Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival part 2: There is Light, Manborg, and Library Wars.

Posted: August 5, 2013 in Movies
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There is Light is about Saori (Maya Koizumi), who just started at a call girl service for the disabled in Japan. Her employer talks about how in Japan disabled people are swept under the rug, how you don’t see them in public. It’s mostly a slice of life movie but there’s a light narrative involving one of her wheelchair bound clients. He is not capable of having sex, but his mother is in denial about this and willingly hires Saori thinking it will help. The two develop a friendship  despite the objection of her employer. Other elements include a dangerous person from her past, and another client who offers insight. This client notes that he’d grown up with the full love and support of his family, hence no one should feel sorry for him. He feels this contrasts with Saori, who is a beautiful young woman and sells her body for a living.

Director Toda Yukihiro and actress were present for Q&A after. Toda makes documentaries for TV and this is his first feature film. He wanted to make a documentary for real call service girls that served the disabled, but his network would not allow it. Hence he made this film. I asked him about why it was a little on the short side (it was about an hour) and he said it was because of budget reasons. I also asked him about the repeated use of shots of following Saori from behind while walking down a street. He said this was an opportunity for the audience to fill in what they thought her back story was, as it wasn’t revealed much.

There is Light

The two stayed for pictures and autographs afterwards.

Toda Yukihiro Maya Koizumi  

Manborg is a 2011 Canadian feature that purposely uses outdated special effects that make it look like a film from the 90s. It resembles something between the last era of stop motion animation and the first days of computer graphic imagery.

The tale is of the Hell Wars where Count Draculon leads demonic forces against the armies of Earth. One man who came face to face with Draculon and thought to be dead is reborn as MANBORG! The narrative spends little time with investigating his past/who created him. He immediately gets captured and, along with other prisoners, is put in a Mortal Kombat/Gladiator like setting. (Two of the fellow prisoners look like they stepped right out of Mortal Kombat) Soon the prisoners escape and we get to see more of this world and more of the characters back stories.

The supporting cast is more interesting than Manborg, who has some funny moments but sometimes comes across as a dumb-ass. Still Manborg is a treat of retro-effects awesomeness.

After the credits there was a preview for Bio-Cop, about an undead cop. It didn’t look as interesting.

Two years ago I saw The Whisperer in the Darkness at PIFAN, which was another movie that purposely used outdated special effects. I wanted to coin a phrase for this type of movie, but I couldn’t think of one. Now I have.

Retro-effects film: A film that purposely uses outdated special effects for the aesthetic purpose of resembling movies from a past era of film.

Library Wars is a Japanese film with a completely ridiculous premise that makes up for it with decent characters. In this world during the late 20th century Japan started banning various types of media, starting with pornography. (This is covered with some very authentic looking news footage.) The government starts a Betterment Squad, tasked with banning books etc. They start to target libraries, who want to fight back. Hence the government also starts a Library Defense army.

So the government basically sponsors a civil war, by knowingly and willingly raising two armies to fight and kill each other across Japan. They even have their own bureaucratic rules about fighting. They are only allowed to fight during certain hours, the Library forces can’t shoot first, etc. Other bizarre-ness lies elsewhere in the plot.

Still if you can get over the  ridiculous premise there is fun to be had. The main character Kasahara, is a new recruit to the Library army. She feels very passionately about the cause, partly due to an experience as a student. There’s a few love stories and dramatic moments that make you care about the people involved, even if the world they live in is completely unbelievable.

Those were the three movies I saw the Monday of the Festival. I went back Friday and caught two more. I’ll review those later.

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