To the Ends of the Earth (2019, Kiyoshi Kurosawa)

Katy’s Criterion Channel pick is my first Kiyoshi in a few years, having skipped the alien visitation movies. I found it barely recognizable as a Kiyoshi, not sensing the horror atmosphere that others mentioned in reviews. A few days in the life of Yoko, on location in Uzbekistan with an easily defeated TV crew (when one segment falls through they don’t have any backup plans, hadn’t even read Lonely Planet: Tashkent on the plane). They each become familiar over the fairly long 120 minutes: director, cameraman, flunky, and translator – though the viewer is always on Yoko’s side (Seventh Code star Atsuko Maeda).

The movie gives us a symbolic goat which the TV crew pays to free, then pays again after it gets recaptured, then Yoko sees it in the hills at the end. The one time the camerawork feels complex is when Yoko wanders into an opera house and gets jump-cut between ornate rooms before finding herself both in the seats and onstage. After visualizing her inner yearning, KK shows the absolute lack of imagination of her coworkers – the translator suggests shooting in that opera house, explains its specifically Japanese origin and his rich emotional history with the place, and the director shrugs it off, saying their viewers wouldn’t care.