The French computer programmer Laura inherits the task of making a computer game of the Battle of Okinawa in Japan during World War 2. She searches the Internet for information on the ... See full summary »
Paris 2002. Yellow cats appears on the walls. Chris Marker is looking for these mysterious cats and captures with his camera the political and international events of these last two years (war in Iraq...).
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Mehdi Belhaj Kacem,
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The French computer programmer Laura inherits the task of making a computer game of the Battle of Okinawa in Japan during World War 2. She searches the Internet for information on the battle, and interviews Japanese experts and witnesses. The extraordinary circumstances of the Battle of Okinawa lead Laura to reflect deeply on her own life and humanity in general, particularly the influence of history and memories. Written by
Brian Rawnsley <email@example.com>
Almost half of this film is the lead character sitting beside her computer in her study, giving a monologue to the camera. It appears to have been filmed on home video. I was imagining, while watching, that this lady might have written, directed, filmed, acted, and edited the film as a sole effort, because it was quite amateurish and that seemed plausible.
I was surprised when the credits rolled and I saw that it was directed by Chris Marker! While watching it, the dialogue had reminded me of him and some of his earlier films, but I'd never have imagined that he had made this. I'd have had much higher hopes of him....
The first 15 minutes or so is an exercise in the cheesiest computer "effects" ever committed to film. To worsen the pain, these effects are accompanied by a ridiculous and grating soundtrack. As the film progresses, these effects gladly become sparser and the documentary story takes precedence over the cheesy cybernetic plot.
As someone unfamiliar with the story, I found the documentary parts about Okinawa in WWII quite interesting. The other redeeming factor is the poetic and frequently insightful dialogue of the monologue. However, it's not as refined as in some of Marker's earlier and more popular films, and it has a couple problems in my view. Firstly, there are too many name drops: it's as though Marker wants us to marvel at how many influences he has (and yes, I caught those obvious and overstated references to classic French films, but not with pleasure). Secondly, it contains a mawkish, anti-war moral sentiment which includes several comparisons to the Nazis and culminates in pitiful head shaking and near tears. Let me get out my violin.
Encapsulating the documentary and narrative are a cyber story with a love element that aren't very interesting, but allow Marker to insert a few thoughts on memory, technology, and relationships.
My partner utterly gave up on this film after 15 minutes. It is truly very lame, cheesy, amateurish, and barely tolerable, but it does have some decent parts, particularly towards the end. Contrary to other reviewers' opinions, it's certainly nowhere near a masterpiece. Perhaps it's some kind of artsy fartsy type of "masterpiece" that will be admired by the same type of people who praise a can of paint splashed on a canvas by an 8 year old, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone else.
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