MediaBug

Tearjerkers

By Jade Bonus

fireworks
A fittingly sad Takeshi

MediaBug Film and TV edition has been a bit ‘shoot em up and watch them bleed’ of late, so it’s only neccessary to square the ledger and restore the balance with its opposite – let’s get teary.

Always Sunset On Third Street  (ALWAYS 三丁目の夕日), (2005)
Set under the backdrop of Tokyo Tower’s construction this stunningly shot period piece is a sweet reminder that the heaving metropolis we know as Tokyo is a fairly recent innovation. Pastoral goodies and sentimentality aside, Always Sunset On Third Street follows the stories of an apprentice mechanic from Aomori (represent), a struggling manga artist equally struggling with instant parenthood and a snack bar hostess whose past can’t quite be shaken off. The intertwined narratives are well paced and the characters empathetic, so when the tears come (and they will) you will find them to be very real.

Watch the trailer here:

Departures (おくりびと)(2008)
In the wake of his orchestra’s unexpected disbandment Daigo Kobayashi finds himself and his young wife back in his hometown looking for work. With desperation mounting, Daigo answers an ad seeking someone to help with ‘departures’. While initially convinced that the position is in the travel industry, the job’s true nature is to assist in departures of a more permanent kind. Despite his misgivings, Daigo takes the job on the sly, which brings forth some unexpected consequences.
Departures is a lovely film about a topic that is still quite taboo in Japanese society and, whilst not preachy about it, offers a fascinating insight into the prejudices workers in an industry best not spoken of still continue to face.

Watch the trailer here:

Hanabi (1997)
From nice cries to heaving and wondering when the world became such a bad place cries comes Takeshi Kitano’s Hanabi. If you know Japanese film and television then you already know what a big deal this guy is. Despite making his name as one half of The Two Beats, one of the nation’s most recognisable manzai duos, as a director Takeshi Kitano makes some of the most outright depressing as a broken down bus films available.* Hanabi is no exception. Starring himself as Nishi, a retired cop with a haunted past, a wife with leukemia and a debt to the yakuza founded to pay for her treatment. Hanabi follows Nishi’s story as he attempts to reconcile his past with his now uncertain future. As an added plus, because it’s a Takeshi Kitano film, it’s also violent as all get out.
Hanabi picked up a tonne of awards upon its release and deservedly so, despite its depressing nature the performances are stellar, the story is engaging and sublimely paced. And while you might pick the ending it will be no less devastating when it comes.

Watch the trailer here:

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One thought on “Tearjerkers

  1. Pingback: June 2014, Vol. 1 | Japan life in pictures and words

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