lunedì 18 luglio 2016

La Jetée

For cinéphiles all around the world, the movie La Jetée by Chris Marker is a mythical one. 
Defined as photo-roman, since it is made by a very quick sequence of images, this short film (no longer than 28 minutes), has a special place in Nouvelle Vague fans’ hearts.
Why? Well, maybe because in such short time Marker is able to create a world apart, a black & white place where the future and the present has a strange, enigmatic, fascinating connection. 

If you’ve never seen it, I suggest you to do it as soon as you can. 
Many cinéphiles, though, when they think about La Jetée, have something else in mind.
It was 1974 when Tomoyo Kawai, a Japanese woman in love with French cinema, opened in Tokyo, in a Shinjuku area called Golden Gai, a little, a super tiny bar called La Jetée.
The place, I am talking about few square meters, became mythical very quickly.
Tomoyo-san, who lived in Paris and speaks a perfect French, was able to attract all the French cinema lovers passing through Tokyo, as well as many important film-makers (including Chris Marker himself).

Golden Gai - Shinjuku, Tokyo
Both Marker and Tomoyo-san are visible in a short sequence of Tokyo Ga by Wim Wenders, the love declaration (in the form of a documentary) to Tokyo and Ozu cinema that the German director filmed in 1985.
Wenders is an aficionado of this bar, as well as Francis Ford Coppola and his daughter Sofia, Quentin Tarantino and Juliette Binoche, among others. If you love French cinema and Tokyo, La Jetée is simply a must.
Some of Tomoyo’s clients even have their own, personalized bottle of whisky, which will be kept intact until their next visit. Isn’t that lovely?

I wanted to see this place so much, and I was finally able to have a gin and tonic there last April, during my stay in Tokyo. I was astonished by the smallness of the bar (that you can reach through a super tiny flight of stairs): just one table, a little counter and a mini toilet.
I couldn’t believe it! It was actually a place at my scale:
Zazie at La Jetéé - Tokyo, April 2016 (photo by Giorgio Amitrano)
Tomoyo-san is a very quiet and lovely lady who treats her clients in the sweetest way.
The walls are full of cinema pictures and cinema posters; not a single space is left and there are so many things to look at!

Useless to say, this bar immediately became my favourite one in Tokyo, and most probably in the whole world.
When I was about to go away, on the wall just above the door, I saw the poster of a retrospective of François Truffaut movies celebrating the 30th anniversary of his death:

It was the icing on the cake.
This is THE PERFECT PLACE, I swear.
If you are in Tokyo and you don’t go there, don’t even bother the journey.

A special thanks to Giorgio Amitrano, who brought me to La Jetée!

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