Toronto Japanese Film Festival 2018: Our Review of ‘Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda’

Toronto Japanese Film Festival 2018: Our Review of ‘Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda’

Stephen Schible’s new documentary explores the life of Ryuichi Sakamoto. It puts some focus on his later years when he performs his compositions for crowds. People know him for writing the score for The Revenant but his concerts remind us of his decade long career.

The movie needs to point out Sakamoto’s vitality. He now has to be more health conscious after a cancer diagnosis years ago. Relapse is just around the corner, ready to strike.

Despite that, Sakamoto marches on, finding inspiration within nature. He specifically holds on to nature, trying to capture its sounds and different meanings. Watching this process is one of the movie’s strong points.

Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda also explores his past as an electronic musician during Tokyo and Japan’s technological boom. He’s amused at how technology makes things easier for him.

These are all great. An older man muses about how his youth can answer to what the world demanded of him. He also discuss technology’s relationship to man’s destructive capabilities.

However, the film didn’t need to be a clip show to prove that. It needed to pare down some of its clips so we can get a fuller glimpse into Sakamoto’s deeper thoughts.

The film also lets him discuss his influences. Although as it turns out not all of them end up in the new piece he’s trying to write. There are a lot of loose threads here.

There’s also a detour on 9/11, which Sakamoto actually witnessed, inspiring him to compose two pieces. It’s as if Schible hopes that Western audiences can associate that to Fukushima but it doesn’t work.

Fukushima is close to Sakamoto’s mind and Schible is there, empathizing with him. The director’s heart is in the right place but this doc needed to be more coherent to encapsulate his subject.

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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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