September 10, 2005

TIFF Day 3: The Sun and The Corpse Bride


I saw a couple of big films this weekend--a busy, pleasurable, tiring romp--but I'm not entirely sure how to approach writing about them. You see, I really hate talking about movies when other people haven't seen them. I really like talking about movies--just not if there's a chance that I'll ruin things for you. I don't even want to give opinions, lest I sway your expectations going in. So how does one write a review then? In vague generalities? With a warning that there will be spoilers? Well, no; I don't believe in spoiling, even if you do. I go to movies to be surprised, to have an adventure of sorts. The Film Festival is one venue that really allows that kind of experience, that really lends itself to great movie events.

So what will these posts be then, if not reviews of films? Well, I'm thinking maybe I'll only handle films that I know you're likely not going to see, or films that won't ruin from being talked about. Maybe these posts should just be more of an encouragement of the movie watching experience, out in the city, with a thousand people, and all your friends, far from ripped DVDs and downloaded pre-release copies.

GO WATCH MOVIES!


But anyways, what some of you might actually like hearing about is the North American premiere of Tim Burton's The Corpse Bride! Which is one of the films that I won't talk about yet. I will mention the 2 and 3/4 hour wait in line which was actually pretty fun; I will mention the torrent of screaming girls who ran across the street when Johnny Depp emerged from his car. I will mention the rush of finding our seats in the dark, perhaps the last few in the theatre, as the credits ended... but no, sorry, I can't bring myself to even describe the film experience except to tell you to GO SEE THIS MOVIE. And then we'll talk.

For up close pics of the premiere please visit the folks at Neptoon Studios, and for the official site, here.


One film I will talk about though, is The Sun, by Alexander Sokurov. It is a dark, slow, stunning character piece about the Japanese Emperor Hirohito just before the surrender of Japan to the Allied forces. The film is full of tension as a result, and it's rarely, barely relieved. The story doesn't revolve around the Emperors political actions as dry fact, instead it regards them as products of a powerful character transformation: having to reconcile surrendering his country, but on top of that, renouncing his divinity (a belief held for 2600 years, and one which drove the Japanese to fight during the war). The truth of his humanity is obviously difficult for his attendants (and, we understand, for the country) to accept, but his challenging self knowledge and love for life in the face of supreme responsibility describe a character who is more fragile, complex, simple and peace loving than most could understand. Or at least this is how Sokurov and actor Issey Ogata portrayed him. Historians say otherwise, but Sokurov's take can be read here. For a thorough dissection, the BFI Sight and Sound review.