Don’t Take It Seriously…KARATE-ROBO ZABORGAR in Rotterdam

(c) 2011 Karate-Robo Zaborgar Film Partners

Don’t take it seriously. A real tokusatsu (special-effects film)
which focuses on the fun of ridiculous effects.
The hero with his racing engine that can take on all kinds of
robotic forms fights against even more ridiculous robot monsters.
Once a cult TV series.—from IFFR official catalogue 2011

I read in the news that the world premiere showing of director
Noboru Iguchi’s KARATE-ROBO ZABORGER was livened up
by his on-stage antics.   He appeared on stage wearing
only a sumo style loincloth, and engaged in a performance
of the bean-throwing ceremony, which is the traditional
Japanese event known as “Setsubun”.
About Director Noboru Iguchi
Director Noboru Iguchi is a cult figure in Europe and New York.
He is the secret weapon of Otona-keikaku
(pure translation is “Adult Plan”, 
 popular theater performing group headed by Kankuro Kudo).
He makes films like….
A beautiful girl, who is in fact a mutant bred to fight, and….
an Ancient Dogoo girl who arrives in modern times to help a bumpkin,
the story of a fighting Geisha Robot girl,
the story of a girl with a machine gun arm,
and so on.   These films have won great popularity.
Anyway, he is an extraordinary director,
who is making films for the overseas market mostly under
SUSHI TYPHOON label from Nikkatsu.
I thinkm he is an unusual director, with an inner fortitude,
that has garnered him regular fans – afficianados of his world.
At the moment it is not a stretch of the truth to say that
both Takeshi Kitano and Mr Iguchi are the only Japanese directors
who have a large fan-base throughout the world.
Kitano is artistic and Iguchi is fantastic.
They are both extremes, but on closer examination their world view
might be getting closer as “quantity” changes into “quality”.
By the way, director Iguchi’s fantastic relates to
the fantasy, horror and psychological film festivals and
fans of these sort of films.
There are many festivals throughout the world
catering for these sort of films,
so I imagine that director Iguchi is always
on tour overseas to meet with his fans.
I do not think it is too much to say that
the Japanese are now proud to be called a “freak culture”.
However, the fans of “fantastic” films are fussy
about what is their favourite films, their likes and dislikes,
and of course, the market for such films is small.
His website proclaims in its title:
“I am sure only boys will see my film,
 so I challenge the girls to come as well!”
His films are taking a firm hold on a specific strata for film fans.
It is great point in his favour, and assures that a lot of people are
looking forward to his next film.
I just wonder why Japanese theatrical release is not yet fixed?!?!
Because industry people don’t take this seriously? LOL !!
Next, I’ll talk about this traditional a sumo style loincloth.

Is he the next Chris Nolan? – J.C.Chandor

SUNDANCE WATCH from a distance.
Saturday, 21 January 2011

J.C.Chandor, who is a rookie director with great promise,
has leapt directly to the top level due to his good skill as a scriptwriter.
His directorial debut film, MARGIN CALL
has it’s world premiere at Sundance yesterday. 
margin call  
J. C Chandor makin Kevin Spacey to act.  ©©JOJO WHILDEN
The competition section at the Berlin Film Festival,
which starts on the 10th of February, has been announced.
Although no Japanese film has been selected this year,
to me, J.C.Chandor is a notable American director with MARGIN CALL.
In spite it being his feature film debut,
it is crammed with many distinguished film stars,
like Liam Neeson, Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany,
Jeremy Irons, Stanley Tuschi and Demi Moore.
Having had it’s world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival,
it will have it’s international premiere at the Berlin Film Festival next.
It will then roll out across America in October,
with it’s eye firmly on the Academy Awards, of course.
In 2011 Chandor must be on the fast track
to become the red-hot director in Hollywood.
The story is a thriller that covers 24 hours in the life of the protagonists,
who take advantage of the 2008 financial crisis in America.
I heard that, if anything, it is a drama-documentary.
J.C.Chandor had only made a short film called DESPACITO,
for a cost of 5,000 dollars (only about 400 thousand yen)
seven years ago.  Then he was suddenly catapulted
on to this big budget film with a cost of 3.5 million dollars.
He is both director and scriptwriter on the film.
His next film will be PORTOFINO, which is
a Warner Brothers Studio production,
and will be produced by Leonard DiCaprio! Morever,
he is contracted to write another script for Warners.
I read that his father is a stockbroker,
who worked for Merrill Lynch for forty years,
so I think he is perfectly placed to write about inside traders.
Distinguished films stars want to perform in his films,
plus DiCaprio wants to produce his next one (and maybe even star in it),
plus the majors have their eyes on him.
So he is definitely in the industries “well-written script”.
Chandor said it took a considerable amount of time
to fund-raise,  in the 2009 to 2010 cold attitude
toward American Independent filmmaking,
despite having such a prestigious cast attached.
“I couldn’t write this script without the hard times,
but then it was difficult to make a film
because of the hard times. It was perfect irony”.
Bring him some cold beer, it’s on me!
Well, I certainly have high expectations of this film given the all-star cast.
However, on the other hand, I feel a sense foreboding for this film,
which is talking heads heavy, given my personal taste.
Great actors do appeal, but their performances are
underacted and monotonous, as the film’s setting is in financial circles.
I might loose my concentration watching a film.
This is my sense of smell from my experience as a non-native buyer.
Recent young Japanese audience loose their tension
on too many subtitles, that’s truly unfortunate.
Obviously, some of the film critics at the Sundance premiere really liked it.
I suppose it is like the independent version of WALL STREET.
Welcome Mr. Chandor!
I am really looking forward to seeing it.
I hope it is not a midnight screening in Berlin,
otherwise there might be a shroud of drowsiness in the theatre.
Though I know nothing about the financial world,
If the film takes me in there and drawn into
it’s world immediately from the beginning
and makes me feel I am on a roller coaster, thrill ride till the end,
then I would consider he must be he is the next Chris Nolan, but,
who knows?

Bong Jonn-ho to jury at SUNDANCE?!

Thursday 13, January 2011

There is a rumour going round that the director Bong Joon-ho
has been selected as a Jury member at the Sundance Film Festival,
which is being held in Utah, USA from the 20th.
Perhaps I should say I saw it in an article published in Korea
that the festival had announced this.
However, looking on the official festival website the Jury section
still gives the message:
“We will announce the Jury in December. Please visit us again”.
Bong Joon-ho had a big hit in America with his film “Mother”.
In fact, the Wall Street Journal selected in their “10 Best Films of 2010” list.
I think it is just right that director Bong has been chosen
to be a jury member at this premiere event for independent films in America.
The Sundance Film Festival has, if anything, aimed at creating
the trend of “from the North American market to the world market”,
and has been a stage for debuting independent film directors in America.
Recent examples of this are:
Christopher Nolan of “Inception” fame
Quentin Tarantino, famous for “Kill Bill”
Yoon Ahn Tran of “Norwegian Wood”
It is unfortunate that Sundance is not usually interested in Asian cinema.
About two years ago it appointed a person to be responsible for selecting
Japanese films. He visited Japan secretly to see the latest topical releases,
but nothing came of this trip. No Japanese films were selected.
This trend is not only true of Japanese film, it is across Asia.
The market is deemed weak, because the main focus
is the “North American Market”.
This year “In What City Does It Live” from Malaysian director
Liew Seng-tat was the only project chosen from the whole of Asia.
The film itself arose from the Script Writer’s Lab,
which is basically a training course for scriptwriters.
So there is a slight feeling on one step ahead?!
Previous years has seen the following
Japanese films being selected:
Ryuhei Kitamura’s “Azumi”
Hirokazu Koreeda’s “After Life (aka Wonderful Life)”
Naoko Ogigami’s “Glasses”
Takeshi Kitano’s “Brother”
Shinya Tsukamoto’s “Tetsuo”
When I look at a list like this,
I really think that all of these films that
the Sundance Film Festival selected went on
to make reasonable sales worldwide.
By the way, I am sure that Sion Sono,
who is now creating a stir with his current film “Cold Fish”
had an early work called “Bicycle Sighs” selected.
The change of fortunes is quick, isn’t it?
The Sundance Film Festival, which once had a taste for this sort of film,
is now just interested in showing English language films.
However, very few of the selected films ever appear on
Japanese cinema screens as there is a decline
in the appreciation of such foreign films in Japan.
Sundance is held just up the mountain from Salt Lake City,
where the Winter Olympics were held, in Park City.
So I hope that the appearance of director Bong at the festival
sends a timely blast of hot Asian wind into these very, very cold environs!!