Fright nights twice in a row with viewings of Gibson’s Passion of the Christ and then Scott’s Hannibal, I think I’ve been served enough cinematic blood and gore for a long time to come. Meanwhile, Yukisada Isao ( director of Shouting Out Love, ) makes a surprise visit to school, popping into our art direction class today to give us a few words on filmmaking. I just had to disagree with his views on the deficits of recent Korea cinema; evidently, if you have been catching up on the cream of the crop, it has never been stronger.
Archive for November, 2005
Despite having watched a total of over 140 films ( and still counting ) on a mixture of dvd and cinema screenings so far this year ( this is excluding film appreciation seatings in school now ), the unthinkable, unprecedented has still happened : I have not yet seen even one of the 31 new films reviewed in this December’s issue of Sight and Sound, which by far is still the most insightful and well written film magazine ( except of course the peerless Singaporean FIRST, with reviews so intellectually potent I’ve uncontrollably vomited blood per read. ) I’ve ever read, thus making its recommendations so incredibly important.
This alarming event can be ascribed to 1) The exorbitant pricing of cinema tickets in Tokyo, charging rates fitting for seatings perhaps 20 years in the future, 2) The ironically Precambrian rate by which new films hit Tokyo shores, where by the time they actually start screening them the dvd copy of the same film would have long since been colonized by dust mites in Amazon’s warehouses, and 3) My sadly tondemonai level of japanese which largely prevents me from renting most foreign films ( read films from France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Russia, Korea, etc ) that carries no english subtitles. I fear if a remedy is not formulated soon enough, I’ll be missing treasure troves of films by near future Godards, Truffauts and Renoirs.
Suffering, revenge, and finally salvation, the 3 recurring themes in Park Chan Wook’s “Revenge” trilogy comes full circle as the series ends with Sympathy for Lady Vengeance. I have to admit I’m not the biggest fan of Oldboy ( as compared to other excellent korean films per se ) and I’ve yet to see Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, the first in the series ( though reliable sources from my personal Korean film guide and classmate Mr Kim has it that it ranks the highest of the three films on the gore-ometer, which may influence viewing decisions a wee bit ), but nontheless Lady Vengeance proved interesting enough ( even with me half struggling with the Japanese subtitles, you lucky bastards back home. ) Some memorable cameos come and go, rounding up main characters from the 2 former films. Gotta catch this one again.
Recently just as I was starting to get jaded with the largely nondescript, unsatisfying Japanese films that I have had access to here in Tokyo, comes a mind blowing piece of work that utterly sweeps me off my feet, myself smiling and swearing unwittingly throughout the film’s viewing, marvelling at its sheer brilliance and beauty. Based on a short story of the same name by renowned writer Murakami Haruki, Tony Takitani ( directed by Ichikawa Jun, whose previous film Byoin De Shinu To Iu Koto ironically inflicted me with severe soporificism ) explores the issues of isolation, solitude and loss. This film is in a word, beautiful; the quiet photography, subdued palette of colours that lend to the film’s intended feeling of emptiness, the music, poised piano arrangements mirroring the visual’s quiescent mood, the treatment and art direction, each scene decorated with the aloofness of an Edward Hopper painting, the screenplay, conversations and exchanges like soothing poetry but with non of the rigidity, more like the words of a child, honest, direct, austere. My highest recommendations.
You can get the Japanese 2 disc special edition of the dvd here.