I sought out Jean-Luc Goddard's Les Carabiners (1963), because it was on Renata Adler's list of best films from 1968 (it wasn't released in the US until 1968). I thought it was the weakest of his films that I've seen to date. I suspect part of the reason it was so well received in the US was that 1968 saw escalation of the Vietnam war and I suspect this was Goddard's response to escalation in Indochina by the French earlier-America picked up where France left off there. Goddard is trying to show the absurdity of war, but the film comes across as somewhat didactic and obvious to me.
I was pleased to see another craft beer place in Asagaya, Wash1n, on the south side of Asagaya station. This shop has 10 taps and specializes in gyoza. There is a seating charge, but the otoshi, I had was a succulent piece of pork in tomato sauce-not just something thrown together. I tried two types of handmade gyoza-perilla (shiso) and chili-both were excellent. There were several Brimmer beers on tap and I had the Brimmer IPA, ¥850 for a US pint. There are several bottle selections as well. I'll be back.
While looking for Kinji Fukusaku's Graveyard of Honor (1975), I stumbled across Takashi Miike's re-make of the film, Graveyard Of Honor (2002). I was pleased that this was a somewhat restrained act of film making from Miike, who is known for extreme films with over-the-top violence. Which is not to say that there wasn't lots of violence and killing nor misogynist treatment of women, all of that is in the film. In fact it makes me wonder what feminist critics think of Miike, obviously it doesn't matter much to Miike since he has multiple projects taking place simultaneously-it gives me reason to think that he doesn't spend too much time fussing about the subtleties of a script. This film is set in post bubble Japan and is filmed mostly in the Shinjuku area-kabukicho, which brings back memories of the early 00s. Goro Kishitanis is menacing as Ishikawa Rikio, an abusive hit man who goes to jail for a hit where he makes some important connections in the yakuza organization. His only seemingly human relationship is with Chieko (Arimori Narimi), a hostess who becomes his common-law wife - and the target of his abuse. She is waiting for him while he was in prson so they can live out there race to the bottom through depredation via heroin and dissipation. For the next eight years he rises up in the organization before he comes unraveled and unleashes a litany of violence.
Sakamotoya is a Chinese restaurant famous for it's katsudon (¥800). There was a lineup prior to the opening time of 11:30, of 8 people, for the 12 seat shop and everyone ordered the katsudon-and it lived up to expectations-excellent.
Christian Petzold's Phoenix (2014) is a subtle but compelling film. It mysteriously begins with a woman driving a bandaged woman across a check point in postwar Berlin-we quickly learn that is a former singer and concentration camp survivor Nelly Lenz (Nina Hoss). The films dances around the questions of identity, the past, and coming to terms with the new world order of postwar Germany. Nelly's appearance has been dramatically changed due to the injuries she suffered in the camp, but doesn't wan the fresh start that her friend Lene (Nian Kuzendorf) is offering in the Jewish state of Israel. She is obsessed with finding out if her husband Johnny (Ronald Zerhfeld) has betrayed her to the Nazis. It is a fascinating and thrilling story despite the fact that the stakes are fairly small compared to other types of thrillers. The film ends on a unconventional ambiguous note that feels appropriate-this isn't your typical Hollywood fare.
There's a great Turkish restaurant in the shopping mall north of Asagaya station called Izmir, which has a surprisingly modern interior. They serve all the staples and have surprising good bread to eat with the mezze pictured above. We had several dishes including the inevitable doner kebab (below). It was reasonably priced as well.
Claude Berri's (I surprising discovered that he directed 1987's Jean de Florette and Manon of the Spring) delightful film, The Two Of Us (1967) was one of Renata Adler's top 10 films of 1968 and its easy to see why. It is a charming story of the unexpected friendship that blooms between a a Jewish city boy (Alain Cohen) form Paris sent into the countryside to wait out the war with a country family in which the old man (Michel Simon) is a rabid anti-Semite. There are several comedic episodes and some minor misfortunes which cement the relationship between the two-both of whom put in great performances. It was very entertaining, well-written, acted, and had excellent direction throughout. It is a film that avoids stooping to Hollywood crowd pleasing antics to produce this small but moving story.
I think Planet 3rd in Koenji might become my "go to" cafe in the new neighborhood. It's got a great atmosphere and there are work tables with outlets if you want to bring your computer, not to mention an outdoor area.
The food's not bad either, I had the chicken rice with omelet for lunch.