After enjoying Hamaguchi's two most recent films, I decided to spend the time with Happy Hour his 5 hour drama from 2015 that is leaving Criterion this month. I watched it over a few days and was really absorbed in it, at no point did I think "this movie is too long". The narrative follows four female friends, they are all in their... 30s I guess, 3 married, 1 divorced. Over long scenes of dialogue, the film slowly reveals their lives with a focus on communication, and the lack thereof: what is said, what is unsaid, what never gets asked or answered. There are dramatic elements to the plot (mostly later on in the story), but it all kind of slowly emerges over the course of time (both actual filmic time and narrative time). The husbands in the story seemed universally uncommunicative, taciturn, but it also never becomes totally clear how much the women actually try to communicate with them. Thinking about it, I'm not sure I understand the title's relevance.
Happy Hour was co-scripted by Tadashi Nohara, who also worked on another film I'd been meaning to watch Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Wife of a Spy, his follow up to To the Ends of the Earth, which I enjoyed but apparently never mentioned here. This one was a kind of spy/thriller set in Japan during the time before the Japan and U.S. went to war (though after Japan already was involved in conquests in mainland Asia). The protagonist, a woman who at first seems rather dull, over the course of the movie reveals herself to be smart and clever, but the movie never really let's one settle on any of the espionage/spy stuff. Was her husband a spy or not? Did he betray her? Did she try to betray him? There ended up for me, a certain unknowability to the relationship and motives.
About a third of the way through Middlemarch, enjoying it, though not as much as some my other long novels of the year. The writing is often long winded, telling quite a lot about very little. But I am interested in the way the novel paints a broad portrait of the interactions between a variety of characters in the setting and their various interrelations.
Finished up, Horizon: Forbidden West, or at least got to the end of the main story and played quite a large part of the side stories (as far as I can tell) without actually trying to do everything. By the end all the extra stuff was starting to feel really repetitive. Like a lot of these games, I felt very limited in my ability to effect the main story, and the NPCs were all pretty boring to engage with. The game is really open in how far you can run about, but it puts a lot of activities behind roadblocks that can only be opened via certain objects or skills gained at specific points in the main story line's progress. Especially early on this is frustrating as you wander around discovering things and it's not always obvious that you are can't reach some spot or complete some goal.