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Saturday, December 08, 2012

I AM NOT THE WORLD YOU WANT TO CHANGE by Izumi Takahashi [Tokyo Filmex 2012]

I Am Not the World You Want to Change あたしは世界なんかじゃないから

Izumi Takahashi's (高橋泉) I AM NOT THE WORLD YOU WANT TO CHANGE あたしは世界なんかじゃないから is one of the two Japanese films in competition at the Tokyo Filmex this year. (The other is Odayaka, which I, being the editor of its trailer, have seen much too many times)

There are many things on Tom Mes' (scathing) review of this film on Midnight Eye that I cannot help but agree with.

The film begins with a woman getting tasered by four strangers in a van when she is walking down the streets. She is then transported to a tiny apartment, gagged and bound, her kidnappers (three men and a woman) announce that they are there to punish her for her misdeeds as a bully in the past. A camera is there to film the process.

And then, through flashbacks, we learn the backgrounds of every single character in the apartment, and how it leads them all to that fateful morning. Those are the moments when I have a lot of problems with the stylistic and artistic choices made by the director. This sort of non-linear, hyperlink storytelling that leaves audiences at a state of confusion at the beginning of the film, before giving us "aha!" moments when everything finally comes together, is not easy to pull off. (trust me, I know, having attempted something similar, albeit in a much smaller scale, in my short film LAST FRAGMENTS OF WINTER) Each scene has to be well-constructed, each character has to have the what it takes to hold audience's attention. But because I was already slightly bothered by its rough production values (again, I wasn't a fan of the "30 frames per second" handheld cinematography)

But one thing I have to say is that I rather liked the actor who played the mastermind behind the kidnapping (the skinny bespectacled dude), I don't exactly know what his name was, I presume it was Hikaru Takenazawa 高根沢光? He sure has a unique screen presence. Those gaunt features made him look both menacing and ambiguous. (he also shouted "I DID IT, MOM!" just before the screening, very passionate fellow, this fella) The film feels infinitely more interesting when he is commanding center stage. Maybe because he looks a bit like this friend of mine, Yamamoto Shun (assistant producer of KINGYO), so I went through the entire film pretending that it was Yamamoto who was in the film. Heehee, awesome.

Director and cast members of the film greeting the audiences before its premiere at Tokyo Filmex

Aside from him, I also thought YUI (not to be mistaken with the actress/ pop singer of the same name), who played the sole (lolita dress wearing) female member of the group of kidnappers rather interesting. I was nearly swept away by some of the raging emotions she displayed as revelations of her character are finally revealed, but some of her stronger moments towards the end of the film were, I think, diminished by more dubious stylistic choices of the director (not sure why he wanted to use low-fi digital slow-motion to illustrate her unstable, unhinged emotions when her performance itself is fine as it is in that scene).

The bullying revenge plot was what interested me, maybe it struck a chord. Not that I was bullied in my secondary school days, but my eccentricities and inability to fit in had made most of my teenage years rather frustrating. I have met my share of jerks whom I didn't think too highly of, and while I didn't wish any violence towards them, I wasn't above fantasizing them them getting their comeuppances. Sadly, the film dedicated too little of its time to this.

I was intrigued by the title of the film, wondering whether it was the filmmaker's deliberate reference to a line from Edward Yang's 1991 masterpiece A BRIGHTER SUMMER DAY. Hmmm.

Some tweets from some friends after the screening. Elicited some pretty strong emotions.