Some movies are nice to watch because you can relate to the characters and/or the situation. You think, ah I know how that feels, I know what it’s like to go through that/have that happen to you/ have a horrible boss, a selfish ex, a nosy step-mother and so on. Others you like to watch because their reality is so far from yours that that is the aspect which hooks you. For me, Grandma the movie was exactly that. Grandma Elle (Lily Tomlin) is a poet, an academic and a widowed lesbian with a twenty something girlfriend. Her daughter is an extremely busy career woman who, too busy for a proper relationship had her daughter through a sperm donor. Elle’s granddaughter Sage is now pregnant, naturally terrified of her mother’s reaction and so, seeking solace in her. Unfortunately for Sage, turns out grandma Elle is broke and complicated.
In other words, the storyline is anything but cliched. In fact, I haven’t really seen much else like it. I recommend it to anyone looking to watch something cool and fresh.
There is dark side to Japan which you won’t get to know by simply sight-seeing Tokyo. Behind the lights, tall-rise buildings and kimonos are literally millions of overworked citizens eating a plain dinner of instant ramen (not just a stereotype) while still wearing their monotonous uniforms, alone, in their crammed match-box apartments in the early hours of the morn.
I had been seeing the red and white movie poster for Kumiko everywhere, all the while thinking that it was a modern remake of little red riding hood, meaning to watch it but never getting around to it. Last night, alone in my apartment, I finally had the chance to and I wish I hadn’t. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great film and by great I mean, so artistically able. Rinko Kikuchi (Kuniko)’s acting is incredible and the cinematography just as good with little dialogue, a gorgeous soundtrack and many many beautiful shots from crowded Japanese subway stations to frozen ski lifts. But, living and working in Japan and watching a movie based around a young individual driven mad by the vicious Japanese work-system just wasn’t good for my soul.
I’d recommend Kumiko to those who enjoy and appreciate the art of film, who are either interested in Japan or and especially for those who have lived and experienced Japan; the good and the bad. Also, to the patient viewer as the build-up is gradual.