An aging silent film actress hires a private eye and his wacky but helpful assistant to track down her missing daughter, Bellflower. The two follow a succession of bizarre, obscure clues, until they track down the location of the kidnappers and the daughter.
This is the most impossibly beautiful film I’ve ever seen, a mediation on loss, longing, beauty and time. Using old film techniques, humor, Dadaism, and glorious black and white cinematography, it is also a fanciful homage to early silent cinema in Japan. Especially the Benshi, the silent film narrators. This was a tradition in Russia and Poland as well, a narrator or actor would read the inter-titles of a silent film, adding commentary and at times their own political bent to a feature. This was popular throughout silent cinema’s reign, and particularly relevant in industrial or agrarian communities with lower literacy rates. Shunsui Matsuda, a Benshi who traveled throughout coal mining regions of post-war Japan where shortages made re-runs of silent films popular entertainment, appears in Hayashi’s film. (Mr. Matsuda is also to be lauded for his work preserving old films, many prints he acquired by searching in thrift shops and restoring them. His excellent book, “The Benshi: Japanese Silent Film Narrators”, details both his work and the Benshi tradition.) In many ways comparable to Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s “Once Upon a Time Cinema”, though without the political commentary, Hayashi’s work creates a complete magical world combining both the past and the present. Now if only I could get a copy on DVD. [an IMDb user]
1.15GB | 1h 20mn | 702×526 | mkv