Friday, February 04, 2005

I don't know if anyone's heard of it but there's a new film out there I just read a review of that sounds amazing. It's a Japanese film called Nobody Knows by Hirokazu Kore-eda about four siblings led by Yuya yagira playing 12 year old Akira (he won the best actor at Cannes) who fend for themselves after their mother abandons them. The opening line of the review is

There's a special poignance to children who, because of circumstances, are forced to conduct themselves with the seriousness of adults.

The reviewer likens it to a Satyajit Ray or Vittorio De Sica film specifically the Apu trilogy and De Sica's Umberto D which I will always love for Umberto himself and that lovely dog. The premise and the tone of the film also remind me of my favorite Steven Soderbergh film, King of the Hill. Of all his films it is my favorite. It's based on A.E. Hotchner's memoir about the depression and has a similar set-up. It also features Lauren Hill (Miss Education herself) in her first, brief film role as an elevator operator.

Humanist films are always tricky to pull off. You need a specific balance. The Indian film actress Nargis stood up in Parliament and accused Ray of selling India's poverty to the west. A brutal attack - at the time it was felt that the "poverty" view of India would become mainstream and firmly embedded in the minds of outsiders. Regardless, Ray hasn't had a space cultivated for him in the midst of India's Bollywood. A shame. I grew up on Bollywood - I knew more about Amitabh Bachan than I did about ray but I love both for different reasons.

It reminds me, maybe rather abstractly, of the term subaltern and of British colonialism and the nature of Indian masculinity. I once was the subject of a therapy session where I was observed by a group of professionals whilst I was interviewed. I talked a little bit about watching Indian men acting politely and bowing informally every time they met a "white person" and I later found out that an aboriginal woman was part of the observation team and she broke down and started crying because she recognized that, especially in her own father. I did too but for the record and for my dad, he stood up for us and himself many times - and boldly. But I digress.

That was a long tangent from the movie I originally talked about it.



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