Intimate Stranger 親密な他人 Dir: Mayu Nakamura [New York Asian Film Festival 2022]

Intimate Stranger   Intimate Stranger Film Poster

親密な他人 Shinmitsuna tanin

Release Date: March 05th, 2022

Duration: 96 mins.

Director: Mayu Nakamura

Writer: Mayu Nakamura (Script/Story), 

Starring: Asuka Kurosawa, Fuju Kamio, Yu Uemura, Shogen, Shiro Sano, Mitsuko Oka,

Website IMDB

Thursday Jul 21, 7:00pm

Film at Lincoln Center

Director Mayu Nakamura will attend the screening.

Mayu Nakamura is an award-winning documentarian and fiction filmmaker. Her recent works includes Alone Again in Fukushima, the post Fukushima meltdown study of a man who stayed behind to look after animals, and Covid-19 short film Among Four of Us (interview with director Mayu Nakamura about that film). She returns to the screens with Intimate Stranger, a psycho-sexual thriller short on story surprises but deep in social critique and wonderfully heavy on eerie atmosphere. Nakamura works well with her cast as she channels a magnificent performance by criminally under-utilised lead actress Asuka Kurosawa.

Somewhere in Tokyo is Megumi Ishikawa (Asuka Kurosawa) a 46-year-old part-time salesperson at a baby clothing store. Her routine boils down to going to work and returning home where she has been waiting for her son, Shinpei (Yu Uemura), who went missing a year ago. When a cash-strapped 20-year-old young man named Yuji (Fuju Kamio) claims to know Shinpei’s whereabouts, Megumi invites him to stay with her. The audience knows that Yuji isn’t entirely on the level since, at the start of the film, we see him perform an “ore-ore” scam and fleece an old lady out of her money for a criminal gang led by Kenichi (Shogen) and it looks like Megumi might be his next target.

As we wait and watch what happens between the two, Megumi’s behaviour starts to become inconsistent. The close proximity of Yuji and Megumi to each other tantalisingly reveals hidden secrets and they develop a strange sort of intimacy that gets us to question reality. Their relationship becomes one that sometimes seems like a parent and child and other times seems sexual and we in the audience get caught up in an ever-shifting game of trying to guess who is predator and who is prey and who will come out on top.

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Alone Again in Fukushima  ナオト、いまもひとりっきり Dir: Mayu Nakamura (2021) [Yamagata International Film Festival 2021]

Alone Again in Fukushima   Alone Again in Fukushima Film Poster

ナオト、いまもひとりっきり 「Naoto, Ima mo Hitorikkiri 」

Release Date: N/A

Running Time: 95 mins.

Director: Mayu Nakamura

Writer: N/A

Starring: Naoto Matsumura, Daisuke Matsumura, Shinichi Hangai, Toshiko Hangai,

Website

“He has a heart. Only a person with a heart would do what he is doing.” I’m paraphrasing the words of Shinichi Hangai in his description of Naoto Matsumura, a former builder who, in the aftermath of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, stayed behind to care for Hangai’s cattle when people living in the shadow of he Fukushima nuclear reactors were ordered to evacuate. On top of farm animals, Matsumura became a guardian to a whole host of other creatures great and small in an extraordinary story of humanity in the face disaster. A decade on from the 3/11 disaster, director Mayu Nakamura releases an update on Matsumura who remained near a danger zone to continue with his selfless act.

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Among Four of Us 4人のあいだで Dir: Mayu Nakamura (2020) [Osaka Asian Film Festival 2021]

Among Four of Us

4人のあいだで 4-Ri no Aida de

Release Date: April 23rd, 2021

Duration: 40 mins.

Director: Mayu Nakamura

Writer: Mayu Nakamura (Screenplay)

Starring: Fusako Urabe, Nahana, Kota Kusano,

OAFF IMDB

The Covid-19 pandemic has seen a number of high concept movies using the reality of lockdown situations to try new spins on old stories with social media platforms playing key roles. At the outset we had Zoom seances (The Host), actors in isolation making a horror film via videos recorded separately and edited together (One Cut of the Dead Mission: Remote), and, later in the pandemic, actor’s on the same set voicing the SNS comments their characters write as they experience a tentative romance mediated by the internet (Here and There).

Most of these films will be curios of an age where many of our interactions were confined online due to lockdowns but Mayu Nakamura’s 20-minute short Among Four of Us feels both specific to our moment and also timeless as strong writing and performances create a profoundly sad examination of the human condition.

The central conceit of the film is a socially distanced late-night conversation that takes place between three friends, Koji (Kota Kusano), Fusae (Fusako Urabe), and Nanae (Nahana). 20 years previously, they were in the same drama club in college. Since then they have gone their separate ways with Fusae and Nanae having given up and settled down to domesticity while only Koji is still acting. Haunted by lockdown loneliness and an incident with a fourth member of their theatre troupe, Koji attempts to resurrect the friendly and fun nature of their former relationship with beers and a laidback talk in a park.

Koji (Kota Kusano)

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