Reflective Ripples in a Whisper
A German director Doris Dorrie's third film in her trilogy on Japan, Cherry Blossoms, is an exquisite, absorbing and deeply moving meditation on life, death, loss, loneliness and grief.
Talking about old parents with alienated and indifferent descendants, the first half of the film may remind the audience of Yasujiro Ozu's film made in 1953, Tokyo Monogatari. The six hugging-or-massage (by family members and strangers) scenes and the father's harmonious relationships with his daughter's girlfriend and a Japanese girl successfully highlight the poor relationship between the father and his children.
The second half in which the main character embarks on a reflective journey in search of traces of the deceased love captures the mood of Lost in Translation and Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles. The cultural shock experienced also makes the film distinguishable from Under the Sand.
Cherry blossoms and Mount Fuji symbolize the fleeting and unpredictable nature of life. The film delivers a message that we should treasure the people around us, pursue our dreams and enjoy life to the full so that we will have no regrets. Besides, it is also about the main character's inability to communicate with not only the dead, but also the living family members. Butoh, a Japanese dance, helps people to feel and establish connections with others. What's more, the audience can pay attention to the symbolic meaning of the drawings at the beginning of the film and the photos at the end.
The cinematographer and the composer also succeed in evoking different tones from several shooting locations in Germany and Japan. The suburbs contrast sharply with the hustle and bustle of city life. Apart from the haunting visual images and the Japanese music playing upon the audience's heartstrings, the characters are so lifelike and well-acted that the audience will care about what happens to them.
On the whole, although Cherry Blossoms is a bit too long, without emotional bludgeoning or syrupy manipulation, it is a sincerely made road movie producing, in a whisper, emotional resonance and reflective ripples. 4.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 84% Positive
IMDB: 7.7 / 10
Metacritic: Generally favorable reviews
* 德國知名女導演 Doris Dorrie 的「日本三部曲」:《Cherry Blossoms》《Enlightenment Guaranteed》《The Fisherman and His Wife》
* Doris Dorrie認為日本人深明世事總是短暫瞬變的，他們對每個細節都一絲不苟，以及抱有欣賞和讚美的態度，並從每事每物中找到令人感觸及喜悅的地方，將個人與外在的世界融合為一，這些日本精神對她在電影創作上的發展，以至人生觀都有深遠的影響。
* Doris Dorrie深受日本大導演小津安二郎Yasujiro Ozu影響，他的作品主題離不開「家庭」，而《快樂的傷逝》的靈感乃來自小津1953年的作品《東京物語》（Tokyo Monogatari）。
* 舞踏（Butoh），起源於日本二戰後的重建期間，由「舞踏之父」土方巽（Tatsumi Hijikata）及大野一雄（Kazuo Ohno）開創，是對未知事物進行深層思考的一種舞蹈，與日本傳統舞蹈無任何關聯。它沒有一定的表演形式，較屬於個人身心的修練，由舞者依其想像力開發自我特有的舞蹈形態，就像與影子跳舞般，透過舞姿描繪及展現光與影、生與死等概念。導演黛莉絲杜麗首次接觸舞踏，是在電視上看到一段大野一雄表演舞踏的紀錄片，舞者身穿女人的服裝、手執鮮花、慢動作的舞姿令黛莉絲看得出神，她後來更在德國找到一位日本舞踏家，學習這種舞蹈。
500 Days of Summer (心跳500天) is a refreshing rom-com with a very charming cast and some memorable scenes. The film keeps going back and forth in time, which helps show the big contrasts. It could be better if the delivery of the message can be strengthened and the reason for the girl's change can be shown. 4 / 5
Joon-ho Bong, the director of the Host and Memories of Murder, never disappoints. Mother (骨肉同謀) is a gripping, splendidly acted, darkly suspenseful and beautifully shot murder mystery with a witty and unpredictable twist. Some ghostly, violent & guilt confronting scenes will send a chill down your spine. Kenji: 4.5 / 5 - IMDB: 8.2 / 10 - Rotten Tomatoes: 92 / 100
Old Partner (牛鈴之聲), a Korean documentary, is not a tear jerker. However, I am afraid it cannot move the audience either because of the main character's willingness to sell his cow, his indifference to his wife and the images of poor quality. Nevertheless, the old man resembles the old cow in many ways, which may make the audience ponder on the meaning of life at the end of the film. 3 / 5 Love Exposure (愛之剝脫) is a four-hour Japanese independent cult movie creatively and playfully mixing many elements: religion, family, romance, humor, gore, lust, etc. Although the ending is a bit disappointing because it seems to me that the director does not know how to end the film, it is on the whole a very entertaining ride with messages. Throughout the film, viewers are exposed to some sickening parts of the Japanese culture. 4 / 5
Air Doll (援膠女郎) is a poetic, unhurried, beautifully shot and poignant movie on the emptiness of city life. One of the themes is that city dwellers resemble air dolls. Lacking souls and uniqueness, they can be easily replaced by others as everyone is the same. Sometimes, city dwellers (e.g. the two shopkeepers of the video store) even exploit each other. Degrading themselves by treating each other as functional objects, they will be forgotten once they become useless. After one dies, he is only a piece of garbage. Moreover, some of the city dwellers prefer to live alone and sometimes they feel lonely. Indeed, everyone should have companions. DVDs gradually replacing cinemas also indicates that people nowadays prefer solitude. Apart from these, the film implies that people find money and sex more important than love and communication. For instance, a man prefers an air doll to a real woman and even a little girl prefers a valuable ring to a doll given by her mother. Also, the movie is about ageing and the cycle of life (from winter to spring). Perhaps we should learn from the air doll who tries to appreciate life (e.g. looking at the stars, enjoying the breathtaking scenery in the city, having unrequited love for the guy). She is already more humane and positive than other real human characters. The movie reminds me of Lars and the Real Girl, Artificial Intelligence, Enchanted, Cyborg She and Toy Story, but Air Doll is more poetic and sex-oriented. Korean actress Doona Bae, starring in The Host and Linda Linda Linda, gives a convincing and dazzling performance. The fairy-tale and lonely music by World's End Girlfriend also wrenched at my heart. Although the movie would be more substantial if other minor characters were further developed and connected, they illustrate how lonely and alienated city dwellers are. Hirokazu Koreeda is one of my favorite directors and his previous movies like Maborosi, Nobody Knows and Still Walking are highly recommended. 4.5 / 5
Jalainur (扎賚諾爾) 2.5 / 5
The Message (風聲) is a gripping, entertaining and exciting movie with a well-crafted plot, a brilliant cast, scenes of great tension and an unpredictable ending. 4 / 5
John Rabe 拉貝日記 3 / 5 --- City of Life and Death is much better.