‘Komorebi’ connects us to natural world in two recent Japanese movies

Film

We noticed it right away. Evil Does Not Exist, the new film by Ryusuke Hamaguchi, director of Academy Award-winning DRIVE MY CAR opens with a long montage of treetops in a forest.

Hey! We just saw something very similar in Wim Wenders’ Academy Award-nominated movie, Perfect Days (2023). This marvelous film, an artsmeme favorite, also had extensive footage of lead character, Hirayama (Kōji Yakusho), as he takes komorebi pictures with his (old-school) Olympus film camera. On lunch hours, between chomps on a sandwich, he stares upward and snaps still photos of the minuscule movement of wind and light playing on the treetops.

Who knew, but this beautiful linkage between man and nature is actually a Japanese tradition, and it has a name. Called “komorebi,” it describes the dancing shadow patterns created by sunlight shining through rustling leaves and swaying branches.

Evil Does Not Exist, a rather hyperbolic title for a gently affecting movie, is also good. Both films, unsurprisingly, carry environmental messages. Our Perfect Days review here, or click image below.

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What’s in ABT’s ‘Woolf Works,’ soon at Segerstrom?

Dance

We’ve been seeing intriguing images, not to mention advertisements, including ones running here on artsmeme, for American Ballet Theatre‘s new production of Wayne McGregor’s Woolf Works, playing at Segerstrom Center for the Arts in five performances, April 11 – 14. Inspired by the writings of Virginia Woolf — an author this woman writer so greatly admires, Woolf Works is a spellbinding fusion of literature and dance by McGregor, with a luminous original score by Max Richter. What’s it all about?

Woolf Works “recreates the collision of form and substance at play in her novels (‘Mrs. Dalloway’; ‘Orlando’; and ‘The Waves’), while bringing to life her world where human beings are at once physical body and uncontained essence.” So describes the advance copy.

Woolf Works is not a literal description of Woolf’s writing,” says its creator Wayne McGregor. “It’s very lavish, with new visualization techniques and a collage structure: a full-on assault and collision of the senses. The idea was to choreograph and design the piece in the spirit of Woolf’s writing, in an unfolding stream of consciousness, rather than as a literal translation of the novels’ narratives.” This sounds groundbreaking and spectacular not to mention a beautiful retreat from the very gnarly world in which we find ourselves living.

Woolf Works was first seen at London’s Royal Opera House on May 11, 2015 to be met with outstanding critical acclaim and going on to win McGregor the Critics’ Circle Award for Best Classical Choreography, and the Olivier Award for Best New Dance Production.

The New York Times said of its 2015 premiere, “a compelling trilogy of works that together form a resonant, layered meditation on time and memory … McGregor has thought big, and he has created a work that is entertaining, absorbing, not always easy, and occasionally contentious. That’s the (Woolfian) spirit.” Eight years on, in 2023, The Guardian said, “Woolf Works is a beauty – a ballet of ravishing feeling and radical intellectual intent.”

Three ABT principals will dance the role of Woolf – Devon Teuscher, Hee Seo, and Gillian Murphy — emboding Virginia Woolf in dance. We’re getting the U.S. premiere in southern California, It will be ABT’s summer offering at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York where it will be a hot ticket. Segerstrom is offering marvelous ticket deals and we will be among those first audiences to see this intriguing work.


American Ballet Theatre’s Woolf Works | with Pacific Symphony | Segerstrom Center for the Arts | April 11 – 14

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Film museum … or oil refinery?

Film · Visual arts
Everyone thinks that the Academy Museum at Wilshire and Fairfax, was a repurposed May Company department store, but as a story in Curbed L.A. demonstrates, it was inspired by an oil refinery. We’ve been living around them forever! And to prove it, the Museum is staging a new exhibition featuring the kinds of clothes people ...

A happy ceremony for La Cérémonie (1995) at Laemmle Anniversary Classics

Film
by 
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Standing ovation for Salonen from San Francisco Symphony players

Music
esa-pekka salonen acknowledges orchestra’s standing ovation at Disney Hallphoto courtesy brian lauritzen An unusual scene on view by a quick-witted photographer taken at curtain call after a concert by San Francisco Symphony conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen — this moment coming only days after his startling announcement that at the completion of his five-year contract, in ...

Japanese cinema-viewing art, ‘benshi,’ in global tour, soon in Los Angeles

Film
There are all kinds of ways that presenters of silent movies augment their films, or not, ranging from a rinky-dink upright piano with a guy pounding it out at the side of the screen, to the kinds of full orchestral accompaniment we have enjoyed in recent years. But the Japanese tradition, Benshi, is something new ...

Four-year residency for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater completes first lap at Music Center

Dance · Reviews
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Poised for paw prints at TCM Classic Film Fest 2024: Jodie Foster

Film
Hollywood has special affection for kid actors. The best of them are survivors, and craftspeople for whom the presence of a a movie camera is nearly an extension of their own selves. And that well describes the natural way that Jodie Foster, grabbed attention at age ten in her first movie, Alice Doesn’t Live Here ...

He’s just Ken. But, Ryan Gosling and Mandy Moore, Jack Cole has a name too. 10

Dance · Film
Jack Cole (1911-1974) creator of “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend”was so bad-assed you’d think people would show respect. Instead, one of American-dance’s most original creators was stolen from, even in his lifetime–and he knew it. Nineteen million people watched, on Sunday night, when, at the 96th Oscar Award ceremony, actor Ryan Gosling, looking hot ...

Three ‘wows’ and ten years of arts leadership from Thor Steingraber 1

Dance · Ideas & Opinion · Music
“Three wows” sold Thor Steingraber on The Soraya. Steingraber’s long interview process in the fall of 2013 and winter of 2014 to become top executive of Cal State Northridge’s newish theater culminated in a site visit. As he marks ten years as The Soraya’s executive and artistic director, he remembers this moment as his first ...