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  • crossbow01064 August 2007
    This film will just blow you away! While I would say it was fairly sad at times, and you'll shake your head at the life choices the lead character made, the film will stay with you. It definitely has tearjerker moments, major ones. The acting is uniformly superb. I originally knew about the film through this site, because I am very impressed with the acting of Asuka Kurosawa ("A Snake Of June") and wanted to see her in a film in which you actually see her in her beauty (She boldly works in horror films, sometimes with distorted features, like "Kirie" and "Dead Waves"). She looks gorgeous in this film, but so does the title character. Like many films with a female name in them (think Leslie Caron, Audrey Hepburn), you'll fall in love, commiserate, get angry with and, ultimately, forgive her flaws. Is it perfect? No, it isn't. The rating of 10 stars has to do with the effect it had on me. It'll just stay with you. Thank goodness this wasn't an American film, it would have been sanitized and "fairy taled" to the point of manifesting ad nauseum. Its sad, you might cry, but you'll love it.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I'm giving this one a spoiler alert because if you don't know the story line and can't speak Japanese, you may be very surprised by this movie, particularly if you've seen the director's previous work "Shimotsuma Monogatari". So don't read too much further if you'd rather be surprised.

    I went to see this movie in Tokyo (Roppongi Hills Cinema) with a Japanese friend on my birthday. I had seen Shimotsuma Monogatari both in Japanese and with English subtitles and enjoyed it immensely. I didn't know anything at all about Kiraware Matsuko no Issho except that it was by the same director but agreed to go see it based on my expectation that it would be similarly colorful, charming and full of fun unexpected bits. In this I was not disappointed.

    The movie tells the story of Matsuko, the mysterious and recently deceased occupant of a rather shabby apartment which is to be cleaned by a young man, through whose eyes we see the movie. This young man is tasked by his father to clean an apartment and as he begins to discover the personal effects of the now dead occupant, he becomes entangled in an effort to piece together the details of her complex and sordid life.

    If you've seen the movie Amelie, you might recognize some influences from it in this movie. The director favors saturated colors, time-shifting and the occasional surreal mixing of the literal world with the metaphorical or symbolic. I personally enjoyed these storytelling devices as well as the pacing and almost "Memento" like revelation of the character of Matsuko and her relationships with the other characters in the movie.

    The reason I checked the spoiler box on this comment was because I went to the movie expecting something light and fun with an uplifting ending like Shimotsuma Monogatari but was shocked to discover how incredibly sad and depressing this movie turned out to be. While the visual language and storytelling devices were very colorful and fun, the actual story of Matsuko's life is a tragedy of epic proportions, a modern day tribulation both frightening in its graphic portrayal and disturbing in its plausibility.

    It's a story of the excesses of achieving success, the futility of searching for stability and the emptiness of hoping for happiness. Matsuko is not so much a character as a symbolic punching bag representing the state of modern Japanese femininity. Watching this movie broke my heart and I (a 38 year old man) cried for two days following it.

    If you're going to see this movie (and I recommend you do), be prepared to be moved by it. You won't need to understand Japanese to get what's happening (though you might miss a few of the jokes here and there) so don't let the language prevent you from experiencing the most depressing comedy you're likely to ever see.
  • maurazos28 February 2007
    It is a real tragicomedy! This film is about cruel facts, but under a musical comedy appearance. It is a movie that made me cry, as if I still were 15 years old. And I cried because what is told in the film can happen... And unfortunately it actually happens everywhere and everyday. It is a film that has made me believe again in the Japanese cinema. In this movie I have seen a Kenji Mizoguchi's spirit revival, because of the way it describes the life of a woman who is mistreated by everybody and whose life is irremediably ruined. Doesn't this story remember Mizoguchi's "Oyu-sama"? I also saw some Akira Kurosawa's influences, like the colorful shanty dwelling Matsuko lives in during the last years of her sad existence: aren't they close to the ones Kurosawa showed in "Dodeskaden"? According to my point of view, this is the best Japanese film of this still young 21st century.
  • This movie is unique and innovative. It is somewhat of fairytale like Cinderella and reminds me of Big Fish (2003), but is also very dark and depressive like say Requiem for a Dream (2000). It follows the hardship-laden life of Matsuko through the gradual discoveries of her nephew and the people he encounters.

    It is extreme in content and in appearance, but touches very true and deep feelings & fears within all of us. It explores the meaning of life and asks very interesting questions. It does so while treating life's inevitable tragedies with humour and gaiety. The visual style and music are important elements of the movie as they share a positive-looking outlook of life even in the dimmest of circumstances.

    The drama is centered around the dysfunctional family Matsuko was both the product of and the most disruptive element in its spiral towards destruction. Friendship, love and professional lives are also well explored, although as you can imagine, none of them in an ideal, truly rewarding way. The bleakness of the story and the brightness of the storytelling makes for a very interesting contrast. There are many beautiful shots (even if a bit CGI-heavy) and the inherent beauty of life is revealed through the crust of old, piled up garbage.

    The storytelling is very fresh and even though it sags at some points as the film never seems to end, it does get its point across in a artsy and non-threatening way. I was so involved with the demanding story that I was literally shocked as I exited the dark theater to see other people lined up for the next movie at the FantAsia festival. After a viewing experience like this, I found myself surprised that there could be more movies after that or, possibly, that there may be anything after that! This is how profoundly I was affected. "Memories" is not a movie you just eat up and leave, you really need to settle and digest before you can truly understand and internalize.

    A tough journey, a good message and possibly a lot of positive ramifications in art & life. Recommended.
  • The movie is really wonderful and joyful. The package is really wonderful. As the female lives from 50's up to now, director of this film manage to dissolve a lot of pop culture stuffs, like MTV, TV etc into a fancy comical world. I am sure there would be only Japanese who can create such world.

    But what i admire most is he do not forget the story he want to tell. The story actually is a adaption from a original novel which depict a tragic life of a woman. The film, though have a comedy outlook, it is a typical tragic story. The director manages to find a new way to retell the story in a sense which youngster would feel related.

    And the story itself is great because it tells us what is so called life. ie ridiculous, unpredictable, etc. and how a woman face her life with constant hope of simply getting better.

    The story is a typical tragedy in a Greek kind of style. Though it may contain some preaching scene, but u are free to take it or leave, as the life of the woman is open to judge.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I saw the movie on a flight back from Japan and didn't have any specific expectations. It simply blew me away, however. It is magnificently crafted, every scene showing a unique beauty in both camera and composition. it sometimes crosses borders to anime and music video clip, making it a very special experience to watch.

    short summary: A young man in his late teens/early twenties, who dreams of becoming a pop star musician and who therefore has left his hometown for Tokyo, is lost somewhere between the vast city and his porn movies compensating his loneliness. He is unexpectedly addressed by his father, whom he hasn't seen or heard from in years, who tells him that his aunt Matsuko has recently been murdered. He consecutively tells his son to deal with Matsuko's "aftermath", including an unbelievably messy and run-down apartment and, more important, the disturbing story of her sad life.

    "Kiraware Matsuko no issho"/"Memories of Matsuko" is the most gripping movie experience i've had in the last few years, outmatching even "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance" from Park Chan-Wook. The movie's content is so heartbreakingly sad but still you keep on laughing while actually trying not to cry. It communicates the fatal tragedy with a touching lightness. Nakajima has an incredible eye for aesthetics and details. Where "Mr. Vengeance" is mercilessly straight forward, "Matsuko" is so subtle and discrete, thus emphasizing the mental brutality of the ongoing action even more. It came to me, that this film is actually depicting many aspects of contemporary life in Japan such as loneliness in cold and alienating urban areas, fanatic "fanboy/girl"-ism or violence against social outcasts.

    This gem of a movie is clearly a must-see if one is into sophisticated off-mainstream films and especially into the the art of Japanese/Asian film-making.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The film tells the story of a woman named Matsuko, who is recently deceased, as her nephew Sho uncovers her story piece by piece by talking to people she knew.

    Matsuko's life is tragic. She seems to go from hard times to hard times. But despite this despair her heart is always open. Her younger sister is very ill and as a result, her father is often to preoccupied with her to show young Matsuko the love that she craves from him. As a result Matsuko is desperate to be loved, and cannot help but become head over heels in love with every man that she has relations with. Unfortunately this leads to her being abused by many of these men and getting into lots of trouble along the way.

    She sees her life as a fairy tale, which the director illustrates by modelling the movie on a classic musical romance. The film's style is bright and magical which means that, like Matsuko herself, you feel as if this tale can only have a happy ending. Unfortunately for Matsuko her tale is actually very real and tragic and ends with her falling through the cracks of society and dying alone and dirty in a mess of an apartment.

    The first time I saw this film I cried quite epically and carried on doing so for about half an hour after the film was finished. Which is very unusual, because I had never cried over a film up until that moment. I could not stop thinking about the film for a few days afterwards and even now I'll think of it from time to time and some of those emotions come back. There's just something about this film which seems to deeply penetrate your emotional centre in a way that you would not expect a film to do.

    I would definitely recommend seeing this film, as it is a cinematic masterpiece.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Matsuko is always looking for her father's love but feels that he dedicates all his attention to Kumi, the ill daughter. As a result, she will spend the rest of her life looking for love in the wrong places. At the school where she works, she gets fired for trying to protect a student who stole money. She leaves her family and flees the city. For the next thirty years, Matsuko will do nothing but always choose what is worst for her. Humiliating jobs and countless abusive and vioent men who beat her and she forgives them.

    The whole story is a melodrama that tries to make us feel sorry for Matsuko, but I couldn't. She's just too stupid. It's one thing to have problems of parental rejection, and another to make the same idiotic mistake two hundred times, even when fate offers her a second chance over and over again. Matsuko rejects good friends, rejects her sweet and loving sister and basically rejects everyone who can do her some good. This kind of corny storyline works well on daytime TV soap operas. In the film, it's a major flaw.

    Kiraware Matsuko no isshô is excellent in terms of direction, casting and production. Very well-crafted storytelling. But fails miserably on the story itself, which is shallow and daft. Good example of it is the final scene, very cute and colorful, as well as dumb and empty, where Matsuko meets her sister in heaven and does what she could have done a dozen times while both were alive.
  • Thankfully I had seen "Amelie" and "Run Lola Run/Lola Rennt" before watching this. In all three films the usage of music as a prop, bold coloring, different speeds, odd and interesting angles, vivid cinematography, flashbacks, surrealism, eccentric characters, animated graphics, and other features of what I would call Expressionism, come to the fore, the entirety of the films' duration, each.

    Amelie, for all its uniqueness, was actually at the end of it all rather boring, despite looking like a painting that's come to life, with an army of quirky people leaping out into a musical number of a film. (When it was finished each of the several times I watched it and honestly did enjoy it, I honestly didn't feel much connection to the characters though I understand exactly what their significance to the story is.) There's other odd French films, called "Micmacs" and "Delicatessen." By I think the same director as Amelie. At 1st I thought this was just a French style. But the bizarre visuals and retrospective storytelling seem to be characteristic of the filmmaker. So perhaps the director of "Memories of Matsuko" is pulling directly from Amelie's influence and not a broad genre of French film that I thought existed lol I mention Amelie and Run Lola Run and these other films because they did train my mind and eyes to this kind of artistry. But with Matsuko, it was not just used as an excuse to be odd and creative, like Amelie, but here it was completely necessary. In the 1st few minutes I was about to click this movie off, with the vaudevillian and fairy tale stuff and highly saturated colors; I wanted a taste of real life, modern Japan tied into a wowing film and the initial presence of Matsuko did not fulfill that. But after coming to review "Bounce KO Gals," a Japanese lolita film, I saw someone link other lolita films like "Kamikaze Girls" to "World of Kanako," to this film. And in liking those story lines and way of filming, I gave Matsuko a chance.

    Since then, I figured that the whimsy of the song-and-dance style and harp playing and twinkle dust introducing this film was completely sarcastic. And it was. The unbearable interludes of musicals lasted briefly, popped up minimally, but they and the intense colors sooner than later showed their purpose: Matsuko was a lonely child with a vivid imagination, and went to the carnival with her dad as a kid and they saw theatrical plays. That was the film's only moment of he and her bonding.

    So the musicals and coloring just visually expresses Matsuko's mental and emotional state. It introduced the rapid on screen downfall of our titular character, Matsuko herself. And it made me tear up. But I actually let the tears storm down when she was older and visited back home well into her extraordinarily troubled adulthood. I saw someone around here write that they didn't quite get the last scene with Matsuko as a child and then as an adult peacefully singing her utopian theme song as she climbed up the stairs to a heavenlike light shining down from her childhood bedroom, with her deceased sister angelically awaiting her to reach the top, whilst every friend and ex Matsuko had sung along in misery.

    How can they not get this? Are they a sociopath or what? Maybe they've never been sad and daydreamed before so good for them but when you know you're unloved you then fantasize about being loved, or at least your former tormentors repenting how horribly they treated you, as you triumph how you realistically never did or would or could. And that's what the last scene shows. It was similar to Pan's Labyrinth, showing a finally happy Ophelia in a fanciful paradise; as her actual self took her last breaths, the make-believe Ophelia was being applauded by a kingdom and praised by her long dead parents. That too made me cry then. I realise this is what the director was doing here, not necessarily taking cues exactly from Pan.

    It's just a trait of Expressionism I think, to visually and musically express the inside of its characters; it gives you everything you could ever ask for in order to understand what's going on and who's who. So it's used in "rom-coms" and horror films, and makes the films very popular. While I appreciated it, Impressionism, which I honestly prefer, doesn't do that. It uses exactly what's there and that's it, might not even have music in the whole film; it instead uses social and historical context as well as natural scenery to describe the characters. It's normally used in indie drama films, which are rarely as popular as expressionistic films but normally more critically acclaimed for their realism.

    But for once I appreciated expressionism here. Because I totally understood why it was applied. Not just for eye popping kicks, which could almost force you to clutch your cheeks in painful dismay, begging for it to stop. But to show the viewer how alone and increasingly unstable Matsuko became, dwelling into a world of make believe and as she aged, hallucinations. So the fact that the film looked like you just dropped and popped acid kinda goes along with that, as opposed to Amelie which is gratuitously quirky and weird, just for the sake of being so. That being said, I liked Amelie but it had no personal affect on me. It taught me nothing. But how to giggle at an Arab immigrant struggling to pronounce French names, and how to sit through 2 hours of psychedelia.
  • I hadn't heard of this film till it appeared on television as part of a short season of Asian films. I'm glad that I decided to watch it though as it was a delightful film which made me laugh and cry.

    Shou is living alone doing nothing with his life till one day his father comes by and asks him to clear up the house of his aunt Matsuko who had been murdered. Up until then Shou had no knowledge of his aunt but as he sorts through her belongings and meets people who knew her he learns what an extraordinary life she had, some happy but much sad. It is especially sad at the end when we learn how she died after surviving many hardships.

    The film has a surreal appearance that reminded me of a cross between Amalie and the TV series Pushing Daisies due to the artificially vivid colours. If you want to see something different I'd certainly recommend this charming film.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Like an amalgam of "Amelie," "Big Fish" and pretty much every depressing movie there is, "Memories of Matsuko" is simultaneously a charming and heartbreaking lampoon to the disgraced roles of women in Japanese cinema set amidst the world of Japanese kitsch, AV idols, and Yakuza gang members. Tetsuya Nakamura's genuinely heartfelt saga, charting her tragic heroine's life before she is found murdered in a grassy area not far from her slipshod apartment, at the very least superficially recalls Danny Boyle's "Slumdog Millionaire" in as much as that both films' leads, mere victims of bad choices and circumstances, struggle to find the true meaning of joy in their godforsaken lives, as it is that the narratives are mostly told in flashbacks and driven by a fractured timeline.

    In the present day, a gruffly obese Matsuko Kawajiri (Miki Nakatani) is found murdered and Shou Kawajiri (Eita), her nephew by her estranged brother (Teruyuki Kagawa), is tasked by his father to clean her apartment after her cremation. He never saw her before but there, meeting Matsuko's raucous punk neighbor (Gori) and the chief suspect for her aunt's slaying (Yusuke Iseya) who provide clues to her aunt's identity, he gradually pieces the unbelievably hard-knock adventures of her departed aunt. As the film explores Matsuko's constantly frustrating search for happiness with the right man, it becomes a surprisingly bittersweet love story interspersed with musical numbers running the gamut from Christian hymns to cheeky J-pop tunes.

    Following his brazen though a bit hollow "Kamikaze Girls," writer-director Nakamura, a veteran of TV commercials, conveys the vaudeville-style film with gloriously saturated colors, highly diffused lighting, and a blistering cacophony of Nipponese pop culture to define Matsuko's epitonic past that sometimes, it feels as though the audacious employment of visual smorgasbord threaten to derail the emphasis from its characters. Still, Nakamura's direction is blissful, preoccupied by the premise that the constant pursuit for love and affection eventually pays dividends -- though sometimes in less expected ways -- as established early in the film's opening credit sequence that recalls classic musicals and in Nakitani's happy pap-pap trot in La La Land. It's Utopian thinking but its groundwork on the chronic impediment of the feminine role in a male-dominated culture and the ability of selfless pursuit to decimate that stigma is authentic and beautiful.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Visually stunning and touchingly poignant, Nakashima Tetsuya's "Kiraware Matsuko No Issho" (The Life of Hateful Matsuko AKA Memories of Matsuko) follows the crazy and often times sadly tragic life of Kawajiri Matsuko, a woman whose unshakable will to survive, even in the face of unbearable adversity and tragedy is truly inspiring. This is Nakashima's sophomore film following his sleeper hit "Shimotsuma Monogatari" (AKA Kamikaze Girls) and he doesn't disappoint.

    While comparisons to Robert Zemeckis's "Forrest Gump" are unavoidable, I think "Memories of Matsuko" is more like a darker version of the famed NHK drama series "Oshin" (1983) which told a similar story about the life and tragedies of a young woman who escaped poverty to become a wealthy store owner. Matsuko's emotional journey is not as happy one as she continually falls into abusive relationships and tragic love affairs spanning three decades yet, as in "Oshin", even when it seems that Matsuko has lost everything, she still manages to hold on to her dreams using humor, the gift of music and an undying sense of hope.

    Nakatani Miki ("Ring", "Rasen", "Densha Otoko") truly shines as Matsuko and her chameleon-like ability to change her look throughout the various decades (60s, 70s and the 80s) is amazing to watch as is her effortless ability to switch from drama to comedy. She is supported by a great cast including Ichikawa Mikako ("Cutie Honey"), Kurosawa Asuka ("Kirei"), Eita ("Azumi", "Densha Otoko"), Iseya Yusuke ("Casshern") and Gori ("Nin x 3 Hattori Kun").

    The film is framed almost like a dark "fairy tale" but Nakashima still manages to infuse his unique sense of visual wonder and comedy into the mix. There are brilliant moments where the film takes on an almost surreal feel--incorporating 2-D Disney-like animation, CGI and elaborate musical numbers which are reminiscent of the film "Moulin Rouge".

    The musical soundtrack is wonderful and successfully captures the themes of lost innocence and heartbreak. It's amazing how Nakashima is able to work in Japan's diverse musical history, from childhood lullabies to disco to Enka and Hip Hop into the soundtrack.

    While the film is very Japanese in style, the overall message of the film (perseverance in the face of adversity) are very much universal. I was also surprised by some of the Christian themes (the message of hope and salvation) that was also in the film.

    Despite the ironic Japanese title, there is nothing hateful about "Matsuko" at all. I'm really fond of this movie and recommend it highly. It's a bitter-sweet drama/comedy that will make you cry but will also touch your heart in a way few movies do.
  • Who is Matsuko and what memories are these? Mitsuko was a born optimist, a fervent believer in human goodness. The memories, therefore, are inevitably sad as she discovers the journey along the yellow brick road can be tough haul. We discover Matsuko through her brother's quest when he hears of her death (she left home some fifteen years ago). Porn star, convict, hairdresser - these are all part of a less than glittering cv. This could easily have been an unremitting 2 hours of grimness and probably would have been were this film British. But director Tetsuya Nakashima throws everything into this including the kitchen sink, just as he did with his similarly surreal Kamikaze Girls. The result leaves you reeling as you run the gamut of emotions as the heroine's fate unravels.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Profoundly sad, deeply moving (upbeat) musical about a 20 year old young man named Sho with no direction. His father shows up one day and asks him to clean out the apartment of the aunt he never knew, the titled Matsuko. It seems Matsuko had been found beaten to death four days earlier and the father had come to Tokyo to have her cremated. As Sho goes through his aunt's belonging and talks to the people who knew her the course of her life is revealed in song.

    Unique one of a kind film rightly won tons of awards around the world but has yet to get any sort of release in the US. I'm not surprised. The profoundly sad story is in contrast to the upbeat musical numbers. How do you sell this to a western audience that wants things to be a certain way? You can't which is a profoundly sad thing since this is in its way a truly great film. Personally I don't like the darkness of its tale but at the same time this film had me sobbing on more than one occasion. This is also a film of such technical skill that it puts most Hollywood musicals (dare I say films period?) to shame Personally I would love to write a fuller review up but I just can't do it. Its just a place I can't go to.

    What is the measure of a life? by what we receive or what we give? One of the best films I've seen this year
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I have seen a lot of films in my day from many different eras and countries and I have to say that "Memories of Matsuko" is right up there with the best of them. This masterpiece is so original, so entertaining, and so tragic that its hard to deny its brilliance! The two movies I've heard people compare it to the most are "Moulin Rouge!" and "Amelie". This is a correct assessment, but in my opinion, Matsuko's the far better picture! The film revolves around the life of Matsuko who is deprived of her father's love as a child. She realizes that the only way to get her father's attention and affection is to degrade herself (by making that silly face). This develops into a bad habit as she progresses in life and whenever she is faced with being alone, she chooses the demeaning path, because that's what worked with her father. We soon see her as a prostitute, a Yakuza girl, and in several abusive relationships. What's even more heart-breaking is the fact that Matsuko tries to make the best out of every situation but it somehow always ends in tragedy. She gives and gives while asking for almost nothing in return and that's what makes it so easy to sympathize with her.

    The character of Matsuko is brilliantly played by the beautiful, Miki Nakatani. I've never seen anything from her before, but this film proves that she is one of the top actresses in Japan if not the world! The director, Tetsuya Nakashima, really brought out the best in her and it's a shame that the two don't get along and will most likely never work together again. Asuka Kurosawa who plays the character of "Megumi" also gives a noteworthy performance. I personally think the movie is at its best when she's in it! It really is a disgrace that this film didn't win the Japanese Academy Award for Best Picture that year! The Academy is obviously brainless for picking "Hula Girls" to win while "Memories of Matsuko" didn't even get recognized with a nomination!?! Talk about an injustice!

    Switching gears, I did have a few minor problems with the film. First of all, there's this childhood lullaby song that plays one too many times throughout the course of the movie. By the end, you get really tired of hearing it,…at least I did! Another problem I had was how Matsuko died. The film builds it up as a whodunit and when we finally find out who the killer is, the conclusion is far less important, powerful, or striking than expected. Several other reviewers commented that the film drags at the end and they're right! I think 5-10 minutes of editing would have made it flow better.

    As for the positive, there's a lot to love here! The music scenes are great and the songs are very catchy! The acting, story, cinematography, visual effects, and direction are all top-notch! Another thing that's great with this film is that it's re-watchable! I've probably seen it 10 times and I still haven't gotten tired of it.

    At the time of this review (9 / 2009), there's no DVD in Region 1 that I'm aware of and that really is too bad! This film deserves a lot more prestige than its currently getting and its bizarre that its almost unknown in the United States! "Memories of Matsuko" will stay with you days after watching it. Whether you're into artsy films or mindless action movies, I think there's a lot here for any type of person to enjoy! Highly Recommended!!! 10/10!
  • boku-216 April 2009
    A really beautiful film to watch. It's funny, tragic, silly and thought-provoking all at the same time. I actually started watching this film at 1am and thought I'd probably fall asleep halfway through but my eyes were wide open the whole time. Fascinating following the life of Matsuko and all the different stages she goes through and the people she meets along the way.

    The problem with a lot of artsy kind of films is that whilst they're visually excellent, the story's lacking. Or whilst the story's interesting, they're just not that great to watch. Memories of Matsuko however is visually stunning and also really interesting. Can't understand how it didn't make a splash on the world scene.

    The only reason I gave it 9 and not 10 was that it was a bit long and felt it dragged towards the end.

    Memories of Matsuko is probably one of the best films I've seen. I borrowed it from a friend but will be buying my own copy.
  • As a matter of fact, the only film I can remember crying over is the brilliant "Babette's Feast".

    "Matsuko" has a quality not unlike "Amelie", but mixed with a "Moulin Rouge" sensibility. It's part "Roger Rabbit" and part "Casablanca" -- never before have I seen stylistic pastiche used with such forethought and precision.

    Some will find "Matsuko" sentimental and predictable -- but I think that doesn't matter: It's the storytelling that's important in this film and not, necessarily, the story.

    "Matsuko" may not be a "great" film but, like "Babette" and "Amelie," I will want to see it again. I have a feeling that many people will react to the film in a similar fashion.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    At the beginning of "Memories of Matsuko", Matsuko Kawajiri, the eponymous heroine, is found murdered in a field under mysterious circumstances. She has died alone and estranged from her family. It is the task of her young nephew, Shou, to piece together the details of her extraordinary life, which we witness first hand in the form of vivid flashbacks to Matsuko's past, from wide-eyed childhood to disenchanted middle age. The result is something of a Japanese "Moll Flanders", by turns tragic and comic.

    The freedom with which writer-director Tetsuya Nakashima delves between past and present is the film's most satisfying aspect, coupled with a playfully thin boundary between reality and illusion: one moment the film is insistently realistic, with a limited, dark palette, the next it soars into Technicolor dreamscapes full of songs, flowers, butterflies and other recurring motifs. The cinematography is exquisite and endlessly creative. While this is an ultimately tragic biopic with a number of distressing scenes (not least the repeated incidence of domestic abuse), it is equally full of comedy, particularly during Matsuko's youthful stint as a schoolteacher. This freewheeling mixture of presentation and narrative tone will be quite unfamiliar to most English-speaking audiences, and better parallels can be found in French cinema – "Love Me if You Dare", for instance – or closer to Japan in the work of South Korean Chan-wook Park. At points "Memories of Matsuko" certainly recalls films like "I'm An Android, But That's OK" and the superb "Oldboy". After all, is anyone's life truly sad *or* happy? Our lives are full of joy and pain, elation and tragedy, and in that Matsuko's is little different.

    Yet Nakashima's visual fireworks are both a blessing and a curse. All too often the montages and singing substitute for proper characterisation and dialogue. At a number of points his cinematic shorthand leaves much to be desired: Matsuko's lengthy jail term, for instance, in which she is supposed to have formed a close friendship with Megumi, is reduced merely to a two-minute music video. Similarly, while Matsuko has various lovers whom she clings to, not once does she share a meaningful conversation with them. Nakashima seems to relish in depicting the dramatic, violent conclusions to these relationships, but the more prosaic task of day-to-day interaction – the real, quotidian essence of life – is almost entirely overlooked. Many of the characters populating the movies's vibrant surface feel two-dimensional, and Nakashima's screenplay shows less interest in taking the time to flesh them out, than it does in jumping forward to the next episode of Matsuko's life.

    For this reason I found it difficult to really identify with Matsuko and her world by the end, and I was left with a series of stunning vignettes that did not combine into a memorable, convincing whole. The last 10 minutes, indeed, are something of an embarrassment for Nakashima. His screenplay loses all sense of emotional verisimilitude and descends into an overblown, saccharine festival of nostalgia and string-sections which embodies the worst excesses of Japanese cinema. Its simplistic, quasi-religious moralizing is tacky and hollow: Matsuko's character and story really deserved a more complex ending, and certainly something more befitting of the movie's underlying uncertainty. The simple fact of her terrible murder in itself, which is almost unbearably realistic and difficult to watch, would perhaps have been the best place to fade-out.
  • I say that after watching 500 plus movies including all world cinema. its so soooooo good in terms of LIFE perspective. It deserve 10/10 and don't miss this out...that's why I emphasized on it that much!!!
  • I've been in a movie wonderland. I'm at risk of devaluing meanings by overusing words such as original, unique, quirky and different. The wonderful problem is Asia. There's an unmatched abundance of strange movies. My theory is that their culture of obedience, rules and explanations results in a swelling of emotions that explodes heads into rebellious creativity.

    Director Tetsuya Nakashima is another example of blood and rainbows.

    His 'Confessions' is one of the best international vengeance movies with a style from another planet.

    His 'Memories of Matsuko', which I just watched, is from another galaxy. It's like dreams putting on a stage show. It's Christopher Nolans' 'Memento' meets 'Willy Wonka'. It was theatrically wonderful.
  • Memories of Matsuko(2006), is a film best seen than being told about. The eye-candy colour palettes to the vivid soundtrack all just increase the visual appel of this masterpiece. Religiously seeing this film, putting aside your other gadgets will take you to a wonderful yet tragic world of Matsuko ; which will give you bursts of every emotion from being happy, excited, to being sad as to see the events of her life unfold. The narrative style is quite to that of Loving Vincent(2017), where the surrounding characters tell the story of the main character(here Matsuko), both having enormous aesthetic appeal. Japanese cinema like any other can be sometimes crazy and produce one of the craziest movies but in this craziness they sometimes create gems like this film that should be seen by as many people as possible.
  • AVERAGE. I decided to watch it on IMDB's high score. I think the classification is somewhat exaggerated. As the synopsis itself says, it is a film about the tragic and cruel life of the character Matsuko. It's a fairy tale inside out. Matsuko, since childhood, wanted to live a Cinderella life, a happy life amid adversity, but this is not always favorable to us. He dreamed of becoming a white swan but found himself to be a black swan. The pace of the film is accelerated, trying to present all the main memories of the character within its two hours of duration. The highlight is the soundtrack, which is filled with lullabies.
  • The story was starightforward, message direct, cinematography is great, acting superb, characters protrayed were all grey,and passion was demonstrated well by the Japanese thespians (considering the stoic approach),and the music, wow, even without the subtitles has a universal appeal. The difference between this film and a Bollywood movie, is that in a bollywood movie, the targeted audience is mostly the locals, culture has always been emphasized with a usual note that one should understand Indian culture to understand and enjoy tjhe movie, now I'm not a Nipponphile, but this movie veered away from such concept, even though it borrowed heavily on bollywood movies. The theme emphasized was universal, no need to be Japanese, just be human and character needs and actions were emphasized; the music unnervingly and even without any subtitles will propel it's messages to the viewer. It's also timely in the year of the Me-too movement. Had this come out this year, it'll surely qualify for a best foreign film for the Oscars. This is a well made film.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    It is clearly a bitter and cruel story, but shot like a fairy tale as beautiful, see the time will laugh, but after watching the tears, this feeling I don't like. But every time in real life is very unhappy, when I want to cry to vent, I will find this movie to watch, so that I can unbridled cry. In the past, we may not be able to understand the life of Matsuko, but in real life, we may seem to have more self-esteem than Matsuko, but deep down, is there a Matsuko? Because when I was a child, I would desperately want to have what I didn't have, but I never got it. Can we really say that it's all because of the pine nuts' fault? Matsuko at the end of the real face of reality and their own time, is how powerless. "Born human, sorry." From apologizing to everyone who should not apologize, to apologize to life, to apologize to everyone, how desperate. Whatever, Matsuko are not willing to give up life, and finally because of a little bit of good hope and died. I would also like to say to such "Matsuko": if god makes people laugh, cheer them up, and love others, although he is always scarred, totally ill-groped, utterly stupid. If god were like my aunt, I'd rather believe in him.
  • The premise was intriguing, the actors were fine and, given a competent director, this could have been a very good film. Unfortunately, the director is some hack who thinks MTV-style rock videos is the pinnacle of film art and many of the more confusing flashback sequences play out as such. Switching viewpoints also didn't make sense as the boy had no way of figuring out that part given the data at his disposal. Worse is that I saw this on the same evening I enjoyed the vastly superior Japanese film ALWAYS - SUNSET ON 3rd STREET and the contrast between that one and the disjointed MEMORIES OF ... nearly fried my neural pathways. People who enjoy 'different' for different's sake might enjoy it, but otherwise, steer well clear.
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