If you watched the Academy Awards® this past February, you might remember the upset in the Best Foreign Language Film category. Most critics thought Waltz With Bashir was a lock (our own James listed it as one of his Top Ten Films of 2008), but then presenters Liam Neeson and Frieda Pinto announced Departures as the winner. Director Yōjirō Takita scrambled on stage — stunned — to accept the honor.
Over three months later, the Japanese film that took home the coveted golden statue finally hits theaters in select U.S. cities after earning $61 million in its home country. It tells the story of a cellist who must take a job at a funeral parlor after his orchestra is forced to disband. Specifically, he's put in charge of readying bodies of the deceased by dressing them and applying make-up. Although he's too ashamed to tell his wife exactly what this new job involves, he soon learns to find deep meaning in his work. If you can get past the somewhat hokey music that runs for about thirty seconds after the opening clip, you'll probably be as intrigued as I was by the rest of this trailer. (I loved the piece that played for the final minute.)
Below is U.S. version of the film's poster, and under that is the original poster that was used in Japan.
I prefer the Japanese version. It actually gives a clue as to what the movie is about, whereas the Americanized poster is pretty boring and — after seeing the trailer — a bit misleading. At least it leaves a lot of room for three very important words: Academy Award Winner.