Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Dead Revolution

Things have been a bit slow blogside; I was mostly involved with the organisation of the film festival as part of the annual Delhi International Arts Festival, setting up the new issue of Projectorhead, a small Retrospective of Alain Resnais and separately from these(unfortunately or perhaps not) making a living. The favourites at the Intn'l Festival include: Fat, Short, Bald Men(2011), a rotoscopy Colombian film by Carlos Osuna and in very minor portions, the 1991 Van Gogh by Maurice Pialat (in '90 and '91, three great filmmakers attempted their personal renditions of the painter). The latter was screened on 35mm and the screening was well-attended; the same cannot be said of the other, lesser known films for which the halls were sparsely populated, both by people as well as their enthusiasm. A Polish film, Krysztof Krauze's My Nikifor (2004) was also interesting, at the very least, it featured a pretty cool film (and festival) ending slideshow of hundreds of the 'naive-artist's' works - film putting up a painting exhibition. At any rate, I have been writing a few capsule reviews both for the Projectorhead blog as well as for the magazine itself; one of the most intriguing films of this year for me was the recently-late Koji Wakamatsu's 11.25: The Day He Chose His Own Fate(2012), which debuted at Cannes and was one more in his series of films set in Shōwa series (word's out that he made a new one before his death). Below is an excerpt from my review of the film.

11.25: The Day He Chose His Own Fate(2012) / Koji Wakamatsu
Wakamatsu’s frontally-shot, semi-sterile, mechanical and harsh digital images seem to put Mishima’s revolutionary streak into perspective – one may build a considerable argument that this draining out of the romantic aspect from a revolutionary proclamation is (at the least) easier with digital video, because film’s inherent quality can cause an objective criticism of any idea to collapse rapidly – while the unsophisticated, clean and entirely ‘real’ digital image will remove planar/compositional conveniences of the film image and present all lofty claims, as if made to stand in an inquisition, in the foreground. This is an attribute typical of one of Wakamatsu’s last features – a film about the controversial Japanese novelist, Yukio Mishima, as he leads his merry-band of acolytes/sycophantsin the demand for the restoration of Japan’s loyalty to its Emperor, the nation’s kokutai and the Samurai bushido code; but eventually, to their brutal suicides on the fateful date listed in the film’s title. Wakamatsu’s approach towards the treatment of the Mishima character is exceptional and if a single word would describe it, cautious – he remains vary of presenting the almost-Noble laureate as a visionary or a superstar-rebel, instead choosing to entomb the kindred human spirit in a grave full of mirrors. As such, Wakamatsu is clear about presenting Mishima as a sincere, earnest individual with a set of very personal beliefs and the balls to carry on with them, but he doesn’t romanticize these as necessary qualities; choosing instead, to let Mishima expound on rambling and endless exposition that reveal not merely his actual incapacity to achieve anything of value, but also, at the film’s harshest, just how pathetic his entire endeavour was.