Someone on Formspring asked for me to show my movie ticket stubs. Well here they are. Money wasted. I should probably like not watch movies in cinemas for a while or something after really looking at this, lol.
Also, just to raise a bit of awareness about it for people who are interested, Melbourne will be apart of co-hosting the Korean International Film Festival this year. The festival will run in Sydney first from August 24 - 29 and then will commence in Melbourne from September 10 - 13. Yes, it's more than a month away for Melburnians but I thought that it'd be good to let people know and prepare if they chose to go. Full information about the festival, including the films that have been selected to screen can be found at their official website - koffia.com.au
WHAT I'VE BEEN WATCHINGIt was a crowded house on Thursday evening - not a single seat was empty. Everyone went quiet, cozied up, got comfortable as the lights dimmed and the screen went to black from the commercials before it. Some light music begins to play and fading in from black was a shot of the little red monster, Elmo. Cue the "awwws" from the crowd. Not bad of a reaction to start the movie, I'd say.
"Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey" is a documentary focusing the man behind Elmo, Kevin Clash. His is a wonderful story for the screen and is an inspiring one. The documentary plays it straight and what we're presented isn't something deeply profounding or something that can be argued or debated over - it's simply an autobiographical account of Clash's life up until now, nothing more. It doesn't break any new ground but it doesn't have to. It knows what it is and it'll deliver on your expectations and more. The interesting thing though is that while it is a focus feature on Clash, it gives insight into the world of pupeteering, some insight and history on the Jim Henson and the Jim Henson company as well as the legacy of Sesame Street. I definitely walked away from the doco learning a lot more than I thought I would.
What's undeniable is the fact that Clash has crafted a character that's both a pop culture icon and an endearing symbol of happiness and love. Elmo is a character that kids are attracted to like magnets and, despite having a tall black man bringing the puppet to life right in front of them, kids are always attracted to Elmo and will engage with him at all times. And Clash loves that. His passion for puppeteering and bringing inanimate beings to life is a gift - which is something that documentary is able to show - and one that he has used to inspire joy in children worldwide.
Not only is this doco a story about Clash but also a heartwearming reminder that you should never let go of your hopes and dreams - that you should take the good with the bad and do what you can to get the best out of yourself. "Being Elmo" will make you laugh, cry and feel like a child again in certain parts of the film. But importantly, it's a film that inspires.
Prior to having seen "All About Lily Chou-Chou" earlier today, I had heard a great many things about it. Several of my friends attested it to being a great film, one of whom even regarded as one of his absolute favourites. Needless to say, they set the bar pretty high for me when I watched it.
The film follows two primary characters, Hoshino (Shugo Oshinari) and Yuichi (Hayato Ichihara) and tracks both of their lives over the course of a few years. The film charts their destructive friendship and the intermingled relationships that they form with other supporting characters in the film. If I speak any more, it might run the risk of entering spoiler territory so I'll leave it there and let you decide on the trailer.
Admittedly, the film was hard to follow with it's non-linear narrative. The film begins somewhere in the middle of the film then reverts back to the beginning, when Hoshino and Yuichi meet each other for the first time and become friends and then finally tracks back to the present. In between scenes are text messages that typed up on the film, all participants of an online fanclub dedicated to fictional singer Lily Chou-Chou - a cult-like figure to some of these participants. It's up to you to decide whose text messages these belong to as the film progresses which does help to keep you on your toes and ultimately adds a lot to the story by the end of the film.
Now, the film is slow and there will be moments where you will roll your eyes and wish they just move on. An example of this is during the Okinawa sequences. They just go on and on and on and just slow the pace down considerably. With a running time of 146 minutes, you'd think that some decisions should've been made about what to cut and what to include (although the original cut stands at about 157 minutes).
Criticism aside, there was one thing that I did take away from the film and that was the fact that "All About Lily Chou-Chou", released in 2001, could easily be seen as a companion piece of sorts to the 2000 film, "Battle Royale". There's a sequence early on "Lily Chou-Chou" where Yuichi's mother proclaims, "Kids these days are very scary." It's a statement that's explored throughout the film as it progressively delves deeper into the psyche of some of these troubled teenagers. Both films can be read as character studies of the modern-day youth and just how scary some of these youths can be. However, where "BR" chooses to explore this issue with violent temperament and within the confines of genre, "Lily Chou-Chou" explores it with an eye of depravity and realism that seems a tad exaggerated thus making it seem somewhat unbelievable. Now you could easily say that "BR" is insanely unbelievable (for the uninitiated, that "BR" basically put school kids on and island and made them fight a game of death) but on the surface, "BR" is essentially a stylised action/horror film (although I don't like to call it horror) and it embraces that fact. We accept that insane things can happen in a film like "BR" yet it's hard to understand what motivates the youths of "Lily Chou-Chou" to do what it is they do. Nonetheless though, I happen to think that these two films can go hand in hand with each other as both show some degree of deconstruction for certain modern day youths of Japan. To discuss further would be to spoil the film. I'm afraid if I continue to discuss about it, I'd get some backlash about the "unbelievability" factor of certain films that I enjoyed like "Last Life In The Universe", "Air Doll" or "Love Exposure".
Anyways, the film carries with it a nice visual style and utilises handheld digital cameras in a successfully experimental way. Very rarely would you see a steady shot set on a tripod. The kinetic nature definitely helps to add some depth to the film, moving in a way that the music moves the Lily Chou-Chou fans of the film - ethereal-like. And the soundtrack itself is a nice mix Claude Debussy as well as songs from the fictional Lily Chou-Chou herself (but it's really J-Pop's Salyu).
I personally found the film to be rather underwhelming. It really wasn't what I was hoping it to be and it disappointed me in that regard. I had hoped for another "Love Exposure" and thought this would be it but I alas, it was not. I like that there were some things that I was able to take away from seeing that but it didn't do it for me as much as I would have liked. Perhaps it was because the bar was set so high by some of my friends? That's just me looking for an excuse now, haha. It's an interesting film but if I write any more it's gonna become an essay or thesis so I'll stop there. You guys can decide whether or not it's something you'd be interested in. At least the Shiina Ringo reference was nice (come on, her music is DEFINITELY from the ether!).
TIDBITS OF FILM NEWS
First up are some first looks at Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle/Catwoman in "The Dark Knight Rises" and Henry Cavill as Superman in "Man of Steel" in these official high quality pictures! I'll let you pass judgement on them below.
ALSO, here's a trailer some of you may be interested in. Below is Sundance's Grand Jury Prize Winner "Like Crazy" which has been described as "(500) Days of Summer" meets "Blue Valentine" with long distance relationships. Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones star (Jones won Best Actress at Sundance). The film's been getting buzz as potential Oscar-running film. I don't know if that's true yet based on this trailer but we'll see.
And that's all this week! Here's a video paying tribute to the films of Pixar which have been put together by Kees van Dijkhuizen, a video editor whose put together some amazing tribute/montage videos in the past. Check out his channel: youtube.com/user/keesvdijkhuizen