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So here I am with the Trailer Weekly a day late. It’s such a busy time for me both at university as well as with all my gazillion part-time jobs and now with the London Film Festival added on top, I’m just barely squeezing in a few hours of sleep each night and not really doing much else! Hence the lack of posting.

I have however been jotting down notes on the films I have seen so far -「おおかみこどもの雨と雪」 (Ookami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki/Wolf Children, Japan, 2012),「愛と誠 」(Ai to Makoto/For Love’s Sake, Japan, 2012), 「夢売るふたり」 (Yume Uru Futari/Dreams for Sale, Japan, 2012),  물고기 (Mulgogi/A Fish, South Korea, 2011) and「ライク・サムワン・イン・ラブ」 (Raiku samuwan in rabu/Like Someone in Love, Japan/France, 2012) – with several more still to come. Only Yume Uru Futari didn’t impress me all that much, most others (most of all Ookami Kodomo and Ai to Makoto!) I wish I could rewatch already tomorrow!

By the way, I think all the film posters this week – except the one for the Iranian film – are super boring. Boohoo.

  • ポテチ」(Potechi/Chips, Japan, 2012) – I don’t remember how I stumbled across this one, but it’s yet another film from Nakamura Yoshihiro, whose films「フィッシュストーリー」(Fisshu Sutori/Fish Story, 2009) and 「アヒルと鴨のコインロッカー」(Ahiru to kamo no koinrokka/The Foreign Duck, the Native Duck and God in a Coin Locker, Japan, 2007) I featured in Trailer Weekly #36 and Trailer Weekly #53 respectively. (Both available through Third Window Films by the way, although the later has not yet been released). Potechi, meanwhile, is a comedy about a professional baseball player and a burglar, whose lives intersect. I like the mini-review that The L Magazine posted after the film screened at the New York Asian Film Festival this July:

[A] young thief makes an alarming discovery about himself. He consequently decides to help people he accidentally meets while robbing houses. Answering machine messages, home runs and potato chips—all of these little things take on great significance in Nakamura’s warm and deeply involving tribute to the survivors of the 2010 Sendai earthquake. In a lean 68 minutes, Nakamura and Isaka have made another accomplished zen comedy about how anything can mean everything, given the right context. (source)

  • سوگ (Soog/Mourning, Iran, 2011) – Soog was on the programme of last year’s London Film Festival, although I didn’t notice it back then. Arshia, a young boy, is abandoned in the countryside by his parents after a row one night – they leave him behind at the house of relatives. From then on, it’s snippets of information, communicated through sign language/soundless subtitles as the boy’s relatives turn out to be deaf: The parents took off in the middle of the night. Something happened. Someone is dead. Suffice to say there is something really intriguing about this black comedy. The fact that the director, Morteza Farshbaf, is a protegé of Abbas Kiarostami makes this debut feature even more interesting.
  • 逆光飛翔 (Nìguāng fēixiáng/Touch of the Light, Taiwan, 2012) – Taiwan’s submission for the Best Foreign Film Oscar this year is the biographical tale of Yu Hsiang (played by Yu Hsiang himself), a piano prodigy that was born blind in the Taiwanese countryside. When he goes to university he meets a dancer, Chieh, who is struggling with her art but soon finds herself inspired by the pianist. The film looks a bit cheesy (and cliché, no offense), but apparently received some words of praise from Wong Kar-Wai.
  • 天地明察」 (Tenchi Meisatsu/Tenchi: The Samurai Astronomer, Japan, 2012) – One of the Japanese films that is playing at the Haiwaii International Film Festival this week. It’s exactly about what the title says: an astronomer in the 17th century Japan. Indeed, Tenchi was the first imperial astronomer and created a new calendar for his nation to use. See also the synopsis at HIFF.
  • 싸움의 기술 (Ssaumeui gisul/Art of Fighting, South Korea, 2006) – I was looking for other films that Jae Hee, the actor who plays the lead character in Kim Ki-duk’s 빈집 (Bin-jib/3-Iron, South Korea, 2004), had done and this is what I found. It looks… weirdly appealing.
  • 大奥~永遠~[右衛門佐・綱吉篇]」 (Ōoku ~ eien – Emonnosuke Tsunayoshi Hen/The Castle of Crossed Destinies, Japan, 2012) – Actually, I am not sure if I am interested in this film about the Lady Shogun and her 3000 suitors in the Edo period (1600s), but its English title that has me intrigued. The Castle of Crossed Destinies (or rather: Il castello dei destini incrociati) is originally a 1973 novel by the Italian writer Italo Calvino. Literally the first part of the Japanese film title translates as Ooku – Forever, with ‘Tsunayoshi’ and ‘Emonnosuke’ being characters in the story. The J-film is based on the josei manga「大奥」 (Ooku/Ooku – The Inner Chambers, 2005 – ongoing) and has previously been adapted into a film, 「大奥」 (Ohoku/The Lady Shogun and Her Men, Japan, 2010, starring Arashi’s Ninomiya Kazunari), and a TV dorama, 「大奥[有功・家光篇」 (Ooku: Arikoto Iemitsu Hen, Japan, 2012), which only premiered last week on TBS. I have no idea what the connection between the Italian novel and the Japanese story is, if any at all – although I really don’t think you can pull a title like The Castle of Crossed Destinies out of the hat without invoking Calvino’s much older novel. Ōoku ~ eien itself premieres at the Hawaii International Film Festival on Oct 19, 2012 and is set for a December release in Japan.

Bonus Bits

  • If you are interested in the films countries submitted for the Best Foreign Film Oscar, here is the full list. I have featured quite a few of these on Trailer Weeklies previously, but have only seen a single one from the list so far: Croatia’s Ljudozder vegetarijanac (Vegetarian Cannibal, 2012). Have your stab at which five films will make it onto the shortlist.
  • As you may know, the Chinese writer Mo Yan won the Nobel Prize for Literature this week. Here’s a primer on his books from the Guardian. I haven’t read any, but I always get excited when the Nobel Committee goes beyond its very limited range of Indo-European languages that they normally award the prize too.