5 August 2017

THE MOURNING FOREST. (2007) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.



THE MOURNING FOREST (MOGARI NO MORI). (2007) DIRECTED BY NAOMI KAWASE. STARRING MACHIKO ONO, SHIGEKI UDA AND YOICHIRO SAITO.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

'Grief seeks relief in beautifully mounted but thoughtful mood piece from Japan's Naomi Kawase.'
Eureka Entertainment.

Wow, this Japanese drama is an unusual one. The titular forest is possibly the most beautiful one you'll ever see on-screen. They could just have walked a camera through its fantastic entanglement of trees and bushes and hidden little pathways and streams and I personally would have been as happy as Larry. Certain elements of the plot were slightly more disturbing, though.

The story is as follows. Machiko and Shigeki, who both seem to be called by their real-life names, which is interesting, are the two main characters. Machiko is a young (female) nurse at the nursing home where Shigeki (male) is an elderly resident.

The nursing home is set high up in the hills of Japan, in the most gloriously green countryside you could ever imagine. For miles and miles around, all you can see is just this fabulous expanse of green fields and trees and gorgeous blue sky. Even when it's raining, it would still all look marvellous. What a wonderful place to live out your twilight years!

I'm telling you guys now, this is the kind of place where I'd want to be put when I'm old and delusional and prone to occasional bouts of naked food-shopping. Fresh air and sunlight and the wind rustling in the tree-tops, that's what I want for the Autumn of my years. Relatives of mine, kindly take note. Knowing my rotten luck, I'll probably be stuck in 'the bad home from SIXTY MINUTES...!' That's a reference to THE SIMPSONS, by the way.

Anyway, not everyone at the nursing home is blissfully happy and content to wallow in the peaceful and tranquil surroundings. Nurse Machiko is still mourning the death of her little boy, whom we gather died in an accident for which Machiko- and her grief-stricken husband- still blames herself. As if a loved one dying wasn't bad enough, to feel responsible for their death into the bargain must be a pain that never goes away.

Shigeki is a widower still mourning the death of his wife after thirty-three years, proving that there's no limit to the length of time you can grieve for someone. According to certain religious and/or spiritual beliefs, her thirty-third year of being dead is the year she is finally taken home to be with her lord Buddha. She can even appear, just once more, to the living before taking that final shadowy path up to Heaven at last.

A curious bond develops between Machiko and Shigeki. Their joint sense of loss unites them in a way that folks who hadn't experienced similar losses probably wouldn't understand. The annoyingly playful Shigeki makes much of the fact that Machiko's name is similar to his deceased wife's (Mako), and he singles Machiko out to be the butt of his irritating and sometimes dangerous or violent jokes.

I confess to not liking the character of Shigeki very much. I dislike his gap-toothed grin and his silly 'jokes.' I find him a bit creepy, too. Machiko herself is a bit drippy and mopey. Even though she's borne a terrible loss, does she have to look so flippin' gormless all the time?

Life sweeps her up as surely as the current that may have drowned her son took him away from her, and she just drifts along with it without ever seeming to take control. Oh, miaow! I must have given free rein to my inner critic there for a minute without realising it, haha.

Anyway, in a move which I find slightly unbelievable, Machiko is allowed to take the unpredictable and therefore possibly dangerous Shigeki out of the home for the day for a
drive. The second they have the almost inevitable car trouble, though, Shigeki legs it into the nearby forest, forcing Machiko to follow him.

At first, it's all a great big game and they're feeding each other squishy watermelon out of each other's grubby hands. (Eeuw...!) But then night falls and it's clear that the two kookiest characters to ever be let out of a nursing home for the day are going to have to spend the night in the forest, a forest that looks beautiful by day but which can be awfully menacing by night...

The film has been described as both 'a beautiful and contemplative portrait of grief' and 'a hauntingly beautiful, symbolically rich masterpiece.' The forest is certainly the most photogenic one I've ever seen, pretty much ever, and there's no doubt that the trek into the woods is supposed to be an uplifting journey, at the end of which the bereaved find healing and a way back to happiness and the land of the living.

But does Machiko really need to whip her bra off and rub her bare-nekkid titties against the old man's unclothed back in the dead of night, even if body heat is the most effective way of keeping warm in the cold? 

I mean, is the director trying to make it seem as if the distinctly odd couple are bonding sexually as well, which would be a bit gross, given that she's married and he's a bit doddery and even senile, or is it all just perfectly innocent and natural, just two people with a common grief trying to survive a night in the woods? I'll leave you guys to make up your own minds. I ain't sayin' nuthin' 'bout dat no-how...!

The Masters of Cinema Series, in conjuction with EUREKA ENTERTAINMENT, is proud to present the film for the first time ever on Blu-ray, in a special Dual Format edition, on 21st August 2017.

Available to order from:
Amazon http://amzn.to/2t67tQG

DUAL FORMAT SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES:

Stunning 1080p presentation on the Blu-ray, with a progressive encode on the DVD
Uncompressed PCM audio on the Blu-ray
High Definition Stills Gallery
PLUS: A booklet featuring a statement from Kawase made at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, alongside stills from the films production


ABOUT EUREKA ENTERTAINMENT


Eureka Entertainment is the leading independent distributor of classic silent/early films in the UK, its existing catalogue also contains World Cinema, Action, Horror, Sci-Fi, Indie Dramas, Hollywood Classics, Comedy and Thriller films as well as a wide selection of TV titles, providing the diversity and selection necessary to continue to satisfy today’s market demands and to power the digital video revolution for years to come.

MASTERS OF CINEMA


In 2004, Eureka! established the Masters of Cinema Series, a specially curated Blu-ray and DVD collection of classic and world cinema using the finest available materials for home viewing.  Films are presented in their original aspect ratio, in meticulous transfers created from recent restorations and / or the most pristine film elements available.  The feature presentations are frequently supplemented by short films, documentaries, commentary tracks, deleted scenes, trailers, plus new and vintage footage. Each release also includes an accompanying booklet featuring rare imagery, newly commissioned essays and / or classic writings that take the reader further into the process of the films and the personalities of the filmmakers.  Titles that have been showcased within the series include Metropolis (1927, Lang), Touch of Evil (1958, Welles), Paths of Glory (1957, Kubrick), Kes (1969, Loach), A Touch of Zen (1971, Hu) and Shoah (1985, Lanzmann).

EUREKA CLASSICS

In 2014, Eureka! established Eureka! Classics to highlight a broader selection of cinema, with each release guided by similar principles to its award winning The Masters of Cinema Series. Titles released under Eureka! Classics range from influential cult films such as Blacula(1972Crain), The Skull (1965, Francis) and Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964, Haskin), alongside beloved classics like Born Free (1966, Hill), Cocoon (1985, Howard) and Fright Night (1985, Holland). 

MONTAGE PICTURES

In 2017, Eureka! established Montage Picturesa new world cinema label that celebrates ground-breaking and thought-provoking world cinema from new and upcoming directors. The initial line up will include recent theatrical release Suntan (2016, Argyris PapadimitropoulosGreece), an unpredictable psychological drama, full of suspense and humour, set on a hedonistic Greek Island;Rescue Under Fire [Zona Hostil] (2017, Adolfo Martínez Pérez, Spain), a directorial debut based on events that happened in 2012 in the north of Bala Murghab in Afghanistan.  The film follows the crew of a medical helicopter that suffer an accident when helping a joint force of USA and United Nations troops under Spanish command; Shirley: Visions of Reality (2013, Gustav Deutsch, Austria), a story of a woman, whose thoughts, emotions and contemplations let us observe an era in American history via thirteen of the artist Edward Hopper’s paintings which are brought alive by the film; Kills on Wheels (2016, Attila Till, Hungary) a highly original, darkly comedic and infectious buddy-movie about a wheelchair-bound gang of assassins; and Strangled (2016, Árpád Sopsits, Hungary), a psycho-thriller, based on real-life events, set in the provincial Hungary of the 1960s.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com
























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