The Danes and Germans have a good line in arts documentaries that find an artist or craftsman at their trade, unpretentiously making the motions that have been repeated throughout a career: a bookbinder, an urban planner, a skateboarder, a chef. Docs like these don’t dwell on creating a full (and likely fulsome) portrait, but on work as it is made, life as it is breathed. Stephen Nomura Schible’s “Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda” partakes of that style to compelling result, of covering small parcels rather than vast acreage, catching up with the prolific Japanese composer making new work after a cancer diagnosis.
Schible began shooting in 2012, and also uses carefully selected archival bits. Sakamoto’s music, not limited to his pop and Oscar-winning film scores, has a distinct presence, as does Sakamoto, captured in moments of contemplation and composition. Intimate, thoughtful, often lyrical, “Coda” is about simply being, being simply Sakamoto. Schible allows Sakamoto, a charismatic, charming presence, to gently thrill as he quests for, then discovers a sound, living eternally, entirely in the instant we are witnessing. The keyboard lives. (Ray Pride)
“Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda” opens Friday, July 27 at Facets.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His multimedia history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” will be published later this year.