Hirokazu Koreeda’s After the Storm breaks your heart in that particular way that your family can break your heart through the most trivial moments. This Japanese drama, which we screened on Friday night at Carbon Arc, tells the bittersweet story of a man who yearns for the past. Ryota, played by Hiroshi Abe, is a divorced man still in love with his ex-wife, a novelist who has never again achieved the success of his first book, a father who can hardly pay the child support needed to see his son, a freelance detective and unlucky gambler. In one scene in the film, Ryota’s son asks him if he grew up to be who he wanted to be when he was younger and Ryota responds, “I’m not who I want to be yet.” This, perhaps, is the theme of the film.
A typhoon brings Ryota’s estranged family together under one roof for a night. The unforced, intimate dialogue between characters who love each other, who are hurt by each other, who can’t do more for each other, offer a tattered family portrait of a tattered family. Humour and pain both break through in these conversations and it is the complex relationships between characters that hold the film together. After the Storm is quiet, meditative and melancholic.
- Chelsea Rozansky
The Halifax Cat Rescue Society joined us to fundraise at our third sold-out screening on Saturday night. Kedi seems to be receiving the warmest welcome of any film Carbon Arc has screened yet! If these are to be taken as worthy indicators, it seems that the cat love is strong here in our hometown. Cats may be treated uniquely in Turkey, but the bond is apparently international.
I know what you’re thinking: why would I watch a movie about cats when Youtube exists? No disrespect to the wonders of the internet, a seemingly endless source of adorable and zany feline feats, but these cat videos tend to lack both style and substance. The production value is low and the pleasure is fleeting. This is not so for Kedi. Ceyda Torun’s documentary film follows the story of seven Turkish cats and the humans who love them. However, these cats are not pets; they are the free-roaming descendants of cats who came aboard ships from all over the world to make a home in Turkey. These creatures are distinct, but not entirely dissimilar to that of sacred cows; they are to be cared for, but their independence is to be respected.
This is perhaps one of the greatest lessons one can learn from the film – how to care for something or someone without ownership. Whether interacting with nature or humans this lesson is indispensable. In the case of the former, the parallels are evident, but subtle. The cats are placed in an increasingly precarious position by urban modernization. In a busy street marketplace with shop owners familiar with the creatures, cats are familiar, safe, and taken care of. Once construction begins to establish malls and supermarkets, this is not the case. The consequences of human progress’s inconsideration leave nature in a lurch, just as these cats are left.
The personal aspect of this lesson is similarly subtle, but clear nonetheless. Some of the human participants in the film leave details ambiguous, but seem to have troublesome relations to family and loved ones. One man in particular demonstrates and enthusiastically discusses his nurturing relationship to the street cats in his life. When he is asked about his human family, he becomes more reserved. It is as though the cultural status of these cats commands a respect which allows humans to form bonds on healthier terms, creating a therapeutic relationship which they can hopefully learn from in their human interactions. Perhaps After the Storm’s Ryota should try caring for a cat…
I know what you’re thinking now: all of your waxing philosophical is great, but I don’t love cats for their cutting cultural commentary! Worry not, dear reader! This is all presented in a nuanced and often unspoken fashion in the film. Front and center here are the stars, the wonderful cats. Torun and her crew employ everything from handheld kitty cams, to night vision, to drone footage to create what feels like an excellent nature documentary on creatures we are used to seeing domesticated. Whether these cats are pawing at restaurant windows, fighting the new cats in town, or visiting their favourite humans, they remain charming and endearing. They’re handsome, absurd, and a wonder to behold. The film captures the minutiae of the cats lives while also feeling somewhat epic in the grand cityscapes in which they climb, roam, and burrow. You haven’t seen a cat video like this, I promise.
- Nick Malbeuf
Most often films dealing with illness tell you stories with very little hope, but this is completely not the case with Casey Cohen’s A Matter of Time where you’re left feeling overwhelmingly moved by the legacy Lynn Calder had left behind when she passed in 2009 after her two-year battle with ALS.
Kathryn Calder’s story is one filled with a series of incredible events, from starting out in the successful indie-pop group Immaculate Machine with support from her mother, to the entire story that lead to her becoming a member of one of the biggest Canadian groups of all time, The New Pornographers. The fact that Lynn was able to reconnect with her biological family after such a long time was arguably the most amazing part of the story. We then go from watching a family thriving and happy to all of a sudden having everything ripped out from underneath as the Calder family learns of Lynn’s ALS diagnosis. This is where you would expect to be thrown into a world of sadness, instead you watch as Kathryn along with her huge support system work to make Lynn’s last years as special as possible, and succeed fully. The album produced is beautiful and personally the title Are You My Mother? felt very fitting as Kathryn herself seems to be everything that her mother was; talented, selfless, and giving.
The film was filled with gorgeous footage of life in Western Canada and the choice to use the device of recreation for the shots of Kathryn and Lynn were done perfectly and made your connection to their story even stronger even if you, like myself, don’t have any particular experience with that type of situation. It also helped to have the back story of Lou Gehrig as context, and as Gehrig said in 1939, “I close in saying that I might have been given a bad break, but I've got an awful lot to live for.”.
- Hillary West
Don’t forget to join us this Friday, April 7th for two new exciting features! After playing Cannes, TIFF, and most recently Sundance, along with garnering an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Film, we have Ma Vie de Courgette at 7pm. Then at 9pm is another Cannes-premiered film, A House on 41st Street. As with all of our special presentations of Iranian films, tickets will be $13 for this screening. Then next week, we have the documentary David Lynch: The Art Life, the critically-acclaimed documentary about the world-renowned filmmaker and artist. Get your tickets early, because it will be a popular one!