Memo to myself: next year, book films from some of the sections I wouldn't normally, like this year's Full Moon Fever and Forbidden Pleasures. I want to see Teeth (which is part of Forbidden Pleasures), but didn't book it because it has a local release planned. I've heard it's a lot of fun.
I had three films booked for today, but because of the fatigue, I decided to drop two of them and do something non-film related (like car-shopping for the missus). It was a good break and I found it liberating. I rode around town on my motorbike for something other than the short ride to the city. So, I missed The Night of the Sunflowers (which Matt Clayfield tells me was OK, but nothing special), and Kim Ki-duk's Time (which others, including Matt, haven't been impressed with). The one film I saw was great.
A Man Vanishes (Ningen Johatsu, Shohei Imamura, Japan, 1967)
I found this in some ways a remarkable film, made with self-conscious introspection about cinema documentary, the role of it and the inherent dishonesty of the medium. The film's genesis was a genuine research into the phenomenon of people who simply disappear from their lives in contemporary Japan.
The film plays as a genuine documentary based on a real case, only to be revealled towards the end as a fictionalised dramatisation. The film pre-empts the 'reality' format of current television by four decades. It's unclear to me how much of the story is true, which characters are real and which are actors, and how much it is based on reality.
Even though I knew some of the nature of the film before seeing it, I as still duped and bewildered, the lines between reality and fiction completely blurred. That was the director's stated intention, and the point was profoundly made. I am accustomed to directors blurring documentary and fiction like Errol Morris' The Thin Blue Line or Krzysztof Kiewslowski's Curriculum Vitae, and Imamura must have been a pioneer with the concept.
The end of the film is particularly poignant, and even after we are realise we have been manipulated about what is the truth, the on-screen dialogue continues to confound us. Brilliant film-making!