STILL WALKING (ARUITEMO ARUITEMO) (Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2008)
Film Society of Lincoln Center
144 and 165 West 65th St. between Eighth Ave. & Broadway
Wednesday, December 11, Francesca Beale Theater, 8:30
Thursday, December 12, Walter Reade Theater, 1:30
Series runs December 4-12
212-875-5050 / 212-875-5166
Flawlessly written, directed, and edited by Hirokazu Kore-eda (Maborosi, Nobody Knows), Still Walking follows a day in the life of the Yokoyama family, which gathers together once a year to remember Junpei, the eldest son who died tragically. The story is told through the eyes of the middle child, Ryota (Hiroshi Abe), a forty-year-old painting restorer who has recently married Yukari (Yui Natsukawa), a widow with a young son (Shohei Tanaka). Ryota dreads returning home because his father, Kyohei (Yoshio Harada), and mother, Toshiko (Kirin Kiki), are disappointed in the choices he’s made, both personally and professionally, and never let him escape from Junpei’s ever-widening shadow. Also at the reunion is Ryota’s chatty sister, Chinami (You), who, with her husband and children, is planning on moving in with her parents in order to take care of them in their old age (and save money as well). Over the course of twenty-four hours, the history of the dysfunctional family and the deep emotions hidden just below the surface slowly simmer but never boil, resulting in a gentle, bittersweet narrative that is often very funny and always subtly powerful. The film is beautifully shot by Yutaka Yamazaki, who keeps the camera static during long interior takes — it moves only once inside the house — using doorways, short halls, and windows to frame scenes with a slightly claustrophobic feel, evoking how trapped the characters are by the world the parents have created. The scenes in which Kyohei walks with his cane ever so slowly up and down the endless outside steps are simple but unforgettable. Influenced by such Japanese directors as Mikio Naruse, Yasujiro Ozu, and Shohei Imamura, Kore-eda was inspired to make the film shortly after the death of his parents; although it is fiction, roughly half of Toshiko’s dialogue is taken directly from his own mother. Still Walking is a special film, a visual and psychological marvel that should not be missed. It’s screening December 11-12 as part of the Film Society of Lincoln Center festival “Ozu and His Afterlives,” which honors the 110th anniversary of the master filmmaker’s birth and the 50th anniversary of his death; he died on his birthday at the age of sixty in 1963. The series features Ozu’s Equinox Flower and An Autumn Afternoon in addition to seven works that were either directly or indirectly inspired by Ozu and his unique style, including Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Café Lumiere, Jim Jarmusch’s Stranger Than Paradise, Aki Kaurismäki’s The Match Factory Girl, Claire Denis’s 35 Shots of Rum, Pedro Costa’s In Vanda’s Room, and Wim Wenders’s Tokyo-Ga.