Monday, February 4, 2013

The Fugitive Fest & a Film


I rode my bike up a one way street in the rain holding an umbrella while, unbeknownst to me, an armed gunman was lurking at a university housing complex nearby. Upon arrival at home, I crashed into a neighbor's driveway. She kindly came out to check on me. My circa 1970's Triumph bike's brakes don't work so well, wet or dry, add that my feet can't touch the ground when I'm in the saddle and the umbrella in my hand and it's a miracle I survived the day. The gunman was never captured, and it was all over five bucks. The day off was dubbed “The Fugitive Fest” as the bars uptown were, of course, open.

For Christmas my husband gave me a DVD of Shiawase no Pan or The Bread of Happiness, however, due to language restrictions, we couldn't play it on our player. In the end, we decided to buy a player to devote to Japanese language films, and so with its arrival, I could finally watch my Christmas present.. 

The film is set in Hokkaido, the northern part of Japan, a place of great natural beauty. A couple open a cafe and hotel after leaving Tokyo. Through sharing bread, they help the lonely hearts that come their way. It's sad to watch the little girl relive the loss of her mother over a bowl of pumpkin soup, but she gets her father back over another bowl of pumpkin soup and bread. It's all about bread, chestnut bread, potato bread, dried fruit breads, every kind of hot steamy bread. Break off a piece of bread and share it with someone. There is some silliness like the customer's bag that is never opened, like laying drunk in a field of grass crying for yourself, like the plaid suit the postman wears. The small community includes a glass artist that sneaks in her work and break pieces that are flawed. All the while every scene begins or ends with bread. I want the recipe book!

There is a kind of stillness and quietness to the main characters that stayed with me after the viewing. The focus on making bread, on preparing a cup of coffee, on making food was so deliberate and exacting as if there was nothing else. It seems so rare to feel this in life, something to work toward.