Film: Be My Baby (Koi no Uzu / 恋の渦)
Director: Hitoshi One
Running time: 140 minutes
Shown immediately after a masterclass with 3 of the actors from this film – Yuumi Goto; Yuki Ueda; Sadaharu Matsushita – and as part of the Terracotta Far East Film Festival 2014… 2014 being its 6th year.
How apt this film could be said to be, from a personal perspective anyway.
You see, I’d recently witnessed the growth of a very good friend’s relationship – relationships being what this film could be said to be about – which culminated in a wedding in Japan. How fitting, you see? A celebration of love which I was invited to and had to turn down at the last minute [a shame too as I was also all set to take advantage of JIFF 2014 too… Hehehe]
Perhaps culminating is the wrong word. A relationship doesn’t culminate there, all being well… It goes on for many years after, and often ’till death do us part’.
So, here I was in a front row seat and appropriately with the aforementioned, and now ‘just married’ film fanatic friend, at our favourite annual Asian film festival… TERRACOTTA…!
Was I prepared for this film? Well, the masterclass in the morning of this bright, hot Sunday definitely whet my appetite.
Yours truly decided to review this particular film. The question put to me by… errr… myself though, was whether it would be a ‘mini mini’ review or a rambling one. I’ll let you decide.
On with the show…
Just like one of the characters explains in a couple of parts of this movie, on the fact that he could write a paper or thesis on love and/or relationships, I too would like to do just that with this review.
You see, not only could I ‘see’ myself – or certain aspects of me in years gone by – in a few of these characters [the males, I mean :)…] the film could be a guide on how not to treat others, and in particular… ‘women’.
Even the title “BE My Baby” is an order or instruction in itself… An instruction to the opposite sex. Add to this the term ‘baby’ – perhaps a childish or derogatory term which a man names ‘his’ girl or woman – and I feel like I’d actually prefer to name these men as ‘the baby’ in any one of the relationships shown.
You could also say that any relationship problems displayed here are down to the man and their own flaws, vices and pitfalls (or being pitiful petty-fools?)
Anyhow, we open to a house party (referred to as a ‘Haya Kon’ in Japan). It’s 20:30 time-wise. You could, for the first few minutes and more, get a little frustrated or bored – or both – in this first semi all important scene. This could partly be due to the Japanese pop culture references made or simply due to the speed of all the characters’ chatting and therefore the general delivery of the dialogue.
With all respect to the subtitlers, who do a great job of keeping up with the speedy dialogue, and even as the conversations overlap – well, this is a house party, after all – for the viewer it can be tough keeping up with the words, characters and actions.
However, as I say, this is a party or gathering, at least… And for anyone who’s ever attended such a thing [so that’s ALL of you?!] that’s exactly what happens with conversations – they overlap, get mixed etc. In fact, you could say too that it’s even realistic, ironically, as we too (the viewers) miss words spoken, as indeed we would in a real life party-like situation.
Quite a few minutes later [too many?!] – add time, stress and perhaps the fact that we’ve not quite kept up with all the character names mentioned & exchanged – the director suddenly displays each one… errr… one by one. Yes, we are assisted in getting to know them – think “Trainspotting” and the name of ‘Renton’ and the rest of the gang’s names being displayed.
One by one indeed… But next, the director shows us four. Four? Yes, that it’s now FOUR hours later! 00:30…
The latter makes us immediately forget any mis or non understanding from the opener, as we reside to think “ok, it was a party… What was occurring there was not too important” and “But something must have happened in the last 4 hours”… No? You don’t agree? I guess you’ll only know and be able to answer if you’ve witnessed this motion picture. Or… well… maybe that’s just mini-mini-me.
(review continued after this English and Tantalisingly Tasty Tempting Teaser Trailer [a longer Trailer is at foot of article]…)
BUT… in that opener, there is/was/will be* [delete as applicable…] one thing we are drawn to and that is, it seems, a prank shall be pulled on one of the gang. A prank? Are these real friends or vague acquaintances? Or… they are all friends but one being subject to a teasing often. Well, we probably aren’t too sure. We are though, believing that this is a joke on a man, upon the introduction of a woman – the introduction to the ‘tease-ee’ and indeed us, of course. Naturally, all the remainder of that now infamous opening scene is the usual, but vague character-building… but definitely scene-setting.
Right… Fast forward to the said time of 00:30. What’s happened?
This is where we are introduced to the 3 other interior locations. Yes, this film is all set in 4 locations, those being homes of 4 of the characters… but… not exclusive to just 4 people. There are partners who stay over, share the space and in 1 of the homes there’s a friend whom is letting another integral character stay at his.
Actually, they’re all integral characters. Essentially the film is 4 relationships which potentially overlap… I won’t reveal any more on that subject.
Every moment after the initial long-ish scene from the beginning keeps you guessing and wondering & I’ll go so far as saying that you’re often surprised. But hey, isn’t that how all films should be?
Aspects which ARE presented to us – either visually or simply verbally (or both… But I want to leave my own element of surprise for you, even in review form) – by those persons concerned are a potential unrequited love, unfaithfulness, longing, ‘ugliness’ [although I wholeheartedly disagree, especially having met the actress in person], loneliness, young love, prostitution, minor bullying, desperation, superficiality, sex, motherhood and simply so much more.
I didn’t mention rage or anger in the latter list as I wanted to include separately. And again, this is mostly down to the males. Look out for a well-built up scene or brief quick cut of 4 scenes where the common theme of shouting and being angered is displayed to us. It’s brief – a few seconds – but effective.
The looped intro to the ‘obvious’ pop song by The Ronettes is put to great use throughout the film, as we are constantly advised, by way of a title screen, of the progression of time. Think “1 hour later / 01:00″… that kind of thing.
I could elaborate further but I’d want the viewer to enjoy with little knowledge of what’s to come. Have I stated that before? Kind of. Hopefully pictures and a couple of trailers will keep you intrigued enough.
It’s worth mentioning about the film’s £10,000 budget, hence the strict 4 locations – I’m sure that had something to do with budget, but it never feels like you need to see other places anyway. It’s real proof of how such a poignant and challenging – plus humorous in places – story-tale can be… errr… told. It also only took 4 days to shoot.
I do wonder, however, how they managed to get the sample/loop/intro of the famous “Be My Baby” song thrown into the bargain! It works though.
Is there a Message…? The film, I feel, says a lot about how men OWN the world and subsequently think they can OWN a woman, and treat them how they wish.
In other words… Perhaps the dominance of men over women is more prominent in certain countries compared to others – in fact, we know it is. However, regarding Japan in particular I’ve also countered in the following factors:
* We’re all pretty aware of how elegantly dressed Japanese young women can be. I’m not talking the more traditional ‘Kimino’ but the everyday, modern, fashion-conscience youngsters. For example, comparing Tokyo to Seoul, I’ve been told that the Japanese girls dress less conservatively in comparison to Korean. Then, we have cosplay and the like. Such dressability can make for alluring eye-candy for the Japanese male. But before you shoot me down, I’m not saying that in a ‘they’re inviting trouble’ kind of way, no, no, no, only a shallow-thinking individual would think like that. Sure I’m shallow with some things, BUT NOT THAT WAY OF THINKING. So, what do I mean? Maybe it’s my bizarre outlook on the world, and as much as the fashion is any woman’s choice, I can’t help but think men have contributed to the more alluring, daring, sexy outfits on display.
* The pornography industry is pretty massive in Japan… obviously not just in Japan… everywhere. How do I know this? I just know. I can’t help but think men have contributed to this factor.
* Like the latter, sex, blatant condom outlets (to name one example – not that this is bad), J-Pop collectives and more are plastered everywhere in Japan… although I use that term loosely, having not yet visited Japan and yes, yes, yes I regret the opportunity [remember start of this article?] I can’t help but think men have contributed to blah, blah, blah.
The above points are things I’ve pondered about for sometime. How does a country like Japan, and indeed other countries get that way? I like to think – errrr… well… ‘like’ in a bizarre kind of way – that it’s man’s influence. They sure didn’t just wake up one day and decide to be the subject of those thoughts men get. It’s surely been years of suppression, submissiveness, subtle-control or even blatant.
I’m not alone when thinking that it’s women who should hold the key and control much of the world’s voice, whether as a whole or independently, in leading the way to world peace. Of course, some would argue that the opposite could be said for a certain neighboring country of Japan. Controversial? Perhaps… But man mainly (and not so ‘manly’) controls the economy, power, politics and… WAR.
However, I’d hate you to read too much into this review when part of my experience could relate to my own leanings, and as a man… because I am… Don’t you know?
I’ll leave you with one last thought. Do you feel that a film concerning relationships (and a whole lot more, underneath) can justify an almost 2.5 hours in length? It depends. After all, and maybe the film’s characters would agree… does size really matter?
🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
Q & A
An informative one followed. The two actors Yuumi Goto and Yuki Ueda, plus Sadaharu Matsushita (he appears near the end of the film), fresh from Japan’s shores, confirmed a few details and raised a smile or two with the audience.
Mr Ueda asks our thoughts on the on wearing sunglasses indoors, rather than outdoors. This is due to one of the characters in the film. He continues to state that when this was played in Italy, the audience hardly laughed at the ‘sunglasses indoors’ element but instead found it pretty normal.
That is all.
And the longer, Japanese Trailer?
That’s all, Filks*! I’ll leave you with the fabulous trailer for the 2014’s Terracotta Far East Film Festival!
* Filks. A combination of Film and Folks.