Directors' Corner, Shunji Iwai

Shunji Iwai’s Filmography Part 1: Fireworks, Love Letter & Picnic


Even with the first three entries, they already established Shunji Iwai as a talent to look out for. He works on a shoestring budget so his films aren’t the most exquisite looking, but you start to see many of his trademarks. First is his insistence on portraying youthful sensibility through his teenage protagonists (Fireworks (1993), Picnic (1995) and their romances. It sounds like nothing special, I know, but he has a firm handle on both depicting his characters as complex and believable, and the romance that is always on the right note. His emphasis on atmosphere is there, too, as you can see in a snowy landscape in Love Letter (1995), accompany with the soothing piano. But his most recongizable trademark (which brings a fair share of distractors as well) comes from his music-video and TV-format root: his hypersatured images and his focus on music squences just like the MTV and his rapid-editing. Only in 3 films, we see him going from well-acclaimed Love Letter to cult-status Picnic, further signify the fact that he’s fearless. I personally love the way he writes his characters, especially with those opening sequences that already establish very well the characters and their own situations. Really looking forward for the next batch.

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