Saturday, August 30, 2008

[Japanese Film Festival] Shadow of Sand

Directed by KAIDA Yusuke, this currently ranks as my least liked film of the festival, not that it's because it's shot and presented in digital video, but for the fact that it's somewhat not strangely bizarre enough, being able to predict what's going to happen, and the not too subtle approach the director took to present a character's state of confusion, despair, and the deterioration of her mind.

Being a feminine focused theme, the guys in the movie turned out to be quite pathetic. You have Yukie's actor boyfriend Tamagawa, who's a classic dreamer yearning for starring roles, but not being able to secure anything nor contribute to the household income. Being earmarked to continue the family's ryokan business, he chooses to alienate himself from his parents by cutting off contact, leaving Yuki to deal with his mother. He doesn't lift a finger to help around, and complains just about everything from the type of noodle meals he gets served, and for not having the apartment air-conditioned.

Then strangely he becomes very quiet, and not being able to speak. He mucks around and smiles, and becomes the quintessential committed and domesticated man. Surely you suspect something had gone wrong already, and it doesn't take rocket science to figure it out, especially with obvious clues and complaints from supporting characters like neighbours telling about a stench emitting from the room. If you choose to believe that the smell came from accumulated rubbish in the room, then we were also told in passing of his taking up the business. It was really left open ended.

Either way it wasn't too clear, and became quite slipshod in allowing the audience to figure it out whichever way they wanted to. It could be a figment of Yukie's imagination, if at all to begin with, since she could have consciously created this perfect being who shuts up and doesn't complaint or argue with her, in attempts to convince a fellow colleague Majima that she's happily in a relationship, to resist his advances. There were other minor characters that came and went, such as Tamagawa's busybody mom who dropped by to borrow money under the guise of entering a dance competition, and to many, Yukie's a hot chick, since even the landlord tries to court her in his overzealous ways with the showering of gifts and free services.

One thing's for sure though, there are some surreal elements and shots that were placed throughout the movie, but somehow I do not take a liking if they feature vast, open sandy landscapes, with footprints embedded in it. There was a local movie which had this, and I didn't particularly liked the segment, so I guess a personal idiosyncrasy will be to avoid movies containing such shots like the plague.

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