In “The Works and the Days (by Tayoko Shiojiri in the Shiotani Basin)”, a woman moves through the life of the family farm in a Japanese mountain village. As her husband falls ill, she devotes more and more time to household chores, although visits from friends and relatives bring comfort and joy. Shot over 14 months, the film is a life event in itself, spanning eight hours.
You can go back to a line from “Inside Llewyn Davis”, spoken by Bud (F. Murray Abraham) after hearing Llewyn’s (Oscar Isaac) song: “I don’t see a lot of money here”. But as I watched “The Works and Days” I began to think that it might be a perfect fit for someone breaking through a cinematic drought pandemic: its intimate surroundings and lush natural world photographed induce elevation of senses and attention. to the beautiful subtleties of light, color and a sense of camaraderie.
The way the movie passes the time is how you or I would likely spend the time, or much of it, through the routines and conversations that connect our moments and ourselves. The film opens with a hilarious drinking bout, followed by a homecoming that plunges us into the domestic sphere at the heart of the film. Tayoko (Tayoko Shiojiri) – whose real diary entries are read periodically in voiceover – is seen tending to the house, chatting with neighbors who bring food (a touching community bond), sharing stories with her granddaughter and visit a shrine. Her adoring husband Junji (Kaoru Iwahana) enjoys pulling in the breeze and watching Go board game matches on TV.
A thread of nostalgia and even regret creeps into the conversations. The filmmakers, CW Winter and Anders Edstrom (who is Tayoko’s son-in-law), focus on the objects to make them feel very present but also as memories, recalling snapshots of lost and found film. It’s not a long-running cinema that is determined to make you feel the weight of the work (although it can be). The filmmakers’ camera eye further nourishes a muscular memory of these places through sound openings and finely crafted images of trellises (brambles or wires), opaque screens and windows, and worn pots. “The Works and Days” also probes the depths of night and twilight as few films do, exploiting the darkness of a theater.
The film reflects on how people organize the experience through our memories and actions, but the filmmakers also have an awareness of their steadfast methods. One of the five sections of the film opens with the following observation: “In the fifth month, we have had enough of seeing willows. Their penchant for off-center shots can seem a bit stubborn. But as someone in the movie says, what you want about the people you love is that you can spend even more time with them – and the same could be said of the most beautiful images in this movie. .
The works and the days (by Tayoko Shiojiri in the Shiotani basin)
Unclassified. Duration: 8 hours. In theaters.