Saturday, April 23, 2011

Christopher Doyle talks "Underwater Love" and "Rabbit Horror" at TIFF Bell Lightbox

by Matthew Hardstaff

Folks who attended the TIFF Bell Lightbox this evening in lovely downtown Toronto were treated to a 2 hour talk with uber cinematographer extraordinaire Christopher Doyle, presenting not only "Chungking Express" which plays in a limited run this week, but also earlier in the day opening a photo exhibition at INDEXG of his own work. Doyle is one of my favorite image makers the world over, so this was a special evening, but you may be asking yourself, what does this have to do with Japanese cinema?

Well, last night at the Tribeca Film Festival, "Underwater Love", Christopher Doyle’s collaboration with sentimental pinku director Shinji Imaoka, made its world premiere. So what better way to finish of his two hours talk in Toronto than to show a short montage of "Underwater Love". Christopher Doyle likes to create montages. He creates them as a means to contextualize and refine what the film was about. During the clips shown throughout the evening, he presented his montage for "In the Mood for Love". And much like the montage for "Underwater Love", it contains shots from the film as well as behind the scenes footage.

So what were we treated to? As Doyle put it, it’s a love story about a soon to be married woman who discovers she has cancer, and then meets a kappa who use to be a former lover, and who can cure her cancer by sticking a magic rock up her rectum. In musical form. The montage was a smattering of people dancing, a little bit of sex, some luscious green images of water and tree’s, kappa’s, kappa penis’ and more singing and dancing. True to the kind of films Imaoka makes, its focus isn’t on the sex, but on the relationship between the woman and the kappa. The film was shot over 8 days and given the ‘just do it’ attitude of filmmaking Doyle was pushing all evening, it seems like regardless of the content, this was the kind of challenge he welcomes. Due to the obvious logistical restrictions they had, the film appears to really embrace its low budget roots. The kappa costumes by Yoshihiro Nishimura are clearly proud to be made for very little under a tight timeline. Doyle didn’t mention much of his impression of working with Imaoka nor making a pinku, other than saying it was a nice story and explaining what pink cinema was. Regardless, Doyle definitely brings his sense of immediacy to pink film and creating something visually striking.

Doyle did mention a few words about "Rabbit Horror", the 3-D horror film directed by Takashi Shimizu, which he explains is less a horror film and more about relationships and the barriers that obstruct them. He also mentioned that the film is a very 2 dimensional 3-D film, and thinks 3-D is too problematic and won’t last. So it sounds like the fact that it was 3-D wasn’t really embraced nor capitalized on. Interesting.

Christopher Doyle ramblings sometimes sound like that of a drunken sailor, and other times like that of an artistic prodigy. He created the crowd with a Mongolian blessing with his pint of beer, which sat at his side the entire talk. It was amazing times.

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