Because of financial mismanagement and boozing, I didn’t get to see anything from HotDocs until last Thursday. “We Don’t Care About Music Anyway” was my first taste of the late night screenings. The documentary portrays a few collaborative artists in the Japanese noise rock music scene. So these people make music that our grandparents think all teenagers listen to.
The first scene is that of a trash dump, rivaling apocalyptic Cormac-esque imagery. Then we see a quasi-classical musician in an abandoned school doing things to a cello that would make Yo-Yo Ma cringe. Then we have a round table of these musicians talking about the economy their weird performances, their weird performance habits, their understanding of music.
The cinematography is effectively garish, watching darkness and trash and sweat evaporating off a man’s body. Then we see a bright white sky above heaps of garbage.
The movie comes off as an interpretation of Tokyo arts and culture, and as one of the musicians featured would say, the lack thereof. It shows Tokyo as a noisy city, and the music, if you can call it that, is a commentary on urban overstimulation and anomie. It’s like watching Dadaists if they had amplifiers and guitars.
Is it a documentary? I don’t know. It doesn’t flow or narrate like one. But one of the functions of the genre is exposing the audience to people and cliques and situations that exist, and the movie accomplished that. It’s just a confused reception to something so new. I imagine to have had the same reaction to the Sex Pistols had I lived in the 1970’s.
I met these male Lufthansa flight attendants at Woody’s the weekend of the volcano eruption. They were stuck here, they decided to go out. One of them is Swiss, can speak German, lives in Germany, but hated it when I asked if he’s German. This either involved the shaming of Germany or because he didn’t like some North American ditz who can’t tell the difference between one European country from another.
Tomer Heymann, director of “I Shot My Love,” also directed the award-winning “Paper Dolls” about Filipino drag queens, so I already like this guy. “I Shot My Love” is a Don De Lillo-esque pun, the movie being about the documentation of the pains of the two most important people in Heymann’s life. One is his mother and the other is his boyfriend Andreas – both of whom get along by the way. She likes it when he sings her beautiful German folk songs. The pain of said persons are connected to Nazi Germany – his mother a Jew whose parents are exiled Berliners and Andreas burdened by his family and country’s history.
Interestingly, there’s this over documentation of both his mother and his boyfriend’s bodies and much as he’s capturing their back stories.
Heymann, mostly invisible in the film, plays the caregiver to his mother. As presumably the youngest of five boys, he’s the only one left in Israel to take care of her as she goes through one surgery after another. He’s also the man who encourages Andreas to live in the present. Heymann, however, is your traditional documentarian in his objective stance towards the lives he’s capturing on film. Despite of what I’ve said above, the people who are weeping in front of the camera are ones personally closest to him while he mostly doesn’t react to them, or at least we don’t often see that in the frame. I’ll accept it if you think Heymann isn’t directly emotionally involved towards the ones he’s documenting.
Despite that flaw, the movie still pulls on the heartstrings. And this is my first HotDocs screening so maybe that’s why I like it more. And among other things, the movie goes to show that if an Israeli and a German can founder a functioning three-year relationship by meeting in a gay club in a city they’re both visiting, the rest of us have no excuse.
p.s “I Shot My Love” just won the Best Mid-Length Documentary Award.