A.D. 2015: A virus has been spreading in many cities worldwide. It is a suicidal disease and the virus is infected by pictures. People, once infected, come down with the disease, which ...
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A.D. 2015: A virus has been spreading in many cities worldwide. It is a suicidal disease and the virus is infected by pictures. People, once infected, come down with the disease, which leads to death. They have no way of fighting against this infection filled with fear and despair. The media calls the disease "the Lemming Syndrome". Written by
Sitting at a café after seeing this film, I overheard the conversation of some hip thirty- somethings who had apparently been to the same session: " figured it would be a typical Japanese film with long superfluous shots of someone smoking a cigarette and all that ". I can't say that I've ever seen a Japanese movie with such a scene but there is certainly a pervasive sense of Zen in a great deal of Japanese high-culture"high" to distinguish it from the distinctly un-Zen Anglophile pop-culture. Whether it's shakuhachi music, Akira Kurosawa or Noh theatre, silence and ostensibly unimportant details are given as much credence and gravitas as the explosions and plate-smashing we take for real drama. There is a very persuasive argument to be made for such expansion of time because it is in these gaps of technical information that the audience's imagination is engaged and given the space to roamand few things are more vital if the art is to be successful. So, what about Eli Eli Lema Sabachthani? Let's set the scene first. The year is 2015 and Lemming Syndrome is gripping the world. The Syndrome's symptom is suicidal tendencies. The film spends blissfully little time on the sci-fi technicalities of such an illness. What it does spend a lot of time on is music. You see, it seems that two post-punk-experimental musos from the band Stepin Fetchit, may be able to cure people using their ardently noisy music. If you like the idea of constructing a musical instrument out of recycled piping, an umbrella and the motor of a portable fan, then you're going to like this film no matter what. Indeed, the film refuses to run a completely predictable episodic course and, even at the moments of greatest tension, we could well be taken to some distant crag of Japanese coastline in order to record the sound of something obscure. The musicians and their art are lovingly portrayedthe film might well be seen as a paean to the concerted artist. The original music, the grand scale of the cinematography and the touching simplicity of the characters are the film's greatest strengths. Nevertheless, the film fails to fully capitalise on its originality of vision. There are hints of cuteness and confusion that take away from the emotional impact of the story and from the intellectual scope of the content (in a world where suicide is an illness, how can you discern a 'real' suicide?). Still, whether you're a music-geek or a Japan-freak the film deserves to be seen.
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