Thursday, August 7, 2008

Film Space schedule

At Film Space: on Saturdays at 7 pm

Film Space is to the right and in the back of the CMU Art Museum, in the Media Arts and Design building across from the ballet school, on the 2nd floor. Or maybe the roof. A small but nice place to view movies. A contribution is requested in the donation box at the entrance. Well worth supporting.

During August, Film Space presents a month of animation.

At Film Space on August 9, 7 pm: Mind Game (2004) by Masaaki Yuasa – Japan Animation/Adventure/Comedy – 103 mins. This award-winning film is a journey of self-discovery based on Japan's cult underground comic "Mind Game" by Robin Nishi. The story follows Nishi himself through the life experiences that directly inspired the semi-autobiographical "Mind Game" comic. As a college-age loser addicted to porn and aspiring to write seedy adult comics, Nishi sets out to overcome his addiction to perversion in “a tale that is lighthearted yet painful and touching. What starts off as an innocent meeting between old friends quickly turns into a psychedelic extravaganza, filled with violence, sex, love, redemption, and the infinite possibilities of the human mind. Director Masaaki Yuasa rejoices in experimental animation techniques, filling the screen with virtuoso wackiness, mixing in rough lines and storyboards, then inserting photographic touches.”

This is the directorial debut of Masaaki Yuasa.

Bearing little if any relation to the rigidly delineated aesthetics of anime, Mind Game is far closer to the kaleidoscopic psychedelia of Yellow Submarine and the philosophical freak-out Waking Life. It’s free-association storyline, using the most minor narrative fulcrum to spin off in the strangest directions, leaves one no choice but to expect the unexpected—and expect it to be bold, brilliantly realized and bursting with music, color and creative ideas. Employing all manner of animation devices, from scratchy hand drawings and collage to complex CGI, rotoscoping and actual footage of the Japanese media personalities who provided the voices, Mind Game is nothing short of utterly unique and unprecedented in the field of animation.

Rupert Bottenberg

At Film Space on August 16, 7 pm: Daft Punk & Leiji Matsumoto's Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem (2003) by Kazuhisa Takenochi and Leiji Matsumoto – Japan Anime/ Animation/ Action/ Adventure/ Fantasy/ Music/ Sci-Fi – 68 mins.

Basically an extended music video – it reminds me of the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine. There’s no dialogue in the entire film, just the songs of Daft Punk, which are sung in English. The music is disco dance music, where the need for lyrics that make sense is limited. Daft Punk (aka Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel De Homem Christo) is a French dance music duo who have always been imaginative and inventive, and their mish-mash of house beats, electronica, and disco has seen them churn out one catchy hit after another.

For this film the duo approached Leiji Matsumoto, one of the living gods of Japanese animation, to supply the visuals; the result is an audacious, dizzying animated space-age cartoon musical. Completed after 28 months of intensive work, the film (from a script by Daft Punk and Cedric Hervet) mixes music and science fiction with the decadent world of show business. Four blue-skinned disco musicians from another galaxy are kidnapped by an evil music manager who wants to create the greatest band on Earth. The success of the band is instant but the stars are robbed of their souls and must fight for their freedom.

The images tell a story independent of the sense of the lyrics and their subject matter for the most part, and the animation is dialogue-free; the music does the talking. Although the plot breaks no new ground, the film does manage a dig at the artificiality and pressures of the music business, while the publicity-shy Daft Punk even have a laugh at their own expense, appearing as cartoon versions of themselves. Still, it’s not about the message or the storyline, it’s all about the music. And if you like Daft Punk, you’ll love it.

Much of their songs seem very suggestive, like “Do You Need It? (I Need It Too!)” – I mean, what could they be talking about? The images, however, are not suggestive at all. The music is basic and simplistic – too accessible – and so endlessly repetitive that you’re likely to find it either hypnotic or like a throbbing headache. Not for old fogies! I think it’s probably a much better experience if you’re high on something. It also would help if you’re a fan of Daft Punk, or have ever heard of them.

If you want to try it out in the privacy of your own home, you can find “Do You Need It? (I Need It Too!)” at

It starts at about the 7 minute mark, following another suggestive song, “Too Long! Can You Feel It” at about the 45 second mark. The whole excerpt lasts about 11 minutes.

The whole film – about an hour and four minutes – is available at where “Do You Need It? (I Need It Too!)” starts at about the 58 minute 27 second mark.

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