Hi, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab...
What a double feature. Can’t wait to see both of these as soon as possible.
Hello people at Aint-it-cool,
This is Amahagger Muggle from the 2006 Rotterdam Film Festival. Today I saw Terry Gilliams Tideland and Miike Takashi's The Great Yokai War.
For the first time I went to get my own tickets. Seeing as how booking through the internet turned out to be a disaster year after year, the festival organisers anounced in advance that this year they wouldn't even try such a system. If you wanted tickets, do a telephone marathon or stand in line on the first Saturday morning.
I cannot vouch for the telephone system, but standing in line worked better than ever due to a doubling of counters and a very nifty numbering system (which was accessible through internet). Within a couple of hours me and my friends had all the tickets we came for, which is very fast compared to previous years.
My first movie this festival turned out to be Tideland, and we got a very nice surprise. Oh boy. The moment they brought a microphone on stage the discussions in the public started: was Mr. Gilliam actually at the festival? Was that him on the left of the stage? It was! "We welcome for the first time in Rotterdam..."
Directed by Terry Gilliam, USA, 2005.
"I don't like the movie, I'm afraid I have to say, to be honest. But it's now the next day and there are images that I still cannot shake, that I can't get rid off. Either this is the best movie you've made, or your worst!"
(Michael Palin, talking to fellow Python Terry Gilliam about Tideland)
Mr. Gilliam anounced his own movie onstage, saying that originally there was a Q/A planned after the screening, but (for several reasons) that was moved to the front, so if anyone had any questions without having seen the movie...? Nobody answered (apart from laughter we were all dumbstruck), so without a single question he gave the best Q/A I have yet seen, including the Michael Palin quote. Apparently people had very different reactions to Tideland. Leaving the cinema shortly after the beginning was one of them, he said, but he pleaded with us to stay till the end because that showed a different story than the beginning did. He commented also on the terrific lead Jodelle Ferland, 9-and-a-half years old, who's fantastic performance shocked them during filming. She kept improvising and thinking up things that an adult would never think of. Terry Gilliam told us to watch the movie as a child,to try and see the world as a 9-and-a-half-year old ourselves. Also he said he now has discovered his inner child. Apparently it's a little girl, as he surprised his wife and children by having a lot of fun playing with dolls. Furthermore he stressed that he was sick of the media showing children as perpetual victims all over the world, saying this didn't take into account the immense strength and resilience children have built in themselves. He hoped this film would go a little way towards rectifying that lack of respect. When Mr Gilliam left he suddenly ran back (coat already half on) and started asking the people on the first row: "What are you doing here? This is too close too the screen, the movie will be all over the place, you won't see a thing!". When the front-row people said "We'll see it" Gilliam answered "No, the movie starts from the third row!". A gentleman and a class act.
Now for the movie itself. For those not yet in the know I'll try to be spoilerfree about the last two-thirds of the story. Little Jeliza-Rose takes care of both her drug-addicted parents in a way which is shocking and touching at the same time. When her mother dies her father takes her to a mansion in the middle of a huge plain of grass. When he dies as well she survives by living more and more in her fantasy world, and encounters her very weird neighbours in exactly that state of mind.
I had wanted to see Tideland because I was curious. The story didn't draw me AT ALL, but hey, it's Terry Gilliam. And I'm happy to say I enjoyed Tideland much more than I expected. There is a vile rumour doing the rounds that this is a low-budget movie. I say vile because it has to be false. This picture looks every bit as polished and expensive as, ahum, "The Brothers Grimm". Unlike "The Brothers Grimm" it's also well told, incredibly well acted, funny, frightening and disturbing. Jodelle Ferland's powerful performance gave me goosebumps. The movie looks and sounds gorgeous. There are special effects and they add to the movie instead of distract. And it's totally a Terry Gilliam movie. His signature is all over the place, in the way he films the foulest things and manages to create beautiful pastiches from them. When you see some of the later scenes as an adult it gets very uncomfortable, bacause while you can relate to the playfullness as a kid, you can see the danger little Jeliza-Rose is literally flirting with. And I have to say this one more time, the lead actress is a tremendous find and I'm curious what will happen to her.
Indeed, this movie devided the group I saw it with. Some found it too slow, others too gross or scary. I was just so very very pleased to see Terry Gilliam's REAL comeback as a director. He's only sixty-four, lets pray we'll get a couple of more pictures from him.
We got the same rating cards as allways: 1 is bad, 2 is meager, 3 is OK, 4 is good and 5 is very good. I gave it a 4, but in retrospect I feel that number crawling up. It's just that this movie left me feeling stressed and uncomfortable to the point that I nearly sighed with relief when I saw the end credits roll up. Still, heavily recommended!
Less than a hour later, I saw another movie about a child who has an adventure in a fantasy world unseen by adults. This time by Miike Takashi. While Joe Dante's episode of "Masters of Horror" is actually being shown here at the festival, Miike's episode isn't, one of many weird omissions from this years festival. A shame,as Miike Takashi is sort of adopted over here in Rotterdam, and showing something "banned from being broadcast on US-television" would have been spicy! Alas...
"THE GREAT YOKAI WAR"
Directed by Miike Takashi, Japan, 2005.
In modern-day Japan, weird omens warn people of a great war to come. At a garbagelot ancient spirits are reformed into metal machines of vengeance, wreaking destruction. In a small town a little boy is chosen by good spirits (or "Yokai") as a saviour to fight this evil.
Two years ago "Zebraman" was my favorite picture of that year's festival. The story was cleverer than expected, the jokes had me laughing and... I don't know, it just all gloriously fitted together. This year Miike Takashi is going for that same vibe with "The Great Yokai War" but while it is undoubtably fun I found it lacking Zebraman's coherence and tightness. There are many things to enjoy here, but that is only because there are so many things onscreen all the time. Like the new King Kong this movie is overfull, with sections going on for way too long. The boys' background story is touched upon and much is made of his seperation with his beloved sister following a divorce, but that all goes nowhere. Some of the Yokai are very funny but others are not, and start to grate quickly. Then again, a couple of things really rock. It contains what I believe to be the biggest crowd scene of all time. The epilogue is brilliant. And oh my God that guinea pig. Miike loves screwing and torturing this lovable fuzzywuzzy. The furball gets an unbelievable amount of punishment dealt to him, and leaks blood all over the place.
Which reminds me: children's film?
The first omen we see in the prologue has walked straight out of John Carpenter's version of "The Thing", only this thing has black puss streaming from it's eyes. Kids and their parents are mercilessly slaughtered by the death-machines. Offscreen, but still. And about those death-machines: everyone who liked the design of the skeleton in the Terminator movies should get a big kick out of these! Shockeffects, dismemberments, killings, scary monsters, scantily-clad babes (yes, more than one)...
Yep, a real Miike Takashi kiddie movie. I gave it a rating of OK to GOOD (3.5).
This was Amahagger Muggle, meaning easily bewitched but himself without an ounce of magic.