Evangelion 1.0 You are not alone
A decade on, Hideaki Anno has reworked Neon Genesis Evangelion for the big screen. I don't have a lot to say about this. It was a different viewing experience on the big screen, but in some ways I prefer the original--this felt (purposefully) rushed, yet there was still an awful lot of time spent on Shinji emo-ing. (Leemo has nothing on that little dude, srsly.) Like the original, it left me feeling vaguely empty... and there should have been more PenPen.
This was the highlight of the festival for me so far and it was seriously neglected by the MIFF regulars, perhaps because it was pitched as a 'teen drama'. The session was half-empty! Shame! I found this movie charming on several levels. It's about a young turkish girl living in Denmark, who has a passion for kung fu. She practises in secret from her family and joins a competitive club, where she meets a hot Danish guy. How can this go wrong?! The story follows a fairly predictable path: she's caught between loyalty and obligation to her family and her personal passion. But the execution is so delightful that there's never a dull moment.
The fight choreography is by Xian Gao (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) which is reason enough to see the movie. But the cinematography is also appealing--lending an arty urban feel. The culturally diverse soundtrack is equally atmospheric. I particularly enjoyed the fight/training sequence between Aicha and her sparring partner/love interest, as well as a great grungy kitchen fight between her and some turkish male bullies.
This is the kind of 'feel-good' movie I like: it has an empowering ending without without any cheesy unconvincing neatness. And on top of that it proves that there is such a thing as a good European martial arts movie (admittedly with a lot of strong Asian support).
Sigh. This had so much potential. The subject matter sounded so promising. At Yasukuni, 2.46 million of Japan's war dead, including over 1000 war criminals from World War II, are enshrined. Political controversy surrounds the shrine--especially when key political figures such as prime minister Koizumi choose to worship there. Unfortunately, despite the fact that this documentary caused uproar in Japan, it does not really address the political issues in any depth. It instead fixates on a 90+-year-old swordsmith, who, embarrassed by the Chinese interviewer's clumsy attempts to draw him out about the historic use of the swords in the rape of Nanking, potters around his workshop awkwardly.
There were a few things that made this doco worth watching:
- footage of a Taiwanese woman with great personal dignity tell the PR Manager of Yasukuni that she wanted her ancestors' names removed from the shrine because they had been brainwashed into fighting for the Japanese. Her speech was passionate and moving.
- footage of a protester being beaten up by nationalists and called 'Chinese scum' (he claimed to be Japanese, and was calling out 'don't support the war of aggression' during the national anthem)
- boggling at the crazies that the shrine seems to attract (including those who think the rape of Nanking is a lie, and an American nutter who wanted to support Koizumi by waving an American flag--not that welcome on Remembrance Day in Japan!)
- learning that the Japanese government continues to award posthumous honours to war dead, whether the families want it or not--in one case, a Buddhist monk was forced to go to war and he is commemorated at Yasukuni and awarded honours against his family's wishes.
There was a lot of boring stuff to sit through to see that though.
Yes, really. *giggles* I kind of enjoyed this one. It was So Very Earnest and Philosophical. :D Highlights included the following dust nutters:
- a woman so obsessed with cleaning that she pulls her television apart regularly and washes the parts (apparently it's the biggest dust collector in the house)
- a woman who collects dust particles and pins them to her wall and also makes jewellery out of them
- a pair of artists who not only paint dust, but have also invented a dust collector that will last 16,500 years. Apparently.
On top of that, there was some genuinely interesting layman's scientific explanations of some toxic forms of dust and their effect on us, the role of dust in outer space, and analysis of dust from major twenty-first century events such as the Iraq war (scary uranium-caused foetus deformities!) and September 11 (the dust that fell on Manhattan following the fall of the towers contained, of course, human remains, as well as toxic chemicals from the incinerated machinery, plastics and construction materials).
Kinda morbid, kind of absurdly dryly humorous.
I've got three more movies to go this weekend.