Category: Film

Japanese Film Festival Day Nine: The Stars Converge & Josee, the Tiger and the Fish

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.

Japanese Film Festival Day Five: Glass Rabbit

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.

Casino Royale

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.

Japanese Film Festival Day Four: The Mamiya Brothers and La Maison de Himiko

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.

Japanese Film Festival Day One: Always – Sunset on Third Street

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.

Possible Reasons A Good Year Failed

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:

  • Russell Crowe is no longer a marketable actor.
      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).
  • Hating the French has become one of America’s favourite pastimes in recent years.
      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.
  • Young Australian film enthusiasts still hate Abbie Cornish for Somersault.
      Also she speaks with a Scarlett Johansson accent. It’s scary.
  • Rabid Gene Wilder fans blame Freddie Highmore for Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
      Hey, it could happen – just look at the point about hating the French.
  • A Good Year

    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.