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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.

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Mang jing / Blind Shaft

Mang jing / Blind Shaft (2003)

If they're blind, why do they need flashlights?

Director: Li Yang
Writers: Based on Liu Xingang’s short, “Shen Mu”. Adapted by Li Yang
Date: 2003

Genre: Suspense / Thriller, Drama
Description: Murder, money, corruption, urbanization of China, consequence of greed, youth and naivete, coal mines

Cast: Li Qiang, Wang Baoqiang, Wang Shuangbao

Crew of note:

Runtime: 92 mins.
Color: Color
Trivia: Was banned in China and was never released there, even though it won a ton of awards like the Silver Bear in Berlin. Shot inside real mines in the provinces of Hebei and Shanxi.

summary
Jinming and Fengming are two buds who work from mine to mine, making money from a wretched scheme. Both have commitments to themselves and to their families, and they feel little regret for what they do. Now, after collecting on their latest victim, they befriend the young Zhaoyang, who has quit school to help his family’s plight. They apply for work at a new mine, and together enter its darkness.

review
A fascinating yet sometimes uneventful movie. Sure, there’s murder, but it is just the vehicle for Li Yang’s picture of poverty. The premise is an interesting one, despite the fact that the course of the movie is laid out within the first few minutes, with the plot never straying too much from the inevitable. Yes, these characters are conflicted ones, but they seem to be very nonchalant–almost in acceptance of the way their world works–that wolves eat sheep for breakfast. It may seem like there is a lack of characterization, but watch intently as they go about their plans,and act so normally as they wait for an opportunity. Not much can be learned from their conversations–when they talk they are very one-minded (money, money, money)–but they sure act in strange ways.

Shot well, with particularly great shots inside the mine which uses only natural light and light from their headlamps. The first time they show the two descending into the shaft is ominous–knowing their intentions, it is harrowing. Also an achievement is how it is actually possible to empathize with all the characters. Yes, you will blame them, perhaps hate them, but at the same time hope that there is something more to them.

conclusion
This isn’t your typical suspense or crime thriller. In fact, most of the elements necessary for a good suspense are subverted, because you know who, how, when and where they’re going to do it–all you have to do is wait. Instead the movie tackles the conditions of illegal mines in China, and the lengths the poor will go to make ends meet.

things to take note of
The shots inside the mine
The strange, conflicting characters who sometimes make little sense
It’s a real mine, dudes

best moment
The last scene inside the mine

why you should watch this
It was banned–that’s sure to add interest
It’s a real mine, dudes; it’s not often you get to peek inside
Though subverted, the suspense element actually builds up rather wonderfully

rating: 8

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

similar movies, maybe:
The “suspense but not actually just a suspense” feeling is also present in Suna no onna by Teshigahara Hiroshi, though I can’t say they’re very similar.

genres

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