Is there anything in life more enigmatic than the haphazard paths that lead us into the another’ arms? Makoto Shinkai’s anime Your Name. (Kimi no na wa) explores these paths by way of a fantastical body-swap comedy. But, there is a genuine seriousness at the heart of the film that coalesces romance, connectivity, memory, and identity into a cohesive story about time, space, and the hidden strings that surround us all. Your Name. sports a lavish animation style, energetic soundtrack, and intelligent use of imagery and metaphor, all of which contribute to an absolutely breathtaking experience. Shinkai’s film amazes constantly, and is right at home alongside other pinnacles of this oft-celebrated style.
Weird, exciting, and vibrant, Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden is an erotic tour through a world of subjugation, trickery, and betrayal framed by a bizarre love triangle. The story was inspired by the novel Fingersmith by Welsh writer Sarah Waters, with Park and his co-writer Chung Seo-kyung adjusting the setting from Victorian England to Japanese-occupied Korea during the 1930s. The structure of the film is cyclical, re-telling the story three times from different viewpoints and revealing new truths with each telling. There’s an unreliability to the narrative, as truth and facade alternate with each new perspective. But ultimately, The Handmaiden has an fervent romanticism about it, as the heart of the story is about love, sexual exploration, and self-discovery – all with a tinge of deviancy.