Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Yoshida’s films showcase hope amid despair at Tokyo festival

TOKYO (AP) – Boxers, janitors, fishermen, film characters Keisuke Yoshida – overwhelmed by the underdogs of Japanese society who struggle with hardships in a cruel, imperfect, often insane world.

The Japanese director and three of his most recent works will be showcased at the Tokyo International Film Festival, which opens on October 30.

“When you think about how the world can be better, a lack of imagination is at the heart of the problem. The theme of my latest film is about this sensitivity, the ability to even imagine a little what others might go through, overcome and mitigate differences, ”Yoshida recently told The Associated Press.

Yoshida’s writings explore the dark side of the human condition, such as petty jealousy and shameful guilt, although he insists that he believes in the potential for change, what he calls “taking this first step” from despair.

In Intolerance, which Yoshida also wrote, Arata Furuta portrays the harrowing role of a resilient protagonist who has lost his daughter in a car accident. The fisherman never fully expressed his love for his daughter while she was alive, and cannot come to terms with her death.

He continues the relentlessly violent pursuit of a grocery store manager, whom he blames for the death of his daughter, because the manager pursued a young woman on suspicion of theft. The film shows how Japanese society, often operating as a claustrophobic village, ostracizes and punishes those it considers lost. The frenzied media intensifies the pressure.

However, the heartbreaking ending expresses the tiny bit of hope that Yoshida has in mind in all of his films.

“There is a topic of what is right and what is wrong, and it’s easy to understand. But on a different level, I wanted to depict how each person comes to terms with what is lost. This is how I started this story, ”he said.

Another feature of the festival is Hime-anole, which is based on a manga or Japanese comic about two young people cleaning buildings. They run into a former classmate who turns out to be a serial killer.

The name refers to the lizard and symbolizes the life that a more powerful predator can consume.

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Yoshida, 46, had wanted to become a principal since kindergarten, “because I wanted to meet Jackie Chan,” he jokes. He hasn’t dated the Hong Kong superstar yet.

As a child, Yoshida was a loner, so instead of team sports, he took up boxing. He became so good that he was a sparring partner of a professional fighter a few years ago. He continues to box to stay fit and his dedication has lasted for over three decades.

This experience came in handy for “Blue”, which was also shown at the festival. Kenichi Matsuyama portrays a hero, a boxer without victories. The name refers to the blue corner of the ring reserved for the lower ranked boxer.

“Yoshida’s ability to cause this kind of drama in ordinary people is something to see. I am very pleased to highlight his work, ”said Shozo Ichiyama, program director of the festival.

Yoshida worked with legendary artist Shinya Tsukamoto, who directed Tetsuo and Fires in the Plain, and also starred in Silence by Martin Scorsese. Yoshida said that Tsukamoto controls every detail of filmmaking so meticulously that he has learned to be the exact opposite, to let go and leave some things to the will of improvisation and chance.

But over the years, film work, by definition of tremendous collective effort, has transformed the once lonely child into a team player.

“I forcibly changed my character because I want to make films,” Yoshida said.

His next work is Black Comedy, an unusual love story that he says is very different from recent films.

This year’s festival, which runs until November 8, will also feature Asian films and Japanese animation, as well as an updated version of the 4K video “Family Game” directed by Yoshimitsu Morita to commemorate the 10th anniversary of his death. Introductory film – “Crying Macho”, directed and produced by Clint Eastwood in the title role. The final film is Dear Evan Hansen, Stephen Chbosky’s musical coming-of-age film.


Yuri Kageyama on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama

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