Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Slamdance ’17: Kuro
the expat’s life in Paris sounds romantic, but Romi (short for Hiromi) a former
home-care nurse from Japan, is probably too profoundly haunted by memory and
karma to properly enjoy it. We watch her tend to her paraplegic lover Milou in
vignettes and Ozu-like pillow shots while she recounts an earlier incident from
their lives together in Tokyo. As its ironic significance emerges, the tale
takes a macabre turn in Joji Koyama & Tujiko Noriko’s Kuro, which screens during the 2017 Slamdance Film Festival.
is a strange relationship between words and images in Kuro. In Romi’s story, Milou lives an active lifestyle and very
much still has full command of his limbs. Yet, there seems to be a tragic logic
to his current condition, given what transpired with Romi’s former patient, Mr.
Ono (or Kuro, as she eventually calls him). Initially, she and Ono had very a
pleasant relationship. Granted, he has his eccentricities, but she tolerates
and even encourages them. However, when the scuffling Milou moves into Romi’s
room in Ono’s flat (without prior agency approval), it destabilizes the
balance. Instead of complaining or ratting them out, Mr. Ono’s response is
is hard to describe the experience of watching Kuro. Frankly, it takes a bit of time to acclimate to, but it is worth
the effort. No matter how “real” the story Romi narrates happens to be within Kuro’s diegetic reality, it is darkly
compellingly. Technically, Kuro probably
fits under a broad experimental rubric, but it really hooks viewers and reels
though they are not “in synch,” or perhaps especially so, co-director-co-producer-score
composer Tujiko gives two truly great performances as Romi, both through her
eerie voice-overs and the hunting scenes of her in Paris, clearly carrying the
weight of great sadness and regret. Singularly named musician Jackie is also
unusually convincing as the physically and spiritually broken Milou.
As one would hope, given their backgrounds in
graphic arts and animation, the filmmakers have a keen visual sense. Yet, they
are doing considerably more than just frame shots. There is a subtle
gamesmanship to the film, encompassing shifts in first and third person
narration and tantalizing moments when audio and video appears to link up, only
to become untethered again. Throughout the film, they encourage viewers to make
assumptions and then question those assumptions soon thereafter. It sounds
frustrating yet the net effect is genuinely transfixing. Highly recommended for
adventurous viewers, Kuro screens
again today (1/23) as part of this year’s Slamdance in Park City.
Labels: Slamdance '17, Tujiko Noriko