As the festival started for some reason I took note that there were a number of great musical pieces in most of the films, but I suppose Live Tape is a different ballgame altogether, with music almost end to end of its 74 minute duration, following the musician Kenta Maeno as we walk in and around Kichijoji, Tokyo in what would be one continuous take involving 15 songs being performed life on the streets.
Opening with following a cute looking girl (Tsugumi Nagasawa) in a demure pink kimono, we soon meet up with Kenta Maeno for that extraordinary journey that will keep you guessing whether it was improvised, or staged. It's a musical-documentary film of sorts that defies convention, but you won't have time to dwell on the many questions as your attention will soon be arrested by the more than interesting background happenings. With people obviously conscious that a film is being made and they stand around to stare, it is in the audience's looking back at what's captured, and the little human background interactions at times, that makes this film a delight to sit through.
Director Matsue was a director-in-attendance guest at the Japanese Film Festival before, and local audiences will be no stranger to him and his films. Here we do hear and then see him appear in front of the camera to perform a quick chat with his subject, the musician Kenta Maeno, and through this moment that a lot more was revealed as to why and how the film was made. It is through interruptions such as these that allow Maeno to interact with the public, and even take a breather and drink, since this was shot under cold weather conditions.
There's a good mix of slow and fast numbers, all of which were excellent to sit through even though I had to rely on subtitles to understand what was being sung, some of it really being hilarious lyrics to read off the subtitles. In any case, music cuts through language barriers, and even without reading what it means, feeling the rhythm as Kenta Maeno moves through the streets of Tokyo, already makes this musical-documentary a winner. It's no wonder why it was awarded the Best Picture Award under the Japanese Eyes section of the Tokyo International Film Festival.
For those interested to know the full set list of what's being performed, here it is: Summer at 18, Tofu, Fat on My Heart, 100 Years From Now, The Living Me, Fat on My Heart, Mansion, This Body, Romance Car (with Er Hu), Can't Be Just Friends, The Message, Dance (with Saxophone), Sad Song, The Blue Room, Weather Forecast (with The David Bowies band) and Tokyo Story.
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