Rotterdam Walkouts Roundup




Japan 2002 : YAMASHITA Nobuhiro : 111 mins

Pleasant enough, low-key character-based social comedy about a hapless young couple struggling to make ends meet in the capitalist jungle of modern Japan. Daisuke (Yamamoto Hiroshi) and girlfriend Hisako (Kotera Tomoko) devise a new health drink, Akajiru, that tastes so awful nobody wants to buy it in the big city. So they head to Daisuke’s “bumfuck nowhere” home town, where Akajiru proves no less palatable to prospective buyers. Mildly satirical and quietly absurdist, No One’s Ark is marginally more lively and accomplished than Mori Junichi’s similarly gentle, whimsical, slow-paced Laundry – though Yamashita includes some shenanigans with a unicycle that are rather too cute for their own good. Inoffensive stuff, as far as it goes – and 45 minutes of it was enough for me.




aka Drunk on Women and Painting aka Strokes of Fire aka Drunk on Women and Poetry aka Chiwhaseon : South Korea 2002 : IM Kwon-Taek : 117 mins



Tan de repente : Argentina 2002 : Diego LERMAN : 90 mins

I checked out Chihwaseon – or whatever it is called these days – to see if Im’s efforts justify his sharing the Best Director prize at Cannes ’02 with Paul Thomas Anderson. After about two minutes of this costume-drama stodge (which apparently goes on to tell the life story of a controversial early 20th-century painter) it was all too clear that the answer is a resounding no. Compared with the epochal achievement that is Punch-Drunk Love, what Im does in Chihwaseon doesn’t even deserve to be called ‘directing’ at all. The Cannes jury consisted of Sharon Stone, Michelle Yeoh, Bille August, Claude Miller, Regis Wargnier, Raoul Ruiz, Walter Salles and the president, David Lynch. A charitable view would be to presume the Im/Anderson split was an example of Lynch’s surrealist humour.

Fleeing Chiwhaseon, I ran into a nearby cinema to catch Suddenly – which I soon realised was showing in the original Spanish with Dutch subtitles. I could just about work out what was going on – a dumpy shop assistant is kidnapped by a pair of girl punks – and the black-and-white images had a certain rough-edged charm. But after about half an hour I decided that this wasn’t a fair way to experience what looked like quite an interesting film, so made my second exit of the day.



Tie Xi District : China 2003 : WANG Bing : 545 mins (five hundred and forty five minutes!)

(Part 1 : Rust : 240 mins. Part 2 : Remnants : 175 mins. Part 3 : Rails : 130 mins)

Caught fifteen minutes of this fascinating 545-minute epic: a scant 2.75% of the total, in fact. Wang examines, in minute sociological detail, the impact of de-industrialisation in a neglected corner of north-eastern China. The bit I saw involved a train ride – Wang in the cabin with the stoker. There was a lengthy shot taken from the front of the train as it sped through the snowy night – though, given the scale of the project, I thought this shot could and should have been many times longer. I saw enough to note this as one to watch out for, though, inevitably, TV will probably be where I catch the rest.

9th April, 2003

No One’s Ark : 1st February, Cinerama.
and Suddenly : 30th January, De Doelen and Luxor.
Tie Xi Qu : Lantaren/Venster cinema.
All Rotterdam –
Rotterdam Film Festival

For all the reviews from the Rotterdam Film Festival click here

by Neil Young