Review: 21 Bridges

Though it wasn’t the last film he made, the police action thriller, 21 Bridges, is being released in Japan just as the late Chadwick Boseman has been nominated for a Best Actor Oscar that most bookies say he’s going to win. Boseman stars in and produces the movie, which doesn’t add much to his repertoire and feels like something he took on in the hopes of broadening his appeal among the general public. But after playing Jackie Robinson, James Brown, and Black Panther, his trigger-happy NYPD detective feels a bit generic even if he does inject the role with a canny blend of intensity and mystery. More to the point, the movie’s own generic bona fides feel a little out-of-line given the way American black people and the police, especially the New York City police, have been interacting for the past several years.

Thus the opening scene comes off as an inadvertent blast of cognitive dissonance. A child sits in church at the funeral of his policeman father, who was killed by drug addicts, probably during that period in the 80s when crack swept the city and destroyed a lot of black families. The fact that the child and his father are black is enough of a head-scratcher in terms of launching a plot, but the minister’s sermon, which celebrates the fact that the policeman killed two of his attackers before he himself was killed, is chilling in its implications. And then the child grows up to be Andre Davis (Boseman), a detective with a reputation for shooting first and asking questions later.

Davis’s reason to exist as a movie protagonist is tested by two seemingly small-time thieves who attempt to heist a shipment of cocaine and find that it’s three times as big as they had originally thought. Not only that, but they are met with an army of policemen that results in a massacre of said law enforcement. The two fugitives are now the target of Davis, who closes down the whole island of Manhattan in the belief that they are still there and sends pretty much the whole force out to track them down. It doesn’t take a David Simon to figure out that at least a few of the cops had something to do with the coke shipment in the first place, and none of them are Davis. The viewer develops this realization at the same time Davis does, and most of the movie involves the detective manuevering around his colleagues while hunting down the fugitives, all the while wondering who is crooked and who isn’t. 

Meanwhile, director Brian Kirk crowds the frame with multiple shootouts and car chases that make the time pass pleasantly enough, and in the end you have to hand it to everyone involved that the movie is as entertaining as it is given the subtext. It should be pointed out that the equal-opportunity fugitives, one white, one black, are given a sympathetic back story, and the movie is at least partialy redeemed by the notion that the black cop is punishing his white co-workers for their double-edged privilege. But that’s not what the movie is mainly about. It’s about one cop doing what’s right in a manichean world that doesn’t really exist. 

Now playing in Tokyo at Toho Cinemas Nihonbashi (050-6868-5060), Toho Cinemas Hibiya (050-6868-5068), Toho Cinemas Shinjuku (050-6868-5063), Shibuya Humax Cinema (03-3462-2539), Toho Cinemas Roppongi Hills (050-6868-5024).

21 Bridges home page in Japanese

photo (c) 2019 STX Financing, LLC

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Media Mix, April 3, 2021

Here’s this week’s Media Mix about two recent court rulings related to same-sex marriage, which remains illegal in Japan. One of the premises of the column is that marriage is mainly a social or cultural construct and that the legal protections guaranteed by state-sanctioned matrimony can easily be provided through other legislation. That’s why my friend in California didn’t really care much about getting married because the state already guaranteed the same kinds of rights that married couples enjoy for registered domestic partnerships. In Japan, many local governments have set up systems recognizing domestic partnerships for LGBTQ couples, but, unlike states in the U.S., they can’t guarantee certain rights, which remains the purview of the central government, and that means only marriages recognized by the central government receive such guarantees.

The ruling by the Sapporo District Court that found the denial of same-sex marriage to be a violation of the Constitution is significant because Sapporo was the first “designated” city in Japan to provide recognition of LGBTQ couples back in 2017. But all this recognition can do is provide guidelines. It has no legal force, which can only be provided by the central government. That means, unlike for married couples, same-sex partnerships cannot apply for dependent status for medical insurance or co-custody of children or spousal status for tax purposes or inheritances. According to the Asahi Shimbun, the certificate of recognition can be used to “demand” that public officials and businesses “treat” the partnership as they would a married couple, but the city has no power to penalize any organization or company for discrimination. What Sapporo hoped to do with the certificate is provide “family status” for same-sex couples looking to rent public housing or support for victims of crimes (for instance, if one of the partners is murdered, the other is eligible for compensation the way a spouse would be). But just saying so doesn’t make it true without the central government allowing for it. That’s why the presiding judge in the case said that regardless of her ruling about constitutionality, nothing could be done until the state changed the law. Ideally, a court declaring something unconstitutional would force a reckoning of the offending law, but that doesn’t seem to be the case in Japan, or, at least, not consistently. As always, the main culprit is the Civil Code, specifically the family registration system (koseki), which defines family relationships and gender and is considered fundamental with regard to family law in Japan. 

Here’s an earlier column about same-sex marriage that covers similar ground.

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Review: The Reason I Jump

Since I haven’t read David Mitchell’s translation of Naoki Hagishida’s 2007 memoir of autism I can’t rightly say how faithful Jerry Rothwell’s semi-documentary movie version is, though much of the voiceover narration, by Jordan O’Donegan, is taken straight from the book. Higashida was a nonverbal autistic Japanese child, and he reportedly wrote the book when he was only 13. Rothwell makes it seem as if much of the book was written in an impressionistic style, and the visual and aural decisions often try to convey this style with synthesized sounds and odd camera angles. Naturally, trying to replicate what an autistic child feels in a medium with its own technical limitations has its problems and often the movie seems intent on aestheticizing the autistic experience, if such a thing is possible; and yet the movie is often very powerful in spite of these questionable ambitions.

Higashida’s own experiences are illustrated with a Japanese-British autistic boy (Jim Fujiwara), but Rothwell also brings in the stories of five other mostly nonverbal autistic teens from various corners of the world. Generally, these stories elaborate on the frustrations that autistic youths go through trying to navigate a world that relies on clear communication of feelings and intentions. A girl from India can only really express herself through drawings, and eventually the empathy that she elicits with those drawings result in an art show. A boy and girl from Virginia use their friendship to show non-autistic acquaintances how to communicate feelings that only they feel. In the most disturbing sequence, autistic individuals in Sierra Leone are ostracized as evil beings, forcing them either underground or away from people in general. What Rothwell really wants to put across, and what Higashida’s book implicitly states, is that autism, as explained by its more clinical term “the spectrum,” is a varied and nuanced condition that requires not just empathy but acceptance. What Higashida accomplished with his book is that he showed that autistic children were no different from other children in terms of how they feel about the world. There was no diminution of what we would call intelligence, just a different means of processing stimuli and making sense of it. Ben, one of the Virginia teens, even expresses to his teacher the idea that he feels his human rights have been violated by conventional education structures. 

This more straightforward documentary approach actually does a better job of giving the viewer a feeling for autism than does the pointedly “poetic” passages that replicate the book and which often feel obligatory. The Reason I Jump was a worldwide bestseller, and it’s the reason Rothwell made the movie, but he could have produced a more potent one had he relied more openly on finding stories other than Higashida’s. 

In English and some German. Now playing in Tokyo at Kadokawa Cinema Yurakucho (03-6268-0015), Shinjuku Piccadilly (050-6861-3011).

The Reason I Jump home page in Japanese

photo (c) 2020 The Reason I Jump Limited, Vulcan Productions, Inc. The British Film Institute

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Media Mix, March 28, 2021

Tepco headquarters

Here’s this week’s Media Mix, which is about the huge amount of money spent to clean up the area surrounding the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, and the graft that has resulted. At one point in the column I use the term “public funds,” which should probably be explained further. According to the NHK Special I cite, tax money was used mainly for mid-term storage of irradiated materials. Everything else related to the cleanup is supposed to be paid for by capital gains made from the government selling Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) stock. NHK says that the government bought ¥1 trillion worth of Tepco stock at ¥300 per share, and estimates that in order to pay off the cleanup costs they would need to sell that stock at ¥1,500 per share. Unfortunately, the stock hasn’t gone up in price since the government bought it. As of February 20, the price is about one-fourth what it needs to be, so they have simply put off sale of the shares. One expert NHK talked to, a scholar who has done extensive research into nuclear accidents, said that if the stock doesn’t go up in price, then the government will end up using tax money anyway to pay for the cleanup; either that, or Tepco is going to have to cover more of the cost, which means utility bills will go up again. So the public—more specifically, future generations—pays for it either way. 

This interesting pay structure was built into the law, and quite recently. Tepco was legally responsible for cleaning up any situations caused by an accident at their facilities, and thus were expected to pay for the Fukushima disaster, but since the job is so huge the government borrowed money and paid for the operations on behalf of Tepco. In turn, all of Japan’s electric power companies are supposed to reimburse the government. But in March 2013, Tepco talked the government into changing the pay structure, convincing it to shoulder more of the burden by saying that making utilities pay for everything is unfair to their stockholders, since nuclear power is a “national policy.” A letter that NHK uncovered from Tepco to METI said that Tepco would not be able to “revive” itself if the government didn’t take more responsibility for the cleanup. Nine months later, the Cabinet decided on the capital gains strategy. According to various officials interviewed by NHK, the government knew that the capital gains plan wouldn’t be able to cover the costs of the cleanup, even before it ballooned out of proportion, but that they had to come up with something quickly “on paper.” As one METI official said, the plan puts the government in a double bind, since in order for the stock to go up appreciably, it has to guarantee not only Tepco’s survival, but its success as a private corporation in the short run. And that, presumably, means getting nuclear power plants back online as soon as possible, a task that has run up against a wall of public opposition. 

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Review: Tesla

Michael Almereyda’s biopic of Serbian-American inventor Nikolai Tesla (Ethan Hawke) is a welcome corrective — or maybe “antidote” is a better word — to The Current War, which attempted to make an entertainment out of the rivalry between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse over the future of the electrification of the U.S. Tesla was a marginal character in that movie, essentially an idea-rich shuttlecock batted back-and-forth between the two powerful men. The movie, however, could never find a satisfying common ground between science porn and personal tragedy (both principals had their traumatic back stories), and as a result it descended into self-important muddle. 

Tesla, in fact, is less of a biopic than a moody meditation on the nexus of ego and genius, especially as it was applied to that period in Western civilization when technology had at last conquered the world, or, at least, the common imagination. Both Almereyda and Hawke portray Tesla as a stone professional. There’s none of the psychological probing that marred The Current War, and yet the man comes across as almost punishingly complex in both his approach to science and his misunderstanding of capitalism. The movie doesn’t attempt to explain Tesla but rather revels in his mystery. He was religiously devoted to the applications of alternating current. An early scene has Tesla meeting with an extremely hard-assed Edison (Kyle MacLachlan), who dismisses the young immigrant’s thesis (Edison calls him a “Transylvanian”) about AC, which he considers “a waste of time.” At that point, Tesla had already given up on the great inventor, and takes his idea elsewhere. This view of Tesla, as a studious iconoclast who doesn’t suffer fools gladly, even those as successful as Thomas Edison, becomes the movie’s theme, and Almereyda uses it to probe a kind of alternative history of the time and of the man’s life, which ended in poverty and ignominy. 

Almereyda’s device is Anne Morgan (Eve Hewson), at one time Tesla’s lover and the daughter of J.P. Morgan (Donnie Keshawarz), maybe the richest man alive at the time. Anne is the film’s narrator, but she has access to our 21st century view of Tesla as more than just a name for an electric car. She wonders why Google searches for Edison outstrip those for Tesla by several degrees when Tesla was so obviously the greater mind. After all, the technology we take for granted today has probably as much to do with Tesla’s AC developments as anything Edison invented, but she reasons that Tesla was, by dint of his dour personality, unknowable. 

Almereyda also dispenses with normal biopic narrative development, pinning the script to thematic elements rather than temporal ones. All the greatest hits are here: the Chicago Exposition of 1893 when Edison and Westinghouse (Jim Gaffigan), to whom Tesla was now allied, squared off to decide who would control the circuit breakers; the invention of the Tesla coil; the fortuitous connection with the actress Sarah Bernhardt (Rebecca Dayan); the adaptation of the new technology in the service of capital punishment. All these episodes happened, but Anne points out they probably didn’t happen the way they are depicted. By confounding the tenets of biography and contaminating the whole process with Brechtian touches, such as musical interludes and purposely anachronistic dialogue (“you live too much in your head”), Almereyda attempts to interrogate Tesla’s influence on the culture that came after him while showing how his stubborn adherence to real science eventually relegated him to digging ditches after he was swindled by investors and then died, unknown and heirless. Almereyda’s vision has been derided for its reliance on surrealism, but given Tesla’s bizarre life, it seems the only way to address it. 

Now playing in Tokyo at Human Trust Cinema Yurakucho (03-6259-8608), Shinjuku Cinema Qualite (03-3352-5645), Shibuya Cine Quinto (03-3477-5905).

Tesla home page in Japanese

photo (c) Nikola Productions, Inc. 2020

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Review: Monster Hunter

Expected to meet expectations like the pro he is, director Paul W.S. Anderson is charged with adapting the popular Capcom video game to the Imax screen in much the same way he adapted the Resident Evil game to…how many sequels did they get away with? And he brings along his wife, Milla Jovovich, to star in order to make the Resident Evil connection complete. Consequently, there was a lot of buzz preceding the opening, which had to be delayed and recalibrated due to the pandemic. Since there’s a ton of Chinese money behind the movie, the international distribution potential was formidable, and Jovovich gets to share most of her screen time with Thai martial arts superstar Tony Jaa, thus broadening that potential even more. 

Apparently, an unfortunate bit of subtitle translation bolloxed the movie’s appeal in its biggest potential market, China, but Japan shouldn’t be a problem, since Capcom is a national treasure and the Resident Evil franchise was a huge hit over the 14 years it lasted. Monster Hunter probably will be a hit here as well based solely on momentum, but for the rest of us who aren’t susceptible to such bait (meaning, people who don’t play video games) it’s odd even for a big budget fantasy blockbuster. Much of it feels like disparate ideas from other, similar blockbusters patched together in a haphazard way. The framing idea of an American military patrol headed by Jovovich’s Captain Artemis caught in a desert sand storm and somehow deposited in an alternative dimension lorded over by huge insects and burrowing creatures immediately brings to mind Starship Troopers and Dune, and when Artemis cauterizes a gaping wound with ignited gunpowder you wonder which macho military porn Anderson was watching. Jaa shows up as the titular hunter who happens to inhabit this dimension full-time and does nothing but kill monsters for no stated reason except as sport it would seem. After some good-natured one-one-one battles to the near death between these two alpha types, they form a kind of alliance for the sake of pure survival and eventually catch up with guy called the Admiral (Ron Perlman), who makes them an offer they can’t refuse and one that displaces them back in Artemis’s dimension for the big apocalyptic battle. 

Which is to say that the movie’s narrative focus is always a bit on the blurry side, and while that’s what you get for trying to adapt a game, Anderson did a pretty good job of turning Resident Evil into a story-directed romp that never lost track of its various plot threads, no matter how frayed they had become. Monster Hunter is mainly a set of eye-popping CGI set pieces strung together with jokey exposition that doesn’t bear much scrutiny (and which resulted in the aforementioned subtitle faux pas). Apparently, the thing to do is not concentrate on motivation or character development, but rather on the outlandish weapons, which are central to the playing of the game. I mean, that sabre-toothed sword is so ridiculous you can’t keep your eyes off it. 

In subtitled English version and dubbed Japanese version. Now playing in Tokyo at Toho Cinemas Hibiya (050-6868-5068), Toho Cinemas Nihonbashi (050-6868-5060), Toho Cinemas Roppongi Hills (050-6868-5024), Toho Cinemas Shibuya (050-6868-5002), Toho Cinemas Shinjuku (050-6868-5063), Shinjuku Wald 9 (03-5369-4955), Shinjuku Piccadilly (050-6861-3011).

Monster Hunter home page in Japanese

photo (c) 2020 Constantin Film Verleih GmbH

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Review: Lords of Chaos

It may seem petty to start this review with the observation that it sure feels odd that a movie which concerns itself, albeit in a tongue-in-cheek expressionistic sort of way, with a true life crime is in a language that is not native to the country it depicts. Of course, Hollywood has been Anglicizing stories since its inception, but Lords of Chaos presents a Norwegian director helming a Norwegian production set in Norway that tackles a story which took place in Bergen and Oslo in the early 90s, and yet all the dialogue is in English and most of the cast is American speaking in typical American vernacular. Of course, since Vice is one of the backers, there was probably international distribution considerations behind the decision, but whatever prompted that decision has resulted in a movie that takes the piss every which way but up.

First of all, the lead is played by Rory Culkin, who has recently been catapulted to international fame as the snarkiest of the rich brood of media capitalists in the HBO series Succession. To his credit, that character does not rear his head at all in his portrayal of Euronymous, the self-styled inventor of Norwegian black metal, a hard rock sub-genre that would require a flow chart and an expert to distinguish it from, say, death metal, speed metal, etc. In the opening voiceover, director Jonas Akerlund juxtaposes Euronymous’s iconoclastic but humorously self-aware world view (“people are supposed to hate what I do”) with his passive middle class existence. When he mentions that life in Norway is horrifically boring, he hits on Akerlund’s theme, which is that black metal, a musical expression of nihilism, sprang from Norway’s storied social cohesion. When the government makes it possible for you to live your life without economic anxiety, you have to make your own tension, and Euronymous’s is to seek succor in death, though, to be honest, his response is cynical rather than nihilistic. He advances black metal as a means of thumbing his nose at society and sees his mission as more of a marketer of outrageous content than as a prophet of the dark arts. 

Basically, the movie’s dramatic arc follows this mission to its inevitable tragic end. Euronymous plays lead guitar in a bad metal band called Mayhem, and an ad for a lead singer produces Pelle (Jack Kilmer, son of Val, in case you were wondering), who nicknames himself Dead and likes to open his veins onstage during performances. However, his suicidal rage is not an act, and eventually he kills himself in a spectacular manner, but rather than be disturbed Euronymous, at least outwardly, sees Pelle’s death as a PR opportunity since in death Pelle manifests the central thesis of black metal. Mayhem attracts a more dedicated fan base, including a young “poser” named Christian (Emory Cohen), whom Euronymous takes on first as an acolyte and then as a bandmate, though Christian, after adopting the moniker Varg, starts his own musical project called Burzum, which quickly outstrips Mayhem in terms of dedication to the tenets of black metal. Varg is a true believer in a way that Euronymous isn’t, and burns down a church to prove it. Euronymous and his “black circle” of followers approves, but Varg quickly realizes it is Euronymous who is the poser, since he seems set on following the conventional road to rock stardom, an ambition Varg thinks is antithetical to black metal dogma. 

For the most part, this is a well thought-out explication of the true story behind Burzum and Mayhem that resulted in a string of arsons and murders which shocked Norway, but Akerlund doesn’t really know how to direct it. Genre-wise, the movie slots as a horror film—the scenes involving actual death are drawn out beyond their acceptable limits and, set against the almost Spinal Tap level of self-parody that rules the rest of the scenes, verge on the sickening. There is one brilliant scene in which Varg invites a journalist to hear his confessions of criminality. The journalist, unimpressed and incredulous, catches Varg out on his ignorance of religion and paganism, but understands a sensational story when he hears it. Unfortunately, Akerlund can’t maintain this ironic tone, and the movie descends into slasher territory without much in the way of insight into a sub-culture it can only address superficially. Caveat: if you plan to come for the music, be warned there isn’t really much of it. 

Opens March 26 in Tokyo at Cinemart Shinjuku (03-5369-2831).

Lords of Chaos home page in Japanese

photo (c) 2018 Fox Vice Film Holdings, LLC and Vice Media LLC

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Media Mix, March 21, 2021

Asahi Shimbun headquarters in Tokyo

Here’s this week’s Media Mix about the telecommunications ministry scandal, which was handled gingerly by the major media until it got so intense and ridiculous that they had no choice but to dive in. Still, it was up to peripheral media, like those I reference in the column, to provide the background that would explain why these wining-and-dining episodes were so compromising for the ministry. But it shouldn’t be surprising. After all, the top executives of the major newspapers all have meals with the prime minister himself every so often and usually give the excuse that they are doing so for news gathering purposes, which nobody really believes. Rubbing shoulders with important political leaders is a kind of lobbying activity for corporate officials of press organizations, many of whom are not reporters anyway. As mentioned in the piece, newspapers get a break on the consumption tax and can sell their shares to anyone they please, dispensations that aren’t granted to other industries. For their part, politicians always say about such meetings that they never talk business—those caught dining with Tohokushinsha said the same thing—but that’s not the point. The point is to maintain a fraternal relationship that makes it easier to ask for favors when favors are wanted; or, even better, cause those in power to do the favor even without being asked to. 

As for TV, we’ve already seen how the government uses its leverage with broadcast licenses to control the news. Several years ago, eyebrows were raised when Sanae Takaichi, then the telecommunications minister, made veiled threats against the media for coverage that rubbed the ruling party the wrong way, saying that it was in her power to suspend operations of broadcasters who continually aired “politically biased” reporting. In most developed countries, the airwaves are controlled by non-governmental bodies, and when the Americans occupied Japan after the war they set up an independent agency modeled after the Federal Communications Commission to oversee broadcasting functions. But when the Americans left in 1952, one of the first laws the new Diet enacted was to put this agency back into the hands of the government, which, of course, completely controlled all media during the war. Also, all the headquarters of major media companies, both newspapers and broadcasters, are located on prime real estate in Tokyo. It’s often been reported that the land these headquarters occupy used to be owned by the country and the companies were able to either purchase or lease the land at rock bottom prices, in particular Asahi Shimbun, the main propaganda arm of the imperial government. One explanation for such largesse is that major media companies need to be centrally located in order to do their jobs effectively, so it’s good for the country. But when we say “good for the country” it isn’t necessarily the same as saying “good for the people.” 

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Review: Minari

Amidst the Oscar-related acclaim for Lee Isaac Chung’s semi-autobiographical feature there was an online interview with Best Supporting Actress nominee Youn Yuh-jung, who expressed bewilderment at the strong emotional reaction that many Korean-Americans had toward the film. Having herself emigrated to the U.S. when she was young, she understood the hardships that the fictional family in the film endured, but as someone who was born in Korea she said immigrants her age didn’t expect to have access to the American Dream. Korean-Americans, meaning people of Korean ethnicity who were born in the U.S., were steeped in that mindset.

Youn’s insightful take on the film’s effect reflect something of Chung’s own reticence to over-dramatize what happens to the Yee family, who move from Los Angeles to the rustic town of Lincoln, Arkansas, to start a farm where they will grow vegetables for local Koreans. The film is set in the 1980s. Jacob (Steven Yeun) and Monica (Yeri Han) are South Korean immigrants, while their two children, Anne (Noel Kate Cho) and David (Alan Kim), were born in the U.S. Monica, we soon discern, is not that crazy about the move, since she and Jacob had relatively good factory jobs in SoCal. Jacob takes the American Dream at face value, which is why he believes he can make something of himself on his own, but Chung, obviously remembering his own father, who did pretty much the same thing when Chung was David’s age, presents Jacob as headstrong in the worst way: Dismissive of his wife’s concerns and over-confident of his own abilities to tame the land. Two scenes clearly show that his dream was not properly thought out. When the family arrives at the farm they have taken over with their life savings—and which came cheap because the previous tenant committed suicide—Monica is shocked that the house is a mobile home on blocks with dodgy water pressure and crappy wallpaper. Later, when Jacob is looking to dig a well in order to avoid the high cost of buying public water for irrigation, he dismisses the professional water diviner, thinking that his own common sense (look for where the land dips down) will save him a lot of money. 

Jacob is thus the movie’s immovable force, but Chung pointedly avoids making him either the devil or a fool. He mostly ignores how his attitudes affect his family, and his relationship with Monica is always chilly. He understands his responsibilities, but also thinks that only he can make things right. Consequently, he asks Monica’s mother, Soonja (Youn) to move in with them, ostensibly to watch the kids because Jacob and Monica still have to make cash by sexing chicks at a local poultry farm. Soonja, it’s implied, has come straight from Seoul, where she seems to have lived fairly well and cultivated a saucy, unkempt attitude. Her casual obscenities, even in front of her grandchildren, lend the film a welcome element of comic relief, especially given the air of seriousness surrounding the Yees’ marriage and David’s struggles to construct an identity in a place that automatically sees him as an outsider.

Chung takes an episodic approach to the story, whose dramatic arc is perhaps too subtle for it to be as effective as he likes: The ending’s power has more to do with how unexpected it is than anything else. This measured restraint has its good points, the main one being how naturalistic and credible the Yees’ relationship with their white neighbors is; but also its weaknesses, the main one being that the stakes are never fully articulated. And therein, perhaps, lies the difference that Youn was trying to explain in interviews. As a white American (and one who has lived as a white American in Japan for half his life), I can’t hope to make the immediate emotional connections that are so meaningful to Korean-Americans, who come to the film with expectations born of experience. Which probably means I should see it again. 

In Korean and English. Now playing in Tokyo at Toho Cinemas Chanter Hibiya (050-6868-5001), Toho Cinemas Shinjuku (050-6868-5063), Toho Cinemas Nihonbashi (050-6868-5060), Toho Cinemas Roppongi Hills (050-6868-5024), Toho Cinemas Shibuya (050-6868-5002).

Minari home page in Japanese

photo (c) Melissa Lukenbaugh, A24

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The Merle file

Occasionally, I go through old published reviews of mine from the 90s and 00s and post them here. I came upon one that I did under the alias Merle Pangloss, a parody persona used for reviewing certain types of rock concerts whose purpose is quickly discernible and hardly original, but I’ve decided to post links to the ones that are still online. There were other Merle missives from the 90s that are not online but somewhere in my files. I’ll try to dig them out and get them up. Enjoy.

Limp Bizkit

Green Day


“School of Rock”

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