“The big problem for a director today is to get back to the spirit of innocence, directness, and simplicity.” – Peter Bogdanovich
* In reference to the seventies but just as true today.
There are two very powerful words that can cause the male moviegoing population to run in terror – “chick flick.” As such several male friends I know have passed on seeing what I’m sure will be in my top five at the end of the year in Hitoshi Yazaki’s, “Strawberry Shortcakes.” I find this really a shame for anyone to pigeonhole this movie as being just some “chick flick” to run from. Take three deep breaths and repeat after me, “this — is — not — a — chick — flick!” Ok better?
“Strawberry Shortcakes” is a remarkable film not only about young females forming their way in an cold over-urbaned word, but also a very striking contemporary tale. The above quote I referenced really sums up the charm for me for watching this film. It paints a very dense behind the curtains look at the females in portrays. Small and often non-filmed scenes of life are thoughtfully displayed in very direct strokes. Which really is perhaps the charm and immersive experience this film cultivates, it allows us to really see real people warts and all, coming to grips with their beating hearts, curious minds and void of all the typical movie gloss. Hitoshi Yazaki seems to have carefully made the decision to show us real characters that get to breath and feel in today’s world. In every other contemporary drama I’ve seen in the last five years, I felt more like I was watching cardboard figures move around inside paper and plastic worlds. Honestly how is anyone supposed to relate to films with that kind of nonsense? I certainly never have.
Just like “Singles” and many others, this film creates a unflinching time capsule of our time. This is one beautiful film you won’t want to miss. For film festivals and film festival programmers in the US, I highly recommend picking up this film to screen.
A huge thanks to Mark Schilling of The Japan Times and Variety for turning me onto this film and bringing it to this years Nippon Connection, where I saw it for the first time.
Sharp eyed readers will note I caught that quote from the excellent “The Way Hollywood Tells It” book from David Bordwell (that I currently happen to be reading).
Official digital still that was used in the original Japanese release of the film.