By Monday I had been doubly traumatised (see previous post) by powerful films, and vowed to see more comedies next year. So seeing my next film on the schedule was The Great Passage, a Japanese comedy-drama about compiling a dictionary, I was much relieved. I am a linguistic geek. More of a phonetics geek (hence the moniker), but yep, I love all the words. So, watching a film about compiling a dictionary is combining two of my great loves (film/language). Our hero Majime (which means diligent) is a charming geek working at a publisher’s office. When the dictionary editor decides to retire, they need a replacement, and Majime is plucked from his sales job to work on the new dictionary. Majime (Ryuhei Matsuda) is probably the most awkward, socially inept leading man you are going to see in a film for a long time. He doesn’t know how to speak to girls, and rarely says the right thing to anyone at the right time, leading to much cringing hilarity. But he is true to his name and after falling for his landlady’s granddaughter, his life falls into place and The Great Passage (a new modern dictionary) is eventually published. The film is gently amusing, with some classic over-the-top Japanese slapstick, but I did feel throughout that something was lost in translation. The English language is so different from Japanese in sound and form that it’s unavoidable that there would be some omission. But maybe that’s my linguistic reflexes kicking in. Maybe some Japanese speakers could confirm my suspicions.
In the evening I saw Exhibition, Joanna Hogg‘s examination of an artist couple in the process of selling their home. D (Viv Albertine of The Slits) has a strong attachment to the house, and appears to be trying to stall the process, as her relationship with H (Liam Gillick) goes through a sticky patch. The house itself is a major character in the feature, with its stylish sliding doors, block colours, and sparse, minimal furniture. Recurring visual motifs included the spiral staircase and horizontal lines, which reminded me of Tubbs from the League of Gentlemen. The film studies the relationship of the couple and their relationship with the house. D is seen curled around a rock in the garden, H wants to erect a gate saying “Fuck Off” by the parking space. Their sex life is a source of frustration for both partners, and is played out exceptionally by the lead actors. I left the film wondering what happened next when they moved out, and that can only be to the film’s credit. Plus, Tom Hiddleston.
Image via Indiewire