26th TOKYO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL : THE REPORT (3)
26th TOKYO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL : THE REPORT (3)
TIFF’s day-5 lineups are ‘The Tale Of Iya’ and ‘PAAT’ in Asian Future section, ‘Bending The Rules’, ‘Blind Dates’, ‘The Double’ and ‘Au Revoir l’été’ in the Competition, ‘Soul’ and ‘Jodorowsky’s Dune’ in World Focus, ‘And The Mud Ship Sails Away’ and ‘Sad Tea’ of Japanese Cinema Splash and ‘A Tale Of Samurai Cooking – A True Love Story’ in Special Screenings. For the public screenings, there are ‘How Selfish I Am!’, ‘Death & Tanya’, ‘Night and Keigo’s Car’ (Japanese Cinema Splash), ‘Nobody’s Home’ (Asian Future), ‘Norte : The End Of History’, ‘Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy’, ‘Borgman’ and ‘Zone Pro Site : The Movable Feast’ (World Focus), ‘To Live And Die In Ordos’ and ‘Love Is A Perfect Crime’ (Competition), ‘Bilocation’ and ‘The Dust Of Time’ (Special Screenings).
For the press in TIFF’s Journalist Program, this day is the time to take on ‘Tokyo Location Tour’ to visit some of the most famous movie locations where countless notable Japanese films has been made. This program also shows their effort in other things considered as important, to support their movie industry to overseas countries. As a wider introduction of shooting locations that spread all over the city, where every part of them has a local film comission to support filmmakers, from local and around the world, to shoot in those areas.
The tour started from one of three biggest studios ever constructed in Tokyo. Now left only two (the other is Toei Studio while Nikkatsu has been closed down), Toho Studio was known as the studio that produced such Japanese masterpieces as Akira Kurosawa’s ‘Seven Samurai’ to the large chains of ‘Godzilla’ franchise. Usually closed to the public, the tour took the press to revisit how those classics were conceived. From the old days to the modern era with many hi-tech efforts in the industry, Toho Studio is still producing some of Japanese finest movies until now.
The second stop was Jindaiji Temple, a Buddhist temple dedicated to Amida Buddha and known as the second oldest temple in Tokyo after Sensou-ji Temple. Not only became one of the most famous tourist destination while they’re visiting Tokyo, Jindaiji Temple also has a track record of film location through ages. One of them was the famous NHK’s TV-drama, ‘Gegege no Nyobo (Gegege’s Wife)’, a lovelife biopic of their famous manga artist, Mizuki Shigeru, the author of classic manga ‘Gegege no Kitaro’ which had adapted into dorama and big screen movies many times.
The last place to visit was Kichijoji, an area known of one of the most attractive and busiest shopping streets in Tokyo. There are over three thousand shops as big commercial facilities, small unique shops and old-timey stand cheek by jowl, this is the town that full of life. Aside of its popularity as the tourist and shoppers destination, nowadays there are many more modern films were shot on location here.
Back to the festival venue at Roppongi Hills, the schedule for press in the Journalist Program then continued to a Gathering Party with other festival guest in the Cinema Caravan, a stylish mobile cinema built at Mohri Garden by the Roppongi Hills Arena.
Soul (2013, Taiwan / Chung Mong-hong)
Starred the legendary Jimmy Wong with young actor Joseph Chang, ‘Soul’ is a surreal and disturbing thriller that packed with quite amazing visual poetry. Bumped medical explanation of schizophrenia with supernaturally dissociation of the spirits, it tells a story of Ah-Chuan (played by Joseph Chang) who suddenly loss his memory of who he is. Taken home to the remote mountainside orchid plantation where his father (Jimmy Wong) tries to recover his state, things gotten worse from family secrets to bloody series of murder.
‘Soul’ might be filled with surreal narrative and slow-burn, heavy dialogues thriller. But once the idea of psychological existence surfaced into the air, the film runs with its distinctive artistry towards the nightmarish and haunting goryness without ever losing the affecting emotion that lies within.
Borgman (2013, Netherland-Belgium-Denmark / Alex van Warmerdam)
From Dutch director, Alex van Warmerdam, ‘Borgman’ is a dark and twisted horrorish comedy beyond the home invasion theme. It tells a story of a mysterious man as titled (played wonderfully by Jan Bijvoet) who’s running by priest-led cult manhunt and stumble into a life of a no less mysteriously wealthy married couple (played by Hadewych Minis and Jeroen Perceval).
Handsomely acted and designed, ‘Borgman’ looks like a much bizarre version of Haneke’s ‘Funny Games’. Keeping the malevolent-turned lead left blurred for his insanity and supernatural touch invoking dreams and nightmares, it’s nasty, devilish, psychologically weird and surrealy torturing, but also filled with allegorical judgment between classes. A unique film with wide-range of genres rolled into one amusing ride, but never ran out of its pace.
The Dust Of Time (2008, Greece / Theo Angelopoulos)
Originally being a 2008 production and first screened on February 2009 at the 59th Berlin International Film Festival, this is in fact the second part of unfinished trilogy (started with 2004’s ‘The Weeping Meadow’) from legendary Greek filmmaker Theo Angelopoulos who passed away in January 2012 while working on the last part. As an epic love story spans over 50 years, ‘The Dust Of Time’ tells a story about Greek film director (played by Willem Dafoe) who goes on a journey to explore the life of his mother Eleni (Irene Jacob) and two men in her life, Jacob (Bruno Ganz) and Spyros (Michel Piccoli).
If you’re familiar with Angelopoulos’s style, you might not surprised that ‘The Dust Of Time’ overlaps its own timeline without any explanation. At many times, it might felt too abstract and can be felt and enjoyed only by segmented audience, but truly, like a poetry that lies beyond the amazing cinematic visuals and landscapes, as an emotional study of existential loss, the film is more to a spiritual journey depicting the loneliness among the characters.
The movie lineups in day-6 are ‘To Live And Die In Ordos’, ‘Red Family’, ‘Of Horses And Men’, and ‘Love Is A Perfect Crime’ in the Competition section, ‘A Street In Palermo’, ‘Jin’, ‘One Of A Kind’ and famous Chinese actress Vicki Zhao’s directing debut ‘So Young’ in the World Focus section, ‘How Selfish I Am!’ in Japanese Cinema Splash and Special Screening of ‘It All Began When I Met You’. In Public Screenings, there’s also the premiere of Luc Besson’s ‘Malavita’ which attend by Robert De Niro himself in the Roppongi Hills Arena’s live event.
Alongside De Niro’s highly anticipated appearance, there’s also a special highlight in TIFF’s day-6. Opened on Tuesday, October 22nd 2013, TIFFCOM is the part of Japan Content Showcase, a multi-content market featuring films, music and animations. With two other representative business content market in Japan are the 10th Tokyo International Music Market (TIMM) and Tokyo International Anime Festival (TIAF 2013), they gather again in Tokyo’s Odaiba area as an official event of Japan CoFesta (Japan International Content Festival) 2013, an effort to introduce Japanese’s unique and attractive contents to international business market. As they said, the concept of Japan Content Showcase is to strengthen the markets’ sense of unity and solidarity in order to create a synergy effect and approach a larger variety of contents.
With the increasing numbers of exhibitors from around the world, at the national pavillions in Grand Pacific Le Daiba, Tokyo, also visitors consists of large numbers of film buyers and distributors, in addition to regular booth exhibition and promotional events, they also hold business seminars, pitching sessions both for Japanese and international projects (USA, China and Hong Kong), private meetings related to each contents and separated movie screenings, with even more title selections.
Under their Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, Indonesia also participate in the exhibition booth. There are some Indonesian movies brought to TIFFCOM exhibition such as ‘Sang Kiai’, Indonesia’s submission for the upcoming Oscar, ‘Habibie & Ainun’, ‘Test Pack’, ‘Cinta Brontosaurus’, ‘Air Terjun Pengantin’, ‘Hafalan Shalat Delisa’ and also the one screened at TIFF, Mouly Surya’s ‘What They Don’t Talk About When They Talk About Love’.
The night then closed with the TIFFCOM Opening Reception Party held in the Zepp DiverCity Tokyo known to have a giant Gundam statue in Odaiba. The party opened by a speech from the Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s Senior Vice Minister Ms. Midori Matsushima. Feature stage performance by the three rising idol groups in Japan ; Idol College, AoP and SKE 48, and Astroboy’s special appearance, 16 members of each Market Place including the new and former TIFF’s festival director, Mr. Yasushi Shiina and Mr. Tom Yoda (now Vice President for CoFesta Executive Committee) then appeared on the stage, giving toasts to over 1000 guests.
To Live And Die In Ordos (2013, China / Ning Ying)
From China’s well known director Ning Ying (‘Perpetual Chamber’, 2005), ‘To Live And Die In Ordos’ is a rich social drama about corruption and social tension in degrading society. Based on the true story, it’s about Hao Wanzhong (Wang Jingchun), an honest hard-edged cop in the city of Ordos (formerly known as Dongsheng), Mongolia, and Hua Wei (Sun Liang), a journalist who initially refused to write Wanzhong’s story. Although known as China’s wealthiest parts, Ordos is closer to an industrial city with the failed urban plan. Behind that, lies a lot of problems among migrant workers, and of course, organised crime.
Told mostly from Hua Wei’s point of view, ‘To Live And Die In Ordos’ build its plot with an obvious cynicism over strong character development, which felt more like a huge social mocking or protest, that if you didn’t want to consider it as a propaganda. The result lies beyond a bit corny combination of a biopic drama and police thriller that never reached the depths of reality. However, Wang Jingchun gave a really powerful performance portraying Wanzhong, as the strongest element of the movie alongside the cinematography by Sean O’Dea.
So Young (2013, Hong Kong / Vicki Zhao)
Based on the best-selling novel ‘To Our Youth That Is Fading Away’ by Xin Yiwu, ‘So Young’ is the famous HK movie actress Vicki Zhao / Zhao Wei’s directorial debut behind Stanley Kwan’s producing team. As the trend of teenage romance spread in these days’ Chinese contemporary cinema, ‘So Young’ has became a major hit in Chinese box office surpassing Stephen Chow’s ‘Journey To The West : Conquering The Demons’ and already gave Zhao Wei three awards in her directorial debut from Shanghai Film Critics Awards, Golden Rooster Awards, and Chinese Young Generation Film Forum while nominated in the same category on the upcoming Golden Horse Awards.
Coming close to the phenomenal China’s teen hit from Giddens Ko, ‘You Are The Apple Of My Eye’, ‘So Young’ is a teenage romance packed with Asia-friendly dramatic levels. The well noted supporting role from Taiwanese heartthrob Mark Chao (‘Monga’) and mainland teen pop idol Hang Geng (‘My Kingdom’) and two fresh yet strong female leads, Yang Zishan and Jiang Shuying. (Zishan’s part supposed to be given to Zhao, who instead choose to direct the movie). The plot might be simple and cliché defining love, friendship, dreams and ambitions, but the movie never lose its engaging pace, dramatic tense and ellegant visual details that spans through eras. The melodic strings score from Dou Peng and Faye Wong’s theme song titled ‘To Youth’ is also another power to be noticed in this beautiful ode of youth. A remarkable directing debut from such famous actress, and it’s really intriguing to see the original three hours cut that Zhao promised will be released on DVDs.
Red Family (2013, Korea / Lee Ju-hyoung)
Having its premiere at this year’s festival, audience will intrigue by Kim Ki-duk’s name that’s written all over the credits. As writer, producer and co-writer, ‘Red Family’s premise is also sounds interesting although not something all new in Korean Cinema. It’s about four North Korean spies living undercover in Seoul as family.
However, for the ones who hope this will go like other movies with Kim Ki-duk’s signature in cinematic and aesthetic ideals, prepare yourself to get very disappointed. Barely filled with all his style, this feature debut from Lee Ju-hyoung is closer to many mainstream K-Cinema’s dramatic clichés that includes caricatural characters, even comedy and tearjerking turn around terminally ill disease.
But fortunately, ‘Red Family’ still have an interesting mocked exploration in the North vs South culture gaps along the plot, also well dramatic tension in the dilemmatic existence both as human beings and killing machines. It’s good, but obviously not as well as the recent ‘Secretly Greatly’ in the plot similarity which came with way more surprisingly compelling result, and far from the Kim Ki-duk’s distinctive and sophomore touch.
Malavita (2013, USA – France / Luc Besson)
Comes from Italian language means ‘Badfellas’ in the opposite to gangster classic flick, ‘Goodfellas’ (Martin Scorsese, 1990) which appear as an excerpts, ‘Malavita’ a.k.a ‘The Family’ also give nods to classic mob romantic comedy, ‘Married To The Mob’ (Jonathan Demme, 1988) played by its female lead, Michelle Pfeiffer. This Luc Besson’s dark comedy tells a story of mob family in disguised ; Fred (played by Robert De Niro), Maggie (Michelle Pfeiffer) and their two teens Belle and Warren (Dianna Agron & John D’Leo) who lives under the Witness Protection Program. Tommy Lee Jones played FBI agent Stansfield who watched the family. Moving from one place to another to avoid revenge attempt from mob kingpin Don Luchese, they have to face their final mark in a little town in Normandy, where there’s only one thing they can turn to. Each others.
Based on the best selling crime novel by Tonino Benacquista who also wrote the script with Michael Caleo and Besson himself, ‘Malavita’ also has Martin Scorsese’s name as the executive producer. It’s good to see De Niro got back at what he did best, with Michelle Pfeiffer stole the show as his femme fatale wife. He also build a good love and hate chemistry with Tommy Lee Jones, who’s been sadly given too short screen presence before the final act, while Agron and D’Leo worked properly for the younger audience. With the plot that combines mob action thriller and coming of age story beyond the exquisite tone of its dark comedy, ‘Malavita’ might has pace problems in the second act, but with Besson’s signature all over it, it’s still a fresh entertainment. The intense climax is quite a pay-off, and Robert De Niro’s live appearance at the Roppongi Hills Arena presenting it, surely gave more impressions for the film.
~ by danieldokter on October 28, 2013.
Posted in special features
Tags: 26th Tokyo International Film Festival, Alex van Warmerdam, Borgman, Chung Mong-hong, Cinema Caravan, Japan Content Showcase, Jindaiji Temple, Kichijoji, Kim Ki-duk, Lee Ju-hyoung, Malavita, movie, Ning Ying, Red Family, review, Robert De Niro, So Young, Soul, The Dust Of Time, Theo Angelopoulos, TIFFCOM, To Live And Die In Ordos, Toho Studio, Tokyo International Film Festival, Tokyo Location Tour, Vicki Zhao, Wang Jingchun, Zhao Wei