Saturday, August 13, 2005

2005 Film Festival

Originally uploaded by Man_Overboard.
Thanks to a trip to Brisbane at one end and a family visit at the other, I was left with very little time to actually see any films at this year's festival. I managed the veiwing of a mere four films.

The first, 2046, I was really looking forward to as Kae Wai Wong's In the Mood For Love was fabulous, in the way that it showed this man and woman, obviously drawn to each other, circling around the idea of adultery but having the moral fortitude to not actually cross the line.

2046 was also a romance - indeed we have the same actors playing under the same names, but their stories are very different. 2046 is the mystical year in the future being written about in the man's science fiction book, to which (when?) people could journey in order to recapture lost memories but could never return from. 2046 is also the number of room in the Oriental Hotel in which our man's one true love had lived (and the room he was in in In the Mood For Love, although not in the same hotel). Was Thomas Wolfe right, when he said you can't go home again?

Our man, evidently yearning for the past, secures the room next door and forms various sorts of relationships with the various women who float through. One he falls for, one falls for him, but does anything ever come off for him? Kae Wai Wong certainly seems to have lots of fun, bringing in famous Chinese actresses to play these bit parts, and oplaying around with the names of the characters: two use the names of stars who are not in the film.

Although it was a film made with great care and had a visual lusciousness and style all its own, I have to confess that because things did move quite slowly, I went to sleep. Upon waking up, it was extremely hard to reconnect - it is a film that definitely deserves better from me, so I look forward to getting the DVD.

Then there was Howl's Moving Castle, the latest in the Miyazake ouevre. I was a bit alarmed when I heard I'd signed on for the dubbed version rather than the sub-titled one. As it turned out, the voices were pretty good, with Lauren Bacall, Christian Bale and Billy Crystal doing three of the central voices.

It was a pretty normal sort of Miyazake story, with the world under attack for reasons we aren't too clear about, but with a more distinct overtone of magic than I recall from other works. So - there's a wicked witch, spells cast with various consequences for Calcifer, Sophie and Howl. The magic was important - once the spells are broken, then Howl and co can be fully powerful and the war will be over. The coolest thing was the moving castle, a broken down old wreck of a castle, sure, but have you ever seen a castle that can walk? Plus, by turning a dial on the door, it could change from being a castle out in the waste land into being the house of a (from memory) headstone maker in town, and so on.

Third: Miranda July's Me and You and Everyone we Know. This had some odd storylines - Miranda's efforts, which should never have succeeded, they were so lame, in getting a gallery owner to take her work seriously and Richard to take her seriously as a woman. Richard, at the same time, has his own concerns - he has custody of his two young boys after a very recent split from their mother. They, trying to connect with the world, go online posing as men looking for women: there's one weirdly affecting scene when the younger of the two, asked what he would like to do with the woman they have netted, says "You poop into my butt hole and I poop into your butt hole ... back and forth ... forever."

Then there's a storyline almost straight out of Ghostworld - two teenage girls, on the verge of adulthood and trying it on - meet up with Richard's fellow shoe salesman, Andrew (who can ever watch any film with shoe salesmen and not think of loser supreme, Al Bundy? And yet, I think that sheds a false light on this movie.) The girls are telling Andrew that they're old enough but don't want to - he's all "you're too young, not as old as you say you are but, what the hey, what would it take?" Turns out, dirty suggestions posted to his window will do it, and here's where it gets realy funny. They decide that one of them will give Andrew a blow job, but don't know which of them is the better, nor if they'll like it - so there is this hilarious competition between them, where Richard's older son (a real innocent, completely lovely) gets to do some blind sampling of their abilities.

My favourite movie, however, was from Kim Ki-duk, who made Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter ... and Spring Again. This year's effort was 3 Iron: yep, a reference to a particular sort of golf club. This young fellow, apparently homeless although he rides around on a fairly hefty sort of BMW, finds places to sleep by hanging pizza ads on the front doors of houses, then goes back to see which remain undisturbed. Once in, he's not just a taker - he cleans up, he mends anything he finds broken, makes the place better then when he found it.

So, this one night, he breaks in to a house - we know it is occupied at the time, by a woman who it turns out is being beaten by her husband - so even when he's not there, she tends to hide in the corners and not leave a big footprint. Our hero does his normal thing, including the ironing and fixing the scales so they no longer weigh so heavily - it is through touches like this that the director says so much: the characters themselves are pretty much wordless.

Eventually, he becomes aware she's there and, without saying a word, they just accept each other's presence. When hubby comes home that's a different matter - our hero knows he's a bully, so avenges the wife by laying into him with some gold balls - hit by, yes, a 3 iron. Then the two of them go on, following the same pattern our hero had previously established.

All goes well until they find a dead body, alone in his flat. Of course, they have to clean up: they shroud him in the approriate garb and give him a proper burial, but when the sone and police get involved, they can't believe it wasn't murder.

Without wanting to give too much more away, the last part of the movie changed direction, towards the mystical. Our hero is locked up in a bare wooden floored cell, with concrete walls. And yet, he can hide from his jailor - clinging to the wall above him, hiding in his shadow. The jailor is pissed, so says next time, I'll kill you. And maybe he does - we never see our hero in the cell again, but we do see him outside. Or do we?


Anonymous Tricia said...

I'm exhausted reading your reviews - maybe it's just as well you only got to four screenings.

I hope you like 2046 better the second time around. I did. I really liked In the Mood for Love and had high hopes for 2046, but was disapointed...until I saw it again. The script just started to make sense. Tony Leung was rather touching as a cad and the Japanese fellow was good as his 1960s self.

The women weren't half bad, either.

Hope you had fun in Brisbane.

2:47 PM  

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