Reel Asian 2021: Our Review of ‘CODE NAME: Nagasaki’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Movies, Reel Asian 2021 by - November 16, 2021
Reel Asian 2021: Our Review of ‘CODE NAME: Nagasaki’

Marius Lunde types on what viewers assume is a typewriter. What’s interesting about this counter shot is that the shot before it is what we assume is a laptop screen. That screen shows the prominent Japanese private investigators. A man of Norwegian origin, he’s looking up these investigators who might help him find his estranged Japanese mother. And instead of making a conventional documentary about it, Lunde’s friend Frederik S. Hana uses different genres to frame that search.

The story viewers see in CODE NAME: Nagasaki evolves within those frames of genre but there are moments when it’s a straight up documentary. Those scenes show the film’s earnestness. That’s especially true during a scene of Lunde just talking, hoping that his mother sees the footage. What makes this special for some of us is seeing a biracial man onscreen. People make assumptions about biracial people and this film gives them interiority.

A lot of critics have praised this film for its creativity. I’m here to add another voice to sing its praises. Framing Lunde’s search as a noir western would be enough. But every layer in this palimpsest make it more interesting. It makes references to foreign indie dramedies like the ones Coppola and Wong Kar-wai make. And those references always say something, especially to Lunde’s alienation as someone who looks Japanese but doesn’t feel Japanese.

CODE NAME: Nagasaki explores the different worlds one individual lives in. One other genre it uses is horror to express Lunde’s feelings as a monster child whom her mother doesn’t want. The horror scenes also mark the film at its most visually inventive. There’s a scene showing images of eyes that are open to interpretation. This is a film that deserves big screen and repeat screenings in all the film festivals.

Buy tickets to CODE NAME: Nagasaki here.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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