Two of last year's best foreign-language films, The Class and Waltz With Bashir, are currently playing in Seattle. Opening Friday at the Guild 45 (review on Wednesday), the Italian mob picture Gomorrah is the film that everyone agrees should also have been among the Oscar-nominated five. Among the losers: The Baader Meinhof Complex and Revanche; the latter open at SIFF Cinema on May 1.
But the Japanese Departures? About an unemployed musician who becomes a mortuary assistant? Not even The New York Times' lead film critic has seen that one. Look it up on IMDb, and the only U.S. play date listed is for the Hawaii Film Festival? WTF? Did it ever actually play in NYC or L.A. theaters? Not according to the film's Web site. Not according to our colleague Scott Foundas, who has seen the "relentlessly medicore tearjerker." Since the film has played the Palm Springs Film Festival, there's a good chance it'll come to SIFF. Otherwise, to judge from the review in Variety, it's the kind of tame, bland, apolitical foreign movie that doesn't risk offending anybody (unlike films dealing with racism and poverty in France, or war and denial in Israel, or pervasive violence and corruption in Italy).