Ryusuke Hamaguchi: Everyday Art

  It must be admitted that in recent years, the “door of world cinema” has been opened for Asian directors, so there are Korean director Hong Sang-soo, who has always attracted the attention of international film festival judges, and Hirokazu Kore-eda who won the Cannes Film Festival with “The Thief’s Family”. Bong Joon-ho, who conquered the Cannes Film Festival and the Oscars with his “ruthless” show of strength. Before and after, a Japanese filmmaker has been working hard, finding a delicate balance between drama and film, and using daily life to present extraordinary stories, which contributed to the 179-minute “Driving My Car”, which won Dozens of awards and nominations, including the Cannes Film Festival, Japan’s Cinque Terre Awards and Japan’s Oscars.
  Hamaguchi Ryusuke, who looks simple and simple in image processing, has won all the approval for his way of subverting the secular style of Eastern Ying. This may be the inevitable result of artistic exploration, or perhaps it is a neat turn of the Western world’s aesthetic on Japanese films.
About low cost

  It is true that the success of Hamaguchi Ryusuke was blessed by masters, and his further studies in the Department of Imaging, Tokyo University of the Arts made him fortunate to get to know such big names as Kurosawa Kiyoshi. Since then, he has also relied on short films to polish his skills, so the story of “3·” was born. 11″ “The Storyteller” of “The Sound of the Waves Trilogy” of the Great Earthquake. Because they are limited to “independence”, the budget for each of these “movie newcomers” will not exceed 4 million yen, which means that Hamaguchi can only make films such as “The Appearance of Nothing” and “Guerrilla”. s work. Their characteristics are almost the same – short films, few actors, and single scenes. In order to save as much cost as possible, the director sometimes has to take on the role of the actor.
  The main scenes in “Look Like Nothing” are placed on the train, the station and the bowling alley, almost entirely relying on the dialogue and calm details to support the hidden and complicated love and affection. The year 2003 was the year when Hong Sang-soo’s five-part film “The Virgin’s Heart Sutra” got a good reputation. It was Hirokazu-eda who also used “Next Station, Heaven” and “Distance” to accumulate fame. That is to say, before Hamaguchi Ryusuke became famous, it is no longer new to be compared with Rohmer, to use large dialogues to promote the plot or even to set the tone of a work.
  Apparently, that’s why Hamaguchi Ryusuke still doesn’t mind making low-budget films. Although most directors will taste the “cheese” of a commercial film, but Hamaguchi even handles “commercial” so “independent” that the sense of stubbornness may not even be noticed by him.
Distance from “Commercial Film”

  ”Keeping a distance from purely commercial films” is a pseudo-attitude. As long as the film is successful at the box office, no matter how high or low the film looks, it can be classified as “commercial”. Therefore, Ryusuke Hamaguchi and “commercial films” are by no means incompatible, and even for Japanese films, “blockbusters” that spend money and do a lot of special effects have never been placed in an important position. On the contrary, most of the top ten domestic films in the Eastern Ying box office history are still animated films.
  The relationship between Hamaguchi and the “worldly” is like the modern dance performance of the two teenage protagonists in his short film “Untouchable Skin” in 2013 – they are naked, constantly approaching but never touching. Hamaguchi has his own measure of “distance”. Like Hong Sang-soo, who is often compared to him, he will let the two actors walk and chat along the Tama River in the feature film “Intimacy” until the audience is drawn. Bring it into the dialogue of the people in the play, like an “eavesdropper”. After “eavesdropping” for a long time, it is natural to experience this “immersive” stage performance. According to Hamaguchi himself, this is probably the creative inspiration brought to him by Yang Dechang’s “Guling Street Teenage Murder Case”. Ordinary people’s speech is completely different from the dialogue design in traditional movie scripts. The latter is carefully arranged and requires sentences. Each sentence has a lot of information, while the former is inadvertently throwing out the core of the story in the sloppy boiled water. From this aspect, Hamaguchi’s works are truly seamless with ordinary people.
  Ryusuke Hamaguchi is in close contact with “commercial films”, which is “Night and Night” released in 2018. As we all know, one of the shortcuts for Japanese film and television creation is to adapt best-selling novels, which is an absolute win-win business model. Previously, as an independent filmmaker, several of his novels could not be authorized by the original author. It was not until the “Happy Hour” filmed in 2015 that he was selected as the top ten of the “Film Xunbao” Award, and was also nominated by the Cannes Film Festival, he had a certain capital.
  The popular idol Xiaosheng Toide Masada, who has a near-perfect appearance, the up-and-coming actress Tang Tian Mijia, and the best-selling original light novel by Shibasaki Yuka have contributed to the commercial film “Night and Night” in the strict sense of Hamaguchi. This is a forbidden love story full of “Mary Sue” temperament. The heroine has to make her own choice between her beloved lover and her “substitute” husband who is exactly the same as her lover. If it is placed in the prime time of a certain TV station, it can completely become a dog-blood idol drama, but Hamaguchi has injected different ingredients into it. It still maintains a clean background of dialogue, abandons all the soundtracks that can deliberately set off the atmosphere, and joins the scenes that experienced the “3.11” earthquake, especially Tang Tian Mijia who plays the heroine, the coquettish lurking in the pure skin. Sexuality is exposed, making the film even look French heavy and sad. Interestingly, after the movie was well-recognized, the male and female protagonists of the film were rumored to have an affair, and the male protagonist Masada Toide also ended in divorce.

A still from the three-part movie “Accident and Imagination”.

“Driving My Car” stills. The film won the Best Screenplay Award in the main competition unit of the 74th Cannes International Film Festival.

Masada Higashiide (left) and director Ryusuke Hamaguchi (right) in the movie “Night and Night”. The film was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the 71st Cannes International Film Festival.

  Akira Yamamoto, the producer of “Night and Night”, soon found Hamaguchi again. This time, he hoped that the other party would “compromise” with business completely, so he asked him to try to touch Haruki Murakami. With South Korean director Li Cangdong’s “Burning” in front, Hamaguchi’s choice is not very large, especially Murakami’s novels are mostly fantasy elements, which is not in harmony with Hamaguchi’s “aura”, which has always been pragmatic in filming. . So, he picked the 50-page short story – “Driving My Car”.

  ”Driving My Car” brings Hamaguchi one step closer to “business”, but it is hard to imagine that this “one step away” is just like the second story in his three-part film “Accident and Imagination” The Open Door” – The novelist and professor is alone in a room with a sexy housewife, the door is always open, and the housewife seduces each other by reading the erotic scenes in his novel; the two sides seem to be about to burn, but always maintain an insurmountable short distance.
The “magic” of training actors

  Hamaguchi’s requirements for actors are not the same as other directors. Because of the long shots and long dialogue, many scenes need to be completed in one go, so there is a lot of rehearsal, and even the same scene has to be shot dozens of times to pass. According to his own understanding, it was just a “script reading” before the shooting. The purpose of the reading is not only to familiarize the lines, but also to immerse the actors in the roles. So, we were surprised to find that a 5-hour movie like “Happy Hour” relies entirely on the actors’ opponents to complete the scene. He used all the first-time amateurs, and the 4 main characters who played the main roles had no acting experience. The actresses are all in their 40s, and Hamaguchi spent 5 months getting them to act in front of the camera. The dialogue seems to be improvised, and the storyline is like green shoots that will naturally grow into vines as the lines continue to accumulate.
  The “rich layers” deliberately performed by professional actors will only cause harm in works with a strong sense of daily life. Mostly Hamaguchi had this consciousness and insisted on using amateurs. At the same time, he also showed the tip of the iceberg of his performance workshop in “Happy Hour” – the trainees put their foreheads together to listen to each other’s voices, and form a back-to-back circle to train “heart-to-heart”. You will soon find that these seemingly “positive energy” training sessions are filled with the smell of “conspiracy” brewing ambiguous feelings between members, and this “conspiracy” is also exposed in “Driving My Car” To the fullest.
  This masterpiece that made Hamaguchi Ryusuke world famous tells the story of the progressive friendship between a man who lost his wife and the female driver who drove for him when he went to Hiroshima to rehearse the experimental version of “Uncle Vanya”. Try to let go of some past events. The story has always been about the relationship between people who are close but far away, and who are far but close. Especially in the process from casting to rehearsal of the experimental version of “Uncle Vanya” in the film, the selected actors come from all over the world, including deaf and mute people. ” way of interpreting Chekov’s masterpiece.
  On the surface, this is a new attempt of diversity and inclusion, and the sense of form should win the hearts of the European judges, but inside, it is still “a layer apart”. In the play, the Japanese actor played by Masao Okada and the Taiwanese actress played by Yuan Ziyun could not communicate verbally, and there was no fit during the rehearsal, but it was already a close physical relationship in private. This is the sharp point of Hamaguchi – the boundary between the “sense of disobedience” and the real “sense of fit” is blurred. This is Hamaguchi-style “magic”. It also completely shattered Okada Masao’s previous “idol niche” image, and created a willful, violent and full of desire “heartbeat” in the film.
  Although like Bong Joon-ho, Park Chan-wook and other Asian directors, Hamaguchi Ryusuke has stood at the “top stream” of the Cannes Film Festival, but he may never be “in the same stream” as the Hollywood film and television industry – he clearly recognizes that he does not I am good at shooting those thrilling scenes, and I can only carefully trim the bonsai of “everyday trivia”. From the time he made his first official film at the age of 36 to his success at the age of 36, his film journey has been both short and long. This is extraordinary in the ordinary, and it is also a gesture of filmmakers to maintain independence.