Sotaru lives in a Government-built estate in Japan. After a life-changing event in his early years, he develops an unassailable fear of leaving the housing estate. As he goes through school, puberty and work his friend’s leave, relationships come and go and yet he still cannot bring himself to leave.
HAPPY TOGETHER is another classic that the festival gave me a chance to watch on the big screen (Note 1). Set in Buenos Aries, it’s the story of two lovers on a journey, a story of the city and a story of growing up. It is, I would expect, the only Hong Kong gay film set in South America. I could be wrong about this, of course, I am only a new student of Asian cinema.
LOVE ME NOT is a love story, which works its way through strict divisions of sexuality and barriers that society puts in place. Aggie and Dennis have been friends for years, and love together now, although each considers the other a friend only. Aggie is interested in girls, and Dennis is interested in boys – so how could anything more develop between them?
Looking for her long lost boyfriend, Fleur (Anita MUI) places an ad in a local paper, the twist being that she is now a ghost. The film jumps between her story in the 1930′s, and the hunt for her love in the 1980′s. In life she was an elegant courtesan who meets and is won over by CHAN Chen Pang (Leslie CHEUNG). They begin an intense relationship, and promise to meet one another again after death.
The film effectively uses the jumps in the story between past and (1980′s) present to tell the story in an intriguing fashion, and also to investigate the differences in society, relationships and attitudes to love over the years. There are also interesting questions raised about how far we would actually go for love, and how much is merely performance and drama. Colour and clever use of location really enhance much of this.
It is Anita MUI’s performance that really gripped me. Her sensuality and confidence, as well as her determination really carries the film forward, and ties together all of the various plot lines and themes.
As a relative newcomer to much of Asian cinema, including Hong Kong based films, it was a real pleasure to have a chance to see ROUGE for the first time and on the big screen. The story is one of love, and of facing hard emotions; which is something we can all relate to.
On returning home one day Lee Jeok-yo, a revered poet and author in his 70s, and his student, Ji-woo, for whom Lee has recently ghost-written a novel, stumble upon a beautiful teenage girl, Eun-gyo, asleep on a porch chair. Both seem surprised to see her, but also fascinated by her presence. She is soon brought back to the older man’s home by Ji-woo, with the intention of her helping out around the house. However, Eun-gyo soon comes to play a much more pivotal role of both men’s lives than that of a household maid. As Jeok-yo begins to enjoy the time he spends with Eun-gyo, as she does with him; their relationship develops and provokes confusion and envy in Ji-woo, whose childish response only forces him further out of Jeok-yo’s favour. Inevitably, something akin to a love triangle evolves and the growing tension between the characters reaches a dramatic and unexpected conclusion.
Loneliness is a strong theme throughout EUN-GYO, with each character a victim. Jeok-yo is mourning his lost youth and laments the fact that his age, morality, prevents him from assuaging his lonesomeness through a more intimate relationship with Eun-gyo. Lee escapes his 70 year old body and fantasises about himself as a young man pursuing the teenage Eun-gyo, playing out love scenes made more acceptable by the closing of the age gap. However, on waking from his fantasies, he is plunged back into solitude and his ageing self. Ji-woo longs to be considered a serious talent by the literary world which is so enamoured with Jeok-yo; he is marginalised and seen as merely the student of a great man, causing him great frustration. When his connection to Lee, and the literary circles in which he is so revered, is threatened by Eun-gyo, Ji-woo resorts to desperate measures and risks destroying his relationship with Jeok-yo permanently. Eun-gyo endures the abuse of her mother and seeks solace in the company of the elderly poet she so admires, yet societal ideals forbid her from forming the kind of bonds she is longing for.
The trio battle against their impediments, and each other, and as the tension in the group continues to rise, the actions of the individuals become more extreme. Through their fight to combat loneliness they risk isolating themselves to an even greater extent.
The three actors all excel, portraying their characters’ frustration and sadness with great intensity. Lee Jeok-yo is played by young actor, Park Hae-il, who was forced to undergo 8 hours of prosthetic work in order to play the older man and portrayal of Jeok-yo’s dismay at his ageing body really resonates deeply. Kim Go-eun is a talent to look out for in the future; a first time actress, she manages to maintain an air of innocence in Eun-gyo despite sexual attention she generates from both male characters. She gives the character emotional depth and bravely tackles some relatively graphic sex scenes which apparently caused a great deal of controversy in Korea.
On the surface EUN-GYO is an erotic drama and inappropriate love story, but, aided by brilliant performances by his lead actors, Jung Ji-woo manages to reveal a more subtle story of a search for companionship underneath the sex and controversy. A touching tale of complex relationships which delivers more than may be expected.
Review by @Charlobot
The Underwire Festival is a showcase of short films by women, playing at the Ritzy Cinema in Brixton, including an event by Tom Jupiter favourite LOCO.
Highlights from this year’s festival include The Art of Science, sponsored by the Wellcome Trust – a programme of weird and wonderful biomedical shorts, made by women, followed by a discussion and drinks with scientists; LOCO presents Live Wire, a night of live and filmed comedy, featuring up and coming talents Lady Garden, Hils Barker and Lou Sanders?; Carol Morley (Dreams of a Life) and guests look forward to a time when the question “How does it feel to be a woman filmmaker?” is never asked again in Why Women Can’t Make Features, and Underwire and Sight & Sound launch their exciting new competition for women film journalists.
20-24 November 2012
FRIDAY 14TH SEPTEMBER KOYAANISQATSI (U)
‘Until now, you’ve never really seen the world you live in’ the trailer tells us. Koyaanisqatsi is a doc without narration, but with a definite narrative theme. With shots of great forests and waterfalls moving to cities and Human construction, there is a definite environmental theme going on here. A little investigation (ok, a trip to IMDB) finds that Koyaanisqatsi is a Hopi Indian term for ‘life out of balance’. The score is by Philip Glass, so you KNOW it’s going to be intense.
SATURDAY 15TH SEPTEMBER ENCOUNTERS AT THE END OF THE WORLD (U)
A Werner Herzog documentary. That’s all you need to know before you go and book your ticket. In this film, he visits Antarctica. He is there to look at the great landscapes and nature, yes, but also to meet the people who have found themselves there, who have sought to live a the end of the world.
SUNDAY 16TH SEPTEMBER NOSTALGIA FOR THE LIGHT (12A)
The most recent of the three films, Nostalgia for the Light had its UK release just this year – and it is an amazing film. I reviewed it not long ago. There are three stories here, all linked by the Atacama desert in Chile, which is the driest place on Earth.
I really highly recommend that you see this film, and that you see it on a big screen, as it is really very beautiful.
Excited for the Scala Beyond screenings yet? It’s a great celebration of film and cinema taking place all over the UK. I’ve put together a guide to the Genesis Cinema screenings as part of the festival.
Here’s the trailer for the event. Beware – there are a lot of quick cuts and loads of flashy stuff.
“a three day fiesta of live music, contemporary, award winning films including features, documentaries, sci- fi classics, shorts and animations, alongside exhibitions, food – and wrestling!”
Blimey! You can imagine what caught my eye – ‘sci-fi classics’. So let us take a little peek and see what we can see.
Also, I checked and you can take beer into the screen with you. It may be needed. The festival is taking place at Richmix. There is much more to the festival than just the films listed below… I’ll try to post more over the coming week.
Santo vs. the Martian Invasion
Santo was a real wrestler, who had a film career that would make Hulk Hogan blush – 60 films! The majority of them sound like silly fun, but this is perhaps the best known so hopefully also the most fun. The wrestler thwarts a Martian invasion of Earth. By wrestling them.
If only Curiosity rover had a wrestling mask…
Here’s the booking info and, because you need to see it, the trailer.
The Aztec Mummy vs the Human Robot
Okay, so let us say you’re a mad scientist. And there’s some amazing Aztec treasure that you want to get your hands on but the snag is that it is guarded by a Mummy. What do you do? You build a robot, of course!
This will be a film that requires some imagination to watch. It could be saying a great deal about Mexico’s clash of ancient and modern cultures, or it could be simple B-movie fun. Either way, entertainment is sure to be found.
The Ship of Monsters
So…. Venus is populated entirely by beautiful women and, apparently, they need men. There are also monsters involved, somehow. Look, just watch the random clip I found – and understand why this is a must-see film!
The Planet of the Female Invaders
Darn those sexy interstellar space vixens – they will keep invading! Another great B-movie romp with dodgy effects and science that will melt your brain.
Ah, the ICA. I do like it. They find space to screen some wonderful films – and at the end of August they are celebrating David Bowie’s shenanigans in front of the camera. Bowie has actually brought us some very influential characters and been a part of some great films over the years. Perhaps this shouldn’t be a surprise, considering just how much he has changed his persona for different tours, albums and appearances.
Here’s a guide to the festival:
FRIDAY 31 AUG
TALK – 1pm – Culture Now, Woody Woodmansey in conversation with Tom Wilcox
To coincide with Bowiefest, the first ever Bowie Film Festival celebrating 40 years of David Bowie’s work in film, Culture Now introduces Tom Wilcox in conversation with Woody Woodmansey – drummer from David Bowie’s legendary band the Spiders from Mars in a talk that will explore the artistic processes that created Ziggy Stardust, and assess its cultural impact.
FILM – 7pm – Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. (Note ticket price: £12 / £10 concessions / £8 ICA Members)
The July 3, 1973 concert by David Bowie and the Spiders from Mars at London’s Hammersmith Odeon Theatre is the subject of this documentary by director D.A. Pennebaker. Followed by an after show party to celebrate the launch of the festival. They’re asking folks to dress up as in their as a favourite Bowie persona. I’m not sure about the dressing up – but I’m certainly looking forward to an evening of great Bowie music!
SATURDAY 1 SEPT
FILM – 1pm – Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence, directed by Nagisa Ôshima
Starring Tom Conti and Takeshi Kitano alongside Bowie in what he called his ‘most credible performance’, Ôshima’s 1983 Cannes Palme D’Or entry deals with the relationships among four men in a Japanese prisoner of war camp during the Second World War.
FILM – 3:15pm – The Man Who Fell to Earth + Q&A with Nicolas Roeg, directed by Nicolas Roeg (Note ticket price: £12 / £10 concessions / £8 ICA Members)
Nic Roeg’s sci-fi classic starring David Bowie, Rip Torn and Candy Clark is an adaptation of Walter Tevis’ novel about an alien who comes to Earth seeking a solution to his home planet’s woes, only to find himself lost in an unfamiliar, corrupt and sometimes hostile society.
FILM – 6:20pm – Christiane F, directed by Uli Edel
Now an established cult movie featuring Bowie performing in concert and a soundtrack from his ‘Berlin era’ albums (Low, Heroes, Lodger), Christiane F follows the escapades of a 12-year old girl as she gets drawn deeper and deeper into the 1970s drug scene in West Berlin.
FILM – 9pm – The Hunger, directed by Tony Scott
The directorial debut of Tony Scott, The Hunger is a neo-gothic horror telling story of a love triangle between a doctor (Susan Sarandon) who specializes in sleep and ageing research, and a vampire couple played by Catherine Deneuve and Bowie.
SUNDAY 2 SEPT
FILM – 1:30pm – Labyrinth, directed by Jim Henson
Perhaps Bowie’s most famous role, not least due to his famous cod-piece, Labyrinth is a fantasy film directed by Jim Henson, featuring a cast played by puppets from his Creature Shop. It revolves around the quest of teenage Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) who has to reach the centre of an enormous otherworldly maze to rescue her infant brother Toby, kidnapped by Bowie’s Jareth, the Goblin King.
FILM – 3:30pm – Absolute Beginners, directed by Julien Temple
A musical adaptation of Colin MacInnes’ novel about life in late 1950s London, featuring Bowie (who also provided the title track) and Sade, along with a breakthrough role for Patsy Kensit. Julien Temple’s unconventional rock musical divided audiences on its high-profile release but has gone on to acquire cult status.
SPECIAL EVENT – 6.20pm – Alan Yentob in conversation with Jeremy Deller about CRACKED ACTOR (Note ticket price: £12 / £10 concessions / £8 ICA Members)
A BBC Omnibus documentary, Cracked Actor followed an alienated Bowie during the Diamond Dogs tour of America in 1974. The director Alan Yentob will be in conversation with leading UK artist Jeremy Deller about this influential film to close the festival.