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Review: Ten Years Japan

Just got back in from my second Japan Cuts screening, Ten Years Japan—a significantly more somber and thematically dense affair than the cute cat movie. Executive produced by Hirokazu Kore-eda, this anthology film (part of an ongoing international collaborative project) tasks five up-and-coming directors with speculating on the possible state of their country one decade into the future. Predictably, it’s kind of a mixed bag in terms of both content and quality; some of the shorts are bitter, hard-hitting satire in the tradition of Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal”, while others are a bit more optimistic about the human condition. Tackling such diverse topics as war, poverty, euthanasia, digital surveillance, and nuclear annihilation and evoking such cinematic classics as 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Ballad of Narayama, Stalker, and Kore-eda’s own After Life, it at least offers up plenty of variety; unfortunately, the execution never quite lives up to the promising premise. It has, however, gotten me interested in checking out the other entries in the series…

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