From IMBD: Yukihiko Tsutsumi ( Memories of Tomorrow, Black Jack) and Ryuhei Kitamura ( Versus, Azumi ) each finished their contributions to the short film anthology Jam Films (2002) in record time. As a result producer Shinya Kawai gave the two directors a proposal to each create a feature length movie with only two actors, battling in one setting and filmed entirely in one week. The undertaking was called the Duel Project. As a result, Kitamura created Aragami, a story about a samurai warrior battling and Tsutsumi 2LDK.
I chanced upon this piece of information last week, and circuits fried in my brain at the thought of a Kitamura flick that’s one long fight sequence. (Oh wait, wasn’t Versus a single extended fight? Whatever!) I didn’t have Aragami, but 2LDK had been part of a bunch of movies that a friend had given me early this year, so I watched it Saturday.
The term “2LDK” refers to the Japanese version of what we Indians call 2BHK – an apartment with two bedrooms, a hall and a kitchen. The movie, true to the conditions set on the filmmaker, takes place in a flat over a single night.The occupants are two aspiring actresses, and both have auditioned for the starring role in a production – the kind of make-or-break role that might launch one’s career and rejuvenate the other’s – and are waiting for a confirmation phonecall from their agency. A conflict had been brewing for quite sometime; when the movie begins, we see the different temperaments and motivations of the women – one meticulously writes her initials on eggs before storing them in the refrigerator, the other flies off the handle at the visible drop in the level of her bottle of Chanel No 5. And then we find out that it’s not really a good idea to stay in a flat that has katanas and sais hanging on display.
In a film like this, it’s difficult to create backstory without the characters breaking into lengthy exposition. Tsutsumi does not fall into this trap, however – he uses voice-overs to convey the characters’ thoughts, making for some interesting dialogue overlaps when the women say the opposite of what they are thinking. Cellphone conversations and text messages make for part of the storytelling, the camera lingers on the flatmate’s actions, telling the viewer volumes about the inner workings of their mind. All of this makes for some very rounded characterisation, allowing us to sympathise with both the women in turn, and make our own judgements about their flaws. And then the violence begins, and things just keep getting better. The ending was a little too predictable, but hey, I can live with that!
And now that I have Aragami – I know I just said I didn’t have that movie, but that was on Saturday, dude – I am going to watch it tonight, hoo ah!
Why on earth did Disney have to make a movie called Sky High? It screws up my search results for Kitamura’s movie, the one about the afterlife and serial killers. Faugh!
Sha Po Lang was another film I saw Saturday. Stars Donnie Yen, Simon Yam ( the guy from Election ), and Sammo Hung. Perfect mix of cop drama and martial arts, and brilliant pacing.