After the hellish flight that Todd described a few posts back, and after a good solid sleep to take care of any jet lag, and my first viewing of Spaced (brilliant!), I finally darkened a theatre door around 9:30pm, to catch the first screening of After the Day Before before heading on to the midnight screening of Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence.
I knew next to nothing going in, aside from the intriguing description on the TIFF website, but After the Day Before turns out to be quite the intriguing film. The payoff does rely on a bit of a twist that attentive viewers will probably guess by the final third or so, but that’s not the point. The point is to get swallowed up by the gorgeous cinematography, incredible sound design and score, some truly inspired (yet subtle) camerawork, and the amazing sense of atmosphere and tone.
The film is suffused with dread and uncertainty, and despite its non-linear structure (which almost feels Lynch-esque at times, minus the gratuitousness), moves towards an inexorable conclusion as the nameless protagonist becomes ensnared in the machinations of those living in a remote Hungarian village, and begins investigating the murder of a young woman. Even the most idyllic-loooking pasture or sunny sky feels alien and surreal, giving the entire film a certain aura that goes a long way towards compensating for the rather taciturn performances of the entire cast.
I really wish I could’ve stuck around afterwards for the Q&A session with the director (I would’ve loved to hear his insights, and I had a question or two of my own), but I hadn’t realized that the film was 2 hours long when I bought my ticket. Which meant I had only 15 – 20 minutes or so to hoof it on down from the Varsity down to the Ryerson to catch Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence. And there was no way I was going to miss seeing Oshii on the big screen.
Without a doubt, Innocence might be one of the most gorgeous and lavish films I’ve seen all year. I’m not a huge fan of using CGI in anime (though I realize it’s the way things are heading), but the visuals in “Innocence” never fail to astound, from the opening sequence that recalls the original Ghost in the Shell (and draws a direct parallel between mechanic and organic life, a division that grows increasingly blurred throughout the film) to a dream-like parade scene through a rundown city.
Unfortunately, the movie often feels like nothing more than pretty pictures most of the time. Much of this is due to the film’s dialog, of which 75% or so consists of some of the most abstract and obscure quotes Oshii could find. Despite the massive (and increasingly relevant) themes Oshii is dealing with (as our machines grow more advanced, do we, their creators, owe them any obligation, and how do we do so when we ourselves are growing more mechanized?), Oshii barely scratches the surface, it seems. The characters, which (as Standalone Complex proves) can be three-dimensional, fleshed out individuals, are mere ghosts of themselves (NPI).
Still, the film astounds and many times, and its pictures often do say much, much more than its words.
This entry was originally published on ScreenAnarchy on .