After reading so many reviews of mine, you probably may discover how I judge a film.
Of course, it should be interesting. It can be serious, ugly, commercial, experimental, emotional, conceptual, pictorial or comical. But it must be interesting.
Here I am going to discuss a bicycle scene from 31min39 in Nami Iguchi’s Don’t Laugh at My Romance. It is not merely a scene to teach you how to shoot a bicycle ride; of course it is a good way to shoot bicycle ride like this. I believe it is a good scene to teach you how to make your screen vivid.
As shown above, the bicycle appears from the left and disappears from the left. Then it appears again from the left and later after most of the conversation is done, it disappears from the right. Then it comes up a man jogging. Finally it appears nothing more than the road itself.
It is surely more interesting by just tracking the bicycle riding in the middle of the frame all the time, which I used to do and I believe most of new filmmakers would choose to do.
Thinking of something special and interesting is quite important. Bicycle riding’s nature is moving. By knowing this we can easily use it to make our film vivid and motional. If I want the bicycle to keep still in the frame(unless for some special reason), I would rather take a photo instead of making a film.
Make it move, and make it interesting.
What use ?
Think more in your shots. Don’t make your film boring.
Imagine one day you read a piece of news on a newspaper and find it interesting. What will you do?
The right answer : make a film from it.
Yukinari Hanawa’s Hatsukoi is about a historical event of 300 Million Yen being lost. Or it is about a simple first love story? Indeed, the filmmaker combines the two into one film, thus it provides the huge event with a warm and moving heart.
Can you believe a girl robbing 300 Million Yen just because she loves a boy? Can you believe the boy’s plan is just a revenge to the unfair society? The film tells a very interesting story which some of us are really willing to accept as the truth.
What use ?
Be aware of everything interesting happened next to you or on the newspaper. Try to turn it into a film using your own imagination and interpretation.
Joji Matsuoka’s Tokyo Tower: Mom and Me, and Sometimes Dad is one of my favorite films. It is extremely undertone but passionate in the nature. And it is touching.
I have a special feeling to see Ozu’s shadow in this film. However, I love it.
Here I want to talk about one trivial but very successful point of this film – the protagonist’s profession. After graduated from school, Masaya hasn’t had a job for a long time and finally gets the job as a illustrator, a writer as well as a DJ. What seems of most interesting is his job as a DJ who host a porn show.
Hence he doesn’t want to talk to his mother Eiko with his job. And sometimes Masaya gets into embarrassment when he’s asked about his profession. His personality shows up every time people discuss his profession as the porn show DJ. And I think this profession really helps in this film
What use ?
We sometimes tend to allocate ordinary jobs for our characters, without realizing that sometimes a profession really helps the film and the character.
Adaptation can be found anywhere in films. It can be said that adaptation gives the infinite possibility to films and provides film with an endless life. There is an old Chinese proverb – “old wine in a new bottle”, which means the same old stuff with a new label.
However, this is not a bad word at least in the field of films. In Xiaogang Feng’s The Banquet, widely known Shakespeare drama Hamlet is turned to become a Chinese story set in a thousand years ago. The plot is almost the same while all elements are traditionally Chinese.
This kind of adaptation tells an old story in a new platform. Audiences can easily comprehend the story while the story has a double nature combining eastern and western.
It is interesting to watch.
What use ?
Adaptation is not limited in the same language or the same novel. Adaptation has a lot more probabilities.
Films set in the past are very interesting. Kaige Chen’s Farewell, My Concubine is a very typical one which is set through over fifty years in China’s history.
Drama is conflict. Taking this film for example, the conflict exists through the most unstable period of China – from Qing Dynasty, the Republic of China, the People’s Republic of China to the cultural revolution. Actually one of the great conflict is between the Peking opera and all these different period of China, so does the relation between Duan Xiaolou and Cheng Dieyi.
What use ?
If you want to shoot something in the history, it is better to set in the transition states of the place, which will bring up a lot of conflicts naturally.
Takashi Miike’s Audition is one of my favorite films. The film conveys so many meanings that allow various interpretations. Yet the form of this film is strictly obeying the rule of “introduction, elucidation, transition and summing up”.
In making such a film, the filmmaker must be extremely familiar with the psychology of men and women. And he too has to be careful of keeping in the right line between fantasy and reality. It is even harder for this film to do so since it is controlled by emotional forces, compared to many western thrillers which are mostly controlled by logical forces.
Shigeharu Aoyama – the protagonist – has all those fantasies in mind, where Asami Yamazaki – the female dancer exist inside and outside. No matter how audiences interpret the film, Takashi Miike must be 100% sure about where the line is and where the plot should be put.
What use ?
In making a thriller, despite how complex it is, you can not escape from every tiny dilemma of the plot. You must be clear-minded how the tricks work. Otherwise audiences won’t believe in your film.
In the process of writing a new script, we often meet a question: what events should be included in my script and what should be excluded?
My answer is the true event should always be accepted first. What do I mean by true event? It is something happened in your life or next to you. If you experience it, it is better. Audiences can easily smell the stink of an “fake” story from your directing. That is to say they are so sensitive to things which the filmmaker never experiences. So pick the true story to tell.
living in Hong Kong for more than 33 years, Ann Hui directs The Way We Are successfully. When the plot is so simple and the conflict is so obscure, native audiences like me will focus more on the credibility of the film. It is like a documentary and everyone feels true.
What use ?
Tell a true story for you film. As a least resort, choose the story you heard before. Don’t try to “invent” something you’ve never heard before.