LATAURO @ MIFF #2: TAKESHIS', AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH, THE SUN, TIDELAND!!
Here's Latauro with another report from the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF). You can read part one of his coverage HERE!
LATAURO @ MIFF #2: TAKESHIS', AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH, THE SUN, TIDELAND
You know what's weird? The best film I've seen during MIFF wasn't even playing in MIFF. The other night I caught a screening of BRICK, which I'd been anticipating for what-felt-like years. Yes, it's as good as everyone has been saying (those people who have been saying it's good, that is). Yes, it's currently sitting atop my best films of the year list. Yes, I can't wait to see it again.
But lo and behold, other films are also crying out for their greatness to be recognised! The details of four truly incredibly cinematic experiences wait below...
I'm not sure what's confusing me more: what the hell just happened in this film, or why there's an apostrophe in the title. It may only be a minor piece of grammar, but it got me wondering what it was both Takeshis had ownership of, and whether that thing was the point of the entire exercise.
Working in collusion with a friend, I managed to come up with a a description that would put you in just the right frame of mind: Wes Anderson and David Lynch write 8 1/2 in Japanese and give it to Takeshi Kitano. If that's the sort of film you'd like to see, then this is the film for you. Beat Takeshi is a slightly arseholey movie star/film director who comes across a man that looks exactly like him and has the same name. That's about as much linear plot as I can give you, as the film then descends (or ascends, if you prefer) into complete chaos. Actually, that's completely untrue. A lot of the supposedly-random stuff that crops up over the film actually ends up having some sort of point at later (or earlier) parts of the film.
I don't really know how to dissect this film at all. I get the impression you need to have more than a passing knowledge of Kitano's earlier films (I've only seen HANA-BI and KIKUJIRO) to fully understand much of the film. Or maybe I'm wrong about that.
This is certainly a film that will appeal to a specific audience, and I'm torn as to whether this is his most-accessible or least-accessible film. At very least, it's quite entertaining, and contains a high quote of laugh-out-loud moments. Having only seen what appears to be his two most serious films, I wasn't expecting the film to be quite so funny. Oddly enough, the biggest laughs I've had at the cinema in recent times have been from this film and two documentaries. Wonder what that says? Very little, probably. Latauro recommends TAKESHIS'.
AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH
If there was one thing I wasn't expecting this film to be, it was mainly concerned with beastiality. If there was a second thing, it was entertaining.
Unexpectedly, Al Gore manages to be funny, interesting, engaging and passionate for an entire hour-and-a-half, which is quite impressive for anyone let alone a politician. I don't know a whole lot about the guy beyond his guest appearances on "Futurama", the odd mention in a Michael Moore book, and the basic stuff that those of us outside the US all seem to know. It's a pity he is who he is (a high ranking member of one of the major US political parties), because it almost certainly means that everyone on the opposing side will dismiss this film as propaganda for the Other Side.
The problem with this is that it's a strangely apolitical film. Sure, there's the unavoidable mention of his 2000 election loss, and his simmering frustration at the current administration is obvious if not directly addressed, but his biggest passion seems to be losing the party colours and getting his message out to everybody he can. And what a message it is. Global Warming is one of those theories the way that gravity or clouds or non-impartial World Cup referees are theories. Every bit of opposition you've heard to Global Warming comes from someone with a political agenda; every bit of evidence you've heard of supporting Global Warming comes from actual scientific study.
The argument is presented in what I would argue is the most convincing way possible: via a slideshow lecture. I know, it sounds positively coma-inducing, but it's not. Gore keeps us glued throughout the whole thing, and even when we take regular breaks from the lecture to look at his history and what drives him to do what he does, it remains nothing short of compelling.
This is the sort of film that should be compulsory viewing for everybody. Only someone whose mind was completely and utterly made up before the lights go down could fail to be convinced by what is presented. And here I was thinking THE HOST would be the only horror film I'd see at MIFF...
There are many films that you know you should love, but you don't. The biggest factor is typically (in my experience) the conditions of your first viewing. This was a problem I had when I saw BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN the first time, so I did my best to push the negative thoughts out of my head, and I gave it a second try. RUSSIAN ARK is, conversely, a film I feel I might -- under normal circumstances -- loathe, but the conditions under which I saw it the first time were so perfect, and my mind was so primed for what the film had to offer, I couldn't help but fall completely in love with it. I think the biggest factor in my primed mindset was that I was tired but not sleepy. This allowed me to melt into my seat, but keep my eyes completely open the whole time.
ARK director Aleksandr Sokurov's film THE SUN was in the unfortunate position of greeting my a reversed state: I was sleepy, but not tired. The struggle to keep my eyes open whilst standing in line for the film was difficult enough, but when it came time to watch the slow-moving character piece, I was almost a lost cause. Amazing, then, that halfway through the film I "got" what this film was all about, and found myself almost completely won over by it.
The film follows Japanese Emperor Hirohito (Issei Ogata) in the final days of World War II as he admits defeat and surrenders to the US forces. It plays a little like Visconti's THE LEOPARD, only instead of a noble and dignified Burt Lancaster, we get a child-like leader who seems completely unable to grasp what's going on around him. Hirohito is seen to be protected from the world around him by his servants, and concerns himself with hobbies like the study of marine biology as his country starves. It's very easy to draw comparisons to current world leaders, and it's a comparison that Sokurov manages to avoid.
It's interesting watching this after RUSSIAN ARK, particularly given the editing style of the opening. The cuts appear to be fast dissolves, almost as if he was just getting the hang of editing for the first time ever. Although there's every chance that I just imagined this effect, as it didn't appear at any other point in the film. The colours and light levels are strangely muted; not in a sepier-esque way, but like someone turned on a light in the back of the theatre. The blacks aren't quite black and the whites aren't quite white. It's a haunting effect that makes you feel as if all is not right. Or maybe the projectionist was asleep. Either way, it worked.
If RUSSIAN ARK is the history of Russia as dreamt by someone whose vast knowledge was being distorted and merged as he slept, then THE SUN is a look at one of the most important moments in Japanese history through the eyes of the only person who seems unaware of the situation's gravity. It will strike many people as a boring film, but others will come away with images and moments burned into their brain.
A day or two back, I swapped some emails with an AICN-D reader by the name of Matt. We were discussing the forthcoming screening of TIDELAND, and Matt commented that, having missed BROTHERS GRIMM, it'll have been seven years since he saw Gilliam on the big screen. I pointed out that, having seen BROTHERS GRIMM, it'll have been seven years since I, too, saw Gilliam on the big screen.
TIDELAND isn't just a return to form for Gilliam; he's going into uncharted waters here. He's going places I never thought he'd go, and there's no denying he's made a powerful piece of cinema. Whether you like it or not is going to be a big factor in your film geek status, as this will polarise the community something fierce. I will understand if you say it's his worst film, and I will understand if you say it's his best. I'm still trying to figure out my own stance, but it's safe to say I'm leaning towards the latter.
For starters, the entire film is told through the eyes of Jeliza-Rose (Jodelle Ferland), a girl of roughly ten years. Given Jeliza is in every single scene, you'd want her to have a decent amount of talent. Jodelle Ferland is possibly the best child actor I've ever seen. I don't know where the hell they found her, but she must have been Grace Kelly or someone in a previous life, because no one that old can act that well. It just doesn't happen. They should erect a plaque for the casting director who first uncovered her. Yes, she's that good.
The rest of the cast is just as impressive. Jeff Bridges proves that as great as he is, he's never as good as when he's working with Gilliam (or the Coens). Janet McTeer (who I thought was Jessica Lange for most of the film) goes further than I think any "name" actress would, as does Dylan Taylor, who appears in what must have been one of the most uncomfortable roles of all time. After reading about some of the actor-related headaches Gilliam suffered on BROTHERS GRIMM (in Bob McCabe's "Dreams and Nightmares"), it must have been a joy for him to get so many actors willing to push themselves so far.
If it sounds like I'm doing all I can to avoid discussing the plot of the film, it's because I am. Part of me feels I have a responsibility to warn people about what they're going into; the rest of me feels a larger responsibility to let you all experience it on your own terms. Even if you want to walk out (as the people in front of me chose to, about ten minutes before the end), you need to discover this film on your own. Avoid spoilers, avoid reviews (once you've done with this one), and just see it.
Gilliam's directing style -- by far, the most important part of any Gilliam film -- is on its highest notch here. I'd like to say that he's forging new territory for other directors, but it's just not the case. People like Scorsese or Antonioni or Altman; they're the guys who forge ahead and bring other directors with them. No, Gilliam is so far ahead of everyone else, the areas he's forging are only there for him. That's because he was so far ahead when he begun, nobody knows how to find his trail. Every one of his frames, every glimpse of colour, every bit of set, every camera movement, every line of dialogue in every shot in this film carries more meaning and depth in it than the entire running time of most films made by even a half-way good director. There's so much going on here, I'm not 100% sure I understood what I was seeing. I know that any understanding I have of the film is barely scratching the surface, and I can't wait to go back and immerse myself into it until I comprehend Jeliza-Rose's world as much as Gilliam does.
One of the most important filmmakers of all time is back on form after the worst part of a decade, and we are the richer for it. Get ready to be part of one of the more interesting cinematic debates of recent history, and book your ticket as soon as possible.
Readers Talkbackcomments powered by Disqus
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Aug. 1, 2006, 10:30 p.m. CST
Aug. 1, 2006, 10:49 p.m. CST
I was sort of ambivalent about it, after reading a couple so-so reviews, but man after reading this one, I'm super excited to see it. And both takeshis' and the sun sound incredible. If it wasn't for latauro and aicn i'd probably have never heard of them. thanks!
Aug. 1, 2006, 11:04 p.m. CST
and hopefully one day studios would not fuck with him so much.
Aug. 2, 2006, 1:05 a.m. CST
with the possible exception of The Fountain (which was motherfucking delayed AGAIN. Fuck). Can't wait till October to see this on the big screen. As far as I can tell, there is still no concrete release date for the US.
Aug. 2, 2006, 1:48 a.m. CST
Aug. 2, 2006, 2:15 a.m. CST
by Monkey Butler
Thanks Lat. All of them sound great, and I'm really interested by "An Inconvenient Truth", simply because everyone says that it's rivetting when it has absolutely no right to be. Good call on Russian Ark too. I don't know a whole lot about Russian history, but the film was just hypnotic. And it wasn't until after the dance sequence that I realised how huge an accomplishment it was.
Aug. 2, 2006, 2:19 a.m. CST
You guys just reminded me of why I do this. Thank you. I hope you dig these films as much as I did. Next batch should be up Thursday eve, and will contain the film of a geek favourite nearly as big as Gilliam.
Aug. 2, 2006, 5:48 a.m. CST
I was fortunate enough to see this movie two weeks ago at the Brisbane Film Festival Latauro (Its weresmurf from chat btw), and I agree with you whole heartedly. The movie is incredible, horrifying and doesn't follow the cliche of bombarding us with questionable facts that nearly all documentaries of late have done, it presents everything in clear, concise, inarguable facts. I was amazed to see those scientists all agreeing, every single one, that Global warming is indeed a problem and only politicians being the ones arguiing against it. Then again with all the hot air they expel naturally...
Aug. 2, 2006, 6:50 a.m. CST
Do you really think the studio was the reason the brothers grimm wasn't any good? I only saw it a few days ago after hearing so many bad things and the way it came across to me was that it was what the director intended, and that just wasn't anything special. I don't think there will be a "director's cut" released ala brazil that will make it a better film. Bring on tideland - it sounds great.
Aug. 2, 2006, 7:36 a.m. CST
by The Wrong Guy
Just kidding. That guy's a dick. Not sure I want to spend 90 minutes being told the world is going to end very, very soon, though. Dunno, just seems kinda depressing. Good to hear about Tideland...I very much liked what I saw from the trailer. And the Tideland website is possibly my favourite film site ever.
Aug. 2, 2006, 8:17 a.m. CST
You should really read Dreams and Nightmares; I didn't have any idea to what extend the Weinsteins could have influenced the quality of the film until I read it. It's pretty horrific -- I'd actually argue Gilliam had a better time on Quixote.
Aug. 2, 2006, 8:30 a.m. CST
is probably the most important film I've seen in a long, long time. Not because it's educational, but because it's so damn scary that it actually made me rethink the way I live in terms of energy usage. This should be required viewing for every American (considering we're responsible for something like a 3rd of the problem). Trouble is, I've been having a hard time getting anyone on the right to so much as look at the poster for this thing because of Gore's involvement.
Aug. 2, 2006, 8:36 a.m. CST
I've never been so dissappointed in a director whose work I usually love. My god, the film fails to live up to the basic elements of storytelling. No character has an arc of any kind, no one changese except by dying, nothing interesting happens, the ending doesn't mean anything, it doesn't even DO anything except prevent something, anything, from actually happening. It's offensive to the medium of film visually. It suffers from unnecessary and overused Dutch angles, much like Burton's Batman did. It's not even interesting! To say you liked this film, that's fine, I love shitty films and don't like many I know are good. But to say this film is good in any way is to confess your complete and total ignorance of the artform. Put the keyboard away Latauro, drop the pen and just walk away. You have no credibility at all.
Aug. 2, 2006, 8:53 a.m. CST
First of all, I refuse to put away my keyboard and drop the pen. That will prevent me from my favourite activity, which is drawing on my keyboard. Second of all, I actually got excited when I read your post subject; I thought we might be about engage in an interesting, thoughtful and possibly civil debate about the merits of the film. Then I remembered this was the AICN talkback. Buddy, the bit in my review when I discuss how both extreme points of view (loving and hating the film) were valid? That means I have credibility. The bit in your talkback where you create a murky distinction between two different way to love/like this film, and then attempt to insult me because I didn't fit into your "correct" model? That means you have sex with furniture.
Aug. 2, 2006, 8:54 a.m. CST
That should be "...prevent me from participating in my favourite activity." Can't we get an edit function on this thing? Or would that create more problems?
Aug. 2, 2006, 9:13 a.m. CST
would certainly cut down the comendy value of a tb.
Aug. 2, 2006, 11:20 a.m. CST
by Nice Marmot
. . . the people who correct grammar here are the biggest tools. Without grammatical errors we might not spot them.
Aug. 2, 2006, noon CST
I sitll think Latauro is one of the most consistent contributors to the site. Tideland has sounded interesting from the get-go, and if you take a great director, a talented young actress, and the fact that people are walking out WITH ONLY 10 MINUTES to go, you got anticipation galore. who has the big balls and little brain to walk out after watching that much of a movie? and what the hell did they get upset about. color me excited...actually, in honor of Latauro, make that "colour" me excited...oh wait, now I really should change honor to "honour"...
Aug. 2, 2006, 12:42 p.m. CST
Having sex with furnature would have been more rewarding than watching Tideland. Ok, I appologize for the personal insult Latauro. That was a little low. But Tideland doesn't follow first day, first hour 'rules' about scriptwriting, the formula of story, of saying something, anything, with characters who experience something and then hopefully, develop or change as a result. Tideland, at it's crawling pace of attempted storytelling, would need many more hours at it's rate to actually achieve that. It felt like I was reading a book, got through 70 pages, noticed 250 pages of the middle were missing, then I got to the end. I was offended that such a sloppy, boring, & frantically thrown together 'story' could have been attempted by Gilliam. He must be really desperate and out of his mind. I read Bob McCabe's book and how Gilliam 'took the book off the top of his stack' and then decided 'ok, let's do this.' This is a hell of a black mark on a great American filmmaker. The subject matter of Tideland, yeah, it's new for Gilliam, dark as all hell and daring. But he tried to pull it off by repeating his style of Fear & Loathing, which took my focus off of the (lack of) substance and sensitivity he should have given to this somber 'story.' Gilliam's interior wide shots, used very well in Fear & Loathing to give depth to the frame, seemed out of place for this story. The Dutch angles littered and polluted my enjoyment of exterior shots. The soundtrack was dull and obnoxious he relied loud, 'shocking' moments to tell us when to react and to force us to pay attention to predictable plot point occourances - the only thing textbook about the script. And this 'textbook' isn't 'my model.' It's filmmaking 101, day one errors Gilliam made. It's like 'crossing the line' and other 'no nos' about the craft. It's what makes films work. It's what Gilliam seems to have forgotten, either by choice or a disregard for the sake of it. Either way, this film fails in almost every way. It still might entertain, but not someone with a trained and educated eye.
Aug. 2, 2006, 4:49 p.m. CST
the sold out one at the Greater Union right? I fucking adore this movie, stunned that it is finding so little joy amongst the film loving community. My god that child was good, she completely carries the movie. She makes it entirely believable. You immediately fall in love with her as if she were your own child, which makes it all the harder to watch what she goes through. The movie is a harrowing, emotionally draining experience, and yet it still finds time to be funny and beautiful. I'm as curious as hell to hear Gilliam talk about this movie or to see a making of documentary, just how the hell did he direct this kid? What the hell did he say to her? Inspired shit. Please people, see this movie. The only child performance I can compare it to is Nobody Knows, I think this is probably even better. Gilliam is back, I didn't see Brothers Grimm, but this film is everything you would expect from him, which is to say that it is surprising, unique, beautiful and without a dull or boring frame. See. This. Movie. Please.
Aug. 2, 2006, 5:48 p.m. CST
Have you seen that girl's resume on the imdb??? She's a freaking busy little girl. At 11, she's done more acting than many could ever hope for.
Aug. 2, 2006, 5:56 p.m. CST
...is a much better argument, and for anyone still umming and ahhing about the film, it's a pretty good rundown of the the things that will piss off a lot of people. I think there a few more items you could add to that list, but not without going into massive spoiler territory.
Aug. 2, 2006, 8:23 p.m. CST
What would you all say your favourite gilliam film is and why? Brazil strikes me as the most iconic of his films, and I think is the best. The holy grail is a no-brainer. I love 12 monkeys despite it being accused of being the most mainstream. Fear and loathing is great, but I think more because of Depp than gilliam. The brothers grimm was a big nothing. I liked that he tried to make a dark children's film, but perhaps I need to read lat's book recommendation to appreciate what he was going for... BTW latauro, your comment about writing on your keyboard made me laugh out loud, giving away the fact that I'm not working. If I get fired, I'm suing AICN-D for all it's worth (INCLUDING the pen and keyboard!).
Aug. 2, 2006, 10:12 p.m. CST
Leedrick, if I can get just one person fired, then I've done my job. As for Gilliam films, Brazil is possibly his best, Brothers Grimm is his worst, Twelve Monkeys is his most underrated, Tideland is (will be) his most controversial, and Fear and Loathing is my absolute personal favourite. I just can't get enough of it. But those are just one man's opinions. Any other Gilliamphiles see it different?
Aug. 3, 2006, 10:27 a.m. CST
Brazil's my favorite Gilliam film, but really my favorite thing with Gilliam is that documentary about the failed Don Quixote production. That was an incredible documentary- I was riveted. It's such a shame that movie couldn't be finished! I'm really looking forward to Tideland.
Aug. 19, 2006, 11:18 a.m. CST
One of GW/Gore's key points, the 'hockey stick' graph of recent temps, is a total lie. It's essential to their argument that global temps have been stable until bad old humans started driving suv's. Then the 'hockey stick' handle exploded upward. Convenient to ignore temps have been anything BUT steady. The Medieval Warm period (hotter than now) which saw human population and achievement explode. Then there was the Little Ice Age we're just coming out of now. It's expected for things to get warmer, we're still recovering from TLIA. Temp measurement in anything less than thousands of years is anecdotal anyway. Climate change is far more dependent on Earth's axis, the Sun's output, volcanic activity, and continental drift. CO2 levels may even be a symptom of natural warming rather than the cause. Big lie #2 - extreme weather events are NOT NOT NOT caused by GW. 80% of real scientists disagree with you on that AL. We're halfway thru hurricane season this year w/o a major storm. Wazzup Al? Could it be that weather events are basically capricious and unpredictable. Lie #3 - we only have about ten years left Chicken Little to do SOMETHING! ANYTHING! Utter unprovable nonsense that strangely enough coincides with Algore's political viability. If anyone wants to place that bet, I'll cover it (with odds). Lie #4 - GW can cause Global Cooling. They abandoned this 'argument' before the laughter died down and the movie went to video. Bad science lie #5 - water levels are rising. Yes they ARE. And they've been doing so at a steady rate for 800 years. And THAT comes from our dear friends at the UN, not Exxon. And if all the warming seems to be at the poles, it isn't exactly global now, is it? There isn't these concerned scientists trying to save us on one side and mean old Big Business on the other. If anything, the GW side has a bought and paid for, almost cultlike agenda that's willing to lie, fabricate, and misinterpret reality to reel in the rubes and continue funding. Radical environmentalism is just an offshoot of blame America first, anti-technology, utopist, help-the-terrorists, illogical, self-destructive, left wing ideology. You're being snowed by political propaganda from, who else, a politician trying to revive a political career that was DOA the moment he tried to steal an election. And if you confirm even one of his lies or prevarications, how can you be sure of any of it? Stop drinking the kool-aid and do some homework. Be skeptical. But say we all get religion, forget the obvious big lies and the less obvious small ones, and say Al in some parallel universe might be right. What do we do? Kyoto is no answer. The really bad polluters are exempt. Europe and Canada, despite advantages they wanted to use against us, cannot meet the first level of Kyoto restictions. Kyoto 2 is scheduled to meet in a few years to impliment even more draconian measures. Kyoto is dead as it should be. Voluntary conservation, sure. It might even save you a buck. But don't force me to shiver in the winter and sweat w/o ac on bad science. Drive a small car. Go ahead. It makes sense now and maybe keeps money from terrorists. But only about 12% of CO2 emissions in this country comes from autos, and that number gets better all the time. So Prious away, but don't think you're saving the planet. You're not. Your breakfast burrito contributes to GW too, but foregoing it isn't gonna solve squat. The US is already doing about all it can to clean up emissions. Go talk to China. China has, on the drawing board, plans to build 500, count 'em 500!, coal fired utility plants over the next decade or two. That will dwarf anything we put out. And they don't worry about scrubbing them either. We're talking real pollution, not water vapor. India too has coal reserves and plans to use them. Brazil is bulldozing all the rain forests. Europe dumps nuclear waste in the oceans. But where's the pressure and hand wringing on them? Could it be that it's not so much about the environment, but economic advantage and politics? DING DING DING! Here's one solution, trust the profit motive. If technology is causing this problem, why can't technology solve it when the time comes? But Luddites like Al only see tech as bad. (This is the guy who called the internal combustion engine the biggest threat to mankind. Yet he flies private jets to all his media venues, expecting everyone else to bicycle I guess). Trust me, before trillions of dollars in beachfront real estate floods, capitalists will find a way. And if these folks, oh so concerned with GW, would encourage nuclear power instead of fighting it for decades, that would help alot. The average climate of this planet is very cold and dry. Think Gobi Desert or your freezer. We have a relatively short period of paradise now by comparison. So stop worrying, enjoy it while it lasts. In a couple more millenia, all us Muslims will be far more worried about how to stop 2 mile thick ice sheets and keeping from either starving or freezing to death. This planet routinely erases ecosystems and starts all over again. That's the natural order of things. And maybe a cosmic method of producing intelligent life that can survive. The world doesn't end with bang, but a brrrr. Be nice and warm.
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