December 22, 2006


MEMORIES OF MATSUKO I was threatening to do a "Best of" list yesterday and I promise that I gave it a fair shot. But, to be honest, it's too early for someone in the US to have seen enough Asian movies from 2006 to give them a ranking or to pick favorites. But there is one thing that I'm sure of, the way I'm sure that the earth spins around the sun. It's an opinion that is not going to change unless I see a movie where halfway through god crawls out of the celluloid and gives me a big wet kiss.

MEMORIES OF MATSUKO is the best movie of 2006. From any country.

I saw it in a crummy tape viewing room at Pusan and I cried like a baby. From Nakajima Tetsuya, whose first film was KAMIKAZE GIRLS, it's been alternately described as "MOULIN ROUGE meets CITIZEN KANE" or "THE LIFE OF OHARU meets MOULIN ROUGE" but this kaleidoscopic explosion of pathos, bathos, musical numbers, cartoon characters, prostitution, murder, daddy love, sexual humiliation and porn defies any description.

It had me at its opening voice-over which says, "All our lives we follow our dreams. But very few people ever achieve them." And then the movie dedicates its mouth-meltingly beautiful production to the life of a normal person, like most of us, whose dreams are bigger than their abilities. It was human, it was surprising, and it was like no movie I'd ever seen before. Sometimes it all comes together, and when it does it's called MEMORIES OF MATSUKO.

December 22, 2006 at 01:35 PM in Film Reviews | Permalink


Has this film been released on any English-subtitled DVD? Thx.

Posted by: GH | Dec 22, 2006 2:34:12 PM

Japanese DVD does not seem to have English subs. Sorry...

Posted by: Michi | Dec 22, 2006 6:15:44 PM

but the film has been certified for release in HK, so you should see a HK DVD of it with english subtitles, and I kind of expect it to pop-up before the end of january 2007. the HK DVD of 'kamikaze girls' arrived so unexpectedly, complete without english titles (cracking film though) and disappeared off peoples radar so quickly that it wasn't until the american release that a lot of people clocked onto it...

Posted by: logboy | Dec 23, 2006 2:10:49 AM

I find that interesting you say that Grady.

Your Variety compatriot Russell Edwards wrote, " more likely pic is headed for cult status on ancillary and at Asian-themed fests where style is revered over substance. "

He says "style over substance." You say "it was human."

I'd love to know what I'd say. :D

Posted by: the running man | Dec 23, 2006 12:32:59 PM

I was surprised at Russell's evaluation, but to each his own, as Joan Crawford would say. I heard several people say this flick was too much style and not enough substance, but I don't think there's a hydraulic model at work here (more style = less substance). I think both can be present in enormous doses. Which they are, I think, in MEMORIES.

Posted by: Grady Hendrix | Dec 23, 2006 3:27:21 PM

style over substance is one of those automatic opinions levelled at foreign cinema, particularly more contemporary stuff that has been affected by easier access to technology that looks to bring more flash elements to productions - because such elements cost so much more in very recent times, and because they're familiar things from expensive domestic product from america. i would say foreign films suffers when not integrated into peoples everyday tastes, it's certainly not easy to objectively judge unless you follow its shifts with a close sense of observation - and it's easy to get understandable, but potentially fatally-flawed arguments going against the stuff really easily. still, 'matsuko' may well be style over substance, but i would go with a mix of style over substance for now, because i know a heavy mix is more than possible, i've seen it so many times in some of the most highly revered stuff to ever have some out of america....

Posted by: logboy | Dec 24, 2006 1:42:18 AM

An informative blog, I will definitely try to see Memories of Matsuko sounds great.

Anyhow I've published a top 10 of my own.


Posted by: Edwin | Dec 24, 2006 6:23:15 AM

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