Title: ぼくたちと駐在さんの７００日戦争 (Bokutachi to Chuuzai-san no 700 nichi Sensou)
English Title: 700 Days of Battle: Us vs. the Police
Release Date: April 5th, 2008 (Japan)
This is a sweet story about a group of highschool friends and the silly, mostly harmless, pranks that they play, especially on a particular traffic cop.
The movie remains mostly in the realm of comedy, while becoming a bit more serious and heartfelt at the end.
An especially funny scene: one of the main characters, Mama chari, is caught in the act of decorating the police office with dirty posters and smutty magazines. He is caught by none other than the lady from the café, who he has a crush on. Moreover, he then discovers that she is the police officer’s wife. Mama chari, pleads that he found the magazines outside school and was must coming to turn them in. The police officer knows this is a lie and so, in order to take record of the “found” goods, he makes Mama-chari read the titles of the books out loud as he writes them down. Meanwhile his wife, to Mama chari’s ever growing embarrassment, watches the whole scene.
Apart from the mostly juvenile, slapstick humor (which I found to be hilarious) the movie touches on the importance of friendship along with being role models for those younger than us.
This was so incredibly entertaining, light, funny movie and a really enjoyable watch that I decided to write an essay.
Das Experiment (The Experiment)
Chilling in many of its implications about human nature, director Oliver Hirschbiegel’s The Experiment is a film which contains imagery that may remain long after you have seen the film.
A group of males are assembled by the lure of big money, into participating in a behavioural experiment. The group is divided into two groups, a division which the participants see as totally arbitrary. For the purposes of the experiment, one group will be warders in a simulated prison. The second group will be prisoners.
Into this mix is added Prisoner 77, Moritz Bleibtreu’s character, Tarek Fahd, who has secretly done a deal for a newspaper which he has worked for, to deliver an article about his experiences after the experiment has concluded.
The warders are informed that no violence is to be used in their relations with the prisoners but gradually their use of humiliation as a means of controlling those who are the prisoners becomes itself an extreme form of violence and in the face of resistance by prisoners like 77, they become increasingly obsessed with their own power and control.
At one point in the film, one of the prisoners accuses the warders of being “Nazis” but the frightening reality of the film’s message is that any group of people, given sufficient incentive and sufficient leeway to exert power over others, will do so and often do so both ruthlessly and with violence.
Admittedly all involved in the experiment are male and the only female character with a close association with the experiment, herself becomes victim despite her status at the beginning of the film. There may be as much testosterone in the reactions of the warders as there is test.
There is an interesting quote from one of the cast members on the extras features which come with the DVD. Oliver Stokowski who plays Schutte in the film, says when discussing his role and its similarity to certain exercises that he was subjected to in acting school: “somehow I never liked the psycho-pathological ring-a-round-the-rosey where someone eventually freaks out.”
Like many experiments where human behaviour is observed, this film indicates that the animal part of humanity is brought closer than are those values which we think elevates us from beasts.
Title: 空気人形 (Kuuki Ningyou)
English Title: Air Doll
Release Date: 2009
“Everybody in this town is empty, it’s not just you.”
One day, a blow up doll comes to life. A very pretty blow up doll, by the way, played by the Korean actress Doona Bae. She moves about, slowly at first, then leaves the house while her owner is gone. In the outside world, she experiences everything with joy and wonderment for the first time. Except for some faint lines and the fact that she is full of air, she looks entirely human.
Her explorations in the outside world are cute and harmless at first, but a trip into a video rental store change things; here she falls in love with one of the employees.
Hirokazu Koreeda, director of Nobody Knows and After Life, uses the life of this one doll to represent many of the things that we often deal with and encounter in life. Although the doll’s life is short, she covers a lot of ground – from child-like wonderment, to love, to heartbreak. The themes represented in the movie as well, are ones that are meant to be universal; those of love, desire, and loneliness. Some of the sweetest moments from this movie, are lines spoken by the main character, Nozomi, and the man she falls in love with Junichi, played by Arata. These are made even more powerful because they are firsts for Nozomi; “I told a lie,” she says in one scene, “Because I have a heart, I told a lie.”
The soundtrack to this movie was really pretty and one of the first things that helped rope me in. There is very little dialogue in many parts; instead we are left to experience the world through the eyes of a doll, with the help of the music playing in the background. Something of a combination of tracks from Amelie and 28 Days Later – sweet, yet heavy at the same time – the movie is filled out with the help of simple keyboard melodies, accordion, and a few strings.
As the movie gets further along, the parallels between Nozomi, a blow up doll, and the people she is surrounded by start to become clearer. “Everybody in this town is empty, it’s not just you,” an old man tells her, and we begin to understand one of Koreeda’s messages: everyone is fragile and weak on the inside; we can’t survive without supporting and being supported by others.
Koreeda also returns to some themes that were at the center of After Life. Nozomi’s creator, a doll maker, asks her, “The world that you’re born into…is it all pain and suffering? Or is there anything…beautiful?” To this Nozomi faintly smiles and nods, her maker and the audience receiving confirmation that, although life is full of hardships and suffering, there are beautiful moments too.