Romantic Japanese fantasy touches upon the meaning of “life”
When: Opens June 25, 2010 in Bay Area
Where: Landmark’s Lumiere Theatre, 1572 California Street, San Francisco, (415)267-4893 / Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas 2230 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley (510) 464-5980
Palisades Tartan presents AIR DOLL, opening June 25, 2010 at a Landmark Theatre in San Francisco, and Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas in Berkeley.
Synopsis: The premise of AIR DOLL seems silly at best, salacious at worst: an inflatable sex doll comes to life. But in the sensitive hands of internationally-acclaimed director Hirokazu Kore-eda (Still Walking, After Life, Nobody Knows) the story becomes a magical meditation on what it means to be human. Lonely middle-aged waiter Hideo (Itsuji Itao) relieves his solitude with the company of an air doll: he chats with her, dresses her, and has sex with her every night. One morning after he has left for work, the doll suddenly comes to life and, dressing up in her maid outfit, goes out to explore the world with the wide-eyed wonder of a small child. Beautiful Korean star Bae Du-na (The Host) is mesmerizing as the come-to-life doll, fearlessly naked both physically and emotionally. Mimicking the speech and actions of her neighbors the air doll learns to fit in, and soon lands a job working at a video store, where she begins to fall in love with a sympathetic co-worker (Arata). Yet every night she goes home and pretends to be a doll for Hideo, who has not noticed any change. Her soul is pure, but one of the first things she learns as a human is deceit. “I found myself with a heart I was not supposed to have,” she says. (Japan, 2009)
BEETLE QUEEN CONQUERS TOKYO
An Entrancing Look at Japan’s Love Affair with Bugs
When: July 9, 2010
Where: Sundance Kabuki Cinemas
Synopsis: What is it about the Japanese and bugs? Inside a Tokyo pet shop, a little boy delights in selecting his new pet, a rainbow beetle (cost: $57). Japanese aesthetics – whether textiles, architecture, gardening, graphics, brush painting or haiku – all reflect a highly refined appreciation for both the diminutive and the transient. BEETLE QUEEN explores the world of Japanese insect-lovers, from the sublime (families who visit the countryside to hear choruses of crickets or experience the yellow-green flashes of light emitted by thousands of fireflies) to the ridiculous (cartoon beetles that infest the zeitgeist). With unabashed humor and tremendous originality, first-time filmmaker Jessica Oreck – a lifelong insect lover and animal keeper at the American Museum of Natural History – looks at the religious, literary, and philosophical underpinnings of a nation’s entomological obsession. Warning: You may look more kindly upon your roaches after viewing.