Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Climber's High (2008)

One of the finds of last years New York Asian Film Festival has turned into a major pain in the butt in the year since I saw it. The problem is that this excellent newspaper drama appears to be unavailable in a print with English subtitles. Its annoying since this is exactly the sort of film that clearly shows that the Japanese do more than action, horror or animation. Its also the sort of film that I want to hand off to as many people as possible because it's so good

The film is told in flashback as retired reporter is heading into the country to go climbing with the son of a colleague. He regrets that he gets on better with the young man than he does with his own son. As they head into the mountains he remembers back twenty years to the day when he was to do the same climb with the colleague. Unfortunately before they could head into the mountains a plane goes down resulting in the worst single plane air disaster in history. What then follows is a race as the reporters on the paper closest to the crash try to discover what happened and why. It’s a tense thriller of sorts as the reporters try to deal with what is happening in their own backyard.

I can’t say enough good about this film. Once it starts it just grabs you and goes.It’s just a rip roaring newspaper drama that just moves like the wind and races straight to the end. There was no point during its two plus hours that I ever felt the need to look at my watch, indeed I even felt a bit odd at the end because I thought the film had just started.

It’s a film that shows you how newspapers work and why they are necessary in our lives. The stories they cover matter, especially on the rapidly diappearing local level. The reporters are able, thanks to their local connections to get information that eludes the big guys. Its a telling statement in these days of network news from an entertainment division and super national news networks like CNN and Fox who are just too big to cover you home town.

I like how the filmmakers have used a fictional paper to examine an actual event. I think in many ways it adds to the tension and adds to the story since even though the story is real, the plane crash really happened, we are not tied down to a documentary of events, indeed we are allowed to wader farther afield to tell a bigger story with larger implications.

This was eaily one of the best films I saw in 2009.

As I said this is a film that isn't reasily available in English. If you manage to get a copy let me know where because this film is a keeper.

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