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Friday, March 27, 2009


Masterpiece maker

The Japan Times interviewed Yoshihiro Nakamura at the Ebisu headquarters of the Amuse talent agency, where Nakamura was holding forth all day for the press. Despite the PR grind, he was relaxed, with a ready laugh, and spoke in a distinctive low, rumbling voice.

News photo

"Fish Story" begins with the world coming to an end. I had the feeling you were warning us about something.

I don't have any deep purpose. I'm not saying, "This is what we should do to save the world." What I'm trying to say is, "Even if you live an ordinary life, you can have an impact on others." In other words, "You are not alone."

A lot of your heroes, including the ones in "Fish Story," seem to be losers who somehow end up being winners or at least survivors.

Well, they may have lost on a particular occasion, but if they keep trying, they can fulfill their dreams. Or at least have an impact on others. What I'm saying in this film is that, if you keep trying, you can somehow have an impact. You may not win, though.

Is there any particular reason for choosing the years for the various stories, such as 2012 for the end of the world?

There are various predictions saying the world will end in 2012, including Nostradamus'. A lot of people believe in Nostradamus' prediction.

In "Fish Story" you are telling four different stories. Did you worry about consistency, in terms of mood and so on?

No, not really. I wondered how I was going to pull it together in the editing room, though. But when I was directing, I was just thinking about making these four short films — a music film, a youth film, an action film and a sci-fi film. When it came time to edit it was fun tying everything together.

You had to have a clear idea of what you wanted to do in the last five minutes, though.

Yes, I did plan for the last five minutes, but not so much for the rest of the film. You could do the same sort of thing with other films. Say you have some cuts from "The Sixth Sense" and some cuts from a (Akira) Kurosawa film. It would interesting to try to tie them all together. You'd end up with a film totally different (from your sources). It would be fun to try. (laughs).

You seem to like films that solve a puzzle.

Yes, I love mystery and suspense films — I always have. The one director who has really impressed me in the past 10 years, though, is (M. Night) Shymalan. I also like the Coen brothers. I love the reality they create in their films. I love the way they think.

(In their films) you have a hero who, with just a slight change of perspective, could also be the villain. That's not just in the movies — you can also see that in real life. For example, Mark, in your own life, you're the hero, but to people who see you on the street, you're just a bit player. Everyone is like that — heroes in their own lives, but in the eyes of others, a bit player, or a villain.

Do you want to make films so that the audience has to see them more than once to get everything? I felt that way with "Fish Story" — I want see it again to pick up things I missed.

No, one time is enough. If you see the last five minutes of that movie you should understand everything. I want people to walk out of the theater with a light feeling, thinking that it's good to be alive.

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