Saturday, November 12, 2011

EigaFest 2011: Milocrorze: A Love Story

The first night of the never before Eiga film festival was filled with fans of Japanese cinema. Mann's Chinese 6 held the premiere of Milocrorze: A Love Story. Eiga Film Festival is another great reason to live in LA, I hope it grows as big as the NYAFF. It's brought to us by the Japanese Film Society that's given us special screenings of Japanese films over the years here in LA. There bringing so many films to LA that might take years before coming commercial available and give fans the chance to meet directors and actors in the films. I wish the festival the best and hope to see it grow with an even bigger selection next year.

The audience was excited as director/writer Yoshimasa Ishibashi (Vermillion Pleasure Nights) and actor Takayuki Yamada who played all the major roles in the film. After many introductions and the goal of making better relations between American and Japanese cinema the film began.

Now the film is visually striking and very imaginative, but I didn't like it. There's no doubt in my mind that Yoshimasa Ishibashi is an impressive director, but as a storyteller he fails to make strong connections between two love stories and one hilarious character teaching young men how to get chicks. Each story stars Takayuki Yamada whose performance was so great I couldn't tell he was the same protagonist for each and each character was their own.

The first story about a young man falling in love with a woman named Milocrorze is like watching an early Tim Burton film filled with imagination and ideas. It's a mixed media dream, depicting a dreary existence of one character's name that is instant silliness. It abruptly ends and we are now transitioned into a different film with a jerk whose giving very unsound advice to young men about women. I don't think you should twist your girlfriend's nipples if she isn't calling you back. This starts off as a cheap late night show on TV, then to real life falling the character as he advises young men poorly. Here's where a part of the movie irks me, there are dance numbers, but they aren't synced to the dancers well at all, it kind of a free for all. There are some hilarious jokes built up and some bitch slapping, plus some T and A for kicks, but nothing about this generates a love story. I don't no why other bill this part as a love story, it's not.

Then after a car accident, that at first looked like an already injured person is run over we get the Samurai story. The Samurai story might be the best part of the movie. It's odd that, maybe this wasn't just chosen to be the whole movie or that each story wasn't given their own movie. There connections are so feeble it begs the questions, why tie them together, There's also displeasure with leaping back and forth in time that didn't need to happen.

However, the story of a young man who fell in love with a young girl name Yuri and becomes a Samurai nearly won me over. One scene that took 6 minutes to film, but took almost a half a year of preparation was so visually stunning. It depicted scenes that looked like Kabuki prints in slow motion. A hard feat that the fight scene coordinator was able to pull off. The director explained people really got hurt making it, because it happened in real time, but was slowed down for us. It took a day to shoot, but took so long to set up and it was worth it. One continuous shot of the Samurai fighting gambling/whore house jerks.

The story that gets the young man man who buys flowers for his sweeties is awkward at best, taking place now, it fails to make the story believable to the audience, you can make anything you want, but have to get the audience believing in it and it just fails up until Takayuki Yamada becomes the Samurai.

Then as it was reveled to be a lie that the first story was over, it begins again with a terrible ending that wasn't really needed. It ended the story somewhat tragically.

Once again I just didn't see the movie as a movie, but more of a collection of work that didn't connect well. I enjoyed Funky Forest, which is similar to this film with making broad connections between stories, but it just didn't have the impact or that many characters to connect to.

If anyone argues that the visuals of the mixed media look hurt the movie, they couldn't be more wrong, that was what the director wanted and makes it so different from other films. The only part I wasn't happy with was the CGI blood for the Samurai scene, use blood splatter packs or quips, because the CGI blood cuts looked so fake, it took away from the scene.

Though I didn't care for it, the film has some excellent sequences and will capture your sense of child like fancy with some blood lust and random drops of comedy, splatter like like a Samurai sword.

The Q and A the followed was a great Yoshimasa Ishibashi and Takayuki Yamada sat down an explained anything you'd like to know about the film.

-It took five years to make
-The Director wrote Yakult into it for fun, not even thinking about sponsorship, when Yakul was on board that got free samples on set.
-Jokingly Takayuki Yamada was not payed three salaries for his three different roles
- Yamada leaned his fight skills traing for 13 Assassins
-Milocrorze is a made up word by the director. It means to really enjoy something.
- It was cheaper to make due to the director's connections to friends in the media. Clothes and time might have be donated