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Have to come back to this one.
Interesting in concept, but it fails to consistently deliver.
Me and my grandma wasted our 2 hours watching this SHITTY DRAGGING FUCKING NORMAL LOW-BUDGET FILM. this is the worst movie in earth, I promise. no offense, director, I prefer watching his other works than this.
Loss & rememberance - two of Kore-eda's favorite topics in his earlier films from MABOROSI to NOBODY KNOWS, and then continued with STILL WALKING. Whether it's the loss of innocense in NOBODY KNOWS, lost of loved ones in STILL WALKING, or the lost of memories in THE AFTERLIFE, DISTANCE focuses on "memories" [like THE AFTERLIFE] but instead draws from the perspective of those who stand outside of the 1st-person perspective. The story is set in a memorial gathering where family and friends meet to pay respect and share their memories on former cult-members who died from a mass suicide. The first 20 minutes of DISTANCE reminds me of films that tried to adhere to the DOGMA Manifesto where you literally just see people walking in the woods as they get lost trying to find their way out.
But the film is much more than that. Along the course of the one-day gathering, the mysteries surrounding those who died from the mass suicide unfolds through flashbacks of those who came to mourn their untimely deaths.
The mysterious impostor (played by ARATA), one of two only survivors to the suicide, serve as the link to answers while bring about more questions as to what really happened. Could he be a recruiter who introduced the cult to 2 of the dead members or is he just the innocent brother who joined because of his [now] dead sister?
The scene by the river with Arata discussing his faith with Yuko (whom he claims to be his sister) seems to propose the idea that this WAS her introduction to the cult. Notice the scenes showing his use of photo-shop to paste himself into the girl's family photo, along with short clips of the mystery man burning photos in the back of the hut (in flash-back form) were both inserted thru-out the film. The consistent association with fire (i.e. the act of burning)could possibly imply his motive at the gathering as his way to rid his guilt for having to end his friends' lives... by helping the others find closure, he ends up resolving his own pain--having met the family of the dead, he finds relief & a way to move on.
Not unlike what we've seen on news and documentaries about how cults are formed, the dead cult members in the story joined the clan b/c of being lost (e.g. loss of love or lack of self-worth)... The housewife felt abandoned by her husband, her companion lacked self-esteem... the flower-shop girl couldn't deal with her brother's suicide, and the teacher felt confined by the existing education system, thinking it hindered his good will and talent to benefit society, etc... all except for the lifeguard's brother who thought the clan offered a way for him to justify his existence and talent as a physician. We never find out why Arata's character became a member. He seemed to have been ambivalent to his purpose in life, and perhaps he felt the cult was the only place where he found a sense of purpose. We know he wanted to heal people, and we know he felt the cult was the answer and antidote to the others'pain.
so many questions to a great story that probably didn't warrant having to endure the first 20 minutes to the film (which showed the group getting lost in the woods)... but if you can survive the first 20 minutes, the rest is all worth the wait...
DISTANCE (2001) is not as good and entertaining a film as AFTERLIFE (1997), but Koreeda managed to show again how good stories don't need a huge budget, sets, and lots of CG gadgets to turn into a great piece of cinema.
Even though at first I didn't understand the ending, I could sense - nay, I was inexplicably sure of - that this movie was indeed something great. After I read some theories and comments about it, I became even more found of it as I could notice how the script was truly exquisitely written and how the editing (made by Kore-Eda himself) complemented it. Not even the Dogma style of hand-held camera and natural lightning disturbed me as it did not intentionally seek for ugliness or to cause nausea as some of the filmmakers influenced by the Dogma movement usually do just for the shock factor. In matter of fact, the camera only shakes when following the actors through difficult ground, never unnecessarily, and it does capture some gorgeous frames. A truly sincere and beautiful movie, a remarkable work in all instances.
Another typical realistic drama j-movie and once again, another typcial realistic failure. Boring boring boring... no storyline, no editing, just a plain movie about some Japanese lives again. I think my life is even way more dramatic than these kind of movies. The world is already typical and realistic enough, no need another movie for that. Just no thanks.
I never really found Koreeda's slow pace a problem, but somehow this film just felt endless for me. Maybe I wasn't in the mood to watch it. I should give this another chance some other time...
koreeda definitely has the edge.
I've never seen like this great mockumentary film before.
Slow but yet totally captivating movie, a beautiful composition of past and present created almost entirely in the editing room. As a former documentarist, Koreeda Hirokazu approaches his material from a naturalistic point of view, creating some very authentic portraits of real people, but at the same time emphasizing the distance between the camera and it's subjects whose inner life largely remains veiled and unattainable.