Time: 14 minutes
Writer: Samuel Beckett
Cast: Julianne Moore
I blew off "The Princess And The Warrior" to see
some more of the Beckett Project. Tom Tykwer's film will get
wide release anyway; heaven knows when I'll get a chance to
see these films again.
"Not I" by Neil Jordan stars the mouth of
Julianne Moore doing rapid-fire circular dialog. I'm not sure
I ever noticed it before, but she has a great voice and knows
how to use it. She also has really nice white teeth. I've
become quite self-conscious of mine -- little yellow stained
twigs, while hers are bright and luminous like splints of the
Krapp's Last Tape
Writer: Samuel Beckett
Cast: John Hurt
This is Atom Egoyan's "short" (58 minutes)
adaptation of the Beckett play "Krapp's Last Tape."
Like "Rough For Theatre", it is slow and
deliberate, but mysteriously, never boring. John Hurt plays
Krapp, a man who has been making recordings of himself on a
reel-to-reel tape recorder over the years. The play opens
with him listening to a 30 year old recording he made when in
his prime, at age 39. Actually, the film opens with rain on a
window, Krapp eating a banana, and carelessly discarding the
peel. You can imagine what happens. It's a story about
reflection and for me, despair.
Atom was there to introduce the film and to do the
Q&A. he spoke at length about Beckett and the film, and
here is the barest fragments of what I remember:
These are the last film
versions of Beckett's plays that the Beckett estate
is going to allow. Apparently, anything you do with
the plays has to be cleared through some committee.
For example, the rain on
the window at the start and Krapp drawing the blind
are not in the original script. Egoyan had to get
permission from the Beckett committee, and had to
justify the addition by saying that there is a
reference to a storm in the script, and it does talk
about drawing a blind. For this reason, they OK'd the
Atom was in Ireland
showing "Felicia's Journey" when he was
approached to adapt one of the plays. The producers
asked which play he wanted to do, and he immediately
said "Krapp's Last Tape," which was already
slated to be done by another director. "But I
know how I'd do it," he said. "It's not
available," they said. "But if it does
become available..." Quite conveniently, the
other director did not do it, and the play
subsequently did become available, and so
here we are.
This was one of the rare
times Egoyan was able to work with someone who was
already familiar with the material (Hurt was
performing the play in London when Atom made the
film). Atom went to John's performances night after
night to figure out where to put the camera.
Atom first read
"Krapp's Last Tape" when he was 15. An age
at which he said you're trying to figure out why life
is so miserable. "I took refuge in the theatre
of the absurd."
"The fact that I
shot it when I was 39 -- the same age as Krapp on the
tape -- had a special resonance for me."
I later wondered if I would be reading my film logs 30
years from now. Will I really care about what I thought of
this film? Will it still be on a web site?
Cast:Joachim Bissmeier, Roland Düringer,
Josef Hader Synopsis:
An Austrian drama about a first-time stick-up artist
(dilettante, really). He holds up a tailor shop after he
loses his nerve trying to rob a grocery store. As luck would
have it, moments later, there is another robbery across the
street, and soon the area is thick with police. Our robber
cannot effect a getaway. A protracted situation ensues: the
tailor and his one customer are held in the back room while
the thief bides his time. The Stendhal syndrome raises its
head (it might even be mentioned by name), and soon enough,
the customer is chatting amicably about his health problems,
and the thief is telling us about his kid. The tailor is not
The dynamic of the piece makes me think it was once a
stage play. It's simple enough -- it's just three people in a
room. They talk for 80 minutes, and then we're done.
It's certainly competently made, but not overly memorable.
I' don't expect our paths to cross again.
This is my one and only film this year screened in the
dread Uptown 1. "Dread" if you are taller than a
midget or otherwise have average-length femurs.
The Japanese actor Tadanobu Asano was there to introduce
the film. So was the tall translator with the dark and smoky
voice. Mmm. She said that he had come to Toronto because of
another film ("Kaza-hana") but when they told him
that "Gohatto" was playing too, he hurried over to
say hello, and to say that he is not the star of the
film. A man 10 years his junior is (Sozaburo Kano?), and that
you should be watching him instead because he is very
Being even a little gracious does wonders for my
perception of a person. I had first seen Tadanobu Asano last
year in Christopher Doyle's "Away With Words" in
which he plays a Japanese man who crashes in a club where no
one speaks Japanese.
"Gohatto" is a costume drama about a samurai
militia, and two of its new recruits, both of whom happen to
be gay. The film is nonjudgmental in its treatment of gays in
the military (so are its characters.) It's a fact of life,
and those in command just deal with it. Beat Kitano plays one
of the militia's commanding officers, and he has to contend
with the disruption the pretty-boy recruit causes (he is
sought after by many.)
The film starts off well enough with great photography,
costumes, and kendo. Well -- pretty good kendo anyway. I was
annoyed that a deep booming sound effect was added every time
swords meet, whether wooden or steel. It wasn't necessary and
was a bit silly. By the last act of the film, I had lost much
of my interest because I was not able to connect emotionally
with any of the characters. Also, the last act takes place in
a long unnaturally lit night scene whose look seemed out of
place compared to the rest of the film. There are definitely
some good moments here, but not enough for me to really
recommend the film.
In contrast, my friend Harry liked this movie. I am
starting to have suspicions about our relative tastes in
I can't remember why I chose this film, but it's exactly
what I was looking for this year. Japanese city dwellers go
on a road trip through rural Japan, a wonderfully empty
autumnal Hokkaido. Director Shinji Somai, actor Tadanobu
Asano, and The Voice (translator) where there to introduce
the film. Somai thanked us for coming, despite the rain.
Asano gave similar thanks, and wanted us to know beforehand
that he doesn't actually drink.
Maybe his comment will make more sense if I give you a
quick plot synopsis: An alcoholic (Asano) wakes up one
morning under a tree with a young woman (Kyoko) he does not
remember meeting. Apparently, the night before, they had
decided to visit Hokkaido, take pills, and freeze to death in
the snow. And they they go. As they travel, the man remembers
more and more about meeting the girl and how they came to be
on the journey. She remembers her younger days with her
husband and child who now lives with her parents on Hokkaido.
Past blends with the present as she returns to see her child.
It's slow and beautiful. The photography is crisp.
Q: (To Asano) Not being a drinker, was it difficult
playing an alcoholic?
Asano: Being a t-totaler put me in a better position to
observe real alcoholics.
Q: (To Somai) Why does she dance near the end?
Somai: [Laughs] From the start, I knew there would be a
dance scene. I talked to her about it, and she shared the
same idea about (the character?) and that's how we came to do
There was not a soul who did not realize that Somai did
not answer the question. I just laughed.
I saw this film with my friend Harry. Here's our post
Me: You hated it, didn't you?
Harry: Yes. What about you?
Me: I loved it!
Harry: You bastard!
Merci Pour Le Chocolate
Cast: Isabelle Huppert, Jacques Dutronc, Anna Mouglalis,
Rodolphe Pauly, Brigitte Catillon, Michel Robin Synopsis:
This is a Swiss film if ever I saw one. Cold, very clean,
and somewhat unsatisfying. Isabelle Huppert is a wonder to
see in action: subtle, calculating, beautiful.
Huppert plays the owner of a chocolate company. She has
just married a famous classical pianist (Dutronc) who can't
sleep without Rohipnol (the date rape drug). His wife shares
his taste in medication, it seems.
Things happen, but it's hard to get too involved.
Certainly, none of the characters worry too much so why
My friend Rosie was quite dissatisfied with this film, and
I think some of that has rubbed off, lowering my estimation
of the movie a notch. Her main criticism was that the ending
comes quite abruptly and doesn't really follow from the rest
of the film. While this kind of thing is unhealthy for a
film, I'm starting to suspect that real life is exactly like