Hikari no Ame and Tampen comments (long)

M Arnold ma_iku at hotmail.com
Sat Dec 8 10:14:52 EST 2001

Hello everyone.

Did anyone go to the Daiei symposium that was mentioned here the other day?  
I was thinking about going to it but I overslept.  Same thing happened to me 
last Sunday when I was going to see "Ukigumo".  It's getting harder and 
harder to get out of bed in this cold weather.

Today I went to the Shin Bungeiza in Ikebukuro to see "Hikari no Ame," the 
new movie about the Asama Sanso incident.  http://www.cqn.co.jp/HIKARI/

It was my first time to Shin Bungeiza and I was impressed.  It's a modern, 
clean theater with very comfortable seats.  It was a little hard to find at 
first though, located on a back road, nestled in between scores of 'adult' 
shops and similar attractions.

I got to the theater a little before 4:00.  The elevator came to the bottom 
floor right away and I slipped on behind several staff and other 
well-dressed people who I guess were doing publicity activities for the 
movie (it was opening day after all).  I think I saw the director, Takahashi 
Banmei, in the back corner of the elevator for an instant, but once I got in 
I was stuck facing the doors so I wasn't sure.  As we traveled up to the 3rd 
floor someone behind me said, "Those French guys sure ask picky questions."  
Someone else:  "Just keep saying 'oui' and you'll be fine."  Everyone 

When we got to the 3rd floor I looked around and saw posters stating there 
was a stage address scheduled for 4:15 with director Takahashi and about 5 
of the actors.  One of the staff told me to line up on the steps; I'd be 
able to get into the movie no problem, but there was no room left for the 
stage address.  I was only the third in line, but the line grew fairly long. 
  After a while they told us they would let 20 more people in after all, so 
I squeezed in and got a nice spot crouching in one of the aisles.  
Everything was running late so the address was done pretty quickly, and 
everyone just made a short comment about the film.  Once that ended most of 
the people left.  When my showing started the theater was probably half as 

The movie itself was all right.  I've heard several good things about it in 
the past few weeks but it didn't quite live up to my expectations.  Instead 
of a straight story about the Red Army members in 1972 locking themselves up 
in the mountains and doing what they did, it was a movie about making a 
movie about the incident.  Osugi Ren plays the director, who decides to 
"disappear" part way through the filming after receiving a few strange 
postcards and apparently getting overwhelmed with unpleasant memories.  
Hagiwara Masato is a young director who is hired to film a "making of" 
documentary of the movie with his digital video camera.  Later he takes on 
the job of director to finish the film.  The story mostly focuses around the 
actions of the young people up in the mountains and the Lord of the 
Flies-like way they come up with reasons to at first psychologically harass, 
then beat, and finally simply murder each other.  In the story, the young 
actors hired to play the 'revolutionaries' are often shown 'backstage', 
speaking onto the documentary digital camera tape about how they don't 
really understand the motivations of their characters, but at the same time 
(a part that I don't think was explored well enough) a few of the 'actors' 
themselves briefly took on some attributes of their characters.  The film 
seems to be aimed at today's younger generations, a delayed discussion of an 
event that's been ignored or left unexplained to those who grew up after the 
protests and student movements.

I have two technical complaints.  When the actors punched each other sounded 
the sound was a cheap "smack," like from a kung-fu movie or something.  
Also, part way through the film the audio started doing strange things.  It 
sounded like the sound was dancing back and forth between the screen and a 
speaker on the left, like a cable wasn't plugged in all the way or it was 
switching back and forth between stereo and mono.

When the movie ended and I walked out into the lobby I saw four or five 
skinny guys in nice suits, with Mr. Spock-like eyebrows and flattop 
haircuts, hanging out by the vending machines.  I couldn't tell if they were 
gangsters or some of those Elvis-impersonators who do rockabilly dancing in 
Harajuku, but I found myself wondering what in the world gangsters would be 
doing at a movie like this.  They were probably wondering about me too.

I've seen a few of Takahashi's movies--"Ai no Shinsekai" left hardly any 
impression on me, and "Door 2" (Kurosawa Kiyoshi directed part 3) was 
positively bad.  I think I also watched "Tattoo Ari" but I can't remember a 
thing about it.  Checking the JMDB, it seems Takahashi has been a prolific 
director of what look like porno movies, but can anyone explain to me 
(briefly) what his claim to fame is?  Why did he end up with a project like 
"Hikari no Ame"?

I also went to the opening of "Tampen" last Saturday at Box Higashi Nakano.  
?http://www.bitters.co.jp/tampen/index.html?  This is a one-hour film made 
up of four short stories directed... or I guess not directed by 3 
cinematographers and 1 lighting director who have recently been working with 
directors like Aoyama, Suwa, and Kawase.  There was a discussion afterwards 
with lighting man Sato (part 2, "kyoko"), cameraman Yamazaki (part 4, 
"share"), the producer (whose name I forgot) and the two main actresses.  
Cameraman Imoto (part 1, "short film") showed up before the movie for a few 
minutes, but Tamura (part 3, "koo-ghe") wasn't able to come.  Overall it was 
an interesting experiment.  The shorts were very much in the 
documentary-like style of the recent younger filmmakers, but without a 
director or solid story per se they were left with a strange sense of 
vagueness.  In some parts it wasn't really clear if the actors knew what 
they were doing either.  The print was subtitled in English.  Does anyone 
know if they only have a subbed print for this film, or were they trying to 
accommodate the one foreign-looking fellow in the audience?

Enough for tonight,
Michael Arnold

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