FILM REVIEW: The World of Kanako



Beginning with Kant two hundred years ago and his belief “every event has a cause,” arguing around the framework of experience being supplied not from outside, from the external world itself, but by us, saying the presuppositions of morality are that those who obey the moral law should be rewarded, that the world by default is and continues to become a just place. Shortly thereafter came Hegel and his collective belief, “the learner always begins by finding fault, but the philosopher sees the positive merit in everything,” expounding to say “genuine tragedies in the world are not conflicts between right and wrong. They are conflicts between two rights.” Hegel saw nature and freedom as being opposing forces, Kant saw existence as transcendental presuppositions of experience, a result of a collaboration between who we are as individuals and a basic reality we can know nothing about other than that it must exist and that somehow all of us work subconsciously for an ultimate moral good.


Seemingly an immediate reaction to both philosophers came Schopenhauer who saw intrinsic flaws in the line of reasoning of how each camp begins with a solid honest foundation only to be constructed upon by faulty hypothesis in which each searched only for examples to prove their own beliefs rather than following a path towards truth. Shopenhauer supported both Hegel and Kant yet viewed the will as opposing, as something intrinsically evil, “insisting the world is not the place we would like it to be; having no patience with attempts to write off as ‘mere appearances all those elements in life, such as pain, decay, death and the rest of the conditions of existence which Plato and many since have denied , creating a world according to what they fancy” (Schopenhaur by Michael Tanner).


In modern reflection it is easy to see Hegel reborn through the Cohen brothers and Kant through Tarantino. Tetsuya Nakashima represents Shopenhauer. His latest film The World of Kanako is as beautiful as it is disturbing, as brutal as it is cool. Nakashima refuses to sacrifice his message at the altar of appeasing to the viewers comfort creating an unsettling film which lingers well after it has ended.


The World of Kanako is not a passive experience, it is philosophy, and as with all ultimate truths it reflects what all of us understand but choose not to see; the shadow of reality, the darkness of all we prop up as beautiful and important, how when stripped of life’s mask there is an ugliness to the all, to the individual, as much as to the pursuit. Nakashima focuses the lens on that integral point between what we choose to idealistically value and the filth it takes to prop such vain ambitions up. Some may hate this film; it won’t be for what it is, it will be from what they choose to deny from being forced to look at a reality they prefer to ignore, that is what defines the greatest of great art.



The World of Kanako Official Trailer


Pulling you in as another tale of innocence lost, of victims and blame, even masquerading at points as an expression of the age old belief in the sins of the father etc, in the end though it is a film about the things we pursue as idols, the darkness in us all that drives us there, the truth of vanity, the cost of living a lie, how we willingly choose to give up nearly all which is beautiful in ourselves to belong, to be cool, to feel elite above the sheep who make all feel inadequate by denying their own flaws and turning vehemently on all who do not fit neatly, silently, within the herd.


Outside of possibly The Tribe, The World Of Kanako has the best texture of any film this year; swaying between 70’s era cult and the sleek millennial holier-than-thou action cuts, eliciting a subconscious connection to all we do not speak of. Kôji Yakusho is on par with Nicholson in The Shining, Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood, in a strange way he reminds me of Javier Bardem if Bardem had no moral compass and was a drunk asshole. The rest of the characters float in and out as specters, all perfectly executed, minimally seen with complete impact. The plot lain out in jigsawed pieces of then and now, angels and demons battling over souls through vignettes of cause and effect. A film of antiheroes representing the antihero in us all, magnifying how twisted the arrogance and self-centeredness of our world destroys everything pure in it, how we are forced to react with such dark measures by default, be they addiction, violence, self-destruction and how those reactions in turn destroy the good and pure of someone else ad infinitum. Shopenhauer once wrote “the difficulty is to try and teach the multitude that something can be true and untrue at the same time” this film takes that sentiment and builds it into a flawless vivid masterpiece.


The World of Kanako has been making the rounds of festivals for over a year finally getting picked up by Drafthouse Films for an official American release last week. It is visually perfect and executed with absolute craft, seek it out at your nearest art theater.


Jay Armstrong is one of our newest contributors to ANON Magazine. He writes with an honest and knowledgeable voice and runs Heycoolkid!, a means of changing and highlighting good dudes creating unpretentious incredible art that perpetually go unnoticed.

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