Thursday, September 22, 2011
Mamoru Oshii is a Japanese gentleman who, way back in 1995, directed an animated film called "Ghost in the Shell" - I've never seen it but it was apparently inspirational to both "The Matrix" and "eXistenZ" and did very well indeed.
He didn't make another film until 2001, when the film he made was 'Avalon': a live-action cyberpunker made in Poland, using Polish actors speaking in their native tongue.
'Avalon' didn't do so well. The Japanese didn't care for it. It was shown at film festivals around the world, no distributor was interested and so it was released straight to DVD. I'd never heard of it until recently but I checked it out and um... now that I've seen it I can see why it didn't do so well, but mind you that is not to say that the film is entirely without merit.
First off: you'd have to be in the humour for 'Avalon' and it'd probably help to know exactly what you're getting into: if you fancy something Matrix-like you'd best steer clear of this one.
But action & pacing isn't all that there is to fillum-making and even though I saw many flaws in this film I still find myself banging the pot on behalf of Avalon because I reckon it's worth a gander.
So firstly the flaws as I see 'em.
Avalon has a paper-thin story about a game that you the viewer don't understand that looks like a steam-punk 'Halo' but has some Dungeons & Dragons-type heirarchy involving Thieves/Warriors/Mages/'Bishops' and experience points.
That is simply not interesting.
The main character lives on her own and plays the game a lot. She barely interacts with anybody in the whole film: when she does interact all these other characters ever really seem to do is supply information about the game.
Not very interesting either.
It looks a little bit like everything else, it has that digi-dour Dark City/The Matrix thing going on in a big stylee and, well, we've seen it before and it's neither innovative nor pleasant.
Dull in every sense.
The main actor never smiles, or expresses anything- she just kind of mopes around.
She has beautiful eyes, we see a lot of those eyes but we never see any emotions in them.
Nil points for an emotional core then.
It focuses inexplicably and in some detail on strange and undramatic elements of food preparation and consumption.
So why do I reckon that every last copy shouldn't be just hunted down and burned?
Well... because I found it to be beautiful.
I mean, yes a whole heap of nothing happens and that is frustrating to the story-follower but a whole heap of nothing happens in 2001 and I personally prefer the Avalon brand of ennui because it's better done and not pretending to be about evolution. I don't think.
Overall... watching Avalon was such an odd strange and quiet experience. Certain scenes and certain moments just pulled me right in and I still honestly have no idea why they did and I respect it for being able to that without having to include either characters or a story that I gave a shit about.
Not one for everyone but if you fancy a break from the roller-coaster story-arc you might well enjoy the weirdness.
I certainly did.
Posted by Darren Maher at 2:11 PM