27TH TOKYO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL : SHINING A SPOTLIGHT ON JAPANESE ANIMATION (PART 1)

•October 24, 2014 • Leave a Comment

27TH TOKYO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL : SHINING A SPOTLIGHT ON JAPANESE ANIMATION (PART 1)

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            Becoming a longtime dream of Yasushi Shiina, the new director general of Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) since 2013, the festival took the big step in its 27th edition this year, with a special focus in animation. The idea of spreading wider awareness in animation genre as one of the biggest part in Japanese entertainment industry through the theme of the festival was not an easy way, though. The crucial point is how to showcase anime films with the bigger impact than any festivals have gone before, and to wrap it along with other selections in the vein of the festival all these years, as one of the largest international film festivals throughout Asia.

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            Playing an important key role to make it happen was Toshio Suzuki, the chief producer and co-founder of Studio Ghibli. Having long experience in one of the largest and most well-known Japanese animation industry, Suzuki helped Shiina to accomplish this idea. Instead of just putting more anime films in the festival lineups, they choose one iconic person in the industry to represent this culture. Hideaki Anno, the professional animator behind ‘Evangelion’ and many well known animation works including Ghibli’s films, filled the festival with this year’s most highlighted retrospective event, ‘The World of Hideaki Anno’, which screened over 50 films over his succesful carreer. To maximize the experience, ‘Evangelion’ gigantic character figure unit-01 (2m height), ‘King Joe’ and diorama of Tsuburaya production will be displayed at Toho Cinema Nihonbashi with the screening of ‘Ultra Seven’ HD remastered 2.0 edition.

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            TIFF also put another name, Shigeru Miyamoto, senior managing director of Nintendo and known as the father of ‘Super Mario Bros’, ‘Donkey Kong’ and ‘The Legend of Zelda’ with the screening of his ‘Pikmin’ shorts along with other animation movie like ‘Appleseed’, ‘Attack on Titan : First Part’, ‘Doraemon’ and episodes of ‘The Next Generation Patlabor’ to welcome the upcoming live-action version of the famous animation.

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            And Disney’s ‘Big Hero 6’ (titled ‘Baymax’ in Japan theatrical release) world premiere is a fortunate coincidence to actualize this special focus on animation as the theme of the festival. With the huge success of ‘Frozen’ throughout Japan, they wanted a Disney movie to open the festival. Luckily, ‘Big Hero 6’ is like a Disney’s special gift to Japanese reception of ‘Frozen’, too, where the elements was built over John Lasseter’s love to Japanese culture over the years. Combining both culture on animation, ‘Big Hero 6’, as seen from the trailers, have many recognitions of Japanese anime and other cultures.

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            Moreover, they even held the special event in the 2nd day of the festival, which took place in the EX-Roppongi Theatre and concert hall, where John Lasseter did a special talk show titled ‘Cool Japan’ as in Japan’s strategy in their entertainment industry. Telling his fans a lifelong story on how his successful career and works all these years was influenced over his admire to Hayao Miyazaki’s ‘Lupin III’, many elements of ‘Totoro’ and other Japanese culture that also was seen in his previous movies like ‘Cars 2’, Lasseter presented over one hour of awesomeness in this special event.

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 (c) Disney

 

The Red Carpet Event

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            Opened the event, the TIFF’s red carpet, like the previous years, was held in the Roppongi Hills arena. The event commenced with the appearance of Festival Muse Japanese actress Miki Nakatani, festival navigators Harry Sugiyama and Azusa Okamoto, and the surprise appearance of ‘Arashi’, one of the most prominent artist group in Japan, as the festival ambassador. Along with some musical and culinary events introducing nowadays trend in Japan, the appearance of this group consists of multitalented singer and also actors was meant to reach wider awareness to the festival.

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            The red carpet then rolled by the appearance of the jury members, actors, actresses and film staff from around the world, animation characters, also many young Japanese independent filmmakers who got selected in Japanese Cinema Splash category and Japan Foundation’s Crosscut Asia : Thai Fascination section doing photo sessions, meet their fans and signing autographs. Like John Lasseter said, ‘We are so excited to be here. Konbanwa, Tokyo International Film Festival!’

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The Opening Ceremony

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            Attended by Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Senior Vice Minister and secretary in charge of intellectual property and Cool Japan strategies, Masaki Taira & Yohei Matsumoto, and member of Japan House of Representative Tatsuya Ito, the opening ceremony began with the speech by Arashi, which appointed as the national tourism advisors and showcasing Japanese entertainment culture ever since. They hoped that their appearance could convey such qualities to the many guests from abroad at TIFF with the spirit of Japan’s hospitality (omotenashi).

            Like in the previous years, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe then appeared on stage explaining that they asked Yashishi Akimoto, the renounced producer of the festival to ask multitalented artist Takeshi Kitano who will receive the first Samurai Awards with director Tim Burton to take part in this year’s TIFF, in the hope to promote the coolness of Japan to the eyes of the world. With the increasing numbers of tourist last year and welcoming Tokyo as the host city for the 2020 Olympics, he also hoped TIFF will grow into the leading film festival in Asia, as the gateway for young directors and anime filmmakers, all in the part of Japan’s part in sports, culture, art and technology.

            Members of the jury, which like an unlikely pairing ever in the movie festivals, then introduced on the stage. Director James Gunn (president of the jury) spoke on behalf of the other jury member Robert Luketic, John H. Lee, Eric Khoo, Japan owned Hiroshi Shinagawa and casting director Debbie McWilliams that they are so excited to take the part in the festival and received the great honor to choose films that have an essence of truth in the main selection theme of cornered people against various causes from political to other matters.

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            And to present the opening film ‘Big Hero 6’, producer John Lasseter and Roy Conli, director Don Hall and Chris Williams, Walt Disney Animation Studio executive vice president Andrew Milstein and voiceover actors Kotaro Koizumi & Miho Kanno, expressed their joy of being able to have the world premiere of the movie in Tokyo and how the film was based on many inspirations from Japanese people and culture as a love letter to Japan. Director Chris Williams said that they took pictures and made sketches to represent Japanese sensibility and aesthetics with a feel of sensitivity behind the movie’s fictitious main set, San Fransokyo. Lastly, John Lasseter wrapped up the ceremony to commence the opening screening and also the festival with the message : ‘May you see amazing films, may there entertain you, inspire you, and fill your heart with warmth’.

Tokyo Cinema Cuisine

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            Aside of increasing the number of venues to the TOHO Cinema Nihonbashi and Kabukiza Theatre, to spread more recognitions on the festival in one pack of culture shows, an event combining movie experience with culinary attraction also held in the Roppongi Hills Arena, with 5 kitchen cars and one drink bar in the center of Roppongi Hills..

            Named ‘Tokyo Cinema Cuisine’, this event hopefully will attract the audience and other guests by serving special menus created by five leading chefs in Japan. Mamoru Kataoka (Ristorante Al Port), Shinji Kanesaka (Kanesaka) and Yosuke Suga (Suga Labo), three of those five chefs (Nobuyuki Matsuhisa and Yuji Wakiya were the other two) appeared on the Roppongi main stage to explain their original menus made especially for this year’s TIFF.

Movie Reviews

PALE MOON (2014, Daihachi Yoshida, Japan)

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            As the only film represents Japan in this year’s competition category, ‘Pale Moon’ is an adaptation from a novel by Naoki Prize-winning author Mitsuyo Kakuta. Directed by award-winning director Daihachi Yoshida, the film tells a story about Rika Umezawa (played by Rie Miyazawa, award-winning actress from Yoji Tamada’s ‘Twilight Samurai’ and Kazui Kuroki’s ‘The Face of Jizo’), a lonely housewife tangled in large embezzlement over her affair with a university student (played by Sosuke Ikematsu) and fraudulent case at works.

            In the surface, ‘Pale Moon’ might looks just like an erotic thriller about an adultery wife – tired plots. But beyond the exquisite directing from Yoshida and the almost perfect acts and chemistry between Miyazawa and Ikematsu, ones that really triggered our deepest sense over some key scenes, lies a stronger theme of a woman’s struggle seeking for liberation against many aspects and conventional expectations among Japanese society.

RUINED HEART : ANOTHER LOVE STORY BETWEEN A CRIMINAL & A WHORE (2014, Khavn De La Cruz, Phillipines – Germany)

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            Known as a multitalented singer, songwriter, pianist, poet and filmmaker and being considered as the father of Phillipine digital filmmaking, Khavn De La Cruz has been around in many international fim, music and literature festivals, even taking parts as jury and festival director. His artsy experimental showcase over a hundred shorts since 1994 also made him one of the most punk rock filmmakers beyond the shambolic atmosphere.

            Expanded from the 2012 same-titled short which was the first Phillipine entry to Berlin International Film Festival’s official selection, ‘Ruined Heart’ tells a story about a merciless hitman (Tadanobu Asano) rescues a prostitute (Nathalia Acevedoas) from a violent in Phillipine slum. This full length feature version also has the same tone as most Khavn’s other works, which felt more like a really wild punk – opera built with nightmarish and chaotic visuals. However, here, with the presence of Christopher Doyle’s cinematography and Japanese famous actor Tadanobu Asano, the distinctive experience of his digital filmmaking felt more intriguing. See it if only you love the wildly experimental filmworks.

1001 GRAMS (2014, Bent Hamer, Norway-Germany-France)

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            Known as Norway’s humanist comedy, Bent Hamer’s ‘1001 Grams’ felt much lighter than the title or even the metaphor of life values. Lies on the story of Marie (Ane Dahl Trop) who works in the weights and measures institute and has to replaced his terminally ill father Ernst (Stein Winge) on an international conference where the prototype weight of national kilos needs to be transported to Paris, with a little love story, the touch of art films was a bit too soft and slender over more exciting and rare informations of weights and measures institute.

THE GOLDEN ERA (2014, Ann Hui, China – Hong Kong)

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            As an ambitious work from director Ann Hui, ‘The Golden Era’ is a biopic of one of the most influential female writer, Xiao Hong (played beautifully by Tang Wei in her finest performance) in Chinese modern literature. The way Hui told her story among various direct-to-camera narrators was a daring approach beyond the lavishly impressionistic looks of the movie.

          It’s obviously colored with Ann Hui’s kind of pace, but the first half had a little issue character focus through its overlong duration. However, the rest was much better in the emotional approach, built the epic journey – feel in Xiao Hong’s influential part through her short life becomes stronger.

BIG HERO 6 (2014, Don Hall & Chris Williams, US)

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            Inspired by the Marvel Comics superhero team of the same name, ‘Big Hero 6’ is Disney’s Lasseter love letter to Japanese culture, from animation to other aspects. Set in the fictional metropolis named San Fransokyo, a well built crossover between San Francisco and Tokyo, a 14-year old robotic genious Hiro Hamada (voiced by Ryan Potter) had to face his destiny as a team of inexperienced crime-fighters with Wasabi (Damon Wayans, Jr.), Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez), Fred (T.J. Miller), GoGo Tomago (Jamie Chung), and a robot named Baymax (Scott Adsit), the only thing his loving brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney) left for him.

            Over some controversies between Disney and Marvel in the company acquisitions, as a much anticipated Disney animated fantasy, ‘Big Hero 6’ is surely a fun and quite emotional packed entertainment. But aside the sets creation and a little Japanese Anime – melancholy in the dramatization that worked at best, the blend on combining two countries’ animation culture to shape the characters was sadly not as balanced. And so was the script, written by Robert L. Baird, Daniel Gerson and Jordan Roberts, that seem a little lost to put the right balance between characters. However, the production values, the hi-tech computer-animated and all the technical efforts have created something as big as any gigantic animated blockbusters. (dan)

27TH TOKYO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL : DISNEY’S BIG HERO 6, THE WORLD OF HIDEAKI ANNO & A SPECIAL FOCUS ON ANIMATION

•October 21, 2014 • Leave a Comment

27TH TOKYO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL : DISNEY’S BIG HERO 6, THE WORLD OF HIDEAKI ANNO & A SPECIAL FOCUS ON ANIMATION

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            As one of the largest international film festivals throughout Asia, in its 27th edition, ‘Tokyo International Film Festival’ (TIFF) is getting bigger. Spreading Japan’s cultural signature in world animation genre, held around the Roppongi hills arena and expand to Nihonbashi’s TOHO and Kabukiza Theatre, this year’s festival will be packed with special events. From much talked about epic entertainment to rarely notable works all over the world, the festival will open with the world premiere of Disney and Marvel Comics’ ‘Big Hero 6’, which will be attended by John Lasseter and the duo directors, Don Hall and Chris Williams.

               To accentuate this animation theme, the festival will also present their most highlighted retrospective event ‘The World of Hideaki Anno’, Japanese animation pioneer behind his great works from Daicon Films’ ‘Ultraman’ to ‘Evangelion’ huge phenomenon, and as well, the father of ‘Super Mario Bros’, ‘Donkey Kong’, ‘The Legend of Zelda’ and Nintendo Game Producer, Shigeru Miyamoto in the 3D premiere of  ‘Pikmin’, a famous videogames character in its first short animation films.

               The affiliated film market, TIFFCOM, which was held a few days before the festival in Grand Pacific Le Daiba this year also give a strong underline of this focus over a Japan Content Showcase, a multi-content market of music, films and animations packed with film summit, seminars and movie screenings in TOHO Cinema Mediage Aqua City.

             And in the recognition to the finest world filmmakers, TIFF has launched the special award named ‘The Samurai Award’ to commend achievements of filmmaker who continues to create gorundbreaking films that carve out a path to a new era. The first recipients of the award are Japanese cinema all-rounder Takeshi Kitano and beyond his very distinctive style of filmmaking, American director Tim Burton.

About Hideaki Anno

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            Born in 1960 in Ube City, Yamaguchi prefecture, after became a member of Daicon Film, a group of amateur filmmakers while studied at Osaka University of Arts, Hideaki Anno started his carreer in Tokyo for the television anime series ‘The Super Dimension Fortress Macross’ (1982). In 1984, he animated the character ‘The God Warrior’ in Hayao Miyazaki’s ‘Nausicaă of the Valley of the Wind’. Became an effect an mecha designer after participated in ‘Royal Space Force – The Wings of Honnĕamise’ (1987), Anno made his debut as animation director in ‘Gunbuster’ (1988).

            The benchmark of his carreer then established in 1995 with ‘Neon Genesis Evangelion’ TV series, and even the theatrical version that became a social phenomenon two years after. Worked in many project from TV animation and live action label of Studio Ghibli, Anno founded Khara and took position of managing director. There, he released the ‘Evangelion’ theatrical series since 2007 as original writer, screenwriter, executive producer and director. This special feature event is not only be the first, but also will take the audience of the festival to experience the full and greater picture of his animation works through the screening of more than 50 Anno’s works including rare shorts, TV anime, TV adverts and other promotional videos.

Focus on Animation in Special Screenings

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            With the lineups that focuses on animation, the festival will open and close with the world premieres of two of this year’s hottest film that have a strong connection with world of animation. The opening film is Walt Disney Animation Studio and inspired from Marvel Comics’ character ‘Big Hero 6’, and for the closing, a long awaited manga-adaptation ‘Parasyte’. Unlike previous years, the ‘Special Screenings’ section of the festival will also filled up with animation films.

             In those lineups, there will be an asian/world premiere of Shinji Aramaki’s latest installment of the popular franchise ‘Appleseed Alpha’, ‘Garm Wars The Last Druid’ from Mamuro Oshii (‘Ghost In The Shell’), the 3D Japan animation ‘The Nutcracker’, ‘Attack on Titan – The First Part’ and ‘The Next Generation – Patlabor – episode 10’, the latest episode of the series that will feature the special footage to the upcoming live-action ‘Patlabor’ next year.

                 The other films to fill this section are the Japan premiere of ‘The Expendables 3’ and Gareth Evans’ ‘The Raid 2 : Berandal (Gokudo)’, Jon Favreau’s foodporn comedy ‘Chef’, French reteamed of ‘The Intouchables’ directors and Omar Sy in ‘Samba’, Atom Egoyan’s ‘Devil’s Knot’ starred Colin Firth and Reese Witherspoon, and Jean Pierre Jeunet’s ‘The Young and Prodigious T.S Spivet’.

             For the asian/world premiere of Japan films, there will be ‘A Courtesan with Flowered Skin’, Japanese adult cinematic poetry based on the award-winning 2006 adult novel by Ayako Miyagi, their christmas blockbuster ‘Miracle : Devil Claus’ Love and Magic’ (Isshin Inudo, dir.), and ‘Until The Day Comes’ (Sejiro Koyama, dir.).

                Also in this category, the most successfull Bollywood blockbuster of all time ‘Dhoom 3’ in its Japan premiere that will be attended by Aamir Khan, and two documentaries, Martin Scorsese’s ‘The 50 Year Argument’, about the challenges of the influential publication behind The New York Review of Books, and ‘Cathedral of Culture’, a documentary of six startling question about cathedral buildings and their souls, each directed by Wim Wenders, Robert Redford, Michael Madsen, Michael Glawogger, Margreth Olin & Karim Ainouz.

              Added with special programs, the section of Special Screenings will have some world’s classics with additional touch, 1981 Oscar winner ‘Chariots of Fire’, ‘Honjitsu Tadaima Tanjo’, 1979’s Japan WWII drama, James Dean’s ‘Rebel Without a Cause’ in 4K Digitally Restored Version, Singapore’s Eric Khoo’s animated adaptation of manga classic ‘Tatsumi’ (Jury Special Program), english dubbed-version of ‘Doraemon : Stand By Me‘, ‘The Next Generation – Patlabor – episode 0-7’, Charlie Chaplin’s ‘City Lights’ that will packed together with cultural events in ‘Special Night Event at Kabukiza Theatre’, and Akira Kurosawa’s ‘Seven Samurai’ to commemorate the special selection of Seven Directors in Japan by TIFF consists of Eiichiro Hasumi, Takashi Miike, Tetsuya Nakashima, Keishi Otomo, Sang Il-lee, Takashi Yamazaki and Daihachi Yoshida.

              The last highlighted part of this section includes two special presentations from the upcoming Keiichi Hara’s ‘Miss Hokusai’ and Tim Burton’s ‘Big Eyes’ that also will be attended by Burton in the festival’s allied retrospective project, ‘The World of Tim Burton’.

The Festival’s Competition Section

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            Like in the previous years, the Competition section of the festival brings together excellent works around the world. As a pleasure of knowing the world is the pleasure of watching films, this year’s selection was based on the keywords of ‘diversity and creativity’, where diversity means gathering together various types of films, and creativity that was pointed to the individual characteristics of the directors that are displayed in each films.

            And the nominees will be selected by the festival’s jury ; director of Marvel’s ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’, James Gunn (president of the jury), John H. Lee (director of Korean’s high grossing romance ‘A Moment to Remember’), director Robert Luketic (‘Legally Blonde’ and the upcoming Expendables spin-off ‘The Expendabelles’), Singaporean arthouse director Eric Khoo, Japan’s new wave director Hiroshi Shinagawa that has just had his own retrospective program in the recently first edition of ‘Kyoto International Film and Art Festival’), and Debbie McWilliams, a female casting director behind James Bond franchise and as well some notable films from ‘An American Werewolf in London’ to ‘Henry V’).

            The films in the competition section are ‘1001 Grams’ (Bent Hamer, Norway-Germany-France), ‘The Days Come’ (Romain Goupil, France), ‘The Connection’ (Cédric Jimenez, France – Belgium), ‘Heaven Knows What’ (Joshua & Benny Safdie, USA – France), ‘Ice Forest’ (Claudio Noce, Italy), ‘Melbourne’ (Nima Javidi, Iran), ‘The Lesson‘ (Kristina Grozeva & Petar Valchanov, Bulgaria – Greece), ‘The Mighty Angel’ (Wojtek Smarzowksi, Poland), ‘Les Hongos’ (Oscar Ruiz Navia, Colombia-France-Germany-Argentina), ‘Nabat’ (Elchin Musaglou, Azerbajian), ‘Pale Moon’ (Daiihachi Yoshida, Japan), ‘Ruined Heart : Another Love Story Between a Criminal and a Whore’ (Khavn De La Cruz, Phillipine – Germany), ‘River of Exploding Durians’ (Edmund Yeo, Malaysia), ‘Test’ (Alexander Koft, Russia), and ‘River Road’ (Li Ruijun, China).

World Focus Section

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            The ‘World Focus‘ section will be filled with award winning movies at major international film festivals, and latest excellent, unusual works and masterpieces by great masters which are not scheduled to be released in Japan anytime soon.

        In this section there are ‘Corn Island’ (George Ovashvili, Georgia-Czech-France-Germany-Kazakhstan-Hungary), ‘Freefall’ (György Pálfi, Hungary-France-Korea), ‘Flowers’ (Jon Garaňo & Jose Maria Goenaga, Spain), ‘Misunderstood’ (Asia Argento, Italy – France), ‘Force Majeure’ (Ruben Ӧstlund, Sweden-Denmark-France-Norway), ‘A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence’ (Roy Andersson, Sweden-Norway-France-Germany), ‘The Postman’s White Nights’ (Andrei Konchalovsky, Russia), ‘Voice Over’ (Cristian Jiménez, Chile-France-Canada), ‘Reality’ (Quentin Dupleux, France – Belgium), ‘Wild Life’ (Cédric Kahn, France), ‘She’s Funny That Way’ (Peter Bogdanovich, US), ‘The Face of the Ash’ (Shakhwan Idrees, Kurdistan – Iran), ‘Station of the Cross’ (Dietrich Brüggemann, Germany), ‘The Golden Era’ (Ann Hui, China – Hong Kong), ‘Self Made’ (Shira Geffen, Israel), ‘Late Spring’ (Cho Keun-hyeun, Korea), ‘Sivas’ (Kaan Müjdeci, Turkey – Germany), ‘The Midnight After’ (Fruit Chan, Hong Kong), and ‘Partners in Crime’ (Chang Jung-chi, Taiwan).

             In the additional programs in this section titled ‘Discovering Asian Cinema’, there will also be ‘Song of Apu’ (Kaushik Ganguly, 2013, Bengali), a real life story inspired by Subir Banerjee, the child actor played the iconic role of Apu in Satyajit Ray’s ‘Pather Panchali’ and ‘Tender are the Feet’ (Maung Wunna, 1972) from Myanmar.

Asian Future & Japanese Cinema Splash Sections

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            Tokyo International Film Festival has always supported young asian filmmakers through these sections / categories. While the ‘Asian Future’, in its second year is an Asian Young Cinema Competition for first or second feature films made in Asia including Japan and Middle East by up-and-coming directors, will also compete to win additional award ‘The Spirit of Asia Award’ established by the Japan Foundation this year, ‘Japanese Cinema Splash’ will showcase exceptionally unique, creative and challenging films from the growing Japanese film industry, regardless of the stage of the director’s carreers in making a splash on the world stage.

            10 films that will be competing for ‘Asian Future Film Award’ are ‘Above the Clouds’ (Pepe Diokno, Phillipines – France), ‘As You Were’ (Liao Jekai, Singapore), ‘As the Swallow Got Thirsty’ (Muhammet Cakiral, Turkey), ‘Borderless’ (Amirhossein Asgari, Iran), ‘In the Absence of the Sun / Selamat Pagi, Malam’ (Lucky Kuswandi, Indonesia), ‘Made in China’ (Kim Dong-hoo, Korea), ‘Kyoto Elegy’ (Kiki Sugino, Japan), ‘North by Northeast’ (Zhang Bingjian, China), ‘The Last Reel’ (Sotho Kulikar, Cambodia), and a rare Malay sci-fi ‘Nova : Terbaik dari Langit’ (Nik Amir Mustapha, Malaysia), about a child and his four friends on a journey to capture the UFO experience in film.

            In ‘Japanese Cinema Splash’, there will be ‘August in Tokyo’ (Ryutaro Nakagawa), ‘Starting Over’ (Takashi Nishihara), ‘Fragile’ (Shingo Ota), ‘Ecotherapy Getaway Holiday’ (Shuichi Okita), ‘Unknown Town’ (Shingo Ohuchi), ‘Chokolietta’ (Kazama Shiori), ‘100 Yen Love’ (Masaharu Take) and ‘Walking with My Mother’ (Katsumi Sakaguchi), about a 78 year old mother and her son struggled after losing their loved ones.

Crosscut Asia Section : Thai Fascination

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            Being the new section that marked the first collaboration of TIFF and the Japan Foundation Asia Center, the first ‘Crosscut Asia’ program this year aimed the notable works in Thailand Cinema. Named ‘Thai Fascination’, the program features Thai movies from major blockbusters to indies, historical drama to horror, and also including campus films.

            The films that will be shown in this first edition of ‘Crosscut Asia’ Thai Fascination are ‘Timeline’ (Nonzee Nimibutr), ‘The Songs of Rice’ (Uruphong Raksasad), ‘Concrete Clouds’ (Lee Chatametikool), ‘The Teacher’s Diary’ (Nithiwat Tharatorn), ‘Last Summer’ (Kittithat Tangsirikit, Sittisiri Mongkolsiri, Saranyoo Jiralak), ‘Sun & Sunrise’ (Kittikorn Liawsirikul), ‘Tang Wong’ (Kongdej Jaturanrasmee), and ‘46’ (Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit). (dan)

KYOTO INTERNATIONAL FILM AND ART FESTIVAL 2014 : TAKING JAPANESE FILMS BACK TO ITS BIRTHPLACE (PART 2)

•October 20, 2014 • Leave a Comment

KYOTO INTERNATIONAL FILM AND ART FESTIVAL 2014 : TAKING JAPANESE FILMS BACK TO ITS BIRTHPLACE (PART 2)

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The Opening Ceremony

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            In the middle of the beautiful autumn colors in Kyoto, at the Gion Kobu Kaburenjo Theatre in Gion district, October 16th 2014, the first ‘Kyoto International Film and Art Festival’ opened with 125 guests including French actress Iréne Jacob and Japanese film industry’s big names such as Fumi Nokaido (actress, ‘Why Don’t You Play in Hell’) and Kiki Sugino (actress, producer and director, ‘Kyoto Elegy’) walked along the red carpets attended by more than 900 audience.

            Iréne Jacob, who’s lately been around in Japan during a theatrical tour of ‘La Metamorphose version Androide’, Franz Kafka’s ‘The Metamorphosis’ play adaptation whom she worked with acclaimed Japanese director Oriza Hirata and leading roboticist Hiroshi Ishiguro, will be receiving ‘Most Respected Filmmaker from Paris’ based on the friendship city treaty between Kyoto and Paris.

            The opening ceremony filled with the elegant and fascinating traditional dance show by Maiko and Geiko in Gion Kobu, and some introduction speech of its stakeholders. The executive producer of the festival, Mr. Kazuyoshi Okuyama, who recently became the head of Yoshimoto Kogyo’s Katsu-do Co., a new production and distribution division, expressed his excitements about the relaunch of this potential festival, bringing Japanese movies back to where they were first introduced in Japan.

            Okuyama also recalled his personal relationship with Japanese veteran director and his personal mentor, Kinji Fukasaku (‘Satomi Hakkenden’/ ‘The Legend of 8 Samurai’, 1983) about the point of revolution is always based by tradition. Director Sadao Nakajima, the chairman of the festival then gave his insights in the hope to restore this roots, where Kyoto once again could became a center of Japanese movie industry.

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            The legendary Clint Eastwood, this year’s recipient of KIFF’s Most Respected Award for renowned actors and directors, expressed his support through a little thankful note, an acceptance message that said “It’s especially gratifying to be recognized by the film community in Kyoto. The support you’ve given us over the years is much appreciated, and though we’re currently in post-production on ‘American Sniper’ (an upcoming Eastwood’s film starred Bradley Cooper in the title role), we wanted to send along our sincerest thanks for this wonderful tribute”.

            With more than 15 venues including Yoshimoto Gion Kagetsu for classic film screening, the newly opened AEON Cinema in AEON Mall Katsuragawa for the main section, in total 48 film screenings, and the rest, including Hotel Anteroom Kyoto, Kyoto City University of Arts Gallery (KCUA), Kyoto City Hall Square, Former Rissei Elementary School, The Museum of Kyoto, Ooe Nogakudo and Kyoto Station Building for various art exhibitions, Yoshimoto Kogyo has began their attempts. To restore Kyoto existence in the cinema industry, like Okuyama said, not only by providing the platform to show classic films where one can always learn from the archives, the main goal lies in discovering a new and promising talents.

The Final Result

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            While the awarding and closing ceremony was ready to take places in the evening of October 19th 2014, the last day of the festival still packed with events. The screening of Creator’s Factory’s semifinal was held in Oe Nogakudou, while some lineups in TV Director’s Movie still screened in Katsuragawa. But the largest crowd can be seen in Yoshimoto Gion Kagetsu, with the screening of two Toshiro Mifune’s classic, the 1950’s ‘Rashomon’ and the 1966’s ‘Samurai Banners / Furin Kazan’.

            ‘The Shozo Makino Award’ was given to Daisaku Kimura, Japanese veteran cinematographer and director, while the newly established ‘Toshiro Mifune Award’ was given to Japanese actor Koji Yakusho, who did many notable works both in local and overseas film industry. As Okuyama said, the voters of this long-planned award, celebrating Mifune as the first Japan actor who received the international status, were very careful about choosing a recipient over some candidates.

            The award for Koji Yakusho was presented by Mrs. Teruyo Nogami, script supervisor in most Akira Kurosawa’s works, now 82 years old, while a signature scarf made by the Tokyo-based French artist Michail Gkinis, also a jury for this year’s Creator’s Factory, handed to him by the son of Toshiro Mifune, Shiro Mifune, along with traditionally artful flowers and small local trees.

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            Expressing his thoughts on the festival, Yakusho said that he hopes the festival could grow well in the newly international concept, making Kyoto becomes Hollywood of Japan that once considered. He also said that he was very surprised at first when asked to receive this award. “I never thought I was qualified enough by such honorable with the name as big as Toshiro-san. However, I respect him very much so I decided no matter what people say and think, this is something I had to accept. If we can see the film business as the Olympics, Toshiro Mifune must’ve been the one to receive most gold medals among all. By receiving this award, I personally think that this award should be pushing myself more and more in my future carreer. Thank you very much”. At the end of the awarding ceremony, they did a little retrospective talk remembering Toshiro Mifune’s carreer, from being Akira Kurosawa’s first choice, mostly, to his involvement in European or Hollywood movies.

            The Most Respected Award given to Clint Eastwood and Irene Jacob still handed symbolically, along with the winners of Creator’s Factory in three category ; film section for Aki Yamamoto, Art Section for Yuki Harada  and Kids’ Art for Chiho Matsuo. Comes from different age and background, the winners of the Creator’s Factory were all women, thus before wrapping the whole event with Sadao Nakajima, Okuyama said that this is becoming an era of woman as filmmakers.

             By the data collected until before the closing ceremony, with the total 48 films and 120 various art exhibitions, the total number of admission has reached about 40.000 people. This is not bad for the first attempt to relaunch a local festival in its international status, but surely, for the next event, the Kyoto International Film and Art Festival should be bigger than this, and as well getting more and more attention throughout the world. (dan)

 

KYOTO INTERNATIONAL FILM AND ART FESTIVAL 2014 : TAKING JAPANESE FILMS BACK TO ITS BIRTHPLACE (PART 1)

•October 20, 2014 • Leave a Comment

KYOTO INTERNATIONAL FILM AND ART FESTIVAL 2014 : TAKING JAPANESE FILMS BACK TO ITS BIRTHPLACE (PART 1)

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            Having their biggest form of movie festival around Asia with ‘Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF)’, many people outside Japan didn’t know that the birthplace of Japanese films was actually in Kyoto, where the very first screening of their movie took place. Many movies including historical plays and jidai-geki, period samurai drama, have been produced at film studios in Kyoto up until now. The beautiful – traditional city has also been playing a key role in the Japanese movie for a long time.

            Backing up by Yoshimoto Kogyo, the Osaka-based entertainment giant of Japan’s biggest TV and movie talents, following their part in the recent ‘Okinawa International Movie Festival’ and chaired by Sadao Nakajima, 80, Japanese film director, this year marks the relaunch of the ‘Kyoto Film Festival’, which was held every two years from 1997 to 2012.  Being freshly revived as the ‘Kyoto International Film and Art Festival’ (KIFF), this first international edition of the festival aim to create a new environment in international reputation and bring back the existence of Kyoto as one of the base in their movie industry.

            And not only movies, that welcomed more than 40 films from new to classics, a special art exhibition that will introduce world-class traditional arts and crafts of Kyoto, once a central of Japanese empire in the 8th century, are also scheduled to be held at various venues around the prefecture incl. the former Rissei Elementary School. In the hope to preserve the cultural inheritance in these different forms of art altogether, the concept of connecting the past with the future as an important lesson to step forward, also has the other main purpose in discovering new and promising talents as global filmmakers.

The Awards

            As Mr. Kazuyoshi Okuyama, the executive producer of the festival said, instead of having a competitions category among selected new films, the festival aim more to finding their new talents through the Creator’s Factory category, an open competition for creators in a variety of genres, both movies and art. The main award itself known as the ‘Shizuku no Utsuwa’ trophy, which will be presented for the ‘Shozo Makino Award’ from the preceding festivals, newly established ‘Toshiro Mifune Award’ and the ‘Most Respected Awards’.

            Created by Takahiro Kondo, potter and art writer using his original ‘gintekisai (silver mist glaze)’ technique, Shizuku (droplets) are the symbol of circulation, purification and regeneration. While Utsuwa, means empty vessel, hovers between reality and fiction, represents a substitute which a soul drawn to. As ever, the trophy represents a hope that the festival will always develop and held continously. Along with the ‘Shizuku no Utsuwa’, the winners will also be presented with a stole designed by Michail Gkinis, fashion designer and a master craftsman from Greece.

            Choose by the small numbers of committee members with council/collegial system, the ‘Shozo Makino Award’, named in memory of Kyoto filmmaker with the same name known as the father of Japanese Cinema, will be given to filmmakers who have contributed to the development of Japanese films, while ‘Toshiro Mifune Award’, in the purpose to encourage the emergence of great world class-actors like himself, will be given to actors who achieved global success in representing Japanese film industry.

            Also newly established, the ‘Most Respected Filmmaker Awards’, awards  to honor and pay tribute to world-renowned actors or directors, will be given to Clint Eastwood, and the sub-category ‘Most Respected Filmmaker from Paris’ based on a friendship treaty between two cities, will be given to actress Iréne Jacob. Along with this commemoration, the festival will screen 4 Eastwood movies (‘Dirty Harry’, ‘The Unforgiven’, ‘Flags of Our Fathers’ and ‘Gran Torino’) and 2 significant title in Iréne Jacob’s acting history, both directed by Krzystof Kiezlowski :  ‘The Double Life of Veronique’ (France, Poland, 1991) and ‘Three Colors : Red’ (France, Switzerland, 1994)

The Programs

The Opening Film

            For the opening film, the festival has ‘At Home’ (2015) in its world premiere. Directed by Hiroshi Chono, this black comedy about dysfunctional family was based on the novel by Takasyoshi Honda and starred Yasuko Matsuyuki with the actor from Chono’s recent film, ‘Oba : The Last Samurai’, Yutaka Takenouchi.

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Special Screenings

            The Special Screenings section consists of three sub-category. First, the theatrically unreleased Japanese movies, such as ‘Twilight Sasara Saya’ (2014, Yoshihiro Fukagawa), ‘Fuku-Chan of Fukufuku Flats’ (2014, Yosuke Fujita), ‘Bay Blues : 25 Years and 364 Days’ (2014, Tomohiro Takayama), and  ‘[Harajuku Cinema]’ (2014, Masashi Omino).

            Then, to explore the origins of world’s comedy films, the section ‘Silent Comedy Film Features’ combined the works of Japan’s God of comedy, Torajiro Saito (‘Modern Horror 100.000.000 Yen’, ‘Dynamite Bride’ and ‘Kid Commotion’), the roots of Japanese anime (‘Toy Films Special’ ; silent films from the Taisho to Showa periods using toy movie projectors at those times) to Buster Keaton and Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckles. Three of the Fatty – Keaton films to be screened is ‘The Butcher Boy’, ‘The Garage’ and ‘The Cook’.

            The last category for Special Screenings section, named ‘Kyoto Films’ are various films that made by Kyoto-based directors, particularly depicting Japan and Kyoto beyond shows of culture in each selected movies. The movies are ‘The Human’ (2014, Japan/Turkey, Cagla Zencirci & Guiilaume Giovanetti), ‘Early Spring, Kyoto’ (2014, Hiroshi Toda), and the classic Daimajin in the special program ‘The Daimajin Series Screening Feature’.

          Widely known as Japanese classic monster movie that was produced in Daiei Studio – Kyoto, the Golem-inspired ‘Daimajin’ (Kimiyoshi Yasuda, dir.) also became a great astonishment on the use of special effects in an historical play. Besides the screening of the original 1966 film in Yoshimoto Kion Kagetsu, a vintage theatre now used as a comedy theatre, the giant statue of Daimajin featuring Kenji Yakobe’s ‘Giant Torayan’ (giant breathing robot baby) will be exhibited in Kyoto City Hall along with the live perfomances.

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TV Director’s Movie

            Following the section in Okinawa International Film Festival (OIMF), Yoshimoto also screen their joint-produced TV movie in the TV Director’s Movie section. The films are ‘Love Session’ (Eiji Itaya, dir.), ‘Furiko’ (Norihiro Takenaga, dir.), ‘Slight Fever of 100 – Island Breeze of Love’ (Koichi Okamoto, dir.), ‘Pirameki’s Children Love Story’ (Yu Ota, dir.), and ‘NBM48 Geinin! The Movie Returns’ (Hidemi Uchida, dir.)

Creator’s Factory

            Also from the OIMF, this section is one of the most important goal for Yoshimoto to find their new talents. By showing an award winning Shiki Asaka’s novel adaptation, ‘Kyoto Elegy’, directing debut from actress – producer Kiki Sugino, the winner of 2013 OIMF’s Creator’s Factory, which co-produced by Yoshimoto, in the movie’s full premiere, they clearly stated the support will continue through the upcoming festivals.

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            As the members of jury in the Creator’s Factory, there are Kaizo Hayashi (director), Yoko Tsukamoto (art producer), Michail Gkinis (artist), Yukihiro Hirose (head of Kyoto Indie Film Festival) and Ujicha – Leo Anzai (director –producer of ‘The Burning Buddha Man’) in the art section. The festival also established the ‘Children’s Section’ in this art category, which the winners will not only be awarded with special prizes, but also got big supports from Yoshimoto.

Other Classics

            Along with other classic lineups, this first international edition of the festival will also screened two Toshiro Mifune films ‘Rashomon’ (1950, Akira Kurosawa) and ‘Furin Kazan (Samurai Banner)’ (1969, Hiroshi Inagaki), and as well, two Yuya Uchida and three Hiroshi Shinagawa films. In these special sections, ‘Yuya Uchida Rock ‘n’ Roll Movie 2 Days’ will screen ‘The Mosquito in the Tenth Floor’ (1983, Yoichi Sai) & ‘We Don’t Need Comic Books!’ (1986, Yojiro Takita), while ‘All About Shinagawa Cinema’ is more to a retrospective to Shinagawa’s wild vision in ‘DROP’ (2008), ‘Manzai Gang’ (2011)  and ‘One Third’ (2014).

 

THE JUDGE : AN ULTIMATELY HEARTFELT FATHER TO SON COURTROOM SHOW

•October 13, 2014 • Leave a Comment

THE JUDGE 

Sutradara : David Dobkin

Produksi : Village Roadshow Pictures, Team Downey, Big Kid Pictures, Warner Bros., 2014

THE JUDGE

            Bukan berarti sama sekali baru, namun bersama trend genre thriller di akhir ’80-an ke pertengahan ’90-an, subgenre courtroom drama/thriller juga mencapai puncak keemasannya di era itu. Dalam bentuk yang lebih detil lagi, variasinya sangat beragam, namun rata-rata punya kualitas yang masih diingat sampai sekarang. Sempat mencuatkan nama author John Grisham di mid ’90-an dengan serangkaian adaptasi filmnya, sebelum akhirnya seakan hilang sama sekali dari proyek-proyek Hollywood, agaknya belum ada lagi yang bisa membawa formula ini benar-benar kembali dengan segala formula genre-cliche-nya.

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            Bukan juga berarti genre-cliche itu sama sekali jelek. Instead, dalam genre ini, formula bakunya memang hanya punya dua kemungkinan di luar sedikit twist, sebagaimana sistem juri pengadilan disana dengan keputusan akhirnya, yang membalut konklusi di akhir kisahnya. Guilty, or not guilty. Selebihnya adalah bagaimana alurnya menggabungkan semua elemen yang ada di dalamnya, dimana di saat yang sama genre drama dan thriller akan berbaur jadi satu dari elemen criminal case dengan dramatisasi di interaksi karakter-karakternya.

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            Tapi bukan hanya itu yang spesial jauh sebelum ‘The Judge’ dirilis ke publik. Sejak lama, desas-desus kolaborasi dua bintang di dalamnya sudah banyak menarik perhatian orang. Selagi Robert Downey, Jr., salah satu aktor dengan gelombang naik turun karir paling drastis di Hollywood kini tak lagi bisa tergeser dari A-list actors berkat Marvel Cinematic Universe, ada Jack Nicholson yang dikabarkan akan memerankan ayahnya. However, menjelang pre-produksinya, posisi Nicholson digantikan oleh Robert Duvall, yang masih tak jauh-jauh dari kualitas keaktoran Nicholson. In a good way, ini tak akan jadi anotherA Few Good Men‘ di courtroom scenes-nya. Premis yang dianggap melawan arus trend sekarang itu sebenarnya juga tak salah, walaupun banyak kritikus yang mengolok-olok ‘The Judge’ lebih mirip sebuah cable movies dari susunan cast pendukung dan courtroom theme yang tergeser ke layar kaca, secara banyak sineas yang seakan menggunakan konsep ‘back to nature’, mengadopsi formula-formula old-fashioned yang pernah berjaya di industri film mereka.

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            Satu hal lagi adalah sutradara sekaligus penggagas utama yang ada dibalik filmnya. Selama ini dikenal sebagai ‘The Comedy Guy’ dari film-film seperti ‘Shanghai Knights’, ‘Wedding Crashers’, ‘Fred Claus’, ‘The Change-Up’ hingga yang bakal hadir setelah ‘The Judge’, reboot franchise komedi terkenal ‘Vacation’ (sebagai produser), Dobkin dianggap banting stir ke genre berbeda, namun ada alasan unik yang sekaligus menjelaskan bahwa ‘The Judge’ seakan jadi labor of love bagi Dobkin. Ditulis seminggu setelah kematian ibu yang selama ini tak pernah benar-benar dekat dengannya namun dirawat Dobkin dengan baik di saat-saat terakhirnya, film ini jadi karya tentang ‘lost and found family relationship’ dengan sentuhan sangat personal buat dia. Oh ya, ‘The Judge’ memang ada di genre courtroom drama dengan sedikit unsur thriller dalam formula genre-cliche itu, tapi Dobkin masih tak lari terlalu jauh bila Anda sudah benar-benar menyaksikan filmnya.

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            Seperti premis puluhan bahkan mungkin ratusan film di genre yang sama, premis ‘The Judge’ pun simpel saja. Lama meninggalkan kampung halamannya di Carlinville, pinggiran Indiana akibat sebuah masa lalu traumatik diantara hubungan keluarganya, seorang pengacara sukses di Chicago, Henry ‘Hank’ Palmer (Robert Downey, Jr.) kembali untuk menghadiri pemakaman ibunya. Namun apa yang didapati Hank adalah sebuah kasus pembunuhan yang menempatkan ayahnya, hakim Joseph Palmer (Robert Duvall) sebagai tersangka utama yang harus dibelanya dengan segala cara. Disitu, hubungan-hubungan keluarga ini kembali diuji.

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            So you see. Premis itu memang sangat simpel, namun penulis skrip Nick Schenk (‘Gran Torino’) bersama Bill Dubuque memang berhasil menerjemahkan ide Dobkin dengan pendalaman luarbiasa atas penggabungan elemen-elemennya. Memegang Robert Downey, Jr. (RDJ) yang mendukung penuh proyeknya dibawah bendera PH Team Downey yang baru dibentuknya bersama Susan, sang istri, apalagi Robert Duvall yang jauh lebih senior, Dobkin benar-benar seperti seorang pendulang emas yang sudah tahu memanfaatkan kedua aktor utamanya dengan baik.

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                Selagi ide yang sangat personal itu mempertemukan dua aktor besar dengan interaksi akting terkuat diantara film-film yang hadir tahun ini, keterlibatan RDJ juga membuat polesan karakternya seakan menjadi tribute bagi seluruh filmografi bahkan real-life jatuh bangun karirnya di Hollywood. Kita bisa melihat karakter Iron Man’s Tony Stark sebagai kartu As-nya, ladykiller yang luarbiasa angkuh dibalik style akting RDJ mimicking Mel Gibson di hubungan persahabatan keduanya sejak ‘Air America’ membentuk blend yang sempurna dengan sosok anak bandel-sinis-keras kepala yang tetap terlihat lovable di sejumlah heartfelt romcom terbaik RDJ (‘Chances Are’, ‘Heart And Souls’, & ‘Only You’). Dan ini membuat pace keseluruhannya yang sebenarnya cenderung bergerak agak lamban jadi punya percikan-percikan emosi yang terasa sangat manusiawi.

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                Sementara Robert Duvall jelas tak perlu ditanya lagi. Memerankan honorable judge turns convicted felon sekaligus estranged father figure bagi karakter Hank akibat masa lalu traumatik yang menggerogoti hubungan personal berikut keluarga mereka dari dalam, tema father to son-nya tampil dengan chemistry dan emosi yang benar-benar solid sejak awal dan kian menanjak menuju salah satu adegan terbaiknya, the bathroom/shower scene, yang akan membuat penontonnya merasa sesak dengan nafas tercekat menyaksikan adegan ini. Being one of the best scenes in years, dengan kapasitas tearjerking sebanding dengan melodrama-melodrama Asia, tapi tak juga berarti kelewat sentimentil, Dobkin benar-benar terasa meng-handle adegannya dengan luarbiasa personal, no holds barred, serta nyaris meninggalkan subplot criminal case-nya jadi jauh tertinggal di belakang tema father to son ini.

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            Deretan pemeran pendukungnya pun tak kalah bagus. Meski singkat, Vera Farmiga membentuk chemistry yang sangat memikat sebagai Hank’s college crush, begitu juga Vincent D’Onofrio dan Jeremy Strong yang memerankan saudara-saudara Hank dengan disabilitas masing-masing dan Emma Tremblay sebagai putrinya, semua dengan interkoneksi kuat antara keluarga dan kerabat dekat, dari father to sons, brother to brother or even mother and child, yang saling membentuk detil karakter nya masing-masing. Masih ada pula aktor/komedian Dax Shepard yang mengisi distraksi komedi bersama Leighton Meester, serta satu yang tak bisa dilupakan, Billy Bob Thornton sebagai penuntut utama Dwight Dickham yang harus dihadapi Hank di proses peradilan Joseph dibalik rahasia masa lalu mereka. Adegan-adegan pengadilan ini juga tampil kuat bersama konklusi tentang sebuah integritas, cinta serta kehormatan di tengah pandangan-pandangan kolot masyarakat yang mereka tampilkan.

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                 Di luar itu, ‘The Judge’ masih dihiasi oleh tata teknis yang sangat mumpuni. Ada sinematografi award winning Janusz Kaminski yang ikut membangun kekuatan di tiap scene, tetap dengan signaturewhite light’-nya yang terlihat jelas di rata-rata courtroom scenes, bersama score Thomas Newman dalam memberi penekanan emosi luarbiasa diantara dramatisasi bersama lagu-lagu dengan sentuhan country termasuk Willie Nelsons Coldplay cover, ‘The Scientist’ sebagai end title song yang meninggalkan penontonnya masih dalam emosi teraduk-aduk di pengujung film.

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               So again, don’t listen to any critics’ bad judgment tentang ‘The Judge’, kecuali Anda memang merupakan seorang pemirsa yang tak pernah mengindahkan rasa dalam sebuah tontonan. Dengan semua pencapaian itu, meski membawa kembali formula genre-cliche-nya tak pada arena pertarungan yang tepat sampai-sampai RDJ harus meminta penghuni socmed memberikan kesempatan terhadap filmnya yang jauh dari sentuhan boom bang blockbusters ataupun tak dihiasi shocking twist this and that yang tengah jadi trend sekarang, ‘The Judge’ justru jadi salah satu persembahan terbaik Hollywood tahun ini. An ultimately heartfelt father to son courtroom show that will make you go all the way with wet-eyed yet laugh so hard at its comedy, dan di titik paling akhirnya, ‘The Judge’ akan membuat kita semua ingin cepat-cepat pulang ke rumah buat melewati momennya bersama orang-orang terdekat kita. Tak banyak film yang bisa mencapai kualitas itu, dan itu artinya, bagus sekali. Bagus sekali. (dan)

GARUDA 19 : AN INSPIRATIONAL STORY OF INDONESIA NATIONAL U-19 FOOTBALL TEAM

•October 12, 2014 • 2 Comments

GARUDA 19 

Sutradara : Andibachtiar Yusuf

Produksi : Mizan Productions, Bogalakon Pictures & Pertamina Foundation, 2014

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            Among all Indonesian sports movie, sepak bola memang masih mengambil tempat teratas dalam genre-nya. Tak peduli betapa prestasi itu masih naik turun di tengah carut-marut permasalahan internalnya, ini tetap jadi kebanggaan banyak orang disini, dan memang layak buat terus didukung. Selain juga, tentunya, cukup berpotensi untuk menarik penontonnya.

            Disana, ada nama sineas Andibachtiar Yusuf sebagai salah satu penggiat persepakbolaan Indonesia. Walau kabarnya ingin meninggalkan genre ini dalam filmografi ke depannya, toh mencari orang yang tepat sebagai storyteller di ranah seperti ini sungguh tak mudah. Bergabung ke dalam semangat Mizan Productions untuk menggulirkan kisah-kisah lokal inspiratif, ‘Garuda 19’ dikembangkan dari dua buku, ‘Semangat Membatu’ dan ‘Menolak Menyerah’ karya FX Rudi Gunawan (bersama Guntur Cahyo Utomo di ‘Semangat Membatu’), untuk kemudian dijadikan skrip oleh Andibachtiar dan Swastika Nohara.

            Sedikit berbeda dari dua source itu, ‘Garuda 19’ justru mengembalikan kisah timnas U-19 ke usaha-usaha terbentuknya timnas ini oleh Indra Sjafri. Sebuah kisah nyata yang menyorot talenta-talenta dari seluruh pelosok Indonesia yang sering luput dari perhatian pusat. So, ini adalah cerita tentang perjuangan dan keyakinan, seperti judul salah satu source itu, semangat yang membatu untuk meraih kemenangan.

           Untuk membentuk timnas U-19, Indra Sjafrie (Mathias Muchus) bersama timnya (Verdi Solaiman, Ibnu Jamil, Puadin Redi dan Reza Aditya) bertolak ke berbagai pelosok Indonesia buat menemukan bibit-bibit hebat yang ada di Nusantara. Ada Yazid (Gazza Zubizareta) dari Konawe Selatan, Sulawesi Tenggara, Sahrul (Rendy Akhmad), juara tarkam dari Ngawi, Jawa Timur, hingga Yabes (Sumarlin Beta) dari Alor, NTT yang punya komitmen besar di tengah keterbatasan kehidupan keluarganya. Bergabung bersama Evan Dimas (Yusuf Mahardika) dan rekan-rekannya yang lain di timnas U-19, perjalanan mereka menuju kemenangan melawan Vietnam di Piala AFF U-19 2013, Sidoarjo, sebagai piala resmi pertama yang didapatkan Indonesia sejak 22 tahun lalu, sungguh bukan suatu jalan yang mudah. Ada perjuangan, pengorbanan juga perseteruan yang harus mereka hadapi di tengah-tengah proses menghadapi Korea Selatan untuk membidik Piala Asia Oktober 2014 di Myanmar, yang hampir berbarengan dengan rilis filmnya.

            Dari semua filmografi Andibachtiar soal sepak bola, dibanding ‘Romeo- Juliet’ dan ‘Hari Ini Pasti Menang’ yang menjadikan sepak bola sebagai latar kuat diatas kombinasi subgenre yang beda-beda (love story di ‘Romeo-Juliet’ serta social satire di ‘HIPM’, ‘Garuda 19’ bisa dikatakan ada di wilayah yang paling aman serta linear, namun memang sangat bisa dimengerti, karena keterlibatan Mizan dengan signature mereka di batasan inspiratif film-filmnya. Begitupun, bukan berarti skrip itu hanya bekerja sebagai pemaparan linear terhadap sebuah kisah sukses pembentukan timnas-nya.

            Bersama Swastika Nohara yang juga tak jauh-jauh dari ranah ini sejak terakhir menulis skrip ‘Cahaya Dari Timur : Beta Maluku’ barusan, Andibachtiar tetap menyematkan detil yang bagus dalam permasalahan cabang olah raga itu berikut pengenalan khas masing-masing sisi Indonesia yang disorot dalam perekrutan anggota-anggotanya. Mereka tetap membesut ‘Garuda 19’ sebagai human story yang terasa cukup dalam menggabungkan banyak elemen di tengah plot utama perjalanan Indra Sjafri dan timnya. Dan jangan tanyakan juga keakuratan teknis yang memang sudah sangat dikuasai Andibachtiar dibalik sosoknya sebagai penggiat sepak bola Indonesia. Tata teknisnya juga tampil bagus terutama di tangan Gunung Nusa Pelita sebagai DoP dan scoring Sabrang Mowo Damar Panulu.

            Begitu pula dengan departemen aktingnya. Dibalik kemiripan fisik dengan Indra Sjafri asli oleh departemen makeup-nya, Mathias Muchus, seperti biasanya, tak pernah tampil mengecewakan. Verdi, Reza, Puadin dan Ibnu juga menjadi karakter-karakter yang bekerja cukup baik dalam pemaparan subplot konflik-konflik internal dalam tim para punggawa itu bersama deretan pemain mudanya, baik Yusuf, Gazza, Agri dan Sumarlin yang sama sekali tak jelek. Belum lagi theme songHati Garuda’ dari Letto yang punya nuansa anthemic dan penuh semangat untuk mengiringi adegan turnamen finalnya.

            Hanya saja, usaha untuk memuat begitu banyak sisi penceritaan dari seabrek karakternya, sedikit membuat ‘Garuda 19’ agak lemah di percikan emosinya. Bukan skrip itu tak berusaha memuat detil-detil masing-masing karakter di tengah durasi yang sudah hampir mencapai dua jam masa putar, chemistry-nya pun tak bisa dibilang gagal. Tapi fokusnya seakan saling mendistraksi antara anak-anak muda dengan tim Indra Sjafri, membuat kedua bagian ini sulit untuk bisa berjalan beriringan dengan harmonisasi yang maksimal. Belum lagi tumpang tindihnya dengan segala permasalahan sampingan yang ingin disampaikan tentang kondisi persepakbolaan Indonesia, serta beberapa product placement yang kurang rapi. Ending-nya tetap dipaksakan buat diisi oleh lagi-lagi adegan turnamen, namun hampir tak menyisakan ketegangan menanti final goal-nya.

            Begitupun, kekurangan itu tak sampai membuat ‘Garuda 19’ gagal menyampaikan misinya. Walau linear-linear saja di ranah inspiratif ala Mizan sebagai bentuk kompromi yang tak bisa terhindarkan, paling tidak, Andibachtiar tetap membesut ‘Garuda 19’ jadi film nasional yang sangat informatif dan membuka mata dalam hal olah raga sepak bola serta pengenalan-pengenalan budaya wilayah pinggiran Nusantara yang tersorot di dalamnya. Still a very well made, well acted and inspirational story of Indonesia U-19 foot ball team, yang mungkin selama ini luput dari perhatian banyak orang. Dan itu artinya, layak buat disimak. (dan)

STRAWBERRY SURPRISE : AN ALMOST TOO SWEET LOVE FLAVOUR

•October 12, 2014 • Leave a Comment

STRAWBERRY SURPRISE

Sutradara : Hanny R. Saputra

Produksi : Starvision, 2014

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            Masih dalam trend adaptasi novel di industri perfilman kita, ‘Strawberry Surprise’ memang terlihat menarik seperti source-nya. Meski mungkin bukan lagi sesuatu yang baru, novel karya Desi Puspitasari yang berjudul asli ‘The Strawberry Surprise’ ini punya cover dan ide yang sama-sama keren lewat seri ‘love flavour’ dalam menganalogikan cinta terhadap macam-macam rasa dalam temanya. Tak sampai jadi food theme yang kental, tapi cukup sebatas metafora saja dalam membalut konflik utama soal LDR. Long Distance Relationship.

            Lewat skrip yang ditulis oleh Oka Aurora (supervisi oleh Adi Nugroho) dan penyutradaraan Hanny R. Saputra, ensemble cast-nya pun sama menariknya. Ada Reza Rahadian dan Acha Septriasa yang mengulang kesuksesan chemistry mereka di ‘Test Pack’ tempo hari, plus Olivia Jensen dan kegemaran Starvision menambah dayatarik di deretan supporting cast-nya.

            Atas kesibukan masing-masing, hubungan Timur (Reza Rahadian), seorang fotografer yang berdomisili di Bandung dan Aggi (Acha Septriasa) yang menjadi kurator galeri di Yogyakarta kandas di tengah jalan. Aggi meninggalkan janji untuk Timur untuk bertemu 5 tahun lagi kalau mereka masih sendiri. 5 tahun ternyata belum cukup bagi Timur untuk bisa melupakan Aggi walaupun sempat menjalin hubungan dengan Inda (Olivia Jensen Lubis) , rekan sekampus yang masih terus mendambakan hati Timur. Begitu juga halnya dengan Aggi. Hubungannya dengan beberapa orang tak pernah berakhir dengan baik. Timur pun kembali ke Yogya dan mencoba memenuhi permintaan Aggi setelahnya, tapi memang sulit untuk benar-benar bisa meyakinkan Aggi untuk percaya apakah Timur akan menjadi pasangan yang tepat seperti kegemarannya menikmati stroberi dengan rasa yang tak terduga.

            Tak ada yang spesial dengan plot itu, memang. Selagi novelnya jadi menarik karena memuat analogi-analogi hubungan cinta yang naik turun dengan batasan filosofis ke konflik-konflik lain termasuk LDR, sayangnya ada demand berbeda dalam mengadaptasinya menjadi sebuah romcom dan konteks film. Oka dan Adi sebenarnya sudah terlihat sekali mencoba menggali hal ini, bahkan mengikuti alur maju mundur dalam source-nya dan menyorot realitas-realitas yang ada dibalik lokasi Bandung – Yogya sebagai set-nya.

               Meski dialognya seringkali terasa dipenuhi filosofi buku dan tak bisa benar-benar terasa natural, sayangnya, potensi konfliknya tak pernah mencapai satu titik puncak. Ia hanya bergerak kesana kemari seperti karakter Aggi yang cenderung penuh kebimbangan, dan terus-menerus seperti itu, dimana dua karakternya terus terlihat terlalu santai menjembatani perbedaan persepsi dalam hubungan jarak jauh mereka. Analogi stroberi-nya pun kerap jadi hanya sekedar pelengkap. Hanny R. Saputra pun sepertinya tak yakin benar membesut storytelling dengan alur maju mundur itu buat benar-benar bisa bercerita dengan enak. Di beberapa adegan, bersama editing Aline Jusria, ia berani, bahkan dengan pengaturan wardrobe dan makeup yang bisa ikut menjelaskan alur, tapi kemudian mentah lagi di adegan yang lain. Tanggung-tanggung.

                But however, chemistry dan akting karakter-karakter utamanya tetap bisa menutupi hal ini agar terlihat tetap punya keseimbangan yang baik. Atmosfer smooth jazz yang dibangun lewat scoring Andhika Triyadi bersama saksofonis Tommy Pratomo bisa masuk dengan baik bersama lagu-lagu jazzy soundtrack-nya untuk memberikan keseimbangan agar dialog-dialog filosofisnya bisa tetap enak buat dinikmati. Sinematografi Rizko Angga Vivedru cukup baik, dan cast pendukungnya juga secara proporsional ikut menyemarakkan penceritaannya biarpun sebagian tak diberi penjelasan lebih dalam skripnya. Ada Olivia Jensen, Inzalna Balqis dan Ryan Delon, Ibnu Jamil, Reuben Elishama dan Fandy Christian, juga Sita Nursanti yang sayangnya di bagian-bagian akhir keluar dari konsistensinya sebagai big sister character bagi karakter Aggi. Sementara Katon Bagaskara dan Ayu Azhari hanya sekedar jadi penghias, tapi semuanya masih bisa menambah dayatarik ensemble ini.

                 Sedikit merubah tampilannya, Reza Rahadian bermain baik sekali menjadi Timur. Kemampuan akting Reza selalu membuatnya terlihat meyakinkan masuk ke karakter apapun, termasuk dalam hobby Timur bermain saxophone yang mendapat treatment cukup besar di beberapa scene-nya. Sementara Acha, dalam chemistry yang sama kuatnya seperti di ‘Test Pack’, bisa membuat karakter Aggi yang plintat-plintut itu tetap terasa lovable bagi pemirsanya. Kita seolah dibawa menikmati penganan strawberry yang diracik menjadi semanis mungkin, terlalu manis malah, walau potensi kecut dalam konfliknya kerap terlupakan, and in a good way, dalam durasi singkat, semuanya jadi serba asyik dan cantik. Although in a bad way, karakter-karakter ini terlihat meng-handle semua konflik yang seharusnya ada jadi sedikit terlalu santai. Untuk sebuah pilihan, tak mengapa juga.

             Hingga sampai di pengujung film, sayangnya Hanny lagi-lagi tak bisa memberikan finishing touch yang pantas. Tanpa ada puncak konfliknya, penyelesaiannya pun terlalu mudah. Dan seperti kebanyakan kekurangan film kita yang menampilkan hanya satu alat musik tapi penekanannya seolah full band, disini kebalikannya, memilih untuk memoles small wedding party climax hanya dengan saxophone jazz duet tanpa insert lagu atau pukulan beat itu malah diiringi dengan closeup shot joget-joget yang agak berlebihan. Belum lagi klise-klise ala India dimana semua karakternya dipaksa harus berakhir menemukan pasangan. An almost too sweet love flavour, tapi sayang sekali berakhir tak maksimal. (dan)

 
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