Saturday, March 31, 2018

Three Films Make A Post: A journey that begins where everything ends!

Roger Dodger (2002): As all films about the horrible plight of being a (r)aging full-time asshole, Dylan Kidd’s film quickly came to a point for me where the question arose why I should care about this guy (or, for that matter, for his Jesse Eisenbergian – fortunately played by Eisenberg or things would be awkward - sixteen year old nephew who comes to him for explanations regarding the nature and habits of those strange creatures male filmmakers just never quite seem to be able to see as people, “women”), and listen to the film letting him drone on and on and on and on and on and on and on (and on)? For my compassion, the film doesn’t put any work in; for my derision, Campbell Scott’s Roger isn’t interesting enough; my mockery, I save for targets who do harm to more than themselves and my ears. See me shrug.

A Silent Voice aka Koe no Katachi (2016): And yet, it isn’t actually all that difficult to make me care about a pretty unlikeable character, as the protagonist of Naoko Yamada’s and Norihiro Tomiita’s anime demonstrates. This is after all a teenager who bullies a deaf female student to an inordinate degree. Of course, he is eventually ostracized by everyone around him for this, even by the people surrounding him who weren’t much better at all, and spends the next couple of years not just suffering from a bad consciensce but actually doing something about it. The film complicates what could be a too simplistic tale of redemption that could end in romance by insisting on giving every character involved a complex inner life, exploring the moments when easy solutions and even easy moral judgements stop working, as well as getting closer to actual feelings of teenage loneliness, yet never falling into the trap of pretending everything must end as badly as possible.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006): In comparison, Mamoru Hosoda’s anime adapatation of Tsutsui Yasutaka’s much adapted novel is a bit conventional. This doesn’t mean this time-travelling tale of various kinds of heightened teenage emotions and the cusp of what we laughingly call growing up isn’t highly effective in most everything it does, be it jerking tears or producing guffaws. It’s just not quite as complicated, insightful or honest as Yamada’s and Tomiita’s film, going for love, laughter, pain and bittersweetness of a more generic and safe variety. It’s a very well done safe variety, mind you, presented beautifully and feeling satisfying. Plus, there’s no asshole holding horrible monologues for hours on end.

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