So the weekend was a blur. I intended to see a couple of movies; there is a film festival of new German-language movies [German, Austrian, and Swiss] playing in town, and almost all were attractive to me.
I didn't see them all, but I caught a couple. And life imposed a few more movies [Hollywood-variety] as well. But I must start with Cherry Blossoms, the best movie I've seen in years and years and years.
My review, from elsewhere:
Cherry Blossoms (2009)
The movie was startling -- it offered brightly-drawn, finely-crafted characters who illuminate the human condition.
Yeah, I know -- sounds like Art House claptrap. But this film was amazing. It's themes -- from the travails of aging, the loss of connection with family, the burdens of integrating lives, the abandonment of artistic pursuits for other pursuits, the clash of cultures -- are all sensitively, beautifully explored. And the movie has all of the pacing and humour and broad touches of a Hollywood comedy or drama [yes, this movie is both].
The two leads, Hannelore Elsner and Elmar Wepper, each carry their parts of the movie with graceful, exciting performances. The film centers on Ms. Elsner's character for the first half of the movie, and on Mr. Wepper's character for the second. They are both electrifying -- which is not easy when the characters
[(1) a middle-aged mother who has, apparently without regret, sublimated herself to her family, especially her husband; and (2) that husband, who is retired-in-place, and raises routine and lack of imagination to an art form]
are anything but. Mr. Wepper's Rudy undergoes the more conventional character arc of growth and discovery, but this movie is anything but a cliche about finally discovering what's important in life. It's a love song, and an elegy.
I could say so much more, but instead I trust you'll see it yourself.
The movie had only one D.C.-area showing during the festival, but will be back in February for at least a one-week run. I can't recommend it highly enough.
Per Doerrie [the writer/director], the tale was inspired by Yasujiro Ozu’s “Tokyo Story” and its own spiritual predecessor, Leo McCarey’s 1937 weepie “Make Way for Tomorrow.” Literal Japanese translation of “Hanami” is “to look at flowers,” and little-known Butoh dancing combines Japanese movement with German expressionism.