Whole Life Magazine

April/May 2014

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Page 30 of 43

A fi lm about words and dictionaries is decidedly not for action fans, but this quiet drama touched a nerve in Ja- pan, where it triumphed in the categories of best pic- ture, director, actor, script editing and sound in the Japanese Academy Awards. Majime (Ryuhei Matsuda, or Matsu), a nerdy, word-ob- sessed editor, is requisitioned in 1995 to help compile a 240,000-word "living" dictionary—including slang, contrac- tions and colloquialisms—titled The Great Passage. The inten- tion of the project is to clarify what words precisely mean, in support of communication and human connection. "Finding that perfect word is like a little miracle," the director tells his team. Ultimately the project takes 15 years to complete. Over this time period, along with compilation of words and mean- ings for the dictionary, two other great passages take place: our withdrawn logophile matures and develops, and Japan shifts into the tech age. Of course no dictionary would be complete without a defi nition of the word "love," and tasked with this assignment, Mat- su learns to defi ne his personal agony over his landlady's granddaugh- ter Kaguya, sweetly played by Aoi Miyaza- ki. He also moves past his shyness to develop deep friendships with his co-workers. This fi lm gives new meaning to the words "slow moving." We wait half an hour for our hero to even meet his beloved, and up to half a minute for him to answer most questions. It's diffi cult to imagine The Great Passage fi nding a wide following in our hurry-up American audience, but it's a clear and lovely window into differences in culture. —AL DIRECTED BY YUYA ISHII The Great Passage FILM DIRECTED BY STEPHANIE SOECHTIG Fed Up O ur obesity rate is breaking the scale at 30 percent and everybody's confused. We've been told that if we get enough exercise we'll lose weight, but obesity rates keep rising at the same rate as fi tness rates. How is this pos- sible? In Fed Up, a new fi lm narrated (and conceived) by Katie Couric, director Stephanie Soechtig (Tapped) shares the ongo- ing weight-loss travails of several children, and interviews lead- ing experts who explain why these kids can't seem to fi x their problem. To simplify, it's one word: sugar. Of the some 600,000 food items available in the supermarket, an incredible 80 per- cent have added sugar, which scientists have determined lights up the brain in the same way as cocaine and heroin. Com- pounding the problem, when manufacturers come out with a "low-fat" version of a product, they usually compensate for fl a- vor loss by—you guessed it—increasing the sugar. I was over-simplifying when I said it's one word. It's actually three, the other two being government and lobbyists. When the World Health Organization (WHO) came up with guidelines for sugar intake, food industry heavyweights raised such a fuss that the Bush administration threatened to withdraw U.S. sup- port. Can you guess what happened next? Here's just one tiny result: Look at any processed food product label and notice what percentage of the daily recommended sugar is contained. Oops, you can't; it's not there. Fed Up is an eye-opener, even for the slender. It's tempting to dismiss overweight people as fat and lazy, but not only is that often not the case, 40 percent of thinnies are poised to face the same medical battles. Unlike many food-fact documentaries, there are no graph- ic images here to make you cringe, but the stories might; these are real kids suffering. And for you closet activists looking for a way to make a difference? Get your PTA to host a screening for your kid's school, where there's an alarming 50 percent chance fast-food lunches are being served. It could be a life-changer. Open in Los Angeles May 9 (Atlas Films) —AL april/may 2014 31 FINAL-WLT-APRIL-MAY.indd 31 3/30/14 7:58 PM

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