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Glasses
   |     review    |     notes     |     availability     |      
Glasses

The cast of Glasses enjoying one of the benefits of island life.
Korean: めがね
Year: 2007  
Director:

Naoko Ogigami

 
Writer:

Naoko Ogigami

 
  Cast:

Satomi Kobayashi, Masako Motai, Mikako Ichikawa, Ken Mitsuishi, Ryo Kase, Hiroko Yakushimaru

  The Skinny: Watching the latest from Seagull Diner writer/director Naoko Ogigami is just like going on a 100-minute vacation to a Japanese island. Fans of drama and dense plotting need not apply.
   
Review
by
Kevin Ma:

Going to the movies is rarely as relaxing as watching Glasses, director Naoko Ogigami's follow-up to the arthouse hit The Seagull Diner. This time, Ogigami returns to her native Japan to show that busy urbanites don't necessarily have to leave the country to learn how to appreciate the simple life. Combining eccentric characters with attractive locations and a generally laid-back atmosphere, Glasses doesn't necessarily qualify as a dramatic work, but it succeeds splendidly as a 100-minute island vacation.

Two of the Seagull Diner stars are back as well. This time, Satomi Kobayashi plays Taeko, a stressed-out urbanite who finds her way to an unnamed Japanese island. Guided by a vague map, she somehow finds her way to the seaside Yamada Inn, earning the admiration of the inn owner ("You have the talent to be here", he tells her). However, Taeko doesn't seem to "get" the island - no sightseeing attractions, strange exercises in the morning, people simply sit around "twilighting" (an action which involves staring out into space), and wake-up calls are done by wise old-timer Sakura (Seagull Diner co-star Masako Motai), who simply sits next to Taeko's bed and delivers a polite "good morning" as if it's the most normal thing in the world. Taeko even tries moving to the island's other hotel, but their even stranger method of guest bonding sends her right back to where she started.

Glasses is not a particularly eventful film, and it's easy to guess that Taeko will somehow get used to the island's strange customs and even come to love them. Ogigami develops her transformation at a pace as slow as life on the island itself. The film is filled with empty shots of the beach, the sea, and the food people eat (Look at that lobster! Look at that grilled beef!), though Ogigami never turns it into a tourism ad, partly because she never even names the island. Meanwhile, audiences should have no trouble getting accustomed to the slow pace of the film because what's on screen is so attractive that they may just end up coming out of the theater feeling like doing a little "twilighting" in Japan themselves.

While the film is understandably slow, it's never boring. This is partly thanks to Ogigami's cast of eccentric characters. The most interesting part in the film is easily Motai's Sakura, an old lady who goes to the island every summer and operates a popular shaved ice stall on the beach. Playing the most admired figure on the beach, Motai rightfully earns her character's status, stealing the show every time she appears, and showing a sense of mystery devoid of any diva-like screen presence. In fact, the major characters in Glasses are pleasant and filled with good intentions. Even Taeko's change comes about in a natural fashion that's just pleasant as the island itself.

That may lead some of the more cynical audience to criticize the film for its lack of drama and its slow pace - but it's obvious that's not what Ogigami was trying to achieve. Glasses is a modern fable with a simple message: slow down and enjoy life once in a while. Hence, the slow approach to storytelling is not only understandable, it's perfectly natural. Furthermore, Ogigami manages to effectively deliver the message, thanks to her charming characters, beautiful locations, and top-notch production values. Glasses may not be the best ad for real Japanese beach resorts, but it's the perfect "Sunday afternoon" film for any urbanites looking to get away. Also, it costs less than a plane ticket to Japan, and it may even be more fun than the real thing. (Kevin Ma 2008)

   
Notes:

• Filmed on location on a Southern Japanese island.
• Writer/director Ogigami said that she herself couldn't even get any writing done when she first went to the island to work on the screenplay.
• The title Glasses was just an impromptu title Ogigami came up with when she noticed that the people she worked with on the film all wore glasses. Every character in the film (except for one notable cameo) wears glasses.

Availability:

DVD (Korea)
Region 3 NTSC
Widemedia Korea
2-disc Special Edition
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Japanese Language Track
Removable English and Korean Subtitles
Various Extras

 

   
 
 
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