you're strange and you're beautiful

‘Parade’ @Japan Society w/Isao Yukisada and Tatsuya Fujiwara

warning: this post contains spoilers (labelled)

“A horror movie disguised as a teenage slacker flick”

Such was director Isao Yukisada’s summation of his 2009 film Parade「パレード」. Speaking during a Q&A at New York’s Japan Society on July 10, Yukisada was surprisingly talkative and candid considering the deeply subversive film he had given to his audience.

Of course, there were likely many who had either sussed out the mystery earlier on, or simply read Shuichi Yoshida’s 2002 novel (though the collective gasp indicated that a fair few had not). Yet for a film that manages to successfully be two genres at once, and focuses on 5 different individuals, the ending loses none of it’s potency.

Rather than giving my own writeup of the film, click through to Kevin Oullette’s perfect and enticing review here

© Ayumi Sakamoto

The audience were given a special treat in having both director Yukisada and all-star heartthrob Tatsuya Fujiwara in attendance to introduce the film. Fujiwara expressed deep respect and affection for his fellow cast members, especially as the first film to place him as the ‘elder’ of the ensemble. Yukisada’s choice of acting veteran Fujiwara was, he said, specifically because stage actors who often work in extremes of expression are often the most capable of quiet subtlety on film.

Fujiwara, having a long-standing mutual love affair with NYC, apologised for not speaking in English but expressed his appreciation for the city’s discerning and attentive audiences. While having long made his resistance to Hollywood charms clear, he restated his pleasure in bridging the distance between his culture and the West.

© Ayumi Sakamoto

Yukisada returned after the film (Fujiwara having been whisked off to other engagements for Hisashi Inoue’s Musashi playing at the Lincoln Center). His excitement was palpable, especially as he briefly peeked through the cinema doors while the audience furtively murmered interpretations and theories to each other. Once onstage, he rewarded the collective curiosity with his loquacious response to questions.

© Ayumi Sakamoto

Starting from the beginning of the project, Yukisada explained that he had actually bought the rights from author Shuichi Yoshida as soon as the novel was published. Frustrations with casting and conflicts with a producer – who actually gained the rights for a time – kept the project from materialising beyond a script for seven long years. In 2009, circumstances and schedules at last aligned and the film was driven forward with the usual Japanese alacrity that is always startling to foreign filmmaking.

As previously mentioned, Yukisada had Tatsuya Fujiwara in mind as the uptight film exec Naoki, having known him from the earliest days of his career. While the remaining cast of young (yet deceptively mature) actors were found early on, the casting of Satoru however, proved difficult almost to the final hour. Over 40 young men had made it to the call back stage, when wholesome and sporty actor Kento Hayashi approached Yukisada directly. In the spirit of fearless blonde rogue Satoru, Hayashi was seeking a bold departure from his pigeon hole in 青春映画 (youth films) and found the perfect outlet in a homeless rent boy who plies his trade and squats in strangers’ flats, cars, even an amusement park after hours.

(spoiler) At the time of the original novel’s release, the revelation of Naoki as the murderer alluded to in the background of each story, was intended to shock readers. In the turbulent years of the film’s production, Yukisada realised that a rise in shocking crimes perpetrated by seeming ‘normals’ would perhaps have deadened the public’s response. Feeling that the imbalance in emotional intensity would not be sufficiently unnerving, the script was initially changed to have Satoru actually stop Naoki completing his latest kill, thereby giving Naoki the same chance at absolution as the other characters.

Tatsuya Fujiwara proved to be worth his salt in pathological intuition, and insisted that his character should follow through with the monstrous act in faith to the original story. After much contention, Yukisada changed the script back and instead put extra emphasis on the film’s cruel and inexorable final scene. The darkness within the cramped apartment that has silently threatened to suffocate is now emanating from the very levity and youthfulness that seemed to dispell it.

When asked about his favourite American filmmakers, Yukisada’s top three were no surprise: Jim Jarmusch, Paul Thomas Anderson, and Woody Allen. On a side note, Yukisada said that he was especially excited about coming to New York at last having been a fan of Manhattan for years. Strains of a similar deadpan comedy and dry, cynical treatment of society are abundant in Parade.

While Yukisada (a Kyushu native) would not lead audiences to view all Japanese young people through one lense darkly, there is nevertheless a distinct souring of the affable, slacker genres from the 1990’s. Yet from his own experience, choosing a life in a major metropolis like Tokyo brings with it a tantalising opportunity to fashion a new identity. The danger portrayed in Parade is that young people are only too eager to maintain their masks – and only too apathetic toward everything else.

1 Comment»

  Trudy wrote @

“Parade @Japan Society w/Isao Yukisada and Tatsuya Fujiwara | 日本” Solar Shades definitely causes myself
contemplate a somewhat extra. I really enjoyed every individual
section of this blog post. Thanks for your effort -Thurman

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