The BFI London Film Festival is my very first ‘festival experience’. While it may not entail the sweltering heat and academic paraphernalia (to the same extent) of Cannes, it is a very exciting time for me: an opportunity to see films from around the world that are yet to be reviewed, films that I may not see anywhere else. The individuality and publicness with which this event unfolded was simply tantalising; as soon as I could, I snatched up a phone and booked for these four films:
Key of Life (Kagi-Dorobou No Method), Japan
Kenji Uchida’s film follows a failed actor who switches identities with a man in a bathhouse, unwittingly involving himself with the mob; the real mobster wakes up in hospital with amnesia and confusedly assumes the identity of the failed actor. Comedy ensues.
Wolf Children (Ookami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki), Japan
This reflective anime follows a mother who has to bring up her two children on her own, who happen to be infused with wolf blood.
The Samurai That Night (Sono Yoru no samurai)
Adapted from a stage play, this film follows a man called Kenichi Nakamura who is overwrought with the idea of avenging his wife, who was hit by a known assailant years earlier. But as the anniversary of her death approaches, will Nakamura find his inner samurai to finally achieve justice?
Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (USA)
I actually don’t know what this is about, but I heard that it was somewhat similar to Sunset Boulevard and, as they had recently restored it, I thought – ‘Why not?’
I actually saw Key of Life last night at the Ritzy in Brixton, a brilliant cinema which showcases its fair share of arthouse alongside more mainstream offerings. The film was great. I thought it balanced drama with comedy very well, and it never felt like it was trying too hard to be funny – even though it was, at times, hilarious. Much of the humour derives from how the characters react to the increasingly wild and crazy situations that play out, with a particularly good performance from the wide-eyed, open-mouthed Masato Sakai (I wonder how he’ll fare in The Samurai That Night?). It was a nice bit of restraint from Hollywood comedy, a subtle and really quite brilliant film that deserves to be seen.
I’ll (hopefully) be blogging about the rest of the films that I’m going to see, and if I have time, I’ll and try and write about another Hitchcock movie too.
Since three of the films I’m seeing are Japanese, I feel compelled to say: Sayonara!