文：林家威 ／翻譯： 曼懿
兩年前在本影展策劃「日本獨立最前線」的時候，介紹了濱口竜介的三部短片，還預測未來十年他最有機會成為新一代日本電影大師。今年憑五個小時十七分的《她們最好的時光》（Happy Hour） 送四位平凡地生活在神戶，從未拍攝過電影的家庭主婦和辦公室女郎殺入世界四大影展之一的羅迦諾國際電影節 (Locarno International Film Festival)，並獵獲最佳女演員，緊接著又在最早加冕侯孝賢和賈樟柯的南特影展擒獲最佳電影第二名和最受觀眾歡迎獎，最近又在新加坡國際影展受封最佳導演，兩年前的預言彷彿逐漸演變成事實。
事實上，今年三十七歲，畢業於東京大學文學系的濱口竜介很早就與電影結下不解之緣。在大學，他參加電影研究會社，拍了幾部8毫米的短篇。在課餘，每年都看約三百多部不分古今東西的電影，是名符其實的電影狂（cinefil），還專門研究美國古典電影大師Howard Hawks,法國新浪潮大師Eric Rohmer和美國當代獨立電影大師 John Cassavetes的電影並深受他們的影響。修讀的雖是文學，畢業論文寫的卻是 John Cassavetes論。畢業後，他也沒有走其校友們進入名門大企業或政府官僚的精英分子之路，而投入收入不穩定，生活崎嶇的電影界，從最低層的第四副導和PA做起。刻苦耐勞了好幾年，知道自己不是做副導和PA的料，剛好碰上剛成立的東京藝術大學電影系碩士班招生，他就義無反顧地去報考了。可惜第一年沒考上，要在第二年重考才獲得入學資格。
沒有日語片名，夠膽用八十年代高達（Godard）的代表作"Passion"為這部電影命名的濱口從一開始就已經流露出其對這部畢業作品的自信和野心。 "Passion"於高達而言是描述電影受難的過程，濱口的Passion卻是描述一群受激情困擾的男女們的愛情受難記。遠離高達（Godard）的形式和內容，濱口更趨向 Cassavetes那樣活生生赤裸裸地暴露和捕捉男女之間極端不穩定，充滿神經質卻真實的感情世界。影痴們當然毫無懸念地很容易在這裡找到後期 Cassavetes兩部代表作Husband和Love Streams的精神脈絡和呼吸節奏，但濱口竜介別無分行的獨門技藝和風格；大量令人不安卻真實殘酷的對話，雖是霎那卻彷彿捕捉到永恆、充滿電影感的臉部表情特寫，早已在這部電影渾然天成。濱口描寫黑夜抑壓不住的激情和奔流師法 Cassavetes，但到了白天的場景，卻像楊德昌般理智冷酷地觀察發生在大都會的男歡女愛。兩種互相衝突的電影風格在這里奇跡般的融合，實在不能不佩服濱口的藝高人膽大。
New path for possibility of film:
By Lim Kah Wai /Translated by Vanessa Wong Man Yi
Back in 2014, Hong Kong Independent Film Festival's "Japan Indie Frontline" introduced three short films directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi. At that time, Hamaguchi was in my anticipation that he will be the next master of Japanese cinema in coming decades. This year in 2015, the four female leads, who are ordinary housewives and office ladies from Kobe without any previous filming appearance, caught the attention of everyone in Hamaguchi's whooping 5 hours 17 minutes film "Happy Hour". The film received rave reviews and got the nod from the Locarno International Film Festival, one of the four world largest film festivals, receiving the best actress award. As in Nantes Three Continents Festival with the glorious array of two prominent directors Hou Hsiao-hsien and Jia Zhang-ke, "Happy Hour" also garnered Silver Montgolfiere and Audience Award. More recently, Hamaguchi himself received the Best Director Award at the Singapore International Film Festival. He has gained prominence with a turning point in his career—the prediction two years ago has become true.
Hamaguchi, 37, first came into contact with films while studying for his degree in Literature at the Faculty of Letters, The University of Tokyo. While at university, he joined the film research society and made a number of 8mm short films. He was best known by his friends as a cinephilia who watched around 300 classic and contemporary, western and eastern, short and long films a year. He was highly influenced by the master of American classic film, Howard Hawks, the master of French New Wave, Éric Rohmer, and the pioneer of American independent film, John Cassavetes. Although he majored in literature, Hamaguchi wrote his dissertation on the theory of John Cassavetes, proving his specialization in films. Upon graduation, he did not pave the way for himself to serve in the international firms and the bureaucracies, but shift his attention developing his career path in the film sector, with relatively unstable income and a rugged life. To go from those beginnings to becoming a director in this field, he began with the Fourth Assistant Director and Production Assistant. After several years, he realized his talent should be taken elsewhere. At the same time, Tokyo University of the Arts announced the launch of its masters program in film studies. He took a run at the admission and was admitted in his second attempt.
During his studies at the Tokyo University of the Arts, Hamaguchi filmed a number of short films under the guidance of prominent directors Takeshi Kitano and Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Hamaguchi has received critical acclaim for his impressive graduation debut "PASSION" and gathered much attention from producers in the mainstream film circle for his flair for filming. Birds of a feather flock together – Hamaguchi communicated with numerous producers, and when he was surprised by the whole production budget and the actors-oriented in the mainstream film industry, he realized that this will be an obstacle to his freedom of creation. He gave up the chances to work in the mainstream film industry, instead, drawing his own film path with freedom on creation.
Then again, this road was never easy, and Hamaguchi had a tough time of it. The depression stage of Japanese mainstream film and the developing stage of independent film led to meagre funds and limitations on production. Hamaguchi did not lose his passion in his film creation, notwithstanding, he produced numerous long and short films. Without doubt, these creation experience spiced up the diversity of his works, and precisely reflected in his recent work "Happy Hour" – "The Best Moment of Her Life" (BRIDES).
The production of "The Best Moment of Her Life" was planned since 2013. Hamaguchi organized an improvisational acting workshop in Kobe. In the workshop, he selected a total of 17 participants with no acting experience and appearance out of a large number of applicants in casting. Observing different characteristics of each participants, discovering their potentials in performance, listening to their views towards living and lives, he tailored made a script for each participants, and spent 8 months on shooting and production. Prior to his migration to Kobe for the production project, Hamaguchi collaborated with director Ko Sakai to produce the notable "Touhoku Documentary Trilogy" (2001 to 2013) in North Eastern Pacific where was struck by the destructive 311 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. The trilogy was critically acclaimed and regarded as the remarkable series among all the 311 documentary films. During his production, he also tutored students with green performance experience in a film school ENBU in Tokyo, shooting an over 4 hours long film "Intimacy" (2012) setting in theatre into the realms of fantasy and reality, and in between the virtual film world and the real living world. In the conversation with Hamaguchi, he explained if he had never filmed "Touhoku Documentary Trilogy" nor "Intimacy", he would not have successfully produced "Happy Hour" – "The Best Moment of Her Life". Indeed, Hamaguchi was inspired by the interviews with ordinary people who experienced the 311 disasters—Even though he was distanced from his familiar Tokyo, he could find the possibilities of filming at anywhere. At the same time, he discovered impromptu stories from ordinary people could be more beautiful and touching than well-plotted storyline in films. Their natural, simple and rich facial expressions create the best scene than any professional actors and superstars. In addition to his experience in filming the trilogy, his teaching experience at ENBU also proved himself to be professional in teaching amateur actors/actresses with his own developed methodology and theory. The success and recognition of his long film "Intimacy" also gave him confidence to think big and create regardless of the length of the work.
Similar to his idols Yasujirō Ozu and Mikio Naruse, the theme of Hamaguchi's works were basically related to our ordinary living, especially presented in a subtle way. In Hamaguchi's films, despite they were not full of dramatic plots and scenes as in mainstream films, neither the messages or reflections of society nor the greatness of political environment, he has demonstrated marvelous mise-en-scène with the deliberate use of camera angles and the art of picture sound in his work turning out to be highly impressive. If a director is not equipped with rich reading experience nor an in-depth knowledge of film reading, it will be difficult for him to present his work with confidence. The guidance provided for the actors/actresses, especially on the lines they speak, their expression, body and hand gesture presents the natural yet powerful side of the characters in many of his beautiful scenes. Beyond this exquisite yet natural sound design, we will feel the sudden impulse to communicate with others after watching Hamaguchi's films. His films impeccably delineate our sentiment in our everyday living, for which we are not able to express through our languages.
In this year festival, we are very lucky to watch both Hamaguchi's signature and latest film: "PASSION" and "Happy Hour" – "The Best Moment of Her Life".
With no Japanese film title, Hamaguchi was on a tightrope using one of Jean-Luc Godard's well-received work "PASSION" as his film title, showing his confidence and ambition to his graduation project. Jean-Luc Godard's "PASSION" narrated the somberness and suffering of love and work, whilst Hamaguchi's "PASSION" expressed the complex, unspoken and contradictory feelings between a young couple. Different from Godard but similar to Cassavetes, Hamaguchi tended to be explicit in his delivery of the unstable and extreme love and relationships between male and female – nerve-racking yet real. Though cinephilia can unquestionably spot the rhythm and spirituality of Cassavetes's two notable works "Husband" and "Love Streams", Hamaguchi's recognizable directorial style: a widely use of unpleasant yet real and cruel dialogs, the capture of instant and eternity, close-up of cinematic faces, has been inherited in this film. Influenced by Casssavetes Hamaguchi, Hamaguchi depicted the irrepressible affection in the dark at night; whilst similar to Edward Yang, Hamaguchi also observed the love relationship in the metropolitan space. Two contradictory shooting style blended perfectly in a film, turning out to be truly impressive.
"Happy Hour" – "The Best Moment of Her Life" is a film full of miracles. The depiction of ordinary everyday life is far more complicated through the lens of Hamaguchi. We could never imagine what would happen next on the four female leads, allured by the development of the film bringing us to another unknown world until it paid off. If Hamaguchi aims to express his distrust and sarcasm on engaged couples aged before 30 in "PASSION", with no doubt, he expresses his certainty and relief on married couples heading into their 40s who live with no passion and sincerity but contradiction and hypocrisy in "Happy Hour" – "The Best Moment of Her Life". Within these 317 minutes, despite the number of actors/actresses in one scene – either one or two people, the scenes were then full of dialogs and monologs. Here, extravagant shooting style became unnecessary. Savvy director Hamaguchi, who is an expert of Eric Rohmer's works, knows the best of dialogs making the film fantastic. What's more, with his best use of silence scenes, the attention is shifted from dialogs to the power and strength of lens in his works. Hamaguchi is a director who holds all the correct beliefs that the accumulation of unnoticeable and quotidian use of lens can produce absolutely beautiful cinematography. Even though there are no glamorous pictures and dramatic storylines, the uniqueness of films are brightly and lively captivated in Hamaguchi's works every second, every minute.
It has been said for the 21st century at the 15 year mark, film production in its origin by 120 years should also have entered a new century. Many people have their own reasons to insist in the old style and method in film production, distribution and promotion, and unfortunately, these film produced in the old system were often scarified. Turning back to Hamaguchi, "Happy Hour" – "The Best Moment of Her Life" is now hitting the box office in Japan with rave reviews. He has not only created a new path for possibility in the film sector, but also allowed other filmmakers to pay critical attention on creativity in film production—this is now the best moment to introduce Ryusuke Hamaguchi to everyone in Hong Kong who works and creates in mainstream and independent film circle.