Features, Film

EARLY WARNING: Still Walking: The Cinema of Hirokazu Kore-eda

Screens 3/15-3/18 @ Brattle


Known for his complex and emotional familial dramas, Japanese auteur Hirokazu Kore-eda will speak at the Brattle Theatre after screenings of his 1998 film After Life, and his 2023 film Monster before attending the 30th annual Chlotrudis Awards as the guest of honor. Kore-eda’s delicate, meaningful filmography drips with intentionality and not one hint of over-sentimentality. His narratives, often focused on tender familial dynamics, seek to challenge the societal norms that families and social structures obey, preaching empathy and understanding at every turn. 

Within the Kore-eda canon, these opening films feel drastically different from one another, in contrast to some of his other works. After Life explores deeply challenging questions about the afterlife, as it follows an organized post-death social structure that requires each recently deceased person to choose one memory to keep from their previous life, the rest dissolve into nothingness. Monster, on the other hand, is an intricately wrapped narrative that twists with every new perspective. It opens with a mother confronting her son’s teacher for strange changes in his behavior, but the film’s runtime does not seek to solve the mystery from beginning to end. Instead, it opts to understand the perspective of each character, a daring shift from traditional narrative structure, which pays off entirely. The differences in the premises of these films, along with the similarity in theme and palpable emotion, demonstrate the realms Kore-eda’s films have touched over the course of his career. 

This series shares a title with Kore-eda’s 2008 film Still Walking, arguably the most complicated, fascinating, and subtly emotional picture in his filmography. Still Walking confronts a family as it deals with the legacy of tragedy, over a 24-hour period encompassing a family reunion, still reckoning with the death of their eldest son. Despite being a slow film, Still Walking never drags or feels boring, and each scene breathes with empathetic intentionality, in every line of dialogue and moment of body language. 

The second day of the series continues with a devastating double feature of After Life and Still Walking, as both films meditate deeply on death and the impacts it has on life. Saturday evening ends up with a 6pm screening of Broker and a subsequent Q&A. Broker is a stunning narrative of a found family helmed by the consistently incredible Song Kang-Ho, an underrated sweet, crime-ridden narrative that feels perfect as ever in Kore-eda’s filmography. Unshakably thought-provoking and tenderly human, all of these films are so thoughtfully emotional and they prove nearly impossible to forget. Being confronted with both the moral questions death brings to the deceased, followed by the intricate dynamics that death places on the living, will certainly be a philosophical and life-changing series. 

The final day of the Brattle’s Kore-eda weekend features a screening of Monster with a subsequent Q&A, as well as two screenings of Shoplifters, Kore-eda’s 2018 Palme D’Or winner. Shoplifters is truly Kore-eda at his most poignant, an excellent first watch in entering his filmography, and a genuine and empathetic depiction of a “found family” in our current world. The film is undoubtedly heavy, not in the dynamic sense that Monster is, but in the cathartic emotion it invokes. 

Every Kore-eda double feature will prove morally confrontational, devastating, emotional, and unforgettable in every sense. In true Kore-eda fashion, one can only hope that the opinions, questions, and perspectives invoked by these films will change over time, folding in on themselves and stretching their legacies like the classics of previous film eras. Kore-eda is undoubtedly one of the most thoughtful and profound auteurs of our time, drawing superb performances in their power and humanity, and conjuring depictions of our world through the cracks in all our structures.

Still Walking: The Cinema of Hirokazu Kore-eda runs from Friday, 3/15 through Monday, 3/18 @ Brattle Theatre. For showtimes and ticket info, click here.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License(unless otherwise indicated) © 2019