Monday, August 28, 2006

edinburgh film festival 8/25

Next Door (Naboer)
Pål Sletaune / Norway / 2005 / 75 min
Kristoffer Joner, Cecilie Mosli, Julia Schacht, Anna Bache-Wiig, Michael Nyqvist, Øystein Martinsen


'Neighbours, everybody needs good neighbours...'
Having just broken up, somewhat acrimoniously, with his long-term girlfriend, mild-mannered John lives alone in the apartment they formerly shared. His days are uneventful, though you sense a lingering misery over the end of his relationship; the world outside seems curiously blank and distant. But then, one day, he realises that next door live two highly attractive, intensely sexual young women (flatmates? sisters? lovers?), who tempt him into various kinds of transgression - a fantasy that quickly descends into nightmare... Reminiscent of Polanski's classic Repulsion, as well as some of the darker imaginings of David Lynch, this quietly horrifying thriller - from the director of Junk Mail (EIFF 2000) - is a genuinely frightening journey into the subconscious, which tightens the screws inexorably to its stunning climax.

Jake Clennell / USA / 2006 / 75 min

Welcome to the many mysteries of Japan's 'host bar' phenomenon.
The 'Great Happiness Space' is Osaka's Rakkyo Café: a club run by ambitious young entrepreneur Issei, where a core staff of 20 young men are groomed to become the top male escorts in the city. But contrary to expectations, these boy-toys are (mostly) heterosexual, and their clients are strictly female: attractive young women who are willing to spend hundreds and even thousands of dollars on these sharp-dressing, smooth-talking young men - buying their time, 'financially worshipping' them, in return for 'sweet conversation' and ... ahem, other services. Which would be unusual enough, were it not for the fact that many of these female patrons are themselves prostitutes - who, you would think, should know better. A cold-eyed study of love for sale, this is one of the most puzzling, paradoxical, and provocative documentaries of the year.

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