1.) THE TABLE (2018)
Conversations between two people of varying relationships. The Table is just that, a film set inside a cafe, in one particular spot where different people have a sitdown talk throughout the day. It features four different pairs, each conversation an exploration of their relationship. We see a glimpse of a certain moment in these people’s lives. The film is subtle but it draws you in with a very well-written script that is equally well executed by its actors. The film also shows shots of coffee and other drinks being prepared. It has a meditative quality as if we are there to witness and ponder about our own lives and the similar instances that may seem too simple or fleeting but are actually very beautiful and meaningful. This film left me remembering about the quiet moments in my life, the littlest things. Like how one particular coffee drinker had a box of tea sitting in his cupboard just for me and how that moment has stayed with me.
2.) LITTLE FOREST (2018 KOREAN VERSION)
A Korean film produced in 2018, based on the slice of life Japanese Manga by Igarashi Daisuke. It’s a story about a girl who leaves the city to go back to her childhood home in the province after failing to pass her licensing exams. Her decision to leave places a strain on her relationship, and she mulls the disintegration of her romantic entanglements. Meanwhile, the house sits empty with the departure of her mother to somewhere unknown. She spends her days planting crops, visiting her friends and creating dishes her mother used to make. In a way she has created a sanctuary for herself as she licks her wounds and process where she is at life. Little Forest also has a Japanese Live Action version. The two films each have their own charm. And you can really see the difference and strengths that lie in each national cinema. The South Korean formula has perfected the streamlined narrative- elements of romance, coming of age, a polished visual aesthetic that fits the taste of viewers. Whilst the Japanese version keeps it more natural and raw, the kitchen scenes and farm scenes seem to be barely touched by any production design, true to the philosophy of wabi- sabi. It focuses more on the character’s position in relation to nature, and her roles and relationships with the elders in the community, as well as the farming community itself.
For myself, it’s hard to find that kind of quietness and grace living in the city, and there is no house in the forest I can runaway to, nevermind that I also have nary an idea on farming- so I’ve proceeded to create my own “little forest” in the city, carefully curating and choosing experiences and activities that nourish my soul.
3.) LITTLE FOREST (2014, 2015 JAPANESE VERSION)
The Japanese version is a two-part live action series separating four seasons into groups of two. Hence, the film is a more immersive experience in the lives of rural folks. It not only focuses on the cooking, but it soaks into the seasons and the lives that harmoniously move along with time. Farming traditions, community involvement, relationships and the self are all given ample screen time. The film has an almost meditative quality to it. While the Korean version was a satisfying narrative with a clean storyline, the Japanese version is more of a mood film where we steep into the energy of each season. I highly suggest watching both versions as they are both very different but lovely at the same time. While I enjoyed the Korean version, in the long run I found myself liking the Japanese version more.