Saturday, October 9, 2010


A scene from Air Doll.
Rubber soul

By John Esther

Hardly the Tokyo "dream home," a life-sized Air Doll floats from the kitchen to the bedroom on a daily basis. A "plain wrapper baby" mate for a master (Itao Itsuji) who wants nothing more than a lifeless "disposable darling" to serve his deflated ego, Air Doll stands for, among other things, as a metaphor for women who are to look pretty, say nothing, stay home and wait for the patriarch to return home and breathe his breath into her lifeless a(i)rea.

However, when Air Doll (Bae Doona) comes to life and enters the big world of love and dread, things take a particular turn "till death sighs."

Far smarter than Lars and the Real Girl, the Centerpiece Film for the ID Film Festival, writer-director Hirokazu Koreeda's adaptation of the original graphic novel, Gouda's Philosophical Discourse, The Pneumatic Figure of a Girl by Yoshiie Gouda, underpins the male gaze of object as ownership a la Shohei Imamura (Insect Woman; The Pornographers) while keeping a humanist sensibility a la Akira Kurosawa (Ikuru; Dreams) with an aesthetic reminiscent of Nagisa Oshima (In the Realm of Senses; Max mon amour) and a outlook not unlike Kenji Mizoguchi (Life of Oharu; Ugetsu) -- if we are going to respectfully compare Koreeda to other Japanese directors.


(Air Doll screens tonight, 10 p.m., at Los Angeles' National Center for the Preservation of Democracy, located at 111 N. Central Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012.  For more information:

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