Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

Rage Politely Against the Machine 

Wednesday, Jan 5 2011
The frustrated, flummoxed characters in Japanese wunderkind Yuya Ishii’s semi-absurdist comedies are typically running from something. It might be the boring confines of small-town life for the neon allure of Tokyo, or the cruelty of the big city for the low-stress provinces. In fact, they’re desperately rebelling — albeit with only minimal success — against the oppressive cultural weight of obeisance, loyalty, etiquette, and respect for (selfish) elders. The 27-year-old director’s hapless yet endearing protagonists eventually realize there’s nowhere to run: Japan is an island nation. To Walk Beside You (2009), receiving its U.S. premiere as part of the two-film series, “Lost in Japan: The Existential Comedies of Yuya Ishii,” imagines a teacher and a high school student fleeing for the capital and a new life together. Domesticity trumps passion, however, and reality gently crushes fantasy. It’s not as grim as all that; Ishii, like Hal Hartley, revels in the ironic humor of ordinary people bumping up against the daily humiliations of life. His most recent film, Sawako Decides (screening Sunday at 1 p.m.), finds him in a more optimistic mood. Perhaps it’s just a coincidence that Ishii and the lead actress, Hikari Mitsushima (of Folder5 fame), got married a few months ago.
Jan. 13-16, 2011

About The Author

Michael Fox


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment


  • Jack White at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
    Jack White and his band performed at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium on Friday and Saturday nights in front of sold out audiences. Jack entertained his fans with music that included songs from his days with The White Stripes, and The Raconteurs, as well as hits from his solo albums; Blunderbuss and Lazaretto. Photography by Sugarwolf.
  • San Francisco Street Food Festival 2014
    The San Francisco Street Food Festival was another success this year. Dozens of vendors with original, unheard-of creations, such as deep fried mac and cheese on a stick, black pea paste pancakes, and Korean quesadillas. Then there was the comfort foods we've grown accustomed to, like creme bruleé, shrimp rolls, and pound cake. Photographs by Mabel Jimenez.

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed
  1. Most Popular