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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:

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

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.

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.


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

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.


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.

Jigoku / Hell

Jigoku / Hell (1960)

Apparently there's no need to elaborate

Director: Nakagawa Nobuo
Writers: Nakagawa Nobuo, Miyagawa Ichirô
Date: 1960

Genre: Horror
Description: Hell, hell on earth, man’s sins, man is an animal, other evil things

Cast: Amachi Shigeru, Numata Yoichi, Mitsuya Utako, Arashi Kanjuro, Nakamura Torahiko, Miyata Fumiko, Ono Akiko

Crew of note:

Runtime: 101 mins.
Color: Color
Trivia: I got this film by mistake, confusing it with Jigokumon. Hm, actually that doesn’t count as movie trivia.

Shirô and Tamura are classmates in university and friends. Sort of but not really, because Tamura’s pretty creepy and is also an asshole. One evening, on some remote dirt road, they accidentally run over a thug and quickly drive away from their crime. The thug’s mother and girlfriend vow to avenge the lowlife’s death, and with the growing guilt, Tamura’s weirdness, family troubles and some really terrible turn-of-events, the world slowly turns into HELL.

First of all, WTF was I thinking? I absolutely hate watching scary films, because seriously, why would I want to voluntarily give myself nightmares? Still, I have a long-standing curiosity about films with “Jigoku” in the title, and I somehow convinced myself to see this, knowing it was an important film.

So, was it worth it? Sort of, but not really (for me anyway). The movie is a difficult watch, even though it doesn’t involve any common horror tropes like monsters or ghosts or axe murderers. However, it becomes pretty obvious that outright scares isn’t the point of this movie at all. Rather, Nakagawa tries to create a depiction of Hell and Hell On Earth, not only with astounding visuals, but with mood and atmosphere as well.

The second half of the film usually gets the most attention because of its truly visionary and unparalleled representation of hell. Seriously, it’s pretty crazy. There are tons of things commonly associated with hell, but watch out for the water wheel–it’s possibly the scariest thing in hell, evar.

That said, the first part of the movie is also quite important. Before entering into hell, the world Shirô inhabits slowly turns for the worst; as I’ve said, turns into hell on earth. There is a sense of absurdity, of irrationality in many of the events that take place in the first half. And while it is somewhat annoying and way too depressing (and a little sappy), the message is quite clear. In fact, I found myself more disturbed during the first half than the second–life is what it is and is closer to fact, hell here is an interpretation.

Arashi Kanjuro in Jigoku / Hell

30 years to get from Tengu to Enma? Advancement opportunities my ass*

Thinking about this film is giving me the creeps so I’ll stop now. See this though if you aren’t a sissy?

I was thoroughly, completely freaked out while watching this film. It isn’t at all gorey, and really doesn’t have many horror-y moments. But it’s such an assault on your senses with its version of hell that it’s hard not to be a bit unnerved by the whole experience. Which is exactly the purpose of this movie, I guess. Not exactly a fun film to watch (unless you’re Satan, maybe), but certainly accomplished and significant in the development of the (psychological?) horror genre.

things to take note of
The many symbols and things, like the number 9
Hell on Earth
This is Buddhist hell, not Christian hell

best moment
Hell, duh

why you should watch this
Nakagawa Nobuo is the father is this thing called J-Horror, probably
This is the strangest, and possibly most precise depiction of not only Hell itself, but hell on Earth as well

rating: 7.9 but only because I don’t like scary movies

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

similar movies, maybe:
For some reason, I get the same creepy vibe from Onibaba

* The “tengu”, used in Kurama Tengu (which Arashi starred in in 1928), is a Japanese folklore monster. Normally it’s translated as “goblin”, but this isn’t very accurate. The tengu is usually depicted as a man-like bird monster, or a dude with a really long nose. Imagine Adrien Brody with feathers and a scowl, maybe. Enma is the king of Buddhist hell. Also, do your own damn research.


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

Color: Color

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.

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.

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

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



November 2020