Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 11, 2023 3:52 pm 
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Portrait of the artist at 33

As a commemoration of the life of the multi-hyphenate musician, composer, artist Ryuchi Sakamoto (January 17, 1952-March 28, 2023) this time capsule, a Franco-Japanese television co-production from Elizabeth Leonard from 1983 isn't bad. It catches him in his thirties, already at his peak, composer of his famous score for Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence and a master of looping, sound sampling, and other computerized, electronic means of performing and composing music. Sakamoto is mercurial yet calm, playful yet intensely focused, pronouncing ideas about music and modern urbanized Japanese culture, moving around at ease in the studio. Leonard provides semi abstract, urban interludes of images concrètes that are abstract and beautiful, like musique concrète. The short film is a suave, masterful whole depicting a modern musical master.

There is a blend here of a sampling of studio sessions and performances (including a piano duet with the composer's then wife Akiko Yano), archival footage, and talking head interviews, which meld very well into a whole. It is not a look into Sakamoto's private life or a survey of his life. But its faded color and dated embedded English subtitles makes if all the more a handsome time capsule.

The scores for films attributed to Ryuchi Sakamoto runs from Nagisa Ôshima's Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence to Hirakasu Koreeda's Monster in 2023, with many interesting titles in between.

Tokyo melody: Un film sur Ryuichi Sakamoto, 63 mins.,an imported 16mm presented by Japan Cuts 2023, July 29, 2023, 7:00 pm. Opening comments by Akiko Yano; Screening followed by a Q&A with Director Elizabeth Lennard.

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