Thursday , October 18 2018

Don’t look for truth in courtroom, Japanese thriller suggests – Lee Chang-dong lights up Murakami adaptation ‘Burning’

VENICE, Sept 6, (RTRS): The courtroom is not where you find the truth, Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda shows in his legal drama “The Third Murder”, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival on Tuesday.

The movie, called “Sandome no satsujin” in Japanese, is one of 21 films from around the world competing for the Golden Lion, which will be awarded on Sept 9 after days of screenings, parties and red carpet glamour on Venice’s Lido island.

“Talking with some lawyers … they told me that the court is not the place where you actually search for the truth. This was the starting point of my project”, Kore-eda told journalists.

It tells the story of attorney Shigemori, played by Masaharu Fukuyama, who takes on the defense of murder-robbery suspect Misumi, portrayed by Koji Yakusho, who previously served jail time for a murder he committed 30 years earlier.

The case appears quite straightforward, especially after Misumi voluntarily admits his guilt.

But as Shigemori digs deeper, doubts soon emerge.

The court case is concluded but the truth is never revealed, raising questions about the legal system and whether it is right that some human beings are asked to judge others — questions that go largely unanswered.

“I thought that the most correct thing to do as a director was not to give an answer because there isn’t an answer”, he said. “One just has to think about the choices, the choices of the character in that particular instance”.

Most of the key scenes are set in an interview room in jail, where Shigemori interrogates his client, sitting opposite him with only a glass wall between them.


Kore-eda said that what at first seemed a very static setting soon turned out to be a great way to emphasise the emotional turmoil of the two characters, especially as their physical movements are limited.

Unlike a regular crime story, which starts with a mystery that is resolved as the story unfolds, Kore-eda sought “to give this idea of ambiguity, of vagueness that the lawyers themselves perceive … once the verdict has been handed down”.

“So they remain in that sense of uncertainty and vagueness, and it is my hope that the public, the viewer, would remain with this sense of vagueness”, he said.

Top Korean auteur, Lee Chang-dong has set “Burning” as the first film he will direct in some eight years. The picture is an adaptation of the short story “Barn Burning”, written by Japan’s “Norwegian Wood” author Haruki Murakami, and first published in The New Yorker.

The film is to be produced by Lee’s Pine House, Now Films and Oh Jung-wan’s Bom Films Production. It will star actor Yoo Ah-in (“The Throne”) as one half of a mysterious couple that a writer meets at a party. In the story, the man claims to be an arsonist, and last year Lee described the project as a mystery thriller.

“It is a story about young people in today’s world. When they think of their lives and this world it must feel like a mystery”, Lee said at the Busan festival last year.

Pine House was previously in talks with actor Kang Dong-won (“Veteran”, “Woochi”) for another role. The actress for the lead female role, has not yet been finalized. Production starts later this month.

It had been set to begin in November last year, but was held up by a dispute between Murakami and Japanese broadcaster NHK, which owns rights to many Murakami works.

Lee, who was also Korea’s minister of culture between 2003-04, has a stellar track record as a director of challenging art movies. He won the silver lion at Venice in 2002 for “Oasis”, and the screenplay award at Cannes in 2010 for “Poetry”, his most recent film as director. His “Secret Sunshine” earned Jeon Do-yeon the best actress award at Cannes in 2007.


LOS ANGELES: “Her Love Boils Bathwater” has been selected as Japan’s contender for the foreign language film Oscar.

Directed by Ryota Nakano, the film is drama about a terminally ill woman’s determination to put her affairs in order and set her daughter on the right path. This is a first-time Academy Awards race selection for Nakano, whose only previous feature was the 2013 family drama “Capturing Dad”.

Released in Japan in October of last year, with Klockworx distributing, the film won an array of Japanese awards. Among its six Japan Academy prizes were best picture, best director and best actress honors, the last going to lead Rie Miyazawa.

The nomination was selected by a committee under the auspices of the Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan.




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