Closing Night saw a repeat of Swing Girls in the morning and the premiere of the less popular Forget-Me-Not at night. It was not the most auspicious closing night ever, but prestige can get in the way of audience satisfaction.
I missed days 6, 7 & 8 of the festival; I needed my down time. Day 6 was the student forum. By all accounts it was good. Day 7 saw the J-Horror Night, which nothing would have got me near. Its first movie, Ghost Train, was given rankings varying from “awesome” to “so bad it’s good” and its second, The Neighbour Number 13, was alternately ranked “arty and confusing” and “amazing”. Day 8 saw the movies Aegis (“made of boredom and lose”) and Ubume (“confused a complicated story for a good one”).
So I returned refreshed and ready to fight for Day 9, the penultimate day of the festival! Fortunately enough for me, it featured one of my picks of the festival. The other film wasn’t so bad either.
This was the day billed as “children’s day”. I attended only one of the three films – although I did come back on Day 10 for the encore of Swing Girls. Sadly, I know no one who went to see Boy Meets Ghost; its quality shall forever remain a mystery.
The film I did see was a parade of recycled crying animation, but it was good nonetheless.
Die almost never … nearly forever!
After the tyranny and foul oppression that was Die Another Day, James Bond is back! This time he does not hate on entire countries, but rather individuals who care for nought but money. Villainous schemes are nothing compared to the power of the dollar.
It’s a different sort of Bond film, one characterised by viciousness and an apparent dedication to physical possibility. Daniel Craig, despite everyone’s misgivings, is an excellent Bond (and those who said that they feared he would make the character metrosexual have probably never seen a movie). More surprising than that is the fact that Judi Dench turns in her best performance as M yet.
As a reboot of a beloved franchise, it’s a radical departure. As an action film, it’s absolutely amazing. Casino Royale is the first film since The Incredibles where I was almost moved to tears simply through sheer awesomeness.
Of the four movies offered on day four of the Japanese Film Festival, I attended only two. I am, after all, only human. Two of the films looked quite heavy. They were Face of Jizo (described by my comrade Oliver as “good, but more like a play than a movie”) and Castle of Sand (“excellent,” says Oliver). I would have liked to see Castle of Sand, but … until next time.
The two films that I did see were a combination of the distinctly strange and the powerful yet emotionally distant.
Tonight Japan offered a pleasant enough film that pretended to be alternative but is actually pretty common in this day and age, and paired it up with something that you barely ever see and for good reason.
I’m no longer certain I understand this program, and it’s only three days in.
The second day of the Japanese Film Festival offered two different films that balanced each other out. That there was a thematic balance of drama and comedy does not mean that both of the films were equal, by any measure: the night’s drama was underdeveloped but the comedy can only be described as a tour de fun.
The tenth annual Japanese Film Festival is the fourth that I’ve attended, and it’s certainly grown since I first attended, one month out of high school. Featuring 19 films instead of the customary 8-10, this is the first time I’ve not been able to see all of them.
The opening night, at the Festival’s new Greater Union George Street location and open to the general public for the first time, was introduced by Japan’s Consulate General to Sydney. He spoke of the appeal of Japan’s films lying in that they are made specifically for Japanese people, as opposed to the determined worldwide demographics of Hollywood.
This is not solely the domain of Japan, of course; films where the characters truly belong to their surroundings have long been favourites of mine. That’s why a lot of independent films work: Little Miss Sunshine, despite featuring an Australian actress as one of its leads, had a quintessentially American feel. I’m a fan of the milieu film, and Japan has no shortage of those.
Always happens to exist in one of my favourite subgenres of Japanese film: nostalgic pieces about post-war Japan, presented in a fashion so romantic that it may never have even existed. This is a subject that I have managed to touch on with semi-frequency on Anime Pilgrimage.
Like many Japanese films, it’s extreme in its sentimentality. I don’t quite understand why “sentimental” became a negative adjective, because when the sentimentality isn’t false it can tug at your heart without making you feel manipulated (that manipulation of emotion was precisely why I couldn’t stand Finding Nemo).
It’s a film of broad characters, but of the variety that have become known and beloved all throughout Japan. Like so many of the films that they show at these festivals, I had the beginnings of tears in my eyes at the end. We call that a victory.
I saw A Good Year before it saw wide release, but things got the better of me and I didn’t get around to writing of it. Since then, it has been considered a major flop – by Rupert Murdoch himself. Let us consider why, in list form, this is:
- Rather like Michael Jackson, people have found it hard to separate the “art” from the “artist”. Crowe isn’t a pedophile, but his temper is more famous than himself. This is why Cinderella Man failed at the box office, despite being quite good (it did the sort of business that The Da Vinci Code deserved).
- Americans love hating the French; why an American would want to see Russell Crowe fall in love with France and a French woman boggles the mind. If you applied the mindset to the British, the movie is essentially about forsaking Queen and Country for Sunshine and Sand.
- Also she speaks with a Scarlett Johansson accent. It’s scary.
- Hey, it could happen – just look at the point about hating the French.
I’m not quite certain I get Ridley Scott. Why did he make A Good Year? Not once did the words “Deckard is a replicant” flash up subliminally for a fraction of a second in the background. Russell Crowe’s character did not dream of a unicorn, nor did Didier Bourdon’s character leave him an origami model of the same.
To Scott’s credit, though, incest is briefly contemplated, if quickly despatched.
In A Good Year, we have a seachange story that is identical to all other sea changes: a man consumed by work comes into contact with his old life, in the idyllic countryside, and realises that something’s lacking.
It plays exactly as you would expect it to, but there are a couple of surprises simply because the trailer didn’t deem it necessary to give them away.