A friend loaned me this on DVD, thinking that it was right up my alley. (He was right.) I haven't seen any other Kiyoshi Kurosawa films but I really enjoyed the way everything wove together in an understated way. There's a lot that is unexplained or jarring, and Kurosawa asks a lot of his audience. Unless you have a strong memory, going back to review scenes is helpful to link everything up. The camera takes a very nonjudgmental and distanced view of the action, which well-suits this story where all the characters seem to have a different opinion of things. The deadpan style reminded me a little of Bunuel or Elia Suleiman, and this film shares that no-holds-barred approach where you never know what will happen next. The film begins with an overworked policeman, Yabuike, who proceeds to botch a hostage situation (the gunman's demand: Restore the Rules of the World). His chief sends him on vacation, and he ends up in a remote woods. There he meets a strange cast of environmental protection authorities, a female botanist, her sadistic sister, a young man who protects a special tree, and an old woman the young man cares for at a closed rest home/asylum(?). Almost all seem interested in the tree (called Charisma), its characteristics, and its place in the forest which is dying all around it. In the course of the film, there are different interpretations expressed and certain battles fought. Throughout, Yabuike tries to make his own peace with this strange environment and its crazy characters. Karisuma lends itself to a variety of symbolic interpretations, and I think Kurosawa rather perceptively skewers modern society's all-too-blinkered view of reality with his depiction of people unable to step outside their own limited perspective and see things totally. Kurosawa also seems interested in the clash of Western individualism with the more Eastern concept of traditionalism and duty in Japanese society. He does this very slyly, having a duty-bound character protecting an individual, and an individualist looking out for the whole. The characters appeal to conceptions of what's "natural" to justify their actions, and it is here with the idea of a natural ecosystems that the film really seems to come together. Much like the forest world around them, the characters, each with specific roles, inhabit a *social* ecosystem, full of competition (and cooperation). But they fail to understand the broader picture of their actions. For actually, both the forest and human worlds are linked in a total ecosystem, which is to say nothing is truly isolated at all. I take that to be the point made in the final, rather surprising, shot of the film. 8/10
A seasoned detective is called in to rescue a politician held hostage by a lunatic. In a brief moment of uncertainty, he misses the chance for action. Leaving his job and family without ...
October 12, 2020