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August 5, 2012 | by  | in Arts Film |
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The Salient International Film Festival Diary Part 3

ROOM 237
Dir: Rodney Ascher
Reviewed by Callum McDougal

A film about The Shining, and also a film about films that celebrates the enthralling power of great movies (especially Stanley Kubrick’s).

This oddity takes (amongst others) themes, cues, motifs and production history from The Shining as starting points for discussions as diverse as the Overlook Hotel’s bizarre geometry, the representation of Danny’s psychic powers, and Kubrick’s involvement in the Apollo 13 hoax.

Room 237  is a meticulously crafted doco. The pairing of clips from The Shining and many more films with narration from interviewees – who outline their various theories and extrapolations – is excellent and used to great (often comedic) effect. It does, however, drag during some of the more… unsubstantiated claims. The soundtrack, a seeming homage to “the horror movie sound” of the 70s/80s, is another stand-out element in this Incredibly Strange documentary.

A playful and obsessive gem, Room 237 is a must see for fans of Kubrick, horror and moving pictures in general!

The Verdict: A

Dir: Kore-eda
Reviewed by Adam Goodall

Kore-eda’s slice-of-life tale of two young brothers separated by a divorce is probably the cutest film I’ve seen in an age. Taking his cues from Yasujiro Ozu’s light comedies about family and community (ie the exceptional Ohayo, which you should all see), Kore-eda crafts a sweet, heartfelt narrative with two winning performances from real-life brothers Koki and Ohshiro Maeda. It could stand to have a little bit more meat on the sides or, alternately, a little more of a central focus, as Kore-eda’s work with some of the characters on the side draws attention to the arbitrariness of who gets developed, but it’s a charming, funny, beautifully-made film nonetheless.

The Verdict: A-

Reviewed by Adam Goodall

Himizu is very much a film about the current condition of modern Japan, in particular the way it victimises and vilifies its youth and undermines its future by breeding the same deep selfishness and violence in them. It’s a subject that’s been dealt with before in Japanese cinema, and far better than it has here (Battle Royale comes to mind), but that wouldn’t be too much of an issue if Himizu stood on its terms. Unfortunately, Himizu is a really difficult film to like, enjoy or appreciate. Sion Sono’s imagery and use of colour is typically rich and interesting, but the rest of the film is unrelenting in its hysterical misery. A veritable parade of abusive, mentally ill, and delusional characters get fucked over and fuck others over, and while two hours of this would be tiring in any case, the broad, histrionic, serious way in which the film goes about depicting that is grating as hell and makes it difficult to stomach. By the time it reaches its faintest glimmer of hope and catharsis, it hasn’t earned it and it’s not enough.

The Verdict: C

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