Category Archives: Bits and pieces

Takeshi Kitano’s nearly impossible-to-complete videogame

File:Takeshi_no_Chosenjo_boxartThanks to Tweeter Paul Weedon, I was last week alerted to the existence of Takeshi no Chōsenjō aka Takeshi’s Challengethe ill-fated 1988 venture into the world of videogaming by indefatigable (and consistently surprising) Japanese media polymath Takeshi Kitano.

“So what?”, I can sort of hear you mutter. Well, by all accounts, it turns out that the game (released only in Japan on the NES) was inspired more by Takeshi’s hatred of video games than anything else, and was almost impossible to complete.

I won’t go into too much detail, but here are some hilarious potted highlights from the game’s Wiki:

The plot and origins

The game’s plot, where a despondent salaryman seeks to find a hidden treasure on an island, is introduced as having been created by Kitano while he was drunk at a bar; however, Kitano himself explains that the plot was solely the result of an hour-long talk at a cafe near his production company

The gameplay

Completion of the game requires several unorthodox uses of the Famicom system, such as using the second controller microphone to speak while playing pachinko, or not touching the controls for an hour. The player must also maneuver a hang-glider to complete a side-scrolling shooting game, made extremely difficult because the controls do not allow the player to move upwards on the screen.

More gameplay

Minor details such as not quitting the salaryman job, not getting a divorce, or not beating up the old man who provides the treasure map, can prevent the player from reaching the ending.

Apparently the game frequently crops up on ‘Worst Ever’ lists, but I for one would certainly love to give it a shot.

UK non-cinephile viewers might know Kitano best from the lunatic gameshow Takeshi’s Castle, an infinitely more dangerous version of It’s A Knockout, which was voiceovered in characteristically cheeky style by Scouse comedian Craig Charles. However, Kitano is one of Japan’s most distinctive cinematic voices, not to mention one of the most important figures in my film education as a younger person. I remember when Film 4 did a short season of his best work (including Violent CopHana-Bi and Sonatine) and I was astonished by the jarringly expressionistic manner in which he used editing in the presentation of violence, and the haunting combination of deadpan comedy and serious emotion that seemed to seep through every scene.

But, yeah, enough of that. Here’s a typically berserk commercial (starring Takeshi) advertising the game itself:

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6th BFI Future Film Festival | Day 3

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Sad to report, but we’re now in the last knockings of the third and final day of the 6th annual BFI Future Film Festival. I don’t have exact figures to hand, but judging by the crowds, buzz and word-of-mouth, I’d say that it’s been the busiest one to date.

The theme of today has been documentary filmmaking, and my first act was to introduce a screening of Alex Ramseyer-Bache and Daniel Lucchesi’s superb doc We Are Poets (see teaser trailer here). An appreciative crowd lapped up the film in screen NFT2, and kindly stuck around for my post-screening Q&A with Ramseyer-Bache. He discussed his multifaceted early approach to filmmaking, the origins of his interest in the story of We Are Poets, and the challenges posed by a tight budget and a relentless international schedule.

The final round of the day’s sessions have all gone in, and include a screening of Penny Woolcock’s brilliant documentary One Mile Away; a presentation of hit online show Becoming YouTube; and workshops on sound recording and interviewing techniques. They follow a day full of workshops and networking sessions.

I’d also like to give a shout out to Piccia Neri (who’s been behind all Permanent Plastic Helmet’s event poster art to date), the leader and architect of FFF Design Global, the design wing of the BFI’s Future Film Institute. Have a look at their work on their website.

We’ll leave you with Rob Savage’s ace festival trailer. Until next year…

6th BFI Future Film Festival | Day 2

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It’s day 2 of the 6th annual BFI Future Film Festival, and the focus of today’s sessions and activities is animation.

The day kicked off with a host of events at 12pm, including a screening of Sam Fell’s cracking animation Paranorman (followed by a director Q&A); a talk by Nic Benns, Emmy award-winning design director and co-founder of title company MOMOCO; and a selection animated highlights from Random Acts, Channel 4’s late night three-minute film slot, commissioned by Lupus Films and curated by ace animator Chris Shepherd.

There’s a whole bunch of stuff still to come, including a programme of BAFTA animated shorts, ident, VFX, voiceover and sound masterclasses, networking tips, script sessions with Script Factory, and the Future Film Animation awards.

And me? I’m blogging from the foyer, and I’ll be here until 5pm to take questions and chat about all aspects of film journalism, from setting up and maintaining a blog, to trying to get your name on press lists so you can invited to preview screenings!

The final day of the festival is tomorrow, and focuses on Documentary filmmaking. It’s pretty much sold-out, but keep an eye on returns, and of course it’s free to come and chat to us, or FilmClub UK (the friendly folk who are sat next to me) in the foyer.

To sign-off, here’s a snap of the crowds gathering in the foyer, outside the BFI Reuben Library aka Future Film Festival HQ:

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6th BFI Future Film Festival | Day 1

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I’m live-blogging from the BFI Southbank today, where the first day of the 6th annual BFI Future Film Festival is taking place. The festival is targeted toward young film fans between the ages of 15 and 25, and features a range of in-depth masterclasses, hands-on workshops, screenings of the best new films by young, emerging filmmakers and inspirational Q&As. Much of what’s on offer has sold out, but do have a look at the website to see if tickets remain for anything. It’s a popular festival!

This year the festival has expanded, taking place across three days, each with a distinct theme. Today’s is fiction, tomorrow’s is animation, and Monday’s is all about documentary.

I’ve got a mixed role this year. Right now, I’m blogging from the foyer, in the middle of a pile of beanbags otherwise known as ‘Blogger’s Corner’. I’m here to offer advice and ideas to any young people who might be interested in setting up a blog, or setting out into a career of film journalism.

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BFI Southbank

It’s incredibly laidback, and fairly close to the set-up I have at home in my other life as a freelancer. All that’s missing is the dressing gown (and the baked beans and toothpaste smeared down the front). I’m right next to Harry Harris of FilmClub UK, and you can talk to him about the film club services they offer to schools and young people countrywide.

Earlier I hosted an onstage interview with the very talented young director Rob Savage following a screening of his accomplished debut film Strings (which he made at the terrifyingly young age of 18). Also  present onstage was co-lead actress Hannah Wilder. The film went down a storm with the healthy crowd in NFT2, who asked some probing questions. Rob discussed such varied topics as his early immersion into life as a filmmaker, keeping to a very tight budget, and touring the film, while Hannah discussed her life as a young actress, and what it’s like to see yourself up on screen.

The day continues with a host of practical workshops, and right now, a screening of Saly El-Hoseini’s cracking drama My Brother The Devil upstairs in NFT3.

To sign off this blog post, I’ll leave you with the trailer for this year’s festival, directed by none other than the very talented Rob Savage:

Draw Something Wild | Criterion creativity

This came to my attention the other day, so I thought I’d share it. Some wonderfully talented creative type (with an enviable amount of time on their hands) has painstakingly reproduced most (if not all) of the Criterion Collection covers using the Draw Something mobile app. Criterion, for the uninitiated, is a DVD and Blu-ray label dedicated to lavish, special feature-heavy issues of classic and contemporary films. Their output leaves the dreams of cinephiles as wet as their bank accounts invariably end up dry.

The madcap intensity of this project nicely reflects the level of dedication and detail which Criterion brings to their work. Here are a few of my favourites:

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Visit Made-Up Stories for the rest

via @grady_hendrix on Twitter

Intel Four Stories campaign | The Mirror Between Us

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The other day I came across the online-hosted screening event, The Four Stories, which is the culmination of a campaign launched by Intel® in partnership with W Hotels to find some of the world’s most promising aspiring film-makers. Entrants were challenged to upload their original screenplays to intel.com/fourstories for their chance to see their idea brought to life on the big screen. The competition was curated by Roman Coppola and his production company, The Directors’ Bureau, with the winning scripts turned into individual ten-minute shorts, and a final film being created by Coppola himself. The winning screenplays were selected from global entries by a panel of judges including Coppola, Michael Pitt (once of Dawson’s Creekif you remember!), and the perma-trendy Chloe Sevigny (who I think I saw last year hanging about on Cambridge Heath Road, but I could be wrong…)

I had a butcher’s at the winner, and my favourite was The Mirror Between Us, directed by music video helmer Khalil Joseph (Flying Lotus, Seu Jorge) and starring the excellent Nicole Beharie (last seen – by me, anyway) in Steve McQueen’s top shagger comedy searing sex addiction drama ShameIt’s a beautifully shot short about two young who women embark on a dream-like adventure through the Maldives islands after an event turns both their worlds upside down. Here it is, check it out:

Competition | Win a trip to NYC with Reaction Replay!

At its most powerful, cinema can provoke a visceral, physical reaction, causing your face to do uncontrollable, unrepeatable things in response. Accordingly, Find Any Film‘s Reaction Replay competition is giving you the chance to win a 4-star trip to New York for you and your friends, simply by recreating your reaction to your favourite movie moment.

To enter, all you need to do is visit the Find Any Film Facebook page, look for your favourite film using their search engine, take/choose a photograph of your reaction to it, and then share it with your friends (or Facebook acquaintances – hey, this is where those people you haven’t spoken to in years might come in handy) to get votes. The more votes you get, the more chance you have of getting in the top 40 and winning the trip to the cinematic city of New York! The winner will then be picked at random and runner up prizes include nine iPad 2 16gb (!) and 30 £50 blinkbox download vouchers (!!). As well as Facebook, you can enter on Twitter, using the hashtag #ReactionReplay. The competition will run until 11.59pm Thursday 13th December, so what are you waiting for?

The organisers asked me to come up with a more personal angle to share with readers, so – because there was no-one around to record me at the time – I thought I’d fall back on the trusted facial expressions of Eddie Murphy to communicate precisely how I reacted to three particularly unforgettable movie moments:

1. Malik’s first murder (Un prophète – Jacques Audiard, 2009)

2. Johnny 5 gets smashed up (Short Circuit 2 – Kenneth Johnson, 1988)

3. The trip-out scene (21 Jump Street – Phil Lord, 2012)

And there you have it. Good luck, people.