I saw Twilight of the Cockroaches when I was six and thought about it on and off for the next 27 years. I still think about it. I can’t remember where I saw Hiroaki Yoshida’s beautiful, weird insect-human drama, and neither can my mother, who took me; a cursory Internet search revealed that in 1991 it was playing at the Roxie, but we know we didn’t see it there. The Roxie was small and dark and close; the place where we saw it was light and airy. (If you are reading this and know where it played, please reach out.) The movie is not light and airy. It is a film of close spaces, tunnels, the greasy, crumb-filled corner in a crinkling packet of chips.

I loved it, a lot, but it is not the best movie. It is good in the way cult classics are: something in them strikes a chord with viewers, again and again, but something about them keep them from being hits. They are often too much or too little, too slow or too fast, too intense or too bland, too pristine or too primitive; they are not for everyone and often imperfect, but they stick out. Life is like this too, or at least my life is: it happens in fits and starts, rarely at the speed or temperature I want. But like the cockroach, it persists. It is said that cockroaches will survive a nuclear apocalypse. I will not. But as long as I’m around, I continue to come back to this movie, and try to figure out why. Something about Twilight of the Cockroaches got in early and stayed, gathering new meaning and layers as I age and the world changes. 

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