Day 10: September 18


9:30 a.m.

Barren Illusion

Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Japan, 1999
Cast: Shinji Takeda, Miako Tadano, Yutaka Yasui, Masamichi Matsumoto, Kazushige Inami
Synopsis:

After seeing "Charisma" and "The Excitement of the Do-Re-Mi-Fa Girl," I rearranged my schedule to cram in two more Kurosawa films. I have taken a liking to the look of this film, their abstractness, and to the rather dishy translator with the dark voice who has been accompanying him to Q&A sessions.

Comments from Kurosawa's introduction:

-- Thanks for coming at this ungodly hour to see my film.

-- This film was made in May as coursework for a film school. I never thought it would have a Japanese release. Had I known it'd have such an illustrious opening, I'd have made a better film, but it's too late.

-- I know what it's like to be a film student. I made my own 8mm films. Had a wonderful time making this film with students. Their passion reminded me of my early days.

-- When I asked the students what they wanted to do, they said what I dreaded most: a love story. I've never dealt with a love story in my career. I dreaded it because I couldn't imagine what roadblock could keep the lovers apart. so what I did was to figure out a way to deny them the conventional security of a [family life.] I wanted to make a narrative predicated on their love in that moment, not some future promise. I'm not confident whether this story we made will seem to you to be a love story.

-- I'd be OK with me if you sit there and observe two characters on screen live out their lives.

-- There's precious little dialog. The reason being that as human beings, we don't wake up and start talking all day long.

"Barren Illusion" was the barest of love stories, but maybe one more representative of real life than other film treatments since you see it completely from the outside. Who can tell who loves who when you're cooking dinner or making music, or are at a soccer match? Well-- it's probably a little more apparent than Kurosawa lets on, but this is art, and an experiment -- a film essay.

11:30 a.m.

Interlude: Philosopher's Walk

Sitting in the bright sunlight, soaking up the cancer. Two cyclists just pedaled by, one saying to the other: "I went to the... optometry at Waterloo. Have you..." It's as if someone had called out my name, this mention of a place so close to home, a place I'd have thought unknown to outsiders.

Ever since "A Girl Is A Girl", I've become a bit paranoid about going to the bathroom before each screening. This is plainly ridiculous because I'm not drinking a lot anyway. I call it "Shrinking Bladder Syndrome," or SBS. Is that what it's like being pregnant?

For Mom and Scott, the Festival ended yesterday afternoon with "Charisma" which I think was not a really big hit with them. It ends for me today. By tonight, the theatre staff will be taking down the TIFF posters and by one o'clock tonight, you'll be hard pressed to know that it even took place. No more queues. No more Festival volunteers standing about, looking helpful (which they all were). And the streets are filled with pumpkins.

The sun feels good on the back of my hands. My head lolls in the cool breeze and I watch dust works float across my closed eyes. A shush of leaves and the sound of distant traffic. A tree squeaks as it sways.

12:45 p.m.

Cure

Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Japan, 1998
Cast: Koji Yakusho, Tsuyoshu Ujiki, Anna Nakagawa, Masato Hagiwara
Synopsis:

Kurosawa was asked to keep the introduction short:

-- Thank you very much for coming to my film

-- The film lasts about 100 minutes. but I want you as an audience to finish the film to make it successful. It may take an hour or a year. I encourage you to linger. Thank you very much.

Kurosawa definitely has a consistent style. I don't think you could mistake anything else for one of his films. The detective from "Charisma" is back (though I think this film predates "Charisma") who I find quite likeable. (He also plays the male lead in "Shall We Dance?")

But why is the film called "Cure"? Who is cured? Of what?

3:15 p.m.

Pas De Scandale

Benoît Jacquot
France, 1999
Cast: Isabelle Huppert, Fabrice Luchini, Vincent Lindon
Synopsis:

Came out feeling very cross. What the hell was that?! Sure -- Isabelle was luminous and the closest thing to the Mona Lisa I'll ever see this side of death, and Fabrice Luchini was stunningly creepy, but so what? Spent the next hour trying to calm down and just let it go.

6:00 p.m.

One Piece!

Shinobu Yaguchi, Takuji Suzuki
Japan, 1999
Cast: Youji Tanaka, Nao Nekota, Satoru Jitsunashi, Masumi Kiuchi, Keiko Shinonoya, Miako Tadano, Yoko Chosokabe, Tsurumi Komatsu, Saori Sekiguchi, Takuji Suzuki, Naomi Nishida, Kazuhiro Nakahara, Junko Ueno
Synopsis:

It takes only 90 seconds for my spider senses to start tingling. A series of marginally interesting short films, each made in a single take. No editing, not budget. Had I not been separated from the aisle by two fatties and a third person, I would have walked. If you've ever seen "Moron Movies", you've got a good idea of how this went.

Still. "Cat Meow" and "Who's the Director" were somewhat memorable.

Was immensely cheered by the brevity of the collection, and by running into Rosie in the Starbucks 'round the corner.

"Are you glad it's almost over?" she asked.

"Yup. You?"

"Yup."

I'm feeling cranked and tired, and I feel a cold coming on at last. Probably running a bit of a temperature. The only solution is to go on a book buying spree. That'll improve my co-called life. God, there are a lot of pretty women here.

9:00 p.m.

La Donna Lupo

Aurelio Grimaldo
Italy, 1999
Cast: Loredana Cannata, Arturo Paglia, Pascal Persiano, Frances Di Leva
Synopsis:

Met up with my friend Harry for this, the last film both of us.

Your basic soft-to-medium core porn film. Good production values make it easy to watch, but I have to ask: what is this doing in the Festival? Do we get any insights into the characters' characters? Is there anything especially innovative here?

It's a bit uncomfortable watching porn in a packed theatre. Do I have to wear my cineaste's hat and judge it on an artistic basis, or am I allowed to enjoy it and take my hat off?

Only later do I clue in to the opportunity lost: during a particularly graphic moment, I really should have put my hand on Harry's leg. (Days later, Beggsy and I laugh ourselves stupid at the thought.)

The Front Page

TIFF 99 Index

Previous Day