At Film Space on Saturdays at 7 pm
May is “The Month of Funny Little Things” at Film Space. June “The Month of Cuisine.”
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. Showings are in a classroom on the second floor or on the roof, weather permitting. For the roof, you might want to bring something to sit on or lie on. And, if on the roof, the start might be delayed while everyone waits for it to get darker. A contribution is requested in the donation box at the entrance – you should leave 20 baht. Well worth supporting.
At Film Space Saturday, May 30: My Secret Cache / The Secret Garden / Himitsu no hanazono / ひみつの花園 (1997) by Shinobu Yaguchi – 85 mins – Japan, Comedy/ Crime.
The hilarious comedy of a bank teller who hopes she'll somehow luck into a vast sum of cash - and does, only to have it slip from her fingers. The film evolves into a series of wild adventures as she tries to regain that lost wealth in the face of every conceivable obstacle. By the director of Adrenaline Drive, seen at Film Space on March 28, and the 2001 comedy Waterboys, about a group of teenage boys who seek fame in the world of synchronized swimming, shown here commercially in September 2002.
International Film Festival Berlin: A story about middle-class apathy, obsession with money, and feminist self-discovery in contemporary Japan in a grotesquely hilarious fashion.
As the director of the internationally acclaimed Down the Drain, an upbeat comedy about a somnambulistic high school girl, Shinobu Yaguchi creates in this 35 mm debut film another powerful heroine who recklessly takes any risk to get the money. As in Down the Drain, he uses visual puns and narrative irony exquisitely to turn the heroine's serious efforts into an absurd comedy and transforming her hyperactive obsessiveness into a charming slapstick. Enfant terrible of Japanese independent cinema, Yaguchi refers mockingly to the aerial photography of the wilderness in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, and inserts a playful flip cartoon of still images shot by a bank surveillance video. Mixing genres of adventure, crime, and films of self-determined women in a B-picture fashion proves Yaguchi's sheer inventiveness as a genuine auteur.
Since early childhood, Sakiko – the film’s protagonist - was never the kind of a child who would be considered “cute” by universal standards. For reasons unknown, even to her family, she loved money. When she graduated from high school, her mother casually suggested working at a bank. "You can count and look at all the money you want," she added. Thus Sakiko becomes a bank teller. But her moments of bliss are short-lived. She soon realizes all the money in front of her belongs to other people.
One day, the bank is robbed, and Sakiko is taken hostage by two armed robbers who grab five hundred million yen. They drive into Aokigahara Jukai (sea of trees), a vast wilderness area at the foot of Mt. Fuji, and accidentally fall into a ravine. Both robbers are killed, but Sakiko is spared.
Rescued, Sakiko becomes an instant media favorite as the courageous bank robbery victim. The press crowd at her door, but only for a month. She later finds out that the money the robbers took off with has not been recovered. She remembers that a suitcase sunk into a pond before she was rescued. Sakiko finally attains her goal in life. She tells her family about the money, and persuades them to go on a picnic in the Jukai so she may be able to locate the pond. The expedition turns out to be futile.
Lady Luck has not forsaken Sakiko. Watching the TV news one day, Sakiko learns that geologist Morita, a professor at Tamagawa University, is a specialist on Aokigahara Jukai. She immediately goes to the university and meets Prof. Morita and his assistant, Edogawa.
Following Edogawa's advice, Sakiko decides to study geology at the university. She quits the bank, cancels all her bank accounts, gets herself an apartment, and begins studying for the entrance exams. She successfully passes the exams, and plunges into the world of geology, purchasing expensive equipment for research. At the same time, she takes courses in scuba-diving and rock climbing. Naturally, she becomes bankrupt, and unable to pay her tuition or rent, she works at a bar. She participates in swimming meets and rock climbing contests for the prize money.
As Edogawa is visiting her apartment one day, the floor caves in because of the heavy equipment. The landlady is furious and orders all the equipment to be removed. Edogawa is kind enough to borrow a truck from the university to transport the equipment to her parents' house. While Edogawa leaves the truck parked, Sakiko steals it, equipment and all, and heads for the Jukai to put her luck to the final test.
June is “The Month of Cuisine” at Film Space.
At Film Space Saturday, June 6: No Reservations (2007) by Scott Hicks – 104 mins – US/ Australia, Comedy/ Drama/ Romance. Mixed or average reviews: 50/52 out of 100.
IMDb viewer: More a family drama rather than a romantic comedy. There is lavish bitter dark pathos of death in the beginning of the movie and the more colorful look at restaurant cooking while there are bits of humor scattered like sweets throughout the movie. There are some amazing close up scenes that really grab the attention of the audience with the emotions and captivating context of the scenes, the color motif is brilliant. Overall, the script is basic and mostly predictable with some good tie-ins and closures. It's Catherine Zeta Jones that really makes this movie deliciously sparkle. Entertaining and fun for the summer with good flashes of cooking on par with "Ratatouille" that came out just a little earlier.
NY Times: What’s unexpected and gratifying is the film’s enlightened attitude toward parenthood and work, which the movie’s publicity campaign conspicuously glosses over, even though it’s the story’s driving force.
Scott Hicks, the film's director, is also a wine-maker when he is not making films. The wine mentioned in the film is in fact the director's own wine label from his winery Yacca Paddock Vineyards in the Adelaide Hills, South Australia. (Just thought you’d like to know.)
Available on DVD from Amazon.com.
At Film Space Saturday, June 13: Udon / 饂飩 （うどん）(2006) by Katsuyuki Motohiro – 134 mins – Japan, Comedy/ Drama.
A dramedy about the relationship between an aspiring comic and his stubborn noodlemaker father.
A Nutshell Review: Don't watch Udon on an empty stomach, or you'll be tempted to gorge on those Japanese noodles right after the screening. Despite its simple presentation, watching bowls after bowls of noodles in your face, and the characters slurping them down with gusto, somehow leaves you with an imagined flavor in your mouth as they smack their lips, while you smack at nothing.
The film is as simple as a bowl of udon noodles, with prime ingredients being the fat noodles, the broth, a sprinkle of spring onions, and an egg.
YesAsia: A heartwarming comedy about family, life, and that perfect bowl of Udon. It’s an entire film dedicated to the magic of those chewy wheat noodles.
Kosuke (Yusuke Santamaria), the son of an udon shop owner, is from a tiny rural town in Kagawa prefecture known for its udon noodles. Kosuke, however, is sick of his hometown, and even more sick of udon. He decides to try his luck in New York, only to return six years later in debt-ridden disappointment. Back at home, he meets a flighty food column editor, and the two happen upon a bowl of delicious udon noodles that will change their lives.
An udon enthusiast and Kagawa native himself, Motohiro did extensive field research to find the best shops and recipes to showcase on screen and help spread the love for the noodle. The filmmakers even took their mission abroad by opening an udon stand at the 2006 Cannes film market. An earnest yet tongue-in-cheek celebration of life and food, Udon is a mouth-watering joy to watch.
Available on DVD from YesAsia.