JAPANESE SHORT FILM FESTIVAL Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Tokyo-Osaka sprawls without end, so it's no surprise that the films in this year's Toronto Japanese Short Film Festival tilt toward the pleasures and pressures of life in the big city.
Platform (Saturday, November 5, 5:15 pm; Sunday, November 6, 7 pm) uses super-cute claymation to show a mother and son caught up in a sudden subway brawl among salarymen. In the silent-styled Room Service (Friday, November 4, 8:45 pm; Saturday, November 5, 7 pm), a woman finds her ideal man in a hotel porter who can pack her trunk precisely. Even the eco-utopian music video for Japanese prog rock band Acidman (Saturday, 5:15 pm; Sunday, 7 pm) contrasts natural harmony with a sonic machine barrage.
For Western audiences, though, the best bet will no doubt be The Lost Samurai (Friday, 10:30 pm; Sunday 5:15 pm). Riffing on recent Japanese excursions by Tom Cruise and Bill Murray, this mock trailer has a full-dress samurai landing in contemporary Tokyo, wandering from video game parlour to karaoke joint. It's a smart idea perfectly executed, and it ends with the famous Scarlett Johansson shot that opened Lost In Translation, which is hilarious.
The TJSFF is one of Toronto's smaller festivals, but the curatorial choices are just about flawless.
(Innis Town Hall, November 4-6)