Category Archives: 2014 Hong Kong Asian Film Festival

HKAFF: It’s Me, It’s Me / Ore Ore 俺俺 (2013) – Japan

Ore Ore

Directed by:  Satoshi Miki 
Based on Original Novel by: Tomoyuki Hoshino (novel)
Screenplay by:  Satoshi Miki 
Cinematography: Takashi Komatsu
Starring: Kazuya Kamenashi, Yuki Uchida

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Reviewed by:  Andrew Chan

Reviewed at the 2014 Hong Kong Asian Film Festival

Initial Thoughts: 

“It’s Me,  It’s Me” plays like a random and sponteneous comedy with plenty of hidden deeper elements in expressing about identity thief,  identity crisis,  self doubts,  conseqences of our actions and the underlying concerns of human conformity and cloning. The film drags at times and struggles to hit a core,  but Kazuya Kamenashi’s ability and verstility to play multiple versions of “yourself” remains the best thing out of this puzzing,  fun and at times dark experience. 

Indepth Analysis:

Playing with the idea of multiple versions of yourself is nothing new to the cinematic medium. Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman have flirted the premises with “Being John Malkovich” and even Jet Li’s “The One” have venture into this possibility. Therefore “It’s Me, It’s Me” is on surface a comedy, but it is whenever the film attempts to drill deeper into dark territory and thematic moments that we become truely intrigue. Director and screenwriter Satoshi Miki created a world where multiple version of yourself is normal and while not directly providing a social commentary on the effects of human cloning or associated side effects. Miki seems to be interested in the human condition, how the same person can turn out differently due to how they are brought up in different levels of society.

We are constantly bound by the consequences of our actions and every decision we make may well shape our future and personalities. Through the protagonist played by Kazuya Kamenashi, showed how easy it is to commit identity thief in today’s modern society and while multiple versions of yourself popping up may seem interesting as you are essentially communicating with yourself, people changes, wants different things and are ultimately self fish in thinking that they are the only one.

Think about it this way, in society, we act differently to to different situation, circumstances and even in different stages of our lives. The multiple versions of Kamenashi simply represents our own living conscience and how many different type of us, we will eventually realise in our lifetime. However, the issue with this film is that none of these concerns are dealt with or answered, but rather the focus is more on how the clones communicate wih eachother that eventually led to the deletion process.

The shots of the vast and dead end department store setting, where the tens of TV showing the same screenshot of Kamenashi in an early scene, perhaps alluding to what is to come. The same scene is given a repetition a few times in the movie.

It almost goes without saying that Kamenashi is a real star of the film, to be able to play different charcters and personality in a few roles is lways difficult and somehow he managed to pull it off with winning comic timing. Yuki Uchida is given substantial screen time as the mysterious married woman who constantly seduce Kamenashi. Uchida is one beautiful actress, but despite playing off eachother well, the added meaning of her presence seems rather unexplained. Perhaps, this relationship is he only spark that Kamenashi can strive for in his dull existence within the vast electronic department store.

I tried hard to embrace this film, more than I really should have and most likely manufactured more thematic meaning than director Miki ever intended. It is rather unfortunate that the film never drill deep into any of the mentioned issues and rather like band-aid effect, comic moments gets priority and that is not necessary a bad thing. On a final note, I have always imagined what it will be like if there is another “me” in this world. I guess, it is a scary thought and one that requires a deletion. (Neo, October 2014)

I rate it 7 out of 10

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HKAFF: Still The Water 第二扇窗 / 2つ目の窓 (2014) – Japan

Still the Water

Directed by:  Kawase Naomi
Screenplay by: Kawase Naomi
Cinematography: Yutaka Yamasaki
Starring:  Murakami Nijiro,  Yoshinaga Jun, Matsuda Miyuki,  Sugimoto Tetta

Reviewed by: Andrew Chan

Reviewed as part of 2014 Hong Kong Asian Film Festival.

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Initial Thoughts:

“Still the Water” is like the evolution of life, touching upon the man vs wild, nature overcoming humanity and love vs lost. While Kawase Naomi previous films simply implies these thoughts through beautiful images. This film relies on obvious self-conscious dialogue and ultimately suffers from a self-inflicted slow burning start. Despite a strong finish, this film is fit for festival circuit at best.

In Depth Analysis:

The film opens in a striking and captivating manner with a slow slaughter of a goat through the release of its blood, soul and ultimately the spirit within. This sets the tone of the film focusing on life and death, the struggle between nature and humanity. These are all favourite themes of auteur and Cannes regular Kawase Naomi’s body of work.

However, “Still the Water” takes an incredulous amount of time to build up a story, perhaps compromising on something the audience can identify and hold tangible with. In fact, for a good hour, the film is rather lifeless, without a core focus to follow and engage. It is this aspect that will ultimately lead to a mixed response to Naomi’s latest work, despite a strong and rather resounding finish.

The power of nature is never more evidently seen in waves after waves of brute and overwhelming forces that humanity is simply powerless to resist. Perhaps alluding to the fact that humanity only threshold for an impending victory lies in the slaughter of a helpless goat, the bottom of the food chain. Tie to the tree branch, upside down, screaming in agony, the goat representing a part of nature that is finally powerless.

Death plays a big role in most of Naomi’s work and from the floating dead tattoo body to Yoshinaga Jun’s Sharma mother impending death from terminal illness, humans forever want to live on whether it is another island far, far away or simply alluding to another world. The journey of love, life and death requires the kids to grow up at a blistering pace, this is ironic as “Still The Water” is quite the opposite in terms of pacing.

It remains ironic that the most powerful and erotic scene came at the end of the film. The intently wonderful Yoshinaga Jun and confident newcomer Murakami Nijiro releases a sense of love, fearlessness, youth and hope for humanity in face of the gigantic ocean. Their naked swim across the underwater depicts how vulnerable and fragile we are compared to the mysterious aspect of nature.

It is all the more unfortunate that a film that expresses such a powerful theme, message and produces so much aftermath thoughts and emotions, started off so feebly. “Still The Water” is likely to deter the cinematic masses, but will be a hidden delight and joy for festival indulgence. (Neo, October 2014)

I rated it 7.5 out of 10

This film world premièred at 2014 Cannes Film Festival.

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