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Kazu Watanabe

Kazu Watanabe is a film programmer at Japan Society in New York City.

Double Vision: On Ryūsuke Hamaguchi’s Asako I & II

With the release of Ryūsuke Hamaguchi’s 2015 independent film Happy Hour—a five-hour arthouse drama about the lives and divorces of four thirty-something women that received festival awards and overwhelming critical praise—the unheralded Japanese director (with about half a dozen feature films already under his belt at that point) suddenly emerged as a significant new voice in international cinema. Premiering in Competition at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival and adapted from a novel by Tomoka Shibasaki by Hamaguchi and Kiyoshi Kurosawa collaborator Sachiko Tanaka, his follow-up, Asako I & II, is a smaller yet no less perceptive work that is similarly preoccupied with mining existential ruminations on identity, survival, and personal growth, this time through the cinematic dissection of an idiosyncratic love triangle.


The Brooklyn Rail

JUNE 2023

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