Morita's New Film

Udo Helms arniko
Mon Apr 12 19:56:39 EDT 1999

> 1.  I read somewhere that this film was shown in another
>   film festival, but did not collect a prize.  Is this true?
>   Have any list-members seen it already?

Keiho was screened at the Berlin Film Festival this year in competition
and did not receive any prize - in my personal opinion, not entirely
unjustified. Though visually impressive, the story runs so slowly that,
for the average European viewer, a certain feeling of boredom is almost
inevitable to appear.

There was a bit of indignation in connection with this film as well. At
the end of the main screening, a terrible interference caused the
projectionist to turn off the volume. Apparently someone had used a
cellular phone backstage - right next to the audio receiver. Morita
received a requested apology of the Festival, but not the repetitive
screening Shochiku's team had asked for. Despite the Festival's
assertions that the press screening had been free of any such
disturbances, thus the chances of any journalists regarding the
interference as an integral part of the film being nil, he did not
attend neither the closing ceremony nor the subsequent ball.

> 2.  Morita's <Family Game> was shown widely (?) outside
>   Japan and he is not unknown worldwide.  His <Sorekara>
>   (And Then) also won the KineJun Best One Award.  <Lost
>   Paradise> is of course very successful in Japan.  But his
>   international reputation is not high, or not as high as
>   he expects it to be  (according to my guess).  If this
>   is the case, why?  After all, He is an excellent visualizer
>   and at times, a very original director.

My personal guess is that he has remained in the shadow of Itami Juzo.
Once Itami had been hailed as Japan's most original director of the
eighties as far as comedy is concerned, Morita's deeper, less
internationally understandable work had it harder to gain broad
international recognition.

Udo Helms

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