Monday, July 30, 2007

MIFF Day 6

Vengeance is Mine (Fukushû suruwa wareniari , Shohei Imamura, Japan, 1979)
This is my first viewing of any Imamura film, and I'm intending to see all seven screening as part of the MIFF retrospective. This film shows confident directing skills, with great camera techniques, character development and narrative. Basically, it's the fictional story of a serial murderer, Iwao Enokizu, whose identity is known to police but eludes capture. It is quite challenging in its depictions of sex and violence, showing with much realism these activities as well as life at the lower end of the social ladder in transitional post-war Japan.

At 140 minutes, the film is quite long but always engaging. It shifts between different periods, elusively offering some clues as to why the anti-hero developed his pathology, but never definitively answering the inevitable question of why.

For me, film is a form of personal and artistic exploration. At this stage, Imamura is new to me and I'm keen to see more of his work to get a better sense of what he's about. I expect to have more to write about the commonality in the films once I've seen more of them.

Vengeance is Mine had a single screening at MIFF as part of the Shohei Imamura retrospective.
Also still to be screened: The Ballad of Narayama, Black Rain, Eijanaika, Intentions of Murder, A Man Vanishes & The Pornographers.

I Am the Other Woman (Ich bin die Andere, Margarethe von Trotta, Germany, 2006)
Ah, it had to happen soon or later - my first dud. I could have walked out of this film at any time after five minutes or so, but it was tolerable. A man is engaged to marry but falls for another woman, who has a personality disorder. It starts off with all the psychology of a Hitchcock thriller but ends up being way too contrived. I was able to anticipate all the surprises.

While the film's visuals were excellent and had a reasonable cast, there were serious problems:
  • none of the characters had any chemistry and it was impossible to suspend disbelief
  • characters were caricatured
  • the screenplay was very weak, like a run-of-the-mill Hollywood movie
  • an ending that was truly bad, bad, bad (and also predictable)
There were lots of smaller complaints, like gratuitous sex that did nothing to drive the narrative, or the film's length overstaying it's welcome (it had the "but wait, there's more" syndrome), and probably others that I've forgotten already. My opinion on this one was pretty much agreed upon by the others I sat with, one another film blogger and the other a board member of ACMI. While I'm told this director has a reputable body of work (I haven't seen any of them), don't waste your time on this one.

I Am the Other Woman screened as part of MIFF's International Panorama. It screens again on Tuesday 7 August at 9.15pm at the Forum Theatre.

Links: Index of MIFF films reviewed to date / MIFF website

1 comment:

Madeleine said...

I thought Vengeance is Mine was fascinating too. Possibly the best film I have seen so far this MIFF.