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Moviegoing Memories: Kazuo Ishiguro

The Nobel and Booker Prize-winning author and screenwriter of “Living” tells us about his most memorable cinemagoing experiences.
Notebook
Moviegoing Memories is a series of short interviews with filmmakers about going to the movies. The Nobel and Booker Prize–winning author Kazuo Ishiguro is the screenwriter of Oliver Hermanus's Living, which is MUBI GO's Film of the Week in the United Kingdom and Ireland for November 4, 2022. 
NOTEBOOK: How would you describe your movie in the least amount of words?
KAZUO ISHIGURO: Aging man, beaten down by years of stifling office routine, makes supreme last effort to turn his empty life into something magnificent.
NOTEBOOK: Where and what is your favorite movie theater? Why is it your favorite?
ISHIGURO: The Electric Cinema in Notting Hill, London, the way it was in the late '70s/early '80s. Brilliantly curated art house classics and weirdo cult favorites, cycled and re-cycled endlessly. That’s where I learned about cinema. A battered upright piano upfront. All-night triple bills, fueled by strong coffee and cellophane-wrapped cake served from an illuminated hatch.
NOTEBOOK: What is the most memorable movie screening of your life? Why is it memorable?
ISHIGURO: In my early twenties, waking up late one Sunday in a wrecked apartment and following friends to the Paris Pullman Cinema in West London. I’d never heard of The Tree of Wooden Clogs (1978), Ermanno Olmi’s three hour slow-burn masterpiece about peasant life in Lombardy, and was still waking up as it began to unfold majestically before me. At the end, when I tried to stand up, one arm of my seat—a cushion-less wooden stump—came away in my hand, echoing the key event in the film. Completely immersive experience. 
NOTEBOOK: If you could choose one classic film to watch on the big screen, what would it be and why?
ISHIGURO: A well-restored version of John Ford’s Stagecoach (1939). I’ve seen this repeatedly since I was a child, but only on small screens and almost always on badly faded prints. I recently acquired a Spanish Blu-ray with something like a restored print and it’s a revelation: the visual poetry is amazing. You might think you know this film, but you have to be able to see the mud on the saloon floors, the way the distant hills are filled with both hope and menace, to understand what the characters are going through and why. 

Living is out in cinemas across the UK & Ireland now. 

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