[KineJapan] A short report from the Far East Film Festival, 2019.

Markus Nornes nornes at umich.edu
Thu May 23 19:47:34 EDT 2019

Thanks Roger. This is great!

On Fri, May 24, 2019 at 7:40 AM Roger Macy via KineJapan <
kinejapan at mailman.yale.edu> wrote:

> *A short report from the **Far East** Film Festival, 2019*.
> Japanese films did not find the limelight this year at the Far East Film
> Festival. Films from other East Asian countries picked up the awards; and
> the retrospective, that run concurrently in another location this year, was
> on Korean films. But, for those not in touch with recent releases in Japan,
> the light that it shone rendered some strong contrasts.
> Before reporting, I should mention two footnotes about the awards
> announcements. Firstly, since Oliver Chan’s feature debut, *Still Human*,
> has two of her characters watching and listening to a Japanese pink film in
> their Hong Kong public housing apartment, I can cheat and mention a
> well-deserved audience award-winner. It’s a cantonese film with a strong
> mix of spanish. Chan gets at least six languages spoken in her winning
> debut, which convinced all the way.
> Secondly, the FEFF press release mentioned that “readers of Mymovies.it”
> had chosen as their best film, *Fly Me to the Saitama*, the latest film
> of TAKEUCHI Hideki – he of *Thermae Romae*. I could find no mention of
> this on *Mymovies* website, which I greet with some relief.  Perhaps both
> of them left early whilst there was some genuine comedy in a grotesquely
> privileged school. Later, the film leaves that behind for a heroic march on
> Tokyo by strictly all-Japanese massed ranks from Saitama and Chiba “in
> 19xx”, fuelled on a victimhood - a fake grievance about provincials needing
> passes.
> It’s a past, from a weak framing story in which characters look
> nostalgically back to something that looks very much like our present.
> Except that those whose access to Japanese IDs is actually restricted,
> foreign faces, are absent from both time frames. We should not be unduly
> worried about this choice: the website voters of Friuli might not have been
> thinking of the March on Rome (1922) – I’ve seen it covered in museums
> elsewhere in Italy but not in these parts.
> But now for some more rewarding Japanese films in this festival of
> “popular film”. After the Hong Kong omnibus film *Ten Years* was shown at
> FEFF a few years ago, producers from other industries in the region also
> sought to speculate on conditions ten years hence. Under the Koreeda name
> as producer, five directors of *Ten Years Japan* all make something of
> their 19 minutes. The film has already got some notice in festivals, so
> I’ll just add that its health must owe something to the competition and
> questioning at the script stage. Japanese independent film has, in my view,
> suffered relative to Europe and elsewhere, in the dearth of support at the
> script stages. So I hope ‘Ten Years Japan’ really does point to the future,
> and that many of those unsuccessful this time get other opportunities to
> develop a script.
> *Melancholic* is the debut feature by Tanaka Seiji where, as is so often
> the case outside the production committees for commercial films, a
> filmmaker has to self-nurture their script. The characters are nicely drawn
> and it is particularly well, and subtly, acted for a ‘situation’ drama. For
> a while, I thought it would bite at moral choice and its everyday evasion.
> I know that others admire this film but, for me, if the political is
> personal, it can’t also be metaphorical.
> Having finally caught *Tomerareruka oretachi o* = *Dare to Stop Us* here,
> I wonder whether the objections in some quarters to the film directed by
> Shiraishi Kazua, is in the pronoun of the title, oretachi = ‘us’. The film
> is not really on Wakamatsu Pro, but a biopic on Yoshizumi Megumi who worked
> there. I agree with Mark Schilling that Kadowaki Mugi, (previously in
> *Close-knit*,), makes her character “funny, likeable, dark and unknowable”
> in a milieu populated by young men, apart from some uncentred porn stars.
> The script of Inoue Jun’ichi is smart and tender.
> The one-line lead-ins to the films at FEFF did the Japanese entries no
> favour - I thought ‘quirky’ had past its sell-by date a long way back.  But
> I also nearly missed the “Feel-good tea ceremony film”, until I noticed
> some of the names involved. *Nichi nichi kore kōjitsu* = *Every Day a
> Good Day* is one of the last films to cast Kiki Kirin. She is the master
> who sets the scene in all possible ways, but the film centres on her
> student, played by Kuroki Haru. Kuroki’s character, Noriko, passes in the
> film from a 20-year-old student to a seasoned 40-year old. In developing
> from an awkward and timid young woman to someone much more mature, Kuroki
> somehow moulded her body undetectably, convincing me here as an actor far
> more than for her Berlin award-winning role a few years back.
> ‘Noriko’ was a name not much given to girls, even in the 70s, and director
> Ōmori Tatsushi picks up on this, even though the film is based on an
> autobiographical piece by Morishita Noriko. No omiai are staged or elided
> in this story – her relationships are very much the lived-in, hit-and-miss
> versions of the current age. Nor does her father stare wistfully upon her
> parting – the gaze is centred from her, in a life-to-death scene, and just
> before that, in a frame-grab, which I’ll leave you with. No prizes for what
> and who is invoked here, but I thought it a nice way to remember Kiki Kirin.
> Roger
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