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Thread: Nobody Knows (2004)

  1. #1
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    Nobody Knows (2004)

    I was under the impression that this would have had it's own raging debate on this site, but I guess I was wrong. As the film makes it's way across America, I'm assuming most general cinephiles (i e the crowd here) has taken the time to see this. If you haven't well get on it, if for nothing else to join in on the discussion regarding it.

    Now I'm gonna refrain from a plot synopsis for two reasons, 1. If you've seen the film, you already know what happens and 2. If you haven't seen the film I don't want to give anything away.

    Visually I think the film fits very well into Kore-Eda's filmography. It doesn't really have a glossed over look to it, although this film I believe is more polished than earlier efforts. Eda doesn't film in long takes, nor does he go overboard with editing. That said it is hard to grasp a signature style from him, because those are usually the two dead give aways.

    The music in the film I think is some of the best I've heard in a long time. He seems to just know when to use it, and when to let the silence sink in. More importantly he knows what music to use. Only one song in the film actually has lyrics and it couldn't have come at a better time (those who've seen the film know to which scene I'm referring to).

    In addition to just being a story of survival, Nobody Knows seems more about a need for human contact. These kids need the social world of school, and therefore respond to any outside contact. Even if the "friends" that Akira makes wind up being a bad influence, it shows the inherent need for even this forceably mature child to play and interact with people his own age.

    There is also a de-dramatization that is so much more powerful than any melodrama here. Kore-Eda doesn't seem to harp on the negative. Bad things happen and are happening, but they are shown in a way that doesn't insult the viewers intelligence. This is a director that is willing to give the audience some credit, and I for one appreciate his effort.

    If and when I think of more to say about the film I'll add it, for now feel free to voice your opinion. Whether its a debate to rage, or if you just want to let someone know you've seen it and whether or not you liked it, fine, post away.

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    I'm glad you started a thread because this film didn't have one, although, you could've done it in the GENERAL section. I haven't seen the film yet but I'm looking forward to it.

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    Find my review here:http://www.filmwurld.com/forums/show...=8786#post8786
    There are also some comments on the Cannes FF thread.

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    Well it was one of my Favorite films, so I thought this was appropriate, and thanks for the review Oscar.

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    As you now know, most people unfortunately don't visit the other sections very often and I'm assuming that Howard missed your fine review here.

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    Originally posted by arsaib4
    I'm glad you started a thread because this film didn't have one, although, you could've done it in the GENERAL section. I haven't seen the film yet but I'm looking forward to it.
    Hey arsaib4,
    you still have not watched it?
    I am surprised ...
    ;PPP

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    Originally posted by hengcs


    Hey arsaib4,
    you still have not watched it?
    I am surprised ...
    ;PPP
    Yeah, I know. I missed it the last time I went back to the city. I'm going again in a couple of weeks for the "French Rendezvous" so hopefully I'll get the chance. What did you think of it? You can post your thoughts here too.

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    General Film Forum 'NOBODY KNOWS" thread

    The thread on NOBODY KNOWS started by Howard Schumann separately in the General Film Forum is here http://www.filmwurld.com/forums/show...threadid=1236. Consolidation perhaps needed.

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    check the time on the posts, my thread was first

    not like this is some dick waving contest, just stating the facts

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    Someone Knows!

    Iím not sure where to start on this one but let's start from the opening shot where Kore-eda at once cunningly distances himself from the true events as the characters - and by extention their activities - are "fictional," but he doesnít want any criticism either so the film is "based" on true events. (I didn't see any such signs in his earlier effort Distance which was based on the Tokyo subway incident by the Aum Shinrikyo cult.) Enough has been written about this one so I wonít summarize the film again but this now joins Old Boy as the other most over-rated film I've seen this year. 12-year old Akira (Yuya Yagira) is the father figure for his other three siblings in many ways but starts losing his brain cells once mom disappears. Kore-eda provides us a lame excuse through Akira that the reason they donít want to contact authorities is because they donít want to separate while at the same time they (especially the older two) barely communicate with each other. (The landlord also becomes aware of the situation in one scene but apparently doesn't care about the rent or the apartment.) No friends or family of their mother or any of their fathers have any idea about them. Once money starts running out, Kore-eda wants to make sure that they look as indigent as possible as all of their clothes disappear along with any combs or garbage bags. When Akira does try to call someone the coins run out as apparently the cell phone of the other lost soul they meet - a school girl who earlier pleases a Japanese businessman for money, how original! - has disappeared all of a sudden along with her family.

    Kore-eda exploits his audience, just like many others before him have done, by employing the 4 most perfect looking kids because he understand our nature, but it still doesnít make it right. Iíve spoken about this before and will do so again. Chuck Stepensí article made a bit more sense after watching this film, although he certainly couldíve been harsher, as he called Nobody Knows a "carefully calculated piece of melodrama," and went on to make references to the name Akira and his "anime-expressionist hairdo" not to mention using popular personality in YOU. Very calculating indeed.

    From the opening hillbilly music to the final sequence - where Kore-eda couldnít help but have one muse, "she felt so cold," followed by the most dramatic of songs - this film treats, successfully from the look to things, its audience as brain dead individuals whoíll shut off their bullshit-o-meters once they start seeing the beautiful kids and the perfectly articulated little moments. No doubt heís an extremely talented filmmaker (I consider Distance not only his best film but one of the best I've seen this decade) but this failure is not even as exquisite as the ones from his equally talented contemporaries like Shinji Aoyama and Nobuhiro Suwa. Kore-eda is certainly smart but he shouldnít underestimate everyone.

    Nobody Knows - Grade: C-

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    Originally posted by arsaib4
    Chuck Stepensí article made a bit more sense after watching this film, although he certainly couldíve been harsher, as he called Nobody Knows a "carefully calculated piece of melodrama"
    Stephens certainly could've been A LOT harsher if he hadn't liked the film so much. In the San Francisco Bay Guardian, he listed Nobody Knows number 3 on his 2004 Top 10. Here's Stephens' three-and-one-half star review: http://www.montereycountyweekly.com/...e.movie_review

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    There are certainly reviews to be found that don't speak so highly of Nobody Knows. I began my introduction to the film with Anthony Lane's in The New Yorker which said it was not his best work -- which I'm willing to grant; After Life struck me as more brilliant, the over-slow Maborosi more beautiful. There's reasons to think Nobody Knows is not a great film. But I have to be true to my gut feeling after seeing it twice, that it's a powerful and original piece of work. I even think of it more highly in retrospect, and I would advise anybody to give it a second viewing.

    It seems odd to me to speak of Koreeda giving a "lame excuse" for the kids not contacting authorities when such things actually happen and this story is based on a real event. A director hardly needs give any excuse for something that happens in real life, though granted life is stranger than fiction, any day. Odd also to call the depiction of the children "calculating" in the devolution process that happens over the long period of abandonment. Such a situation would be devastating and how little kids would keep it together for six months is hard to imagine--though they do show resiliency in many ways, which is also typical of kids. I don't think the film is to be taken completely literally, though.

    I think using "perfect looking" people in films makes a different sense from the conventional one that it pretties things up. Perfect looking people are the ones, strangely enough, that more of the audience can identify with. This is why people like to see Brad Pitt or Nicole Kidman in a movie playing a role: they can identify with their characters easily, because they want to. "Ordinary" looking people in movies can be a counterproductive strategy in making it harder for people to identify. If you think you look like a homely looking character actor and want to, you are different from the majority.

    I think arsaib4 has overreacted and his arguments are not very convincing here, nor helped by a certain crude dismissiveness which insults both the director and us who liked the film (e.g., "this film treats, successfully from the look to things, its audience as brain dead individuals whoíll shut off their bullshit-o-meters"), though I acknowledge and anyone must that this is not a perfect film.

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    Originally posted by oscar jubis


    Stephens certainly could've been A LOT harsher if he hadn't liked the film so much. In the San Francisco Bay Guardian, he listed Nobody Knows number 3 on his 2004 Top 10. Here's Stephens' three-and-one-half star review: http://www.montereycountyweekly.com/...e.movie_review
    Yes, I am aware of this and it seems like he's had a slight change of heart or after watching Kore-eda's short However... the overall picture seemed more lucid to him and he felt obligated to make a few points about the film. This review was also published late last year but he wrote the Film Comment article for the March/Apr issue.

  14. #14
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    :spoilers:

    Originally posted by Chris Knipp
    It seems odd to me to speak of Koreeda giving a "lame excuse" for the kids not contacting authorities when such things actually happen and this story is based on a real event. A director hardly needs give any excuse for something that happens in real life, though granted life is stranger than fiction, any day. Odd also to call the depiction of the children "calculating" in the devolution process that happens over the long period of abandonment. Such a situation would be devastating and how little kids would keep it together for six months is hard to imagine--though they do show resiliency in many ways, which is also typical of kids. I don't think the film is to be taken completely literally, though.]
    I have a problem with this. The key word is "based" and we've seen too many filmmakers using this word to invent whatever they want in the overall context of the event. Obviously we'll never exactly know what happened but I'm gonna guess that the reasons the authorities weren't contacted were slightly different than what Kore-eda gave us. This whole notion that the "society" ignored them is what I'm not buying in this case based on the film. One phone call could have saved the girl. Imagine the same scenario in another country where everyone would be aware but still wouldn't care.

    I think using "perfect looking" people in films makes a different sense from the conventional one that it pretties things up. Perfect looking people are the ones, strangely enough, that more of the audience can identify with. This is why people like to see Brad Pitt or Nicole Kidman in a movie playing a role: they can identify with their characters easily, because they want to. "Ordinary" looking people in movies can be a counterproductive strategy in making it harder for people to identify. If you think you look like a homely looking character actor and want to, you are different from the majority.

    Thanks, Chris; but this is not your summer blockbuster. We've seen this a bit too often now especially in tragedy-inducing, guilt laden hypocrisies. You won't see this with more honorable filmmakers who don't make film with Western audiences in mind.


    I think arsaib4 has overreacted and his arguments are not very convincing here


    All the points I've brought up are valid as they're based on simple little sequences that I'm glad I was able to see cutting through the think haze which apparently put everyone else to sleep.

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    Re: Someone Knows!

    Originally posted by arsaib4
    (1) ... Kore-eda provides us a lame excuse through Akira that the reason they donít want to contact authorities is because they donít want to separate while at the same time they (especially the older two) barely communicate with each other....

    (2) The landlord also becomes aware of the situation in one scene but apparently doesn't care about the rent or the apartment. ...

    (3) No friends or family of their mother or any of their fathers have any idea about them ...

    (4) Once money starts running out, Kore-eda wants to make sure that they look as indigent as possible as all of their clothes disappear along with any combs or garbage bags.

    (5) When Akira does try to call someone the coins run out as apparently the cell phone of the other lost soul they meet - a school girl who earlier pleases a Japanese businessman for money, how original! - has disappeared all of a sudden along with her family.
    Hmmm ... I think it is an above average movie. The only "weakness" I felt was the "pacing" or "length" of the movie. In my humble opinion, it can be edited and shortened by 10 to 15 minutes to make it more concise and compelling. I have to admit that when I first watched in Mill Valley, I would occasionally ask myself -- can the movie go "faster"?
    ;)

    Now, I will try to help the director (if possible) answer the comments made by arsaib4 ... not because I like the movie, but I guess I am usually more forgiving ... or maybe there is indeed a cultural difference here. ha ha ha ... ;PPP

    ... but forgive me if I have a recall error in my reply (I watched in LAST October) or if I understood your comments wrongly)

    The numbers correspond to the doubts above ...

    (1) Hmmm ... kids are interesting people ... their bond cannot be explained ... sometimes, growing up together is sufficient to bond them, even if they are from different fathers, even if they always quarrel ... (just like sibling rivalry .. recall the two kids in THE RETURN?) ... back to Daremo Shiranai ... they do not even need to have too much conversation ... just being together is sufficient

    About seeking help from the authorities ... a "possible" cultural difference: "Maybe" Americans are more vocal and always "asking for their rights" ... but in Asia, even if kids are badly treated or tortured or in need of help, they are unlikely to seek help from authorities ...

    (2) Hmmm ... about rental ... another "cultural difference"?! i am not sure about America ... but in Asia, because people are not as affluent, there is a lot of "owing" rent, and delayed payment. Quite a number of landlords do NOT evacuate you or bring you to court immediately ... unless they are also desperate for money. Of course there are some who are nasty.

    In addition, the landlords might be just waiting for their parent to appear -- after all, they may assume there is no point asking the kids. Would you bark kids for rental? I hope not ... ;P

    (In reality, I suspect the landlord also fails to collect his/her rent without evacuating the kids.)

    (3) The kids are all from different fathers (maybe single, maybe married). Given her constant "moving" of apartment and finding of new partners, the ex-partners
    -- may have no interest about the kids (esp. if he chose to abandon them or if he has another family or if it is a one night affair)
    -- or be certain whether they are indeed his kids (since she changes partners frequently)
    -- or are simply not aware of their whereabouts (assuming they should be fine with their mother's new partner).
    So, why bother?

    about friends of the mother ... in Asia (and more so in Japan, I believe) ... it can be really shameful to be pregnant out of wedlock. making matters worse, so many different fathers for different kids? would you really tell your friends?

    about her family ... i am not sure ... i believe she will keep it from them too ...

    (4) I can't recall if the horrible look was sudden or slow ... You may be correct ... but we probably have to assume the "jump" in time span ... and no laundry or soap ... so they looked unkempt ...

    (5) are you wondering why he did not use the cellphone from the girl? or are you wondering why he did not contact that girl any more?
    -- if it is the former and she is around, i cant recall why (probably director's over sight), or simply unexplained things like battery flat ... ha ha ha
    -- if it is the latter, then it is because he was ANGRY with her ... he only patched up with her later.


    I am not really defending the movie or director, but trying to provide some plausible explanations to answer your doubt.
    ;)
    Last edited by hengcs; 04-18-2005 at 11:48 PM.

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