Late, great planet earth ... | Bleader

Late, great planet earth ...


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Could just be my own wistsful, ave atque vale mood, considering the Pentagon's about-face realization that global warming actually provides another strategic cover for aggressive military buildup and expenditure, but ...

There's something about Katsuhito Ishii's The Taste of Tea (2004), running through March 8 at Facets, that makes describing it as a "comedy"--which just about everyone's done so far: e.g., "a modern Japanese variation on 'You Can't Take It With You'" ... not the half of it, amigos--seem utterly shortsighted and maybe even a little strange. Not that it isn't funny, or at the very least absurdist, but some valedictory part of me insists that it be taken as possibly, just possibly, the last film we'll ever see--or perhaps that'll ever be made--that treats the earth as home, as a singular green haven that, at some phenomenological level, within the mesh of human artifacts (the built environment) and what's usually known as "nature," has essentially been "made" (interpret that as mythically/metaphorically as you choose) for us, as well as everything else in the biogenetic neighborhood. Which also, I think, makes it quintessentially "Japanese," like Miyazaki's animated ecological spirits and the comforts of place in Ozu, Naruse, Imamura--all that placid horizontality, that watery rice-growers' spread--down to the recent samurai twilights of Yamada. It's twilight for the family in The Taste of Tea as well, especially after the death of the grandfather, and everyone's steeped in the crepuscular glow: a bit like a speed read of Benning's drifting altocumulus in Ten Skies, but less conceptually demanding, more lyrically engaged. All in all, a strange, enchanted tone that's finally deeply affecting, suffused with the sadness of a loss that's both terminal and large. So good-bye to the world we're ultimately suited for, with which our Darwinian parameters overlap, and hello to the rude beasts of catastrophe in the coming eco-plague.

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