Saturday, 30 October 2010

Movie review & musings: Departures

So far my favourite movie for Theology and Film class is Departures (original title:  Okuribito; directed by Yojiro Takita, 2008), which I saw tonight.  I admit to a nerdy/arty prejudice to like subtitled foreign films, but Departures also charms me with spot-on acting, a theme & story that will keep me musing for days, and enough comedy to make me want to show it to others.  This one is going on my list of movies to buy to take back to PNG.  

A dissappointed cellist returns to his provincial home town and finds work preparing the recently departed (hence the title) for being encoffined.  The goofyness and absurd side of life portrayed here made me laugh aloud--don't you agree that death can be awfully funny?  I also realized how I miss Japan after only being there for 11 days!  There's a lot of beauty in that country, and I like the Japanese aesthetic of restraint and balance--clear in this film, too.  

I may be swooning over it partly because I'm still off-balance from being bludgened by Deep Themes of Humanity in all the other films from the class, which have already put me way over my yearly limit for my bad language intake and viewings of deviant sexuality.  All true to life and representing the human condition, but a lot to digest.  Departures is just as true to life and profound, but gentler on me and I thank it for being so.  We've so far seen Crash, American Beauty, Crimes and Misdemeanours, Magnolia (these four are the worst offenders for bludgeoning me with despair-inducing human behaviour), Little Miss Sunshine (my second favourite of the class, though not without troubling dimensions), Moulin Rouge, Decalogue I, and Stranger than Fiction (also a charming favourite--I wanted to eat cookies and celebrate life after).  Yet to go:  Run Lola Run, The Princess and the Warrior, Slumdog Millionaire, Water, Atonement, Smoke Signals, and Field of Dreams.  Yeah:  not exactly a lighthearted distraction from my other classes, but a big dose of art nonetheless.  Students of Uka International School beware:  your once-and-future(-sometimes) English teacher is now more trained at examining film as an art form!  Though I don't think I've found a movie I can use at school yet...


  1. WOW.
    I admit I've only seen two on that list.
    I've seen Little Miss Sunshine, which I loved. And Moulin Rouge, which I both hated and loved.

    Because of their subjects, I've avoided the others. Too dark and depressing for me...

    A friend at Seminary told me American Beauty was a fabulously told story, but that it was the wrong story...

    Tell me about Stranger than Fiction, would you?

  2. Stranger than Fiction is charming! A complusive guy (and his wrist watch) leads a boring and regulated life, until he hears voices and realizes that he's a character in in a novel being written. What kind of story is he in, tragedy or comedy?
    Very clever and sweet. Unpredictable cast for this kind of movie: Queen Latifa AND Emma Thompson AND Maggie Gyllenhall AND some guy famous for comedy whose name escapes me AND Dustin Hoffman! Locate and watch. Unlike American Beauty (not the wrong story, just a grim real one that still celebrates life and beauty) it won't put you over your monthly limit for depravity.


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