The most self-reflexive work in the festival is a film about making a film, and about how, when you’re immersed in studying or producing a film, film starts to seep into your reality. There’s something that rings particularly true about this when one’s been seeing two to three films a day oneself (we’re such a wimp) â€” Mitsuo Yanagimachi, who’s returned to directing after a decade-long hiatus, furthers this dreamy disconnect by shooting "Who’s Camus Anyway?" in an overtly attention-getting cinematic style. It’s a intriguing effect â€” the particularly modern dramas of a group of film students working on their senior project, a short based on the true story of Takeda, a teenage boy who spontaneously decided to murder an old woman because he was bored, presented in a near-Classical Hollywood fashion, with swooping camera movements and a lushly orchestral score. The film opens in a long tracking shot that traverses a college courtyard abuzz with the activities of various clubs; we meet members of the short film crew as they scurry around making last minute preparations for the shoot, chasing each other down, frantically making cell phone calls. It’s so meticulously choreographed that, as the take gets longer and longer, that becomes all we’re paying attention to â€” at which point the camera starts to follow the short’s two producers, who are discussing the famous opening of "Touch of Evil," and various other titles that have attempted to outdo it.
It’s a cute touch â€” it’s a cute film, one that constantly and fondly contrasts the realities of day-to-day life with the films that have become our main context for describing them, and that, in a way, begin to prescribe our behavior (characters nicknamed Aschenbach and AdÃ¨le H. even end up acting out small-scale versions of their namesakes’ crises). As a love letter to film culture, it’s a wonderful trifle â€” Yanagimachi is less successful when he tries for something more with regards to the short the students are making. Some of them, including the assistant director Hisada (Ai Maeda) and the lead actor Ikeda (Hideo Nakaizumi), anguish over the possible motivations for Takeda’s gruesome actions, debating them at length (one dubs him a "modern-day Meursault," hence the title). It’s all a bit psychobabbly, particularly when Yanagimachi’s point seems to be a refutation of Takeda as a representative figure for contemporary Japanese youth â€” the characters Yanagimachi presents, vibrant, expressive and endearing, are nothing like Takeda at all.
"Who’s Camus Anyway?" currently has no US distributor.