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Archive for July 15th, 2010

by Allan Fish

(Japan 2006 130m) DVD2

Aka. Kiraware Matsuko no isshô

Forgive me for being born

p  Yutaka Suzuki  d/w  Tetsuya Nakashima  novel  Muneki Yamada  ph  Masakazu Ato  ed  Yoshiyuki Koike  m  Gabriele Roberto  art  Towako Kuwashima 

Miki Nakatani (Matsuko Kawajiri), Eita (Shou Kawajiri), Yusuke Iseya (Ryu Yoichi), Teruyuki Kagawa (Norio Kawajiri), Mikako Ichikawa (Kumi Kawajiri), Asuka Kurosawa (Megumi Sawamura), Akira Emoto (Tsunehiro Kawajiri), YosiYosi Arakawa (Kenji Shimazu), Kankuro Kudo (Tetsuya Yamegawa), Kana Ukunoya (young Matsuko),

Savour these moments, fellow cineastes, those increasingly rare occurrences when a film comes completely out of left field and knocks you for six.  I hadn’t seen any film by Tetsuya Nakashima, and indeed wondered about Memories of Matsuko.  It sounded like another film in the line of Amélie or even Dancer in the Dark, fantasies where, for all their accomplishment on a technical level, you wanted to shake the heroine like a damp rag and shout “for God’s sake!”  If anything, you’d have reason enough to do so twice over with Matsuko Kawajiri, so why you don’t is testament to the film’s emotional power.  And coming from one such as I, who decries films aimed to tug at the heartstrings as if they were men in cloaks ringing a small bell, that’s no mean achievement.

            So we’re in July 2001; Matsuko Kawajiri has been beaten to death by a riverbank.  Long forgotten and disowned by her family, her nephew Shou – who never knew she existed – is told by his father, carrying her ashes, that he had an aunt who led a meaningless life.  On first investigation into her hovel of a flat in a derelict shanty town, Shou would be forgiven for thinking that his father was right, but investigation takes him to the injustice that led her to leave her job as a junior high schoolteacher and her home, to set up with various worthless men who beat her, and become, in one order or another, a stripper, a yakuza moll, a hostess, a singer, a murderess and hair stylist and friend to Megumi, an upcoming porn star.  (more…)

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