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Kamyu nante shiranai / Who’s Camus Anyway?

Kamyu nante shiranai / Who's Camus Anyway? (2005)

They look like they're shooting.. nothing?

Director: Yanagimachi Mitsuo
Writers: Yanagimachi Mitsuo
Date: 2005

Genre: Drama, Metacinema?
Description: Making a student film, university students, love triangle, movie about a murder, acting

Cast: Kashiwabara Shuuji, Maeda Ai, Nakaizumi Hideo, Abe Shinnosuke, Tamayama Tetsuji, Yoshikawa Hinano, Honda Hirotaro, Kuroki Meisa, Isaki Mitsunori, Taguchi Tomorowo

Crew of note:

Runtime:
Color: Color
Trivia: The director’s first feature was “Godspeed You Black Emperor!”

summary
A bunch of students at a University are making a film entitled “The Bored Murderer.” On the way they face budget problems, a new lead actor, love triangles, logistics issues, a crazy girlfriend, and all the associated headaches of trying to organize a movie. Their mentor/teacher is a bit nuts, too, having not directed a movie in years and experiencing chronic depression after the death of his wife (2 years prior). Film making, tons of film references, and other stuff happen.

Kamyu nante shiranai / Who's Camus Anyway? (2005)

Stuff like this.

review
If you’re a film nerd, you need to pay attention to really appreciate this film, maybe even watch it twice. Though the references can be a little daunting, a little research can reveal a lot of interesting things about this movie. The first sequence is one of the more obvious, as Yanagimachi employs an impressive long shot as some students discuss, what else, their favorite long shots mentioning Mizoguchi, Altman, etc in the process. Even without any knowledge about most of the things they mention, it is still possible to pick up on the hidden meanings and subtle references within the film. Whenever a reference is made, it’s also usually a self-reference somehow. The only thing that disappointed me is that most of the names mentioned are American or European directors. The only Japanese name I remember them mentioning Mizoguchi.

Most of the movie is about the film making process, yeah, but not in terms of technical know-how or technique or genre conventions. Instead, a significant amount of time is spent on everyday activities that affect the making of the movie. As mentioned in the summary, they go through quite a bit of trouble trying to make ends meet, and this is pretty much the great struggle they have to overcome. Kinda like a university/student movie, only with tons of film references yeah?

The film’s greatest achievement though, is how successfully and intelligently it mixes reality, the reality of the film, and the fantasy within the film. That’s three levels of mindboggleyness right there that I can’t quite explain. See it, and you’ll know what I mean.

Btw SPOILERS AT THE BOTTOM.

conclusion
If you have an academic interest in film, see this movie. If you are interested in the process of filmmaking, see this movie. If you are interested in how murder-mystery movies are made, see this movie. There’s much to be learned and appreciated. I originally gave it a really high score after seeing it, but I let it sink in, and I can’t give the movie more than the score below. The ending is very creative and intelligently executed, actually it’s pretty amazing, but just like the students making “The Bored Murderer”, it’s just an exercise in film making, and I expect more than that from watching movies.

Kamyu nante shiranai / Who's Camus Anyway? (2005)

Film making = A bunch of students crammed into the back of a tiny pick up truck

things to take note of
Tons of references I didn’t catch
What happened at the end??

best moment
The ending

why you should watch this
Inventively blurs the lines between film and reality

rating: 7.9

scorecard
Plot: B
Cast: B
Cinematography: B+
Music: B
Entertainment: B

similar movies, maybe:
None, probably

~~~

Don’t continue reading unless you want the movie spoiled?

Seriously, the movie will suck if you have it spoiled.

***

Maybe you should just come back once you’ve seen it?

[][][]

Still a warning, yup.

+++

I was too lazy to make another page for this, because, well, yeah, Lazy.

/\/\/\

I’m running out of symbols.

===

Ok that’s it.

!!!SPOILERS AHOY!!!

Kamyu nante shiranai / Who's Camus Anyway? (2005)

Sort of a spoiler, but not really

Ok then.

The ending is pretty much the one thing that makes the movie memorable, because without it, it’s just a film nerd’s melodrama. But the ending. Did the murder happen, or didn’t it? That’s probably a bigger mystery than the murder-mystery within the film. What? So let’s think about this again.

– This is when it gets really confusing, as the “student film” and the film we are watching begin to seemingly become merged. It is difficult to tell whether we are seeing a scene from the perspective of the students, or from the perspective of an audience watching these events occur.
– Since we do not know the script of their film, it is difficult to tell whether some of the following scenes are part of the script or not
– The crew and their camera never enter the house. We know that the murder scene is included in their film though, because they rehearse it, and some of the crew members remark that the director seems to glorify the violence in the script (so naturally, the murders should be shown). Even though he isn’t there it’s unlikely that they change the script drastically. It would be a pretty asshole move to change the script with the director in the hospital.
– When Ikeda hammers the old lady, it looks like it’s actually hitting (it’s a student film, so the hammer should either be a rubber mallet or miss entirely). Is it an actual murder, or are we seeing the student film? Is this the final version of the student film with special effects (aka ketchup), or is the murder real? It looks pretty real.
– It is difficult to tell whether Ikeda is still playing his role perfectly, or has transformed into the Bored Murderer himself.
– The scene where the old man knocks on the door is filmed twice (the first being a test shot), but Ikeda is only shown to react to it once, presumably the second time. If he were really going nuts, he would have noticed the first knock too. The second knock, which is the one they film, is the only one he reacts to.
– After knocking on the door, the old man knocks on the windows looking for his wife. Maeda’s character comments on the scene, and the old man nervously continues to knock looking for his wife. He enters into the house and looks for her. It is unclear whether this is a continuation of the scene or an actual event.
– The crew disappears after the scene of the old man knocking on the windows and the next time we see them, they are filming Ikeda’s escape. It is unclear whether the entire sequence with the old man is part of the film (our perspective and the students’ merging in this occasion; it would be funny not to include this scene in their movie) or an actual event.
– Ikeda stops in front of his bike, but decides to run instead. This is apparently congruent with the script because the crew are delighted. Is it all part of the script or did he actually decide to run instead?
_ The credits show the crew mopping up the blood. This is also ambiguous, because it could either mean: a.) They decide to keep the insurance money from the old lady’s death or; b.) It’s fake blood. The fate of the old man is not revealed, however.

Personally, I like to think that the murder did not take place. The student film will show the murder–one of the few parts of the script revealed. Combine this with the fact that the crew never enters the house, and it becomes plausible that when the movies move inside, the students’ camera and our camera become merged. Otherwise, they would not have been able to capture the murder scene, which they said they’d shoot first (so they definitely won’t come back to redo the inside shots). All the scenes that occur outside, which the students can see, all follow their script.

However, a more likely conclusion is that the murder is both real and unreal. We know that the director is merging both worlds, blurring the lines between reality and fantasy, between fiction and fact. That’s the whole point of the movie. Whether there was a murder or not is moot, because the director of the film wants to present a situation where it is impossible to tell the difference between the two realms. Also, the movie constantly refers to Camus and The Stranger. Experiences are only what they are and have no meaning after the fact. Existentialism absurdism blablabla. So, fuck it, I just wasted my time typing all that.

Kame wa igai to hayaku oyogu / Turtles Swim Faster than Expected

Kame wa igai to hayaku oyogu / Turtles Swim Faster than Expected (2005)

Afro-Juri would have blocked the whole poster

Director: Miki Satoshi
Writers: Miki Satoshi
Date: 2005

Genre: Comedy
Description: Ordinary life, ordinary person becomes a spy, a sudden change in the way one lives one’s life due to a philosophical change, living as a spy

Cast: Ueno Juri, Aoi Yû, Iwamatsu Ryo, Fuse Eri

Crew of note:

Runtime: 90 mins.
Color: Color
Trivia:

summary
Suzume is a bored, lonely houswife somewhere in rural-ish Japan. She’s got a pet turtle to keep her company, but her husband (if I were him I’d never leave Juri-chan’s side, dumbass) is always away on business. Everything changes though, when she accidentally spots an ad to become spy, and inquires about it.

review
I find it rather embarrassing that I’ve already written several reviews of movies with Miyazaki Aoi, and have yet to write one for a film starring Ueno Juri. Note! Juri-chan is my number 3, while Miyazaki Aoi is 4. My girlfriend requires that she be number 1 and that no one’s number 2–since its my favorite number. Anyway.

One of the reasons I started writing reviews was out of boredom. With nothing to do during my spare time (and occasionally at work, shhhh), I found writing about movies rather pleasant. Yet there are times I still long for greater adventure–not necessarily a James Bond/Ogami Itto/Wong Fei Hung kinda life–on the side of my relatively comfortable life.

Well, Suzume gets to keep that comfy life, and get some adventure too. And all it takes is an absurd ad and some imagination. The way her life changes–despite there being no actual change!–is fascinating and quite meaningful, accompanied with tons of laughs and happy funtimes. The silly characters that inhabit her town–the spy couple, the noodle shop man, Aoi Yuu in a great cameo–try to hide their own sillinesses (pluralized noun form of silly?), and this results in some of the best moments in the film. Sure, nothing much actually happens in the film (leading me to have nothing much to talk about), but in the context of Suzume’s new job, her new mission, and her new friends, even something as dull and dreary as a visit to this town can be a magical, meaningful trip.

conclusion
It’s easy to say that this film is simply a feel-good movie. But underneath the laughs, the afro and strange circumstances, there’s an interesting proposition: how much does a change in perspective–or the way one approaches living one’s life–affect life itself, in a tangible, permanent way? Miki treats this message brilliantly, and Juri-chan is impossible not to love. Despite the fact I rate Miyazaki Aoi’s movies better, Juri-chan is still far and away my favorite actress, and Kame wa igai to hayaku oyogu is certainly one of the reasons that she is.

things to take note of
The boredom?
The spy bizniz
Juri-chan ❤

best moment
Finding the ad for the spy biz
What Suzume does in her boredom

why you should watch this
Ueno Juri ❤

rating: 8

scorecard
Plot: B+
Cast: B
Cinematography: C+
Music: C+
Entertainment: B

similar movies, maybe:
Tenten / Adrift in Tokyo, also by Miki Satoshi

Su-ki-da

Su-ki-da (2005)

We can stare at Miyazaki Aoi all day if you want

Note: The title sounds stupid and insipid in English, because the three words are so commonly used in English, while it’s notoriously little-used in Japanese

Director: Ishikawa Hiroshi
Writers: Ishikawa Hiroshi
Date: 2005

Genre: Love Story
Description: Taking 18 years to say “su-ki-da”, silence, love, what do you do when everything goes wrong, slow yet rewarding

Cast: Nishijima Hidetoshi + Nagasaku Hiromi, Eita + Miyazaki Aoi, cameo by Kase Ryo

Crew of note: Score by Kanno Yoko, Cinematography and editing also by Ishikawa Hiroshi

Runtime:
Color: Color
Trivia:

summary
Yosuke and Yu. Their love story (stories?), 18 years apart. They hang out, fall in love I guess, and go through great pains to say what they really want to say.

review
Eighteen years is a long, long time. Short compared to “Love in the Time of Cholera” (the book, didn’t watch the movie), sure, but still a pretty long time. The movie is essentially two different stories, because the Yosuke and Yu of the past are noticeably different from their versions of the present. Jadedness, maturity, cynicism, a lack of vitality, growing up, wrinkles… whatever it is, the characters have definitely changed over the course of 18 years–quite naturally I might add–which creates two different, yet essentially the same, love stories.

There really isn’t that much plot to speak of–in general, they just hang out and stuff. Which is pretty much the love story of 80% of the people in love on the planet. There are no villains keeping them apart, no historical event in between them, not even a wall. This really is just the story of Yosuke and Yu, their awkward moments of silence, their awkward moments of conversation. Just like 80% of the people on the planet who aren’t pick-up artists or Romance novelists. Or assholes.

It should be enough to say that the movie is technically superb, with great use of color, close ups, and well-timed camera movements and still shots. Ishikawa directed, edited, and shot the movie himself after all, so it is understandable that there is a noticeably unified effect.

The only thing that makes the film a little difficult, is the fact that the characters’ awkwardness and tonguetiedness can be very frustrating. Not everyone can be eloquent romancers, but sometimes, the extended silences seem a little too much, even though these moments are indeed beautiful. Words are hard, I guess. Sometimes the right words aren’t even the right words. Maybe, the words don’t even need to be said, and the movie is able to build their relationship enough that we think they already know, even though it’s equally obvious that they don’t. This is kinda a lesson on how to say I love you in silence. In that respect, the film is a success.

conclusion
Suffers from being a little too artsy and indirect, but I guess being indirect is the whole point of the movie right? The pictures and the music are sometimes a little too nice, a little too perfect, and I don’t know how that’s a bad thing, but the story is a little too… “oblique” for its own good.. which I guess successfully builds up that sense of frustration (aka shouting “JUST SAY IT DAMNIT” at the screen) for the characters. I don’t like it when movies frustrate me (I don’t find it an enjoyable feeling), but it’s hard to fault a movie that is otherwise touching, beautiful, and decidedly soft spoken.

things to take note of
The colors gray and green
Nonsequitur shots?
The tension

best moment
When there is only music
Eita’s song, which can get stuck in your head pretty easily and for a long long long long time
By the riverside

why you should watch this
Not the perfect love story, but technically impressive
Nishijima Hidetoshi is one of my favorite actors
Funny how I keep reviewing Miyazaki Aoi movies (note: I love Ueno Juri more)

rating: 7.9, though I want to give it more

scorecard
Plot: C+
Cast: B
Cinematography: B+
Music: B
Entertainment: B

similar movies, maybe:
Love Letter, directed by Iwai Shunji
Niji no megami / Rainbow Song, directed by Sugimori Hidenori, starring Ueno Juri

Eri Eri rema sabakutani / Eli Eli Lema Sabachthani / My God My God Why Hath Thou Forsaken Me?

Eli Eli Lema Sabachthani (2005)

I wonder where he plugged all those things

Director: Aoyama Shinji
Writers: Aoyama Shinji
Date: 2005

Genre: Nothing?
Description: Lemming Syndrome, noise, suicide, life and death, loneliness, music

Cast: Asano Tadanobu, Miyazaki Aoi, Okada Mariko, Nakahara Masaya

Crew of note: Music by Nagashima Hiroyuki, Cinematography by Tamura Masaki

Runtime: 107 mins.
Color: Color
Trivia: Asano plays the f’n guitar, and those are real sounds

summary
Lemming Syndrome! People infected with this mysterious virus suddenly feel the urge to kill themselves, which will eventually mean the end of the world in the most depressing and emptying way possible. But, there’s hope! Two experimental musicians may have a cure: noise music. Does it blast your brain’s senses and knock the virus out? Does the frequency of their aural onslaught resonate and destroy the virus? Or maybe voluntarily listening to their music for extended periods of time should be medically considered suicide. Whatever dudes, they rock!

review
[summary continue] Hana, a girl stricken with Lemming Syndrome, is brought to Mizui and Asuhara in hopes of ridding her of her suicidal tendencies. Stuff happens very, very slowly, and then everyone rocks out. The End.

Okay, it might not be that simple, but that’s already a fairly complete outline, minus possible spoilers. The movie really is quite minimal.. but the pictures are beautiful, and the soundtrack is superb. This is a viruszombieapocalypse movie minus the action, minus the escape, minus the drama, and instead focuses on the implications of a world slowly emptying itself of humanity. Include other favorites of philosophical discourse–suicide, art, beauty, chicks (Miyazaki Aoi <3)–and you get a recipe for.. well, probably a headache. This is a film that requires participation: interpret, contemplate, philosophize. In between bouts of raging air guitar.

conclusion
Many people with stamp this with the “too experimental” hazard, but I disagree. The plot is fairly linear, though very minimal; dialogue is sparse as well. The only thing that may hold back some viewers is the presence of Mizui and Asuhara’s noodling with instruments, but if you can get past that, and perhaps even enjoy it (like Hana, in the end), this can be a joy for your eyes, ears, and mind. It has all the philosophical trappings of the best virus/zombie/apocalypse films, with an emphasis on dis/connection, loneliness, and music. But best of all, it has the most badass concert in all of cinema.

things to take note of
The color (yellow and earth tones)
The importance of the music
The silence in between
Meaning? Symbolism? I bet it’s somewhere

best moment
The concert! m/ m/

why you should watch this
If you like noise or experimental music, this will be bliss
Asano Tadanobu + Miyazaki Aoi
Amazing music, amazing cinematography

rating: 9.25 (or 6 if you can’t stand the noiz)

scorecard
Plot: B
Cast: B
Cinematography: B+
Music: A
Entertainment: B+

similar movies, maybe:
Electric Dragon 80,000 Volts directed by Ishii Sogo, with Asano
Maybe other zombie/virus films, but this really is unique

Zui hao de shi guang / Three Times

Zui hao de shi guang / Three Times (2005)

Three times in one movie? Well color me jealous

Director: Hou Hsiao Hsien
Writers: Chu T’ien Wen, Hou Hsiao Hsien
Date: 2005

Genre: Love Story
Description: 3 stories, 3 different time periods but 1 love story, 1911, 1966, 2005, symmetry, beauty, communication, love

Cast: Shu Qi, Chang Chen

Crew of note: Cinematographers of China/Taiwan/HK: Lee Pin Bing (who worked this one) >= Christopher Doyle 🙂

Runtime: 132 mins.
Color: Color
Trivia:

summary
1911
Shu Qi works in a brothel, and Chang Chen wants her
1966
Chang Chen is a visiting soldier who encounters Shu Qi at a pool bar
2005
Chang Chen and Shu Qi…. hang out?

That’s probably the worst summary I’ve ever made, but I don’t think there’s any point in discussing the summary. Actually, they’re arranged 1966, 1911 and 2005. All you need to know is it’s three love stories, three stories about alienation, loneliness, communication, and connectedness.

review
It is difficult for me to explain why I love this so much. There are three stories, but in fact very little happens, and little is said. However, a lot is shown and the differences in each time period’s things, or materiality if you can call it that, that belie the similarities in their symbolism and themes is fascinating. The radio and pool table, the jewels and old dresser, the bike and the electronics… just some of the objects that fill Hou’s time periods.

Though the three segments can seem detached from one another, the use of the same characters creates solidarity, and in fact adds a layer of possibilities to the movie’s meaning. Could they be the same souls that find each other three times? Are they the same people that live out different lives dictated by circumstances and history? Why do they keep finding each other? What are they thinking to each other (as if they know what the other thinks)? I believe it is a mistake to ask questions in a review, yet many of these questions I still consider long after having seen the film, which probably would not have happened had Hou used three different sets of actors. Chang Chen and Shu Qi shine, and throughout the three segments I had this strange feeling that they were the same characters. And really, this is a good thing.

Wrap this all up in Lee Pin Bing’s beautiful colors, and Hou’s unintrusive, silent and still camera, and you’ve got a pretty picture with pretty actors in this beautiful film. Perhaps I have yet to make a good case for the movie, but I am at wits end. There are just some films that strike a cord in your deepest self, and this is one such movie that has absolutely moved me. I really don’t know what else to say.

Note: Some reviewers mention that Hou has more fleshed out versions of these segments in his other films, but this is wrong. Some compare 1911 to Flowers of Shanghai, but the events are almost 50 years apart. 1966 is about 20 years too early to be similar to Hou’s three personal 1980s films (A Time to Live, Dust in the Wind, and Summer at Grandpa’s). They might explore the same themes, but that’s about it. The only real similarity is in 2005 and Millennium Mambo, especially since they both star Shu Qi in a seemingly identical role. Still, 1/3 isn’t a good score. So this is certainly unique in Hou’s filmography.

conclusion
Hou isn’t known for his love stories (this is his only one, really), but his trademark themes of alienation, loneliness, communication, and connectedness–all essential yet possibly overlooked in the understanding of love–are explored with such insight that this becomes a truly special movie. The use of the same 2 actors in all three segments adds yet another layer of possible meanings. It can be frustrating how Hou tells us very little, but if you have the patience to think about what these things mean, and what could be, Three Times can be an unparalleled experience. This is a masterpiece.

things to take note of
Chang Chen and Shu Qi, their characters, and how they communicate
The different ways the three parts are filtered (the color)
The light
The many symbols, possible meanings, etc.

best moment
1911
The beginning
1966
The empty billiard hall or the final scene
2005
The bike ride or the shots in the room

why you should watch this
Because Hou Hsiao Hsien is one of my favorite directors, and this is my favorite of his
One of the most beautifully colored and shot movies of this and most decades
Chang Chen
Shu Qi
The lighting is brilliant
Hou is a master of alienation/connectedness and loneliness/communication themes
I made a review for this even though I had nothing substantial to say (and I probably just babbled above), just so this movie could be represented on here

rating: 9 – it would be more, but it’s a movie that is easy to find frustrating/boring, so I hesitate to hike it up. Otherwise it’d be more like a 9.4

scorecard
Plot: B
Cast: A
Cinematography: A
Music: A
Entertainment: B+ (at least for me)

similar movies, maybe:
Dolls by Kitano Takeshi, in that there are three stories and they are about love. Sort of. Different actors though, and all in the present.

genres

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