VIFF Film & Television Trade Forum
On Thursday, September 28, Sarah Caufield, host of Monday’s No Show, saw Tachigui: The Amazing Lives of the Fast-Food Grifters, the latest film by Oshii Mamoru, as part of the International Film Festival. But contrary to her expectations, it left a bit to be desired.
From the director of Ghost in the Shell comes Tachigui Retsuden, a film that offers an alternative history of the post-war years in Japan – with an analysis of the people who lived by stealing fast food meals. From the elderly gentleman who steals his meals through calm reflection to the homeless orphan who gets beaten up as a part of his schtick, Tachigui introduces each one, looks at their methods, and attempts to figure out who they really were and what happened to them. Although the food courts exist in a seemingly perpetual evening of darkness, little interjections keeping the viewer abreast of what’s happening in the rest of the world – from the Kentucky Fried Rat incident to Death By Hula Hoop.
Using a form of animation that hovers between still images and action, Mamoru tries to bring a sense of actuality to the screen. Unfortunately, it ends up feeling more like a PowerPoint presentation, as we become the audience of a lecture on post-war history, given visuals that occasionally are full of action, but more often than not float on the screen providing something to look at, but nothing much to engage with. This isn’t to say that the film is a failure, however. Tachigui explores myths surrounding various fast-food grifters, analysing their techniques by bringing in a fair amount of psychology. It’s a lot of information, a lot of narration, but not a lot of action. The problem is that although it makes for interesting stories, it seems like this would be much better suited for a graphic novel, rather than a film, especially when you’re sitting in a giant, dark theatre. At least I had subtitles to read to keep my visual cortex busy, but I can’t imagine how I’d stay entranced by the film in the theatre without them.
It’s too late to catch the film at the Vancouver International Film Festival, but if you’re a Mamoru fan, keep your eyes open for it. I’d recommend watching it at home, though, not necessarily on the big screen.
Tachigui Retsuden is only one of the films at this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival, which runs from September 28 until October 13. For more information, check out the festival’s website at http://www.viff.org.