Re: Shohei Imamura

From: Mike White (email suppressed)
Date: Tue May 30 2006 - 12:05:40 PDT

Yes, I saw that compilation film. Imamura's film would have
worked better on it's own than as part of this mishmash.

My review:

11'9''01 (Various Directors, 2002)
Omnibus films don't often "work." 11'9''01 is not the exception to
this truism. Inevitably, audiences lean toward one story or
another and either feel nonplussed or dislike another (NIGHT ON
EARTH's Wynona Rider segment comes to mind). Again, 11'9''01
doesn't challenge this notion. Rather than eleven segments that
run nine minutes eleven seconds and one frame, perhaps this film
would have been better served with nine, seven, or five. While
that might undermine the "symbolism" of the structure, it would
have made for a much better experience.

In order of preference, here's what I liked and why:

Mexico (Alejandro Gonzalez) This is the only segment that came
close to pushing any boundaries or using cinema for anything other
than a narrative medium. Director Gonzalez primarily relies on
sound for an incredible effect. More than seeing the Twin Towers
being hit and falling, the audience hears the events against a
chorus of voices and feels the terror.

United Kingdom (Ken Loach) A deceptively simple mix of voice-over
and archival footage, Loach makes the audience privy to a letter
from a Chilean émigré to the people of the United States. He sends
his condolences to the victims of 9/11/01 while reminding the U.S.
that Americans were the evil-doers behind the events of 9/11/73
with the bloody coup that usurped the democratically-elected
government of Chile in favor of a pliable puppet regime that kept
the money flowing to U.S. coffers and cost 30,000 lives in the

India (Mira Nair) Based on a true story, Mira Nair explores the
fear and hatred of Muslim-Americans in the aftermath of 9/11/01.

France (Claude Lelouch) This look at a love affair crumbling on
the morning of 9/11/01, this film effectively captures the human
element of that terrible day.

Umm... well, maybe I only really liked four of the eleven. There
were few that were good but not to the level of the

Egypt (Youssef Chahine) This meandering film features the ghost of
a terrorist and Beirut Marine to remind the audience of other
terrorist attacks as well as the perpetrators and politics of
terrorism. A less jokey and cinematic outing would have worked
better. But, at least, this work pushed enough buttons to garner
"boos" from the audience.

Burkina Faso (Idrissa Ouedraogo) Some folks objected to this
nearly-comedic short about a handful of African youths hunting for
Osama Bin Laden in hopes of collecting the $25 million bounty.
Other than being cute, the film made quite a statement about the
disparity of economic stature between the U.S. and the rest of the

Iran (Samira Makhmalbaf) How difficult would it be to really make
a child understand what happened in New York without having ever
seen an airplane or a skyscraper? How can you make a war refugee
understand why the loss of life in America will effect them a
world away? This film by Makhmalbaf tries to answer these

And, alas, there were a few complete misfires...

Bosnia-Herzegovine (Danis Tanovic) This could have been a powerful
look at the day to day horrors and terrible foreign policy of the
U.S. in the Balkans. Instead, this just left me cold.

Israel (Amos Gitaï) In a land where terrorism is a day-to-day
(perhaps hour-to-hour) occurrence, you'd think that a film might
be able to show the real terror of terrorism. Alas, this had a
protagonist who was pushy and annoying.

USA (Sean Penn) Sean, what were you thinking? An old man,Ernest
Bornine, wanders around his apartment talking to his dead wife
until the first tower falls, magically revitalizing the old man's
flowers and, apparently, leading him to finally let go of his
wife. A little human drama but oh-so-trivial and over-directed.

Japan (Shohei Imamura) The only film in the collection set wholly
in another time, place, and country 55 years away from 9/11/01. On
its own terms, this little story of a Japanese soldier who acts
like a snake might work but its "there is no such thing as a holy
war" message feels very contrived in this collection.

The strangest thing about this collection of short films had to be
that there was little to no mention of any of the other hijacked
planes. Going on this work alone, the events in Pennsylvania and
Washington D.C. never happened. This dismissal severely hampers
the film's tenuous credibility.


On Tue May 30 11:43:40 PDT 2006, db <email suppressed>

> A darkness spreads over my day today. No new Imamura films. Ever.
> One of my favorite directors since seeing Pigs and Battleships
> and The Pornographers. Fortunately I was able to attend all of
> the Imamura retrospective at the Walter Reade years back, so
> I've managed to see at least once some films I may never see
> again. The monograph from Canada is an excellent read for those
> interested. (http://
> The article below mentions one Imamura I've never seen:
> "Imamura's last work formed part of 11'09"01, a compilation of
> short films about events on 11 September 2001."
> Anyone seen this compilation?
> One of my film fantasies is to see a dedicated compilation of
> Imamura's complete output, something that exceeds the extended
> Hitchcock box sets.
> On a more personal note, I remember discussing favorite directors
> with a Japanese friend. When I mentioned Imamura he replied,
> "you like the bad boys, David." I could only smile, fully
> appreciative of the insight offered. But even if Imamura was one
> of the "bad boys," he was also, IMHO, a film maker full of love
> and complexity.
> db
> On May 30, 2006, at 5:01 AM, Joost Rekveld wrote:
>> Imamura died today:
> __________________________________________________________________
> For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at
> <email suppressed>.

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.