Japan, 2007, 106 minutes
Fri, May 2 / 3:30 / Clay / GLSS02Y
Sun, May 4 / 6:00 / Kabuki / GLSS04K
Thu, May 8 / 5:00 / Kabuki / GLSS08K
The lapping of waves, the tart sweetness of shaved ice and the meditative pleasures of “twilighting” all await visitors to Naoko Ogigami’s Glasses, a Zen comedy that wryly observes a bespectacled teacher’s vacation at an eccentric island resort. When Taeko (Satomo Kobayashi) first checks into the Hamada Inn, she can only surmise she’s arrived somewhere peculiar. The owner (Ken Mitsuishi) intentionally draws bad maps when giving directions to his beachside getaway because he likes the lack of business. Fellow guest and glasses-wearer Sakura (Masako Motai) leads people through daily “merci exercises” and takes to kneeling at Taeko’s bedside every morning to greet her when she wakes. Ogigami scrutinizes yet doesn’t quite adopt Taeko’s inquisitive if reserved reaction to her idiosyncratic surroundings. The stark soundtrack, meanwhile, which sets a recurring mandolin melody next to a variety of ambient sounds, suggests a change on the horizon, as Ogigami exploits the island setting to explore a longing for idyllic escape from the traps and trappings of modern urban society. Like her earlier hit, Seagull Diner (which also starred Kobayashi and Motai), Glasses has a healthy appetite—even while mining the awkwardness of a lobster dinner, it triggers the taste buds, and the sensory effect runs deep. Taking in her human landscape with as much relish—including the memorable Haruna (the winsome Mikako Ichikawa), another Hamada Inn regular who defies her initial appearance—Ogigami even manages an inventive take on the musical dance number. Ultimately, like her protagonist, she displays a nascent gift for weaving the air.
—Johnny Ray Huston
Presented with support from the Consul General of Japan, San Francisco and Japan Society of Northern California. West Coast Premiere. Sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.