Perfect Days

Perfect Days
Perfect Days
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78-year-old German-born director Wim Wenders is a peripatetic artist whose career has been marked by equal amounts of inspiration drawn from Japan and the US. Two of his 1980s documentaries, “Tokyo-ga” and “Notebook on Cities and Clothes,” are situated there as well as a part of his 1991 epic elegy on earthly life, “Until the End of the World.” In addition, some aspects in Japanese philosophy suggest that it could be seen as the place where one may find serenity or take part in activities that lead to tranquility and thus for him, unwieldy camera movements characteristic of Ozu’s films have often been one of his guiding principle. We are exploring the Perfect Days Movie.

This major film, Perfect Days, shows Wenders’ representation of an aging Tokyo sanitation worker who lives methodically but richly in terms of culture. The veteran Japanese actor Koji Yakusho (“Shall We Dance?”) plays Hirayama who cleans downtown public toilets in Shibuya – a fashionable district in Tokyo. A slender man with grey hair that had grown out of control still giving off testosterone vibes however concealed behind meekness as though it was deliberately put under bushels he wakes up each morning from his small apartment then drives down to town blasting some songs from his well-curated cassette music lifestyle through his van.

In this movie’s soundtrack are The Animals’ version of “The House of the Rising Sun,” “Pale Blue Eyes” by The Velvet Underground, and “Sunny Afternoon” from The Kinks among others. The Kinks played an important role in Rainer’s cinema, Bruno Ganz sings along softly with their song“Too Much on My Mind” during one of those imperfect days when he was still alive atelier while they were doing their best for tourists to buy framer which appeared as one character found himself caught between different regions. Velvet Underground frontman Lou Reed gets another cut on the soundtrack (which one?) and also appeared in Wenders’ sprawling contribution to post-Cold-War international relations, “Faraway So Close!” which also featured a cameo from Mikhail Gorbachev. Alone in his car, looking at the sun coming up, enjoying the music, Hirayama seems to glory in just being present in this moment of life.

While it is largely an isolated existence, there is something about its specifics that may be typical of a kind of male wishful thinking. It represents a desire for “meaningful” solitude that accompanies the wish after a certain age simply to be left by oneself alone by world. Only cassette music plays while with some other demonstrative type of character this would have seemed almost unendurable hipster iconography (and this is literally the case), Kudos to him who just possesses more of an “everything in its right place” spirit.

There isn’t much that happens here. His world is full of beauty – these parks where designer toilets are located and then another place; it’s dark and small with an owner who’s female and quiet and with whom Hirayama tentatively connects with. At nightfall he reads, black-and-white dreams that were done together with his wife Donata Wenders a photographer appearing as imaginative sequences throughout the movie.

Certain critics have suggested that Wenders’ squeaky-clean portrayal of someone who cleans toilets…” for a living was somewhat evasive.The focus taken by Wenders on sanitary work can be said to be quite polished.Rather than…

Not to get too graphic or strong about it, I’d say, with regard to “Kings of the Road,” Wenders doesn’t need to give us anything on scatology.

However, beyond what he does not show, there are some critics who can’t stand the corresponding attitude of Hirayama and the movie. Which I interpreted as ‘acceptance is everything.’ For some accepting life and being complacent are same, and I understand that. Yet for me this picture has always been emotionally engrossing; its protagonist constantly seeks serenity.

However much it may be serene though, the Perfect Days film nevertheless has its mysteries such as these. The patience and endurance by which Hirayama puts up with his dumb friend Takashi (Tokio Emoto) approaches self-abnegation. One could suppose that when Hirayama’s teenage niece came over they had a bit of an awkward conversation. This girl is a little inquisitive about her uncle’s way of living so she borrows one of Patricia Highsmith short stories’ books from him. A while afterwards Niko tells Hirayama that her favorite story was “The Terrapin.” That film does not mention this fact but in reality it explains how a mother boiled a turtle brought home for supper; as a result the child killed his mother.  When Hirayama’s sister shows up to claim her daughter, the dialogue between siblings implies a former mode of life very different from Hirayama’s current situation. Is Hirayama doing a living amends? And if so, for what? In “Casablanca,” Captain Renault says to Rick Blaine: “I like to think you killed a man, it’s the romantic in me,” speculating upon what Rick might have been running away from; one sees similarities with other Highsmith-based films such as “The American Friend” where anti-romantic killing occurs and wonders about Hirayama.

This reminded me of how Peter Bogdanovich described Ford’s “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”: it “is not a young man’s movie; it has the wisdom and poetic perceptions of an artist knowingly nearing the end of his life and career.” The wisdom and poetry here are just as real and just as deeply felt.

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