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Nobody Knows (2004)
18. May 2004 at 05:53
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reviews from guardian and yahoo
---------

Hirokazu Kore-eda is the Japanese director whose breakthrough movie, After-Life, is gradually assuming cult status.

It is a fantasy based on the idea that, after your death, you are asked to recall the most purely happy moment in your life so that it can be eternally re-created for your enjoyment.

His follow-up, Distance - at Cannes in 2001 - was widely considered disappointing.

However, his latest film, Nobody Knows (in Japanese, Daremo Shirinai) is a satisfying reminder of this director's talent for extending a single moment with superbly poised artistry.

Keiko is a single mum with four kids by different fathers, played here by the Japanese columnist and TV personality known simply as You.

Flaky and irresponsible, she effectively sub-contracts parental duties to her eldest boy, 12-year-old Akira (Yuya Yagira) while she takes off with various boyfriends for days at a time.

And then one day she simply never comes back, leaving Akira quite alone with his little sisters Kyoko (Ayu Kitaura), Yuki (Momoko Shimizu) and brother Shigeru (Hiei Kimura).

Akira has to provide for them as best he can while concealing the situation from any adult authority, especially the landlord, who is aware of only one child in their apartment.

The others have had to be smuggled in, hiding in suitcases: a stratagem that is recalled in the movie's terrifying and heart-stoppingly sad ending.

Kore-eda patiently tracks the children's secret existence as un-adult adults, minute by minute, with gentleness and acute observation.

They do not become feral, but maintain, with a weird and moving dignity, the best semblance of family life possible as their flat becomes more and more run down.

They are four souls alone in their own universe, abandoned and unloved like believers whose Creator has turned his back on them.

Kore-eda gets miraculously fresh performances from the children and the film is absorbing, humane and deeply moving.
****

The true story of four children abandoned by their mother to fend for themselves shocked Japan, but it prompted director Hirokazu Kore-eda to imagine the people behind the tabloid headlines.

The result is "Nobody Knows," a sparse and poetic vision of childhood which had hardened critics fighting back tears at the Cannes film festival.

The picture is one of 19 vying for the Palme d'Or best film award following the last-minute addition of documentary "Mondovino" to the competition slate.

Using amateur actors and filming mainly in a cramped Tokyo apartment, the former documentary maker traces the children's descent into neglect but also celebrates moments of joy.

"It is indeed a pretty shocking story, but I did not want to take a journalistic approach to the subject," Kore-eda told a news conference, where some of the younger cast members struggled to peer over their microphones.

"Instead, I wanted to show these children from the inside, what they were going through, the energy they have to survive, their feelings, their closeness," he added.

The siblings all have different fathers and have never been to school. Their landlord and neighbours are unaware of the existence of three of them, who are never allowed to go out.

One day their mother disappears, leaving money and a note asking her eldest son, Akira, to take care of the brood. After a brief visit, she exits their lives forever.

The children do not immediately understand their loss and soldier on. As the money dries up, their life gradually collapses. Water and electricity is cut off and they have to scavenge for food.

In scenes filmed chronologically over a year, the cast, aged from six to 14, give spellbinding performances. Yuya Yagira, who plays Akira, is the focal point of the story, which incorporates real-life details such as the moment when his voice breaks.

Kore-eda did not give his actors a script and kept rehearsals to a minimum to keep the dialogue fresh.

"Neither the children nor myself are sure in this film what is real and what is fiction, whether each person is playing themselves or portraying a character," he said.

In a key scene, the children celebrate spring by venturing outside for the first time in months. But their elation is soon followed by a tragedy that seems inevitable.

Throughout, the adults surrounding them appear unwilling or unable to respond to obvious signs of distress. But Kore-eda refrains from passing judgement, even on the mother.

"I wanted to make the role of the mother very human. I thought that if at the end of the film, people left the movie blaming the mother and saying she was atrocious, then I would have failed," he said.

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Re: daremo shirini  [nobody knows]
Reply #1 - 18. May 2004 at 11:23
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This one sounds interesting, apple, and I'm glad you shared it!   Smiley

I really find this odd, though:

<i>Throughout, the adults surrounding them appear unwilling or unable to respond to obvious signs of distress. But Kore-eda refrains from passing judgement, even on the mother.

"I wanted to make the role of the mother very human. I thought that if at the end of the film, people left the movie blaming the mother and saying she was atrocious, then I would have failed," he said.</i>

If this filmmaker didn't want anyone to blame the mother for being such a bitch and abandoning her children like that, he shouldn't have made the movie.  What kind of idiot filmmaker would want to allow any justification at all for her doing that?  Does he think that makes her "very human"?  Gee, I hope his movie-making career is a short one if he's interested in portraying such abandonment as anything but "atrocious".

Anyway, if he just tells the story, I'm sure that most viewers will still come away with that reaction.  So there.   Tongue

Wink

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Sir J
  
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Re: daremo shirini  [nobody knows]
Reply #2 - 18. May 2004 at 11:33
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Japanese official movie website:

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and the leading boy actor Yuya Yagira:

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Re: daremo shirini  [nobody knows]
Reply #3 - 18. May 2004 at 19:24
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Entertainment
Thursday May 13, 7:21 PM

Children shine in documentary-style Japanese film

By Joelle Diderich

CANNES, France (Reuters) - The true story of four children abandoned by their mother to fend for themselves shocked Japan, but it prompted director Hirokazu Kore-eda to imagine the people behind the tabloid headlines.

The result is "Nobody Knows," a sparse and poetic vision of childhood which had hardened critics fighting back tears at the Cannes film festival.

The picture is one of 19 vying for the Palme d'Or best film award following the last-minute addition of documentary "Mondovino" to the competition slate.

Using amateur actors and filming mainly in a cramped Tokyo apartment, the former documentary maker traces the children's descent into neglect but also celebrates moments of joy.

"It is indeed a pretty shocking story, but I did not want to take a journalistic approach to the subject," Kore-eda told a news conference, where some of the younger cast members struggled to peer over their microphones.

"Instead, I wanted to show these children from the inside, what they were going through, the energy they have to survive, their feelings, their closeness," he added.

The siblings all have different fathers and have never been to school. Their landlord and neighbours are unaware of the existence of three of them, who are never allowed to go out.

One day their mother disappears, leaving money and a note asking her eldest son, Akira, to take care of the brood. After a brief visit, she exits their lives forever.

The children do not immediately understand their loss and soldier on. As the money dries up, their life gradually collapses. Water and electricity is cut off and they have to scavenge for food.

In scenes filmed chronologically over a year, the cast, aged from six to 14, give spellbinding performances. Yuya Yagira, who plays Akira, is the focal point of the story, which incorporates real-life details such as the moment when his voice breaks.

Kore-eda did not give his actors a script and kept rehearsals to a minimum to keep the dialogue fresh.

"Neither the children nor myself are sure in this film what is real and what is fiction, whether each person is playing themselves or portraying a character," he said.

In a key scene, the children celebrate spring by venturing outside for the first time in months. But their elation is soon followed by a tragedy that seems inevitable.

Throughout, the adults surrounding them appear unwilling or unable to respond to obvious signs of distress. But Kore-eda refrains from passing judgement, even on the mother.

"I wanted to make the role of the mother very human. I thought that if at the end of the film, people left the movie blaming the mother and saying she was atrocious, then I would have failed," he said.


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Re: daremo shirini  [nobody knows]
Reply #4 - 18. May 2004 at 23:52
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Thanks for mentioning this, Apple, for the picture, Zork, and for the extra article, Boy55. Smiley

Here's a press photo from the page linked to by Boy55:

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Sir Jacob wrote:

Quote:
If this filmmaker didn't want anyone to blame the mother for being such a bitch and abandoning her children like that, he shouldn't have made the movie. What kind of idiot filmmaker would want to allow any justification at all for her doing that? Does he think that makes her "very human"? Gee, I hope his movie-making career is a short one if he's interested in portraying such abandonment as anything but "atrocious".


Well, I don't think the director is an idiot for wanting his characters to appear human. I'd much rather see an honest movie that presents multi-faceted characters with complex motivations for their actions than the kind of preachy, moralizing, sentimental bullshit most commercial American directors would produce with a story like that. It's not at all unusual for directors to claim that they don't want to pass judgement on their characters. I don't think it means that he condones her actions. I just think it means that he treats her like a human being, which she probably was.
  
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Re: daremo shirini  [nobody knows]
Reply #5 - 19. May 2004 at 01:42
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Hi josephk,
You are very welcome!! I would help and hard work for you or everyone!! I proud of you as sweet!! Thank you so much!!  Wink
  
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Re: daremo shirini  [nobody knows]
Reply #6 - 19. May 2004 at 03:37
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Quote:
Well, I don't think the director is an idiot for wanting his characters to appear human. I'd much rather see an honest movie that presents multi-faceted characters with complex motivations for their actions than the kind of preachy, moralizing, sentimental bullshit most commercial American directors would produce with a story like that. It's not at all unusual for directors to claim that they don't want to pass judgement on their characters. I don't think it means that he condones her actions. I just think it means that he treats her like a human being, which she probably was.


Hehe.  I thought my strong reaction might get a response in defense of the filmmaker. Smiley

Actually, I'm sure his intentions were good.  I just have no tolerance for anyone (mother or father) who runs out on their kids.  I'm sure that I'll watch this movie someday and dislike her immensely, even if she does have the same qualities and foibles that actual "humans" do.  Smiley

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Sir J
  
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Re: daremo shirini  [nobody knows]
Reply #7 - 19. May 2004 at 05:07
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Hi Sir Jacob,
Excuse me, Any problems with my post or anyone against
me? Make sure, Please contract me anytime. Let me know. You know I love our members so much. I would help and cares of our members. Nothing wrong with themselves. Its very truth. I trust All!

Love,
boy55
  
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Re: daremo shirini  [nobody knows]
Reply #8 - 19. May 2004 at 11:43
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<i>Hi Sir Jacob,
Excuse me, Any problems with my post or anyone against me?</i>

Oh gosh, no, boy55, no one's against you, and there certainly wasn't anything wrong with your post. Shocked

I liked it a lot!   Grin

I should have told you so, and I'm sorry.  I'm afraid I don't always respond to every post and tell people "thank you" for them, even though I do appreciate every contribution around here by all of our posters.  I try to say something personally to each one who posts at least occasionally, so they'll know that we all appreciate and read what they've taken the time to share with us.  If I don't do it every time, though, please forgive me for just not having the time to do so, and for not wanting to get to the point where people get tired of me taking up room in the threads constantly just handing out "warm fuzzies".   Grin

A warm fuzzy to ALL of the BoyActors posters today, anyway!  :bigok:

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Sir J
  
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Re: daremo shirini  [nobody knows]
Reply #9 - 19. May 2004 at 22:30
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Thank Sir J so much! (You need to Login or Register to view media files and links)
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I agree with you. It is very true 100%.I bless you!!  Wink
Love,
boy55
  
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Re: daremo shirini  [nobody knows]
Reply #10 - 23. May 2004 at 06:29
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congratulations to the lad - he won best actor award!
---------
Japan teen wins 'Best Actor' at Canne film festival

Yuya Yagira, a 14-year-old Japanese boy from Japan, has won the Best Actor's award in the Cannes film festival for his role in the Japanese movie, "Nobody knows."

Yagira is the first Japanese actor to receive the best actor award and the youngest ever to do so in the history of the prestigious film festival in France, Jiji Press reported from Paris on Sunday.

"I had been tossing up whether to become a soccer player or an actor," Yagira said through a movie distribution company. "Now I have no choice but to pursue an acting career now that I've won such a prestigious award."

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Re: daremo shirini  [nobody knows]
Reply #11 - 23. May 2004 at 09:37
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Very good news. I'm happy to hear that a young actor's talent is being recognized by a festival as prestigious as Cannes, especially since I was bitching in another thread about how child actors are generally ignored.
  
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Re: daremo shirini  [nobody knows]
Reply #12 - 26. May 2004 at 21:54
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One of the last Japanese films I saw (Bokunchi) had the theme of child abandonment in it as well.  ???
An odd theme to be the basis of a film plot.

Here in the US, we know that a topic like this is the basis for a good comedy capable of spawning three sequels   Roll Eyes

I'm pleased to see Yuya get some acclaim from Cannes. I hope this guarantees that this film will make it across the pond for us North Americans to watch this fall.
  
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Re: daremo shirini  [nobody knows]
Reply #13 - 08. Jun 2004 at 08:32
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I think it's interesting that the image the movie company is using to promote the movie is a semi erotic portrait of a boy...  I bet they won't use that pic as a visual promo for American release.

It's wonderful to see a boy win a high level acting award. At the same time I notice that IMBd yet again fails to include a main boy actor in the cast list for a movie. Grrr
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Re: daremo shirini  [nobody knows]
Reply #14 - 08. Jun 2004 at 18:30
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Thank you so much, Apple, Zork, Joseph, et al.
Yuya Yagira is divinely beautiful.  I agree that THAT photo probly won't be used in the States.

I hesitated to reply here since I knew it would be more of my shallow gushing over a boy's looks. But what the hell. Grin  If I get a chance to see this movie I most definitely will.

Japanese boys have beautiful features that are so similar to Native American boys.  I find them extremely appealing, visually.
  
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