Day 5: 14 Sept 98

Notes of Love

Mimmo Calopresti
Italy, 1998
85 minutes, Colour
Principal Cast:
Valéria Bruni Tedeschi, Fabrizio Bentivoglio, Marina Confalone, Gérard Depardieu, Mimmo Calopresti

  I prefer the Italian title, "La Parola amore esiste." A little less concrete. This is a very lonely film, filled with people who for some reason or another, seem incapable of finding someone to love. Despite their great desire to do so. We -- that's not actually right. It's about a woman whose neuroses are so severe that you'd think she could never find someone. And she thinks that too, I think. The film is about a quest for love. That's still sketchy, but more accurate.

April Story

Shunji Iwai
Japan, 1998
67 minutes, Colour
Principal Cast:
Takako Matsu, Seiichi Tanabe, Kanzuhiko Katoh, Kaori Fujii

  I'd been cautioned by Harry's friend Daniel that this was not up to the director's previous film "Love Letter" (in the 1996 Festival), which I've seen and thought was outstanding. This movie starts out slowly with much of the same beauty as "Love Letter". A young woman is starting university in the Big City. She moves into her flat in a shower of tree blossom petals. By and by we find out why she has chosen this particular university, and the -- the film ends. Just like that. A bit of a letdown, but I'll take any sop I can from Iwai.

Welcome Back, Mr. McDonald

Koki Mitani
Japan, 1997
103 minutes, Colour
Principal Cast:
Toshiaki Karasawa, Kyoka Suzuki, Masahiko Nishimura, Jun Inoue, Shunji Fujimaura, Akira Fuse

  Earlier in the day, I'd stood in the rush line to see "Sweety Barrett", an Irish film. After waiting for a while, I was told to go away. No surprise. While in line, I noticed a young woman was waiting behind me in the bright morning haze. I ran into her again at this film, this time inside the theatre. She was quite lovely and we talked, albeit briefly about the film, which she had already seen on videotape. She had come all the way from New York City to see films at the fest. I am instantly smitten.

The director's opening comment: "Can you understand my English?" The crowd shouts, "Yes." "I cannot understand my own English."

The movie's about a live radio drama whose character names and story keep being changed at the very last second -- even while the show is airing. Big yuks, big hit with the audience.

Some Q&A with the director:

Q: Did this happen to you?
A: It took ten years, but it all happened.

Q: Can you tell us about your next project?
A: I noticed that you laughed at 80% of the same things that Japanese audiences laugh at. 10% of the movie, you laughed where they didn't laugh at all. And 10% of the time, they laughed where you didn't. My next project will be about that last 10%.

Q: Distribution plans?
A: You can rent it on video in Tokyo. Distribution in North America is undecided.

Q: Is there still a tradition of doing radio dramas in Japan?
A: Yes, they still do them. But no one listens to them.

Tumultuous applause from the audience. Someone voices the hope that distributors in the audience will take note and pick up the film.

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