Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Whispering Star (2015)

The Whispering Star (2015)

Japan Cuts is celebrating its 10th anniversary at The Japan Society this year, and some of the movies look pretty good.  But what REALLY interested me was the fact that they were showing both a documentary on Sion Sono, and two recent Sion Sono movies I have not seen before!   In 2007 I got to see my first Sion Sono at Japan Cuts, one called Exte: Hair Extension.  It was funny and amusing and scary and a bit of a parody, and we were pretty impressed.  I ended up seeing some others a couple years later, and although I won't say any blew me away, they all were good and had some merits and were very watchable, even when overly long, or about subject matter I was not exactly into.  Then a couple years ago I saw a bunch in a row that were really good, like Himizu, Why Don't You Play In Hell, and the amazing Guilty Of Romance.  Now that I have seen 12 or so of his films,  can safely say he is a director that somehow has never disappointed me, which is almost unheard of.  Most of my favorite directors have made some serious duds, including David Lynch, David Cronenberg, Brain De Palma, John Carpenter and Takashi Miike.  While Sono has yet to make a movie that is as good as the best of those other directors, he has somehow never made a dud either (of the ones I have seen).  I cannot say that for the other directors on that list.

The Whispering Star is a film close to Sono's heart.  One of 2 films he wrote over 20 years ago that recently were produced, this one was updated to include the Fukushima tragedy in the script.  The story is simple, as is the production of this film, but using the word simple is not an insult in this case.  The film is mostly in black and white, has very little dialogue and is beautifully shot.  It is basically about a long distance shipping company that ships all over the universe.  Humans seem to be all over the galaxy now, and they are all living in places that look just like Fukushima (since many of these scenes were shot in the forbidden zone).  Many of the actors in the film are also displaced residents of Fukushima.  The action (a word I use lightly here) takes place as the android who is in the rented ship does her menial chores on a daily basis while waiting to get to the next planet to deliver a package.  There is very little dialogue, and really not too much goes on, there is no soundtrack, even some of the background noise has been taken out to create a more sparse effect, yet somehow it still ends up being a very beautiful film. 

This film is NOT for everyone, but if you do not mind slow quiet films with little action, this might be something you find worthy of watching.  One of the great things about Sono is, even though he may give you a movie you would not normally ever want to see, somehow he can pull it off and still make you enjoy it. 

7 out of 10 stars.

Location : The Japan Society, in NYC
Date and time : Saturday July 16th, 2016 at 4:45 PM
Format : DCP
Audience : Sold out show, audience seemed moved by it.