Japanese Film Festival 2008

August 10, 2008 at 6:49 pm | Posted in Outings | 1 Comment
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Once again, the Japanese Film Festival. This year’s is the fifth time it’s been held, as well as the fifth time I’ve attended. My sister really scared me when she said that the festival was going on/over/insert some chronological term when I got back from Italy. Damn. Four years straight and I have to miss this one. Slipped through my fingers. Oh well. Can’t be helped.

And a few weeks later, in the papers… eh? That misleading girl…><

Decided to go for several movies. For the previous years, I’d settled for just one or two, but this time, I thought of going for seven. Yes. Apparently madness had hit me again, my usual logical self on vacation in some imaginary Monte Carlo.

I don’t mind watching movies alone, but I wanted to have others waste their time with me. Could only think of one person free enough to tag along. He was free, as I thought. Managed to get Alv for 2 movies out of three.

First one up:

‘Kaidan’ by Nakata Hideo, director of ‘Ringu’. I’m too lazy to get the kanji for ‘kaidan’, but just so that those who know some Jap don’t start wondering why a horror film director made a movie entitled staircase- it’s kaidan as in kai (strange) + dan (story).

Here goes: A moneylender was killed by a samurai who owed him some cash but wouldn’t pay. Couldn’t, actually, and his body was thrown into the Kasane-ga-fuchi- ‘the pool of a snaking river where, legend has it, those who sink into will never float to the surface again‘. OK. Anyway. Moneylender curses his murderer and his seed. Fast forward into the future: samurai’s family ruined. Cheap samurai’s son (Shinkichi)lives with a distant relative, selling tobacco on the streets. Moneylender’s two daughters are well off, the eldest (Toyoshiga)being the owner of some sort of school- teaching young girls how to be ladylike, stuff like that.

Chance meeting between the two. Fall in love. Blablabla. All sorts of misfortune. Toyoshiga gets injured. Wound seems to be cursed. Gets worse and worse. Shinkichi takes good care of her at first, but eventually can’t stand it. One night, as he went out to buy some medicine, he met… why do I even bother? Toyoshiga dies, and tells him that she will kill any woman he takes for his own. He runs away with a girl. Toyoshiga possesses him and he kills her. Injured, he collapses, but is rescued by people from the village they were headed for.

Blablabla. Village chief’s daughter (who is actually cousin to the girl he ran off with) falls for Shinkichi. He is reluctant to marry her, knowing she might get killed. Toyoshiga pops out again, injuring the girl. In what seems to be a rather vindictive decision, he decides to marry her- like, “screw you! I’ll show you! See! Got me another pretty wife! Booyah!” Idiot.

All seems fine. Baby is born, but is an odd one. Blablabla. Shinkichi kills his wife, and is chased out of the village. Miraculously, he kills off most of the men who chased him with the sickle he killed the first girl with. Badly injured, Toyoshiga’s younger sister saved him, and tried to help him leave town by boat… but somehow they were spirited to the Kasane-ga-fuchi instead. Pale hands reach out, slapping the sides of the boat, and pull Shinkichi into the dark water. Toyoshiga then rose out of the pool, cradling Shinkichi’s severed head lovingly. They disappear. Toyoshiga’s sister cries. The end.

Gah… notice all the blablabla’s? Movie was too long (119 minutes), and painfully slow. Typical horror movie. The only bonus would be… let’s see… pretty girls in kimonos.

Second movie:

’14sai’ (Fourteen years old) by Hiromasa Hirosue. This one was an amateur film, apparently. As such, the acting was substandard. Although still much better than ‘Once’.

Anyway. Film about troubled people. Mostly stress related issues, I’d say. Girl who stabbed her teacher, suspected of setting school’s pethouse on fire, becomes a teacher of fourteen year old closet maniacs as part of her therapy. Feels at peace when watching things burn. THe guy who seems to be the real culprit, a friend of hers- becomes a part-time piano teacher. They meet by chance as adults.

Little bitch (no other way of putting it)who wants to continue her ballet lessons but her mother won’t let her. Blames poor teacher for not being able to convince her mom, finds out that teacher goes for therapy, spreads rumours that teach is a nutcase. Screws with dumb-but-tries-hard girl-with-perpetually-messed-up-hair
by telling her that her mother said she’ll take the two of them to the hairstylist, then embarasses her by denying it, telling her mother that ‘this girl is weird, she always says crazy things, etc.’, and has the gall to go over later and ask long-adjective girl ‘what’s wrong?’ Long-adjective girl slams the door on her foot. Well done.

Late night. Piano teacher walks along, minding his own business. Sees what seems to be a policeman scolding a student. Thinking it’s nothing, he walks away. Policeman calls him. They face each other. Cop looks like a kid. He says, ‘don’t you think it’s strange that kids are wandering outside at this hour?’ Piano teacher says yes. ‘So isn’t your being out this late suspicious as well?’, policeman asks while fingering a gun. Right at that moment the ‘apprehended’ teenager smashes a flower pot over the copper’s head, and runs away. Piano teacher asked fake copper slowly ‘shall I call an ambulance?’

Piano class for this seemingly polite if shy and docile boy. I wasn’t paying attention- Alv told me later what really happened. Halfway through the class, boy’s mother dropped something and bent down to pick it up. As she did that boy stopped playing and looked over. piano teacher looked at him, at mother, then back at him, and couldn’t help but laugh. Kept laughing and had to excuse himself. Apparently the boy was staring at what little could be seen of his mother’s chest, and ejaculated on the spot. Piano teacher saw that. I certainly didn’t.

More stuff like this. Movie isn’t resolved. It doesn’t seem to want to resolve itself, but I suppose that’s fine. As before, too long.

Went out for dinner. Carl’s Jr. Second time there, and now I have to say- it’s not worth it. Too expensive. Might as well go to Tony Roma’s. Mid Valley’s CJ is too small too. Or just has too many customers.

Final movie. Alv didn’t go for this one.

This, I think, was the Crown Jewel of the day. Probably why it was given the final slot at 9pm. ‘Tony Takitani’, based on a short story by Murakami Haruki. The one I was waiting for.

Super-condensed ‘d(s)ummary’: Tony Takitani marries Eiko. Eiko is perfect except for one thing- she is addicted to designer clothes. Can’t control herself when she sees them. Filled up an entire room of their mansion with clothes. Enough designer duds to give the Sex in the City girls epileptic fits ten times over. One day Tony tells her, ‘I love you, but could you try to control your shopping a little? We’re running out of space.’She genuinely loves him, and tries do as he wishes.

For some time she stays at home, and is at peace. But clothes keep popping into her head, and finally she can’t take it any more and goes on another shopping spree. But when she gets home, she regrets what she has just done. She takes them back to the shop. Having returned the clothes, she feels free again. But as she stops at a traffic light, she starts thinking again… memories of the clothes she returned floods her mind. It’s all she can think of. Light turns green. She steps on the accelerator. Boom. She dies.

Tony, alone at home. In an attempt to relieve his pain, he hires a secretary to wear Eiko’s clothes so that he can ‘gradually get used to the fact that she is really gone’. And I’m too lazy to continue with the story. Go buy the book and read it.

Acting was good. Odd method of filming… story is mostly propelled by a narrator. Characters open their mouths only at appropriate moments, when the narrator prods them. Odd, but quite charming. The music was simple but enchanting. When the credits flashed at the end… Whoa. Sakamoto Ryuichi. No wonder.


Long wait for the bus home. Got off the bus only to be greeted by the remnants of the Friday pasar malam- trash strewn all over the road. Looked at the sky, and was dazzled by the light from a full moon.Gingerly picked my way through the refuse whilst trying not to be too drugged by Selene.

Saturday. Laziness forcefully brought common sense and rationality back home. Decided to forgo the three movies being shown on that day, and slept in instead. I think.

Sunday: Last Movie

The last movie: ‘Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo’ (lit. The Girl Who Leaped Through Time), also known as Tokikake in anime circles. I’d seen the 1983 live action film sometime ago. Now don’t be stupid and think I’m some sort of immortal Highlander.

Show was at 2.30pm. I managed to snap up the last four seats in the second row from the front of the screen. Separated, though. Turned this into a family movie. There were certainly many other families around, judging from the irritating BGM behind me…

Again, too lazy to even give a summary. Pretty much the same as the 1983 version. Music was nice. Animation simple but suitable. Story strong. Characters likeable. I think one of my favourite scenes was when Makoto (the female lead) was riding… gah. Really too lazy to even explain. Go watch it yourself. Wonderful movie. Nuff’ said.

JFF 2008, fin

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  1. I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you down the road!

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