gets a close-up of the Tokyo International Film Festival's hottest tickets.
Sometimes it seems as if the latest Hollywood blockbusters get stuck mid-Pacific,
stretching the time from their US debuts to their Japanese release from here to eternity.
But dont despair, the movie industry is about to descend on Tokyo for the 14th
International Film Festival, bringing sneak previews of many of the winters must-see
flicks to the big screen.
This year, in addition to the regular competition movies, Nippon Cinema Classics series,
Cinema Prism and Nippon Cinema Now, are other strands that include the Tokyo International
Fantastic Film Festival, Tokyo International Womens Film Festival, Disney Film
Festival and Korean Cinema Week. With 140 movies from 24 countries crammed into nine days,
Tokyoites are spoiled for choice. Heres our guide to the hottest tickets and the
ones to watch.
Perhaps because 2001 is the centenary of Walt Disneys birth, TIFF is set to open and
close with animated features. Kicking things off is the star-packed CGI-fest Shrek,
which stormed the US box office with a US$264.7 million take that blew Pearl Harbor
out of the water with the highest gross of the summer. Voiced by Cameron Diaz (who will be
in town to promote the movie in atonement for skipping the festivals premiere of Charlies
Angels last year), Eddie Murphy, John Lithgow (Third Rock From the Sun)
and Mike (Austin Powers) Meyers, this story of an ogres odyssey offers
plenty of laughs. A rude send-up of Disney-esque classic fairytales, the clever comedy
from DreamWorks-makers of the hit Antz-will appeal to adults, while kids will
marvel at the animation and good-natured action romp of a story. Catch it at the festival
before the pre-Christmas holiday hype makes getting a seat impossible.
The festival aptly closes with Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Disneys latest
opus that takes the Mouse House into new territory-and thats not just a reference to
the storys mythical setting. This is what Variety calls an all-talking,
no-singing, no-dancing animation (they also admittedly added no-fun to
the list) that offers nods to the Indy Jones franchise and Jules Verne. An honorable move
away from the music-driven anthropomorphized usual Disney fare, this action anime- perfect
fodder for the newly opened DisneySea-comes from the team that produced Beauty and the
Beast and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Even more Mouse can be found at the
Disney Film Festival, where audiences will get the rare chance to see such classics as Snow
White and the Seven Dwarfs and Cinderella on the big screen as well as more
recent hits such as Toy Story and a special large screen format of Beauty and
Charlie Kauffman, the man who told the world what its like Being John Malkovich,
follows on with this hirsute comedy that bears the same brand of eccentricity and offbeat
humor as his worldwide hit. The eclectic cast of characters features Tim Robbins as a
35-year-old virgin scientist, Patricia Arquette (True Romance) as a horny, hairy
woman and Rhys Ifans (Notting Hill) as a newly civilized wild mountain man. Music
video wiz Michel Gondry-whose back tracks include promos for Beck, The Foo Fighters,
Björk, The Rolling Stones and Daft Punk-directs the slapstick and sub-philosophical
Following the lead of Ten Things I Hate About Yous reworking of The
Taming of the Shrew, Cruel Intentions take on Les Liasons
Dangereuse, and Clueless update of Jane Austins
Emma, comes O, a teen-friendly spin on Othello.
Face-of-the-moment Josh Hartnett stars as best friend of popular basketball jock Odin
(Mekhi Phifer), the only black kid at school. Combining teen angst with a classic plot is
nothing new, but the timing of this reworking proved problematic for Miramax, who shelved
the high school tragedy for two years following the Columbine massacre.
The Man Who
Sally Potter recaptures some of the glory she garnered for her critically acclaimed Orlando,
casting Johnny Depp as The Man Who Cried. The all-star cast includes Cate
Blanchett (Elizabeth), Christina Ricci (The Adams Family, Buffalo 66)
and John Turturro (The Luzhin Defence, Millers Crossing). The Anglo-French
co-production focuses on a young Jewish Russian émigrés search for her roots in
prewar Paris and reunites Ricci and Depp, who were also on-screen lovers in Sleepy
Hedwig and the
A musical about a partly emasculated East German transvestite rock star who falls for an
American GI-kind of an anatomically incorrect Miss Saigon-may seem unlikely
material for Hollywood, but this indie hit has already garnered prizes at Deauville and
rave reviews from the broadsheets. Director, writer and star John Cameron Mitchell
reprises his off-Broadway titular role on celluloid in this Rocky Horror-esque
take on glam-rock cabaret.
One of the 20th centurys greatest cinematic epics returns to the screen in an
entirely new version re-cut from the original dallies by director Francis Ford Coppola and
editor Walter Murch. Rather than just adding in scenes trimmed from the original version,
Coppola chose to reappraise the whole film, restoring several key scenes such as the
legendary French plantation sequence that had languished in film canisters for more than
20 years. Almost an hour of unseen footage was restored after Coppola saw the movie on
British TV and was struck that the movie that had been seen as so demanding, strange
and adventurous when it first came out now seemed relatively tame.
Although this smart kids' flick was a surprise hot ticket stateside this summer, Robert
Rodriguezs savvy juvenile-Bond movie-which he produced, wrote, directed and
edited-has yet to open this side of the Pacific. Starring Antonio Banderas and Carla
Gugino (Snake Eyes) as rival agents who end up getting hitched and later
kidnapped, the action romp has enough to keep adults interested while providing plenty of
gags and gadgets, such as electroshock bubble gum, to keep pre-teen spy kids happy. Bona
fide Bond-girl Teri Hatcher (Tomorrow Never Dies) and Goldeneye baddie
Alan Cummings pop up, adding a further nod to the 007 series-with a sequel already in
pre-production, the next-generation spy franchise may give an aging Bond a run for his
martini. The movie will be screened for the first time in Japan as part of the Fantastic
Film Festival, which will feature other hits such as teen-terror spoof sequel Scary
Movie 2, horror flick Jeepers Creepers and killer trucker movie Joy Ride.
Slightly more low-key than the ebullient Moulin Rouge, Nicole Kidmans other
star vehicle this year is this creepy period piece which teams her with Christopher
Eccleston (Elizabeth, Gone in 60 Seconds). Alejandro Amenabar directs-he also
wrote and composed the score-this old-school suspense film set on an island off the
British coast. Packing a twist in its tale, the film offers the audience a taste of what
horror movies were like before special effects began to steal the show. American showbiz
gurus E! likened the movie to the last year of the Cruise-Kidman marriage: scary on
occasion, cold to the touch and downright creepy at times. And even former Carry
comic Eric Sykes plays for chills rather than laughs.
One of Japans hottest young directors, Takashi Miike (The Guys from Paradise)
is still editing his latest movie, Agitator, but seeing as he regularly shoots
five or six features a year, thats nothing unusual. The movie will have its world
premiere at TIFF and another of Miikes films, The Happiness of the Katakuris,
is one of the festivals special screenings.
Hong Kong superstar Andy Lau is cast against type as Fatso, the obese friend and dieting
partner of heartbroken Mini (Sammi Cheng) in Love on a Diet. When her brief
relationship with a slimmer man fails and her weight balloons, Mini enlists the help of
Fatso but fails to anticipate their own burgeoning romance. Director Johnnie To helms this
romantic comedy that forms part of the Cinema Prism strand.
The festival will run from Oct 27 (Sat) to Nov 4 (Sun) at Bunkamura and other venues in
the Shibuya area. Admission to competition screenings is ¥1000 for an advance ticket and
¥1200 on the day-pretty reasonable when you consider regular theater prices. Screening at
Cinema Prism will be all reserved seating (¥1500) and Nippon Cinema Classics screenings
at Le Cinema will be ¥800 in advance and ¥1000 on the day. Advance ticket sales begin on
Oct 6 at all Ticket Pia counters or by calling 03-5237-9999. General information is
available from Hello Dial on 03-5777-8600 (7am-11pm) and from the TIFF Ticket Guide on
03-3563-6407 (10am-6pm, closed Sun & holidays). Or see TIFFs official website www.tiff-jp.net Movies in the Nippon Cinema
Classics series will not have English subtitles.
A limited number of special competition passes are also available for ¥10,000 and are
valid for all 14 movies in the official competition screened at Orchard Hall, and also for
the opening and closing movies and the screening of the winner of the Tokyo Grand Prix on
Nov 4. To reserve a pass, call the TIFF Ticket Guide and then send a registered cash
envelope to the office with your payment. The pass will be issued by mail.
Opening and closing ceremony tickets can only be reserved by telephone at Ticket Pia or by
calling direct on 0570-00-0062. All seats are reserved and tickets are ¥1500 (maximum 2
tickets per film per call).