Archive for November, 2011


Japan films – Zipangu

The Ghost Cat and the Mysterious Shamisen

While we’re on the topic of film festivals, this year we stumbled across Zipangu: the Japanese Film Festival. Previously I have not been aware of any Japan Film Festivals in London. The schedule is not as long as the LKFF mentioned in the previous post. Also, Zinpangu has some emphasis on experimental stuff which is a little beyond my interest or knowledge of Japanese cinema. In the end we decided to go and see just one film: The Ghost Cat and the Mysterious Shamisen. This is an old 1938 ghost cat movie (as the title makes clear). Apparently there is a ghost cat sub-genre and there were several ghost cat movies made in Japan during this period. However, most of the them have been lost, which made this movie a rare treat. I had not previously been aware of such a sub-genre but am happy to know it. As the Zipangu web site explains, this movie is:

“A quintessential example-of-the-period “ghost cat” (bakeneko or kaibyō) movie, a substantial supernatural subgenre based in folklore that stretches back at least as far as Shozo Makino’s The Cat of Okazaki (Okazaki no neko, 1914), this was one of at least six such titles released between 1937-40, many of which were written by Kenji Hata, to feature Japan’s first scream queen, Sumiko Suzuki.

Although old, it was a very enjoyable movie, very Japanese with fabulous clothes and street scenes of 1930s Japan. Particularly interesting were the scenes of the Kabuki theatre as I imagine it was like back in the late 1930s.


London Korean Film Festival 제6회 런던한국영화제

The 6th annual London Korean Film Festival was held from 3-24 November this year. Although the title is not entirely accurate. Last year at least, and this year as well, the festival is shown in other cities throughout England. Previous years the bulk of the festival has been held at the Barbican. But this year no films were at the Barbican. Instead, the LKFF used the ICA and Apollo Picadilly. At first I was miffed about this because I like the Barbican. But I found the ICA was a good cinema and the Apollo is also good. However, it did mean having to be a little more organised to remember which cinema to show up to.

Due to some schedule clashes I was left with little choice on what to see this year. I was also a bit disappointed with the line up as a whole.  Notably, the LKFF did not include The Crucible. I don’t want to see this movie but it was sup rising that one of the most talked about Korean movies of the year didn’t make the line up. Perhaps they are scheduling a commercial release instead. Also disappointing was the appearance of Scandal Makers in the schedule. This is a cute movie but it was part of last year’s line-up.

In the end we saw two films:

1. Suicide Forecast. Ahead of the LKFF for reasons mentioned above (disappointment at the line up and disappointment that it wasn’t at the Barbican) I was inclined to be in a bad mood for this year’s LKFF. Then I saw Suicide Forecast and everything was forgiven.

Held at the ICA which I enjoyed, although we didn’t get designated seats, this movie was a superbly told tale of modern hardship and need to focus on the positive. The story revolves around an insurance salesman who has sold life insurance to four people with a history of attempted suicide. The company is about to be reviewed for bad practices so the salesman sets out to convince the four people to switch policies. He also needs to ensure they don’t kill themselves and make the company liable to the pay out before he can switch their policies over. In the course of his endeavours we discover the hardships these families face and why these individuals have sought an answer to their problems and that of their loved ones by ending their lives. It was generally a comedy but there were tears as well.

2. Dachimawa Lee. This was part of the Directorspective of Ryoo Seung-wan. It included the actress who starred in Greatest Love, a sitcom style rom-com (sit-rom-com?) on Korean TV when I was in Korea earlier this year. It also starred Ryoo Sueng-bum the Director’s brother and star of Suicide Forecast. This movie had the distinct aroma of a Stephen Chow movie with some 1960s Bond spoof and Sergio Leone spaghetti western tossed in for good measure. It was bizarre, over the top and a bit weird (none of that is a criticism, it was a fairly enjoyable film). Dachimawa Lee is a spy charged with recovering a golden buddha. In the process, of course, an inside job, hidden identities and so on are revealed.

November 2011
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