Tuesday, 2 September 2003

Movies Galore

Last month life has treated us well moviewise. Like every August we enjoyed the Fantasy Filmfest. This time we saw six movies. We would have done more if the tickets weren’t so fucking expensive. But in the end seeing a film every day for a week turned out to be quite exhausting so I guess it was good this way.

This year like last year the festival focussed on Asian (mostly Japanese and Korean) films. This is great since it’s so hard to get to see Asian movies in theaters here.

We saw

  • Musa, a Korean film set in 14th century China about a group of Korean delegates and soldiers who are forced to fight their way through Chinese and Mongol troops in order to get home. They also rescue a Chinese princess (played by Zhang Ziyi), which just makes matters worse. The fighting scenes reminded me of Braveheart or Gladiator. They were quite gorey at times but in a good way. The only problem was the extremely shaky camera work during those scenes, which made it hard to see what was going on, let alone recognize characters. The film is a convincing portrayal of 14th century China (as far as I can tell) and never gets boring. What really bugged me though was the lightning speed of the subtitles. You had to be a true speed reader if you wanted to read everything before it dissappeared from the screen again.
  • Sennen joyu, a Japanese animé from the makers of Perfect Blue. It tells the life story of a famous actress who suddenly stopped acting. Her story is told through the eyes of a film producer who came to interview her. This is very interestingly done. While she tells her story we are transported into her various movies and the story is told through the movies. The producer and his cameraman are always there with her (invisible to the people in the movie) and sometimes even take on roles in the movies. It’s a little hard to explain. But fun at first. Unfortunately later it gets a little tiring and confusing (when the action switches from a samurai setting to some monster flick without so much as an explanation). While I liked the style it would have been better for the film if it had been shorter (or the story more interesting).
  • The Cooler, a film about an unlucky man in Las Vegas whose bad luck is contagious. Because of this he works in a casino to jinx people who are currently on a lucky streak. Unfortunately (for the casino) his bad luck changes to lady luck when he falls in love with a waitress. William H. Macy is perfect for the role of this poor guy. The film is full of subtle humor. Very recommendable.
  • Cypher, by the makers of Cube. A spy-thriller with a twist. Lots of plot twists and different “truths”. Well made but the ending was a little unsatisfactory. Still very recommendable.
  • Aragami and 2LDK, two Japanese films about a duel to the death. The first one set in a feudal/fantasy setting with war gods and such. The second one in the present with two young women who are rehearsing for the same role and live in the same apartment (you can imagine how that can lead to conflicts ;) ). Both movies were interesting because of the limited number of actors (four in Aragami, two in 2LDK) and the single location they played in (a temple in Aragami, the girls’ apartment in 2LDK). Both movies felt a little too long. They were not really boring, but I think would have been better if they had been shorter. Aragami had good old samurai fighting, which was very cool. 2LDK showed how dangerous household items can be. So it was an interesting experience to watch two very different interpretations of the same topic, just a little too long.

Then last week there was a small comic con in Berlin and to celebrate this one movie theater had a cartoon/animé feature with a focus on less known Hayao Miyazaki movies. We watched Porco Rosso (aka Crimson Pig), which was very enjoyable. Especially the beginning with the kindergarten kids and the pirates is priceless. We also wanted to go see Laputa and Vampire Hunter D. But the seats in that theater are very uncomfortable, the screen not very big and they only showed the DVD versions of the films. So we decided not to spend money on them there and watch them at home some day.

Watching that many movies (plus a sneak preview here and there for good measure) in such a short time felt great. It was just like old times when I used to live right across the street of my favorite movie theater and sometimes was there every day of the week…

[Archive Link]  Posted by Edda at 02:09 CET


[Comments Link]  1. Posted by NoOneElse on 3 September, 2003 11:28 CET

Curiously, asian movies aren’t too popular here in Sydney, too - at least with the people I know.
How much were the tickets for the FFF, btw?

[Comments Link]  2. Posted by Edda on 3 September, 2003 13:44 CET

Do they show Asian movies at all there?
The tickets were (better sit down for this) €8. I couldn’t really have afforded more than those six movies…

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