Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Thoughts on The Bride of Rip Van Winkle (2016) NYAFF 2016

Iwai Shunji is receiving the Star Asia Life Time Achievement Award at this years New York Asian Film Festival and it's a move that is either going to thrill or annoy the people who have been following his career over the years.  When I was descending into Asian film with wild abandon Shunji's SWALLOWTAIL BUTTERFLY (a review later today)was held out to be the be all and end all of Japanese film by several people I know.  It was a film I was verbally and almost physically attacked for not liking (and you thought fanboys are tough today).  Despite several attempts at the film it has never clicked with me.

The funny thing is that outside of his segment in JAM FILMS called Arita and his HANA AND ALICE I really don't care for his films all that much. I don't think they are much of anything leaving me scratching my head and wondering what the fuss, and the occasional excessive run times are all about.

Which brings me to Shunji's latest film THE BRIDE OF RIP VAN WINKLE which is showing at NYAFF as part of this year's look back at the director.

The film is the story of a young woman who isn't socially adapt. She meets a young man, they quickly marry only to have the marriage fail. She then becomes a maid and later companion to a dying woman.  Its a film about trying to make connections and trying to find ourselves. It can be an intriguing look at society today

THE BRIDE OF RIP VAN WINKLE vexes me. A film of great beauty and occasional stunningly wonderful moments, the film more frequently seems to skid off  in self indulgent navel gazing. Sequences that seem to be firing on all cylinders are followed one ones where the film seems to just be idling and letting things play out way past the point they need to.

At some point, as I did with SWALLOWTAIL BUTTERFLY 20 years ago I shut off and just let the film wash over me.

When the film ended I went on line and started to read about the film. I wanted to know what I was missing.

Apparently nothing since there are two versions of the film and NYAFF is running the full 179 minute one. It's a film that runs a full hour longer than shorter version which is also playing theaters in Asia. This full version is exactly what Shunji wanted to release and reaction to the cut is either gushing love or similar to mine-which is "it's got moments".

Where does that leave any recommendation?

I have no idea. If you like Shunji's earlier films give the film a go. If not it will depend upon how you feel about a film that frequently rambles nowhere.

For tickets and more information go here.

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