I'm not sure I can think of another contemporary filmmaker that continuously utilizes magical realism in such a masterful way. Akiko Ohku's stylistic flourishes are so economical and astutely rendered - they are playful, expressive, and wonderfully imaginative but perhaps most importantly, they never undercut the sincerity of her film's emotional and intellectual investigations on urban loneliness and the eternal pursuit of connection and comfort from the harshness of the external world. The duality of internal consciousness and external expression is a recurring theme of Akiko Ohku's work - at least of the 3 films of hers I've seen. With My Sweet Grappa Remedies, Akiko Ohku deploys a film almost entirely devoid of narrative schematics, driven solely by incident and the reciprocity of communication that influences our decisions and desires in the pursuit of attaining happiness. What I continuously find striking about Akiko Ohku's work is the presentation of urban isolation and loneliness is dimensioned and robustly exhibited. Melancholy and levity are intertwined, and how Okhu routinely rejects strict dichotomies such as happiness vs. sadness through a nuanced understanding of living and experience is a major reason why her films are so wonderfully felt. While I did think My Sweet Grappa struggled a bit to maintain its momentum and justify its running time - a thought that didn't even cross my mind with Hold Me Back and Tremble All You Want - there is a lot to appreciate here, as Grappa remains a lived-in, genuinely honest portrait of middle-aged, middle-class milieu amongst those still searching for a semblance of connection - the hope of companionship is as much internal investigation of self as it is an external pursuit of the other.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.