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Eri Eri rema sabakutani / Eli Eli Lema Sabachthani / My God My God Why Hath Thou Forsaken Me?

Eli Eli Lema Sabachthani (2005)

I wonder where he plugged all those things

Director: Aoyama Shinji
Writers: Aoyama Shinji
Date: 2005

Genre: Nothing?
Description: Lemming Syndrome, noise, suicide, life and death, loneliness, music

Cast: Asano Tadanobu, Miyazaki Aoi, Okada Mariko, Nakahara Masaya

Crew of note: Music by Nagashima Hiroyuki, Cinematography by Tamura Masaki

Runtime: 107 mins.
Color: Color
Trivia: Asano plays the f’n guitar, and those are real sounds

Lemming Syndrome! People infected with this mysterious virus suddenly feel the urge to kill themselves, which will eventually mean the end of the world in the most depressing and emptying way possible. But, there’s hope! Two experimental musicians may have a cure: noise music. Does it blast your brain’s senses and knock the virus out? Does the frequency of their aural onslaught resonate and destroy the virus? Or maybe voluntarily listening to their music for extended periods of time should be medically considered suicide. Whatever dudes, they rock!

[summary continue] Hana, a girl stricken with Lemming Syndrome, is brought to Mizui and Asuhara in hopes of ridding her of her suicidal tendencies. Stuff happens very, very slowly, and then everyone rocks out. The End.

Okay, it might not be that simple, but that’s already a fairly complete outline, minus possible spoilers. The movie really is quite minimal.. but the pictures are beautiful, and the soundtrack is superb. This is a viruszombieapocalypse movie minus the action, minus the escape, minus the drama, and instead focuses on the implications of a world slowly emptying itself of humanity. Include other favorites of philosophical discourse–suicide, art, beauty, chicks (Miyazaki Aoi <3)–and you get a recipe for.. well, probably a headache. This is a film that requires participation: interpret, contemplate, philosophize. In between bouts of raging air guitar.

Many people with stamp this with the “too experimental” hazard, but I disagree. The plot is fairly linear, though very minimal; dialogue is sparse as well. The only thing that may hold back some viewers is the presence of Mizui and Asuhara’s noodling with instruments, but if you can get past that, and perhaps even enjoy it (like Hana, in the end), this can be a joy for your eyes, ears, and mind. It has all the philosophical trappings of the best virus/zombie/apocalypse films, with an emphasis on dis/connection, loneliness, and music. But best of all, it has the most badass concert in all of cinema.

things to take note of
The color (yellow and earth tones)
The importance of the music
The silence in between
Meaning? Symbolism? I bet it’s somewhere

best moment
The concert! m/ m/

why you should watch this
If you like noise or experimental music, this will be bliss
Asano Tadanobu + Miyazaki Aoi
Amazing music, amazing cinematography

rating: 9.25 (or 6 if you can’t stand the noiz)

Plot: B
Cast: B
Cinematography: B+
Music: A
Entertainment: B+

similar movies, maybe:
Electric Dragon 80,000 Volts directed by Ishii Sogo, with Asano
Maybe other zombie/virus films, but this really is unique

Yurika / Eureka

Yurika / Eureka (2000)

Possibly: Ray-ban models after their limo breaks down

Director: Aoyama Shinji
Writers: Aoyama Shinji
Date: 2000

Genre: Drama
Description: Moving on, life after a tragedy, busjacking, murder, whodunnit, road movie, quiet characters, learning to live, rediscovering life

Cast: Yakusho Koji, Miyazaki Aoi, Miyazaki Masaru, Saito Yoichiro, Mitsuishi Ken, Ono Machiko, etc.

Crew of note: Jim O’Rourke and Aoyama, along with Yamada Isao and Albert Ayler, scored the movie

Runtime: 217 mins. (yes, 3 hours and 40 minutes)
Color: Sepia-toned BW. Or does that count as color?
Trivia: Helpless (1996) by Aoyama is somewhat of an unconnected prequel, and Sad Vacation (2007) ties both together

Kozue and Naoki, two kids off to school one day, get on Makoto’s bus and take a seat in the back. Wrong place at the wrong time I suppose, as a crazed busjacking madman holds all the passengers hostage with a gun. A shoot out ensues, and only Makoto, Kozue and Naoki survive. Faced with the pressure of raising two traumatized children, their mother decides to leave their home, leaving them with no parents. Makoto, filled with inexplicable emotions that resemble guilt and disenchantment, visits the children only to discover that they are alone. He decides to stay, and they try to rediscover life after their shared tragedy.

3:40. It may seem like a daunting number, or an over-indulgent one. But truly, this is a movie that deserves to be even longer. Deep, quiet, somber.. all these words can describe this film. But the entire movie moves with so little words that it seems unfair to pin it with them. The two children barely speak, yet everything they do and everything that happens to them, is a voice of so much more meaning. The characters are some of the most human you will ever meet on screen: sincere, honest, fragile, conflicted… never over-wrought or contrived. They are never perfect; in fact they are often quite frustrating, but it is impossible not to feel a genuine concern for them. I can’t even say enough about Miyazaki Aoi, who is stunning in this film.

The sepia-toned black and white with slow, barely moving shots (mostly stills and slow panning shots) are similar to the pace and characters. Beautiful and meaningful, of course. Music is sparse yet effective. If you know who Jim O’Rourke is, and if you’ve watched other Aoyama movies, you know the music will be a treat.

This is truly about life, the courage to live on, and the process of rediscovering yourself and your life after tragedy. The minor episodes that make up the rest of their lives should be seen and not anticipated by reading a review. I have not yet seen another movie with such a theme that rivals this, and it truly deserves its running time. Many consider this to be a depressing film, but it more frequently made me smile watching their endless days unfold. I’ve babbled so far; if only silence could be adequately conveyed with words.

If you have 3:40 worth of free time, with absolutely no distractions, WATCH THIS MOVIE. Best with a good pair of headphones in a quiet room.

things to take note of
How the color affects the over-all appearance of the film
The two kids’ faces
Miyazaki Aoi

best moment
Is it wrong if I say I love Miyazaki Aoi?

why you should watch this
One of the most beautifully colored films evar
Miyazaki Aoi’s silent performance
It doesn’t feel like 3:40
Humanistic. Maybe even inspiring?

rating: 9

Plot: B+
Cast: A
Cinematography: A
Music: B
Entertainment: B

similar movies, maybe:
Gaichu / Harmful Insects by Shiota Akihiko (also with Miyazaki Aoi)
Riri Shushu no subete / All About Lily Chou-Chou by Iwai Shunji
9 Souls by Toyoda Toshiaki because they ride in a bus?



November 2020