Sunday, October 18, 2009

[TIFF 2009 Review] Tochka (World Premiere)

Long Peeks

I guess the first 15 minutes would have set the tone whether you're likely to want to stay put and endure the slow plodding of the film, or decide to pack up and leave. Opening sans dialogue, with plenty of long takes and a still video camera, we see a lone female (Yoko Fujita) decked in bright red overcoat with matching lipstick, going from pillbox (the titular tochkas) to pillbox on a personal crusade to uncover some mystery about a film negative she possesses, which seems to be a view from within one of the pillboxes in Nemuro. We follow her into and out of individual tochkas, to check if the actual views tallies with her film negative, and it continues until an elderly man (Shun Sugata) enters her sights.

You would have hoped that things were to start getting interesting especially when this gives rise to some interaction, but alas it was akin to watching the last man and woman on earth talk about their personal past and their reasons for being where they currently at, and frankly their past has got little to do with what they're doing now, with topics ranging from their respective childhoods, tragedy and war, as if the two of them struck some kind of karmic connection for being found at the same place at the same time, one led by an invisible, curious force in mystery-solving, and the other has a clear agenda which is to be revealed in the second act.

That second act fared no better as well, as it got rooted in the girl's monologue, and what the old man did once they parted ways, which was an ending just waiting to happen since the clues were all laid out, but was excruciatingly painful to wait as it unfolded, probably prolonged to inch towards an acceptable feature film length.

Technically, this video production tried to exploit its limitations with sound, where there are plenty of background noises such as echoes, of waves crashing onto the shore, and the airy internal confines of the tochkas being the soundtrack to pepper what's essentially a film with chunks of silence in between. There are plenty of play with light and shadows, though at times the lack of light does seem to hamper what one of the protagonist is going through in executing his plan in the dark, though not that it's a must to really observe what's going on, instructional video style, thanks to the sound of masking tape.

Strictly for experimental art house lovers only.

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