The Bird People in China is a beautiful, quite touching film about the toil and toll that contemporary life fosters reflected against the simplicity of country, peasant life. A salary-man and yakuza are sent to mainland China to investigate a jade mine and after a gruelling journey they become entranced by the picturesque village and the purity of the villagers lives. Aside from stunning cinematography and the marvellous performances there’s a gentle humour to the script and depth to the plot that takes the viewer on a remarkable, emotive journey. It’s not often I gush about films but this is probably one of the best films I’ve watched this year as well as the most surprising, who knew Japanese horror maestro Takashi Miike was capable of such humanism.
The heart warming continues with Harry &Tonto, a 70’s road trip flick about an old man crossing the US with his pet cat after being evicted from his apartment block. The central performance of Art Carney as Harry, the weary but wise pensioner, shines with a warmth and understanding throughout which occludes some of the cheesier encounters during his journey. For the most part it’s a charmingly amusing, poignant movie that takes the time to address the darker aspects of our lives and our treatment of the elderly, it’s just a shame that it’s period styling seems almost laughable now. Still it’s a testament to it’s effectiveness that Carney won the Best Actor Oscar against Pacino in Godfather Part 2 and Nicholson in Chinatown.