Sunday, March 3, 2024

Wim Wenders’ "Perfect Days" and "Anselm" at SIFF Cinema: Feb 16 - Mar 21

As the director of "Tokyo Ga", few western directors are more qualified or capable to present an account of the daily pleasures and travails of modern Japanese life than Wim Wenders. For what The Guardian called, "Wim Wenders’s Zen Japanese Drama is His Best Feature Film in Years", he has teamed with the incomparable talent of Kōji Yakusho, this year's winner of Best Actor at Cannes, to "Explore a Quiet Life in Tokyo". Through the ambient urban charm of their film, "Perfect Days", Wenders and Yakusho follow the daily rituals and unexpected encounters of Hirayama, a middle-age staff member of The Tokyo Toilet project, in the Shibuya district of the city. As he motors from location to location, listening to predominantly American classic rock on cassette, each of his 17 destinations present new daily alterations and quiet moments of urban situations and social contact. The minimalism of the role, and the focus drawn away from revealing narrative background in relation to the character's personal history were some of the more attractive aspects to its lead, “Limited Lines and Background? Kōji Yakusho Saw the Potential of ‘Perfect Days”. For the spareness and ascetic minimalism of the role, “Japan's Versatile Veteran Kōji Yakusho Won Best Actor at Cannes”. In the place of a biographic tale of Hirayama, we instead observe the continuance of the character's daily rituals and repetition, and the unexpected variables that develop along the course of the days and weeks involved. It is in this way that the film is clearly another of the director's explorations of, "‘All My Films Deal with How to Live’: Wim Wenders on Herzog, Spirituality and Shooting a Movie in 16 Days". In addition to the role, and the fulfilling personal and spiritual components found in exploring it, the film's lead also reflects on the public works project and the world class architects and designers behind it, “‘If God is in Everything, that Includes Toilets’: Kōji Yakusho on Cleaning High-art Restrooms in Wim Wenders’ Perfect Days”.

The city of Tokyo and Shibuya district enlisted such notable names as Fumihiko Maki, Junko Kobayashi, Kashiwa Sato, Kazoo Sato, Kengo Kuma, Marc Newson, Masamichi Katayama, Miles Pennington, Nao Tamura, NIGO®, Shigeru Ban, Sou Fujimoto, Tadao Ando, Takenosuke Sakakura, Tomohito Ushiro and Toyo Ito, to design and realize the accessibility, utility, and pleasure of this public space work. The conception of The Tokyo Toilet project expressed in a statement from The Nippon Foundation; "Japan is known as one of the cleanest countries in the world, and even public toilets have a higher standard of hygiene than in much of the rest of the world. However, the use of public toilets in Japan is limited because of stereotypes that they are dark, dirty, smelly, and uninviting. In cooperation with the Shibuya City government, The Tokyo Toilet project has renovated 17 public toilets in Shibuya to make them accessible for everyone regardless of gender, age, or disability. The toilets were designed by 16 globally recognized architects and designers, who are using their design and creative skills to address social issues". A very different large-scale work of a private, rather than public, work will be explored the following month at SIFF Cinema. The singular unearthly landscape of Anselm Kiefer's 200 acre La Ribaute located in Barjac southern France, home to, "Some of the Most Extraordinary Artworks of the Last Century" is the subject of  "Anselm", Wender's second film of last year. As we journey "Into the Black Forest with the Greatest Living Artist", in the highest technological rendering available 6K, 3D, and Atmos Sound, Wender's presents these works, and some of their construction, in his "Reverent 3D Portrait of Artist Anselm Kiefer". This is framed alongside philosophical musings and the artist's observation's on the century that birthed them, and the resulting, "Artwork that Took 30 Years and 200 Acres to Create".