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From ‘Oppenheimer’ to ‘All of Us Strangers’: Cinematic Highlights of Early 2024″

2024.7.11

#MOVIE

The abundance of theatrical releases, dramas, and streaming content in the world of visual media can be overwhelming. Even for passionate moviegoers, it’s easy to miss out on some great films. As we reach the midpoint of 2024, it’s an opportune moment to reflect on this year’s cinematic offerings.

In this discussion, film critics Nayuta Osanai and Tsuyoshi Kizu, co-hosts of a film-focused podcast, share their insights. They highlight standout films from the first half of the year and discuss strategies for enjoying today’s diverse range of cinema experiences.

Hollywood’s All-Out Effort: ‘Oppenheimer’

-What comes to mind for you, Osanai?

Osanai: Certainly, ‘Oppenheimer’ (directed by Christopher Nolan) is a must-mention… Although technically it’s a 2023 release. In Japan, around the same time, ‘Dune: Part Two’ (directed by Denis Villeneuve) was also released, which made me feel like these two films marked the “final all-out effort of Hollywood cinema.”

Nayuta Osanai
A writer for films and foreign dramas. Known in Tokyo’s small theater scene as an independent theater practitioner, involved in playwriting, directing, and acting. Primarily focuses on American films and TV series.

Top 5 Picks for the First Half of 2024 by Nayuta Osanai

Oppenheimer
Anatomy of a Fall
Challengers
Evil Does Not Exist
Road House 

Osanai: In contrast to ‘Dune: Part Two,’ which assembled an all-star cast in leading roles, ‘Oppenheimer’ featured a variety of actors, some relatively unknown. When I posted the names of supporting actors like Josh Hartnett, Dane DeHaan, and David Krumholtz on social media, it received quite a bit of attention. It means there are many dedicated fans of these actors. It made me think that Nolan might gather a broad range of movie fans like this and make his films successful.

Trailer for ‘Oppenheimer’

Kizu: While it was unfortunate that its release was delayed despite being originally meant to symbolize 2023, I also felt that the timing after the Academy Awards heightened its topicality. Of course, the subject matter itself contributed, but the delay also brought attention to it. By the way, how did you find the content of the film?

Tsuyoshi Kizu
A writer who focuses on film, music, and gay culture, contributing across various media. He is the author of “New Dad: The New Man in a New Era” (published by Chikuma Shobo).

Osanai: I really liked it. While I think it could have benefited from a bit more pacing, its fast tempo was so impressive that it felt like the audience was being left behind, and that was remarkable. I think it’s crucial that I understood there’s a significant gap between the creators and the audience, between Japan and Nolan. It’s a film that should spark discussion precisely because it doesn’t aim for easy comprehension.

From “Oppenheimer” © Universal Pictures.

Kizu: For me, Nolan has consistently been a director I can’t fully immerse myself in. Of course, when I first saw his work in IMAX, I felt the determination to capture something definitive as a leading director in contemporary Hollywood. However, at the same time, I had reservations about his films being tailored for IMAX…

It’s said to be a first-person film that uses the “immersion” promoted by IMAX, but I felt conflicted about whether modern cinema is limited to that approach. Because it’s first-person, I ended up sensing something like heroism. When telling the history of the atomic bomb, I wondered if it had been accepted by Americans as a heroic story of someone who had to become Prometheus.

From “Oppenheimer” © Universal Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

Osanai: In terms of “heroic,” I may have had a completely opposite view. Regardless of being Japanese, Oppenheimer wasn’t portrayed in a way that made him relatable at all, in my impression.

Later on, the focus shifts to his involvement in the Red Scare. I believe American films often reflect on their own history, and in that sense, I felt this film also had elements of introspective American cinema.

From “Oppenheimer” © Universal Pictures. All Rights Reserved.
“Is the film “Oppenheimer” an anti-nuclear film? Nolan’s Vision of a ‘Broken World'” (NiEW) reads

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