ReelWorld: KAMATAKI (Opening Night Film)

The 6th Annual ReelWorld Film Festival opens with Canadian feature KAMATAKI ... a story about a boy who sulks more than he should for the film's 110 minutes run.

This was the first of three movies in succession I watched with a trusted companion who gave her candid thoughts while screening it with me.

Ken, in all adolescent anger and angst, gets shipped off to Japan to work at his Uncle's pottery workshop. It is unclear why he goes in the first place as he becomes increasingly resentful of his surroundings. After being caught by the police for driving drunk, he remorsefully starts to mend his ways and takes an interest in his uncle's pottery art.

In the end, my screening buddy and I rubbed our eyes, looked at each other and said, " ... ok?"

First off, I really don't like needing to know certain things before I watch a film, especially when they're plot related. There is talk of his father passing and his mother being a nagging nuisance which is the reason why he's in Japan in the first place ... though the summary reads that he himself had attempted suicide before his mom shipped him off. Heck if I knew.

And perhaps I wasn't in the correct head space to watch its rather tedious narrative, or lack thereof and the performances by the actor weren't engaging enough for me to care for anyone in it. The press notes say that director Claude Gagnon attempted to avoid the cliches of a wise old Asian man teaching the rude Western boy a thing or two ... but there was at one point in the screening that one of us mentioned that the Uncle was way too Confucius-like (forgive me for the inaccuracy of ethnicities here.) ... and for an Asian (me) that's a HUGE cliche.

It says it's about redemption and knowledge but the themes flip here, there and everywhere and not to any point of any real satisfaction or reality for that matter. My friend and I cringed at one too many parts and cocked our head to the side and wondered, "Was that REALLY necessary?"

The saving grace of the film is watching the actors engage in the Kamataki, which is the operation of the firing of pottery work (ie: bake) in a wooden klin for several continous days and nights. It is only then that there really is any maturation and tension for Ken who has become solely responsible for managing its fire.

The film slots in with those with high brow tastes, who like to interpret and such as there must be some reason it won Fipresci International Film Critic and People's Choice at the 2005 Montreal World Film Festival.

KAMATAKI - Opens the ReelWorld Film Festival this Wednesday (tomorrow) at the Paramount.

Opening Gala Presentation with "SMOKIN LOUNGE" - 7:30PM @ the Paramount.

Regular Repeat Presentation with "RECUERDO DEL MAR"- Thursday, April 20th - 4:30PM @ the Rainbow Cinemas

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