austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

I say love, it is a flower, and you, its only seed

Now, the movie we went to see? That was Only Yesterday. It's a 1991 Studio Ghibli film that was quite popular in Japan on its release. It's probably the most obscure of the studio's releases in the United States. It's only getting its first United States theatrical release this year, and it hasn't before had home video releases. The only time it seems to have been available was a decade-plus ago, when it ran on Turner Classic Movies as part of a Studio Ghibli festival. bunny_hugger's starter husband accidentally deleted it from the DVR.

And all that's a shame, as it's quite a good movie. It's not got any fantasy or whimsical elements beyond daydream sequences or moments. It's also got a very gentle storyline. Taeko, a woman in her late 20s considers leaving her Tokyo job for a life in the country, and as she considers, she reflects on being ten years old, in the 60s.

So her memories are most of the film, and they're just gorgeously remembered. They're full of the little ambitions and disappointments that you get at that age. An early sequence sets the tone: Taeko dreams of getting to vacation in the country. They go to the hot springs, where you can have baths and the adults all lie around getting massages and sleeping. But there's so many baths themed to different settings, that's exciting! Until she spends enough time in hot enough water to pass out, and they have to go home. It all feels exquisitely well-observed.

Wikipedia claims the reason the movie's all but unavailable in the United States is because Disney was uncomfortable with one of its major sequences. That's where some of the ten-year-old girls are getting their first periods. And the boys are, uncharacteristically, ignorant jerks about it. It's a sequence that's funny and aching together. Also there's nothing that makes the need for good sex education so compelling as listening to what kids figure about bodies without it. (Yes, yes, they're fictional kids and could say anything that the writer wanted. They never say anything that sounded outside the bounds of what ill-educated kids would say.)

For a movie that is such a nostalgic view of life in 1960s Japan it's amazing how much communicates to a kid from late-70s/early-80s America. My family never had a moment of being befuddled by a fresh pineapple because we have no idea how to eat it, but it feels so much like the sort of thing that could happen that it makes sense. The movie closes with the soundtrack playing ``The Rose'', or as it's known to people who recognize the starts of lyrics as the titles of songs, ``Some Say Love''. It's dubbed into Japanese, but the subtitles use the original English lyrics. We were curious what a transliteration of the Japanese-version lyrics would be, since translating a song lends itself so to wholesale rewriting. No idea, though.

Trivia: Gemini astronaut emergency rations included fudge, corn flakes, chocolate bars, fruit cake, and soup. Source: Moon Bound: Choosing and Preparing NASA's Lunar Astronauts, Colin Burgess.

Currently Reading: The Sphinx And Alley Oop, V T Hamlin.

PS: Reading the Comics, March 14, 2016: Pi Day Comics Event, featuring almost exactly the set of comic strips you'd imagine the day to have.

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