Each shot is deeply thought out and composed to the maximum. Literally, every single shot. The results are tranquil and beautiful. The story is as quiet as the light, and probably if you require your film to have a strong direct narrative you should stay away from this as the story is told very subtly using light and almost subliminal sound (it seemed to me there were ocean waves in the sub background even in the city shots, for example). It works great as cinema. I would suggest that you watch at least the first 20 minutes or so again, after watching the whole film. The same motifs cross and criss cross all through the film and it really builds a wonderful texture.
I would recommend this as a double bill with something like the Actor's Revenge by Ichikawa- also deeply steeped in lush visual beauties and light. Or else Angel Dust by Sogo Ishii-a very opposite film full of passion, madness and violence, but where you see that meticulous, relentless search for supercomposition on almost a frame for frame basis. Or lastly, the tranquil, and beautiful, and very painterly Why Has Bodhidharma Left For The East- a Korean film by Bae Yong Kyun and something of a successful Zen meditation. Well one more, Mystery of Rampo-by Kazuyoshi Okuyama- very offbeat with bewitchingly lush visual beauty. (Rampo is Japanese for Edgar Allen Poe and the first Japanese mystery writer adopted Rampo as his nom de plume)