Film: The Last Moose of Aoluguya (Original Title: Han Da Han)
Director: Gu Tao
Running time: 98 minutes
Q & A with director, Gu Tao
Opening Gala Screening (at the Chinese Visual Festival 2015)
Nominated as Best Documentary, 51st Golden Horse Awards, Taipei
With images of Arirang in my mind as the first scene hits us, I’m in a tad familiar territory. Ironically though, ‘unfamiliar territory’ is what we see ultimately, with the surroundings and individuals, or one could say ‘characters’. A pretty unfamiliar setting and area to most of us in the West, the UK alone, elsewhere and even to many of those who live in China and Asia.
Unfamiliar maybe, but ‘family-are’ [see what I did there?] is perhaps more apt. These people have each other, drink, ties, warmth – even in such cold conditions – and love & affection.
But are these similarities (to “Arirang”… or indeed, life as we know it?) familiar to us subconsciously? Well, the Arirang similarity is only based on this bizarre reviewer’s thought – except, this isn’t a director [Kim Ki-duk I’m obviously referring to here] filming himself on camera.
The latter said, this tale, the third in a kind of documentational trilogy, definitely displays the director’s affections with this place he comes from, and perhaps the persons he has almost once been. Certainly the post film Q & A hinted at such things, although I was pretty tired by this time… But that could have been down to the free-flowing and free-to-obtain red wine at the reception just before the film, held within the grand walls of the… errrr… grandiose King’s College, London.
The genius of this first talking [or slurring?] head scene is its humour whilst dealing with the subject of shooting someone, or something. Simply put though, that the comedy of this drunk-on-camera guy was the true humour or even scene-genius / ‘scenius’.
Either way… It was certainly an opener. Maybe an eye-opener, even if his were probably almost closing. [How about bottle opener? No? Ok, I’ll stop with the ‘drinking’ and ‘opener’ references]
The film, split into a handful of segments, deals with… Yes, you’ve guessed it, a moose or two. But also, woodland, a kind of tribe and a secluded setting… oh and the protagonist’s prot-agonising with what he’s dealing with here – essentially this is being remote and removed from society, roaming to get moose or moose [the latter being the supposed plural these days, rather than that often used ‘mooses’] and not least then keeping hold of them. Plus… err…. alcoholism.
However, is alcohol what he / they (yes there are others whom we soon meet) are really dealing with? Is it one of the problems? Or… Is it just that what they deal with on a day to day basis simply drives them to alcohol? Indeed, “how ironic too that I’d had a couple of drinks prior to this UK PREMIERE”, I was thinking to myself.
By the by, our main man soon admits that he, himself [errr… what a phrase – obviously when we say ‘he’ we also mean ‘himself’… oh Buddha the English language is a pretty uniquely strange one!] has lost a few acquaitances to the bottle.
It’s really hard to describe the goings on in the rest of the film though, without leaving a few surprises for any lucky viewers. It’s both basic and beautiful.
The director did tell us “Sorry” in the Q & A afterwards, for the fact that some shots were off kilter, in filmic style and too that this was due to himself [‘he’?;)] immersing in the alcohol being shared and drunk at times in the filming. Of course, his answer, to a question about ‘how it was filming an alcoholic’ was what lead him to apologise to us, the audience – needless to say that he knew this, in itself would raise a laugh. Or… at least that’s what I took from it.
I’ll leave you with a few highlights from this strange, fascinating and frankly excellent documentary:
*The moment that their ‘tent’ is actually a ‘snow pyramid’, only enhanced by the fact that we then see someone gradually emerge from it.
*A couple of cute dogs on their comedic, and almost haphazard, way through the snow.
*The hilarious leaving of food and drink luxuries, albeit smashed to bits in the process, to a deceased relative… Perhaps in a shamanic way? Well, shamanism is definitely covered in this motion picture.
*The affectionate kissing on the cheek by our main lad to an elder, followed directly by a shot of an animal doing something strangely similar, and actually ‘on us’…!
*A certain person’s later far removed life, settled down with a lovely woman…
… AND the revelation that he’s actually a really talented artist – just like Mr Gu Tao, one could say.
One more thing before I leave you, and also regarding Gu Tao, a man who’s accomplished quite a lot… perhaps even more of a feat considering he was born all the way out [or in?] Inner Mongolia and at the base of some mountains – the Great Xingan Mountains, to be precise – but maybe that’s not that uncommon… What do I know?! Anyhow, Well, this is probably also a nod and appreciation to the Chinese Visual Festival but essentially that they have been screening all but one of Gu Tao’s films, including his latest “Lost Mountain”. In fact, I’m happy to say that I later caught that one, albeit not the other, “Aoluguya Aoluguya”.
See You Later, L’asia or That’s all, Filks*!
Trailer [‘The Last Muse of Aminiminiman’]:
The above are a random mix of URLs and Twitter IDs, and in at least one case a combination of the two. Of course, many more are involved – just take a look at MMM’s first article relating to the Chinese Visual Festival 2015 – but simply too many to list.
That said, I simply must mention one of the partners, or indeed CVF jury member. Why? Who? Mainly because they are very hard working. Well, ok… The real reason is that Mr @easternKicks is a co-founder with Mini Mini Movies, and a couple of others, of the London Asian Film Society (LAFS). So, thanks and well done Mr eK – and here’s a link to our LAFS Facebook page: www.Facebook.com/LondonAsianFilmSociety
As Mr @MiniMiniMovies puts the finishing touches to this rambling review, he is sitting in a restaurant bar which he’s acquainted with already and although one of his favourite staff, from Hong Kong has left, the woman remaining is from Mongolia… albeit ‘Outer’ but you get the connection.
* Filks. A combination of Film and Folks.