This past weekend the Angelika Theater became my second home as I made multiple daily trips up to Mockingbird Station to eagerly take in selected cinematic offerings from this year’s Asian Film Festival of Dallas. Film festivals can be frustrating events because there are so many movies that you want to see but the time you have to see them is so limited. That’s why I took my love for Asian cinema and turned it into a two-day movie theater marathon.
So here are the four films that filled my weekend:
Saturday turned into anime day with both films I saw being the movie versions of popular Anime series, and as if watching anime all day wasn’t cool enough Saturday was extra fun because before each screening there was a DVD and action figure give-away plus free karaoke downstairs later that night.
The thing with anime movies is that sometimes if you watch the movie before watching the series you end up sitting there going “um, what?”. I admit this was me while watching Blood C: The Last Dark. While I could make sense of the narrative well enough I had a hard time getting into it, but I feel that having more knowledge of the back story that led up to the events in the movie would have definitely made the movie more engrossing. But even if you can’t get into the story, one of the main draws of this film is the animation, which is some of the best you will see. It’s seamless and dynamic with moments when you have to do a double-take when looking at a building or car because it looks so real. So if you haven’t seen the series and you want to catch the movie, just do a little research first and then sit back and be amazed by the images on the screen.
I had a similar problem with Berserk as I had with Blood C: The Last Dark, I went into it without watching any of the original series. But unlike Blood C, which assumed that you had watched the series and the movie just picked up where the last episode left off, the Berserk movie starts the story from the beginning. Berserk, which is set in medieval times, is really driven by the high quality animation. The animation however wasn’t impressive because of its eerie resemblance to reality like in Blood C but because of the way the animators paid attention to details in things like the characters’ outfits and how the light played on buildings and people’s faces. Even though Berserk is more of an action drama and was at times unintentionally comedic in its melodramatic nature, it was thoroughly entertaining and a fun movie to watch.
Taking a break from anime I saw two movies that are polar opposites of each other in terms of filming style and story telling.
This highly acclaimed film was a real treat for the film festival as it was the first time it had been shown to the public stateside. Directed in 1953 by Yasujiro Ozo, the film follows the story of a retired couple that are visiting their grown children in Tokyo. The plot and the movie are simple, which is what Ozo is famous for, using simplicity to address the issues of the changing culture of post war Japan, particularly in terms of family. It’s a movie that could be a challenge for audiences these days to appreciate because we are so used to high drama and cameras that never sit still. One of Tokyo Story’s most well known elements is how the camera never moves, it is always still on each shot and the conflict of the story is never obtrusive but always played out in understated politeness.
This was by far my favorite movie. The plot goes like this: A guy and a girl love each other but the girl is being pursued by another man who kills the guy she loves so he can have her all to himself. The guy who is killed reincarnates as a fly and exacts revenge on his murderer. It sounds crazy right? Because it is! This movie is full of ridiculous action, comedy and a musical dance number. The colors are bright, the music is loud and at times you feel like you’re watching a live action Tom and Jerry cartoon.
This is only a small sample of what the AFFD has to offer and there are still three more days left of the festival (it ends this Thursday) so check out the schedule and don’t miss this opportunity to see some truly unique and inspiring cinema.