Of all places, Calabasas, California is the setting for Method Fest, “a festival of discovery celebrating breakout acting in independent film.”
The location away from the heart of Hollywood (just past the western edge of the San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles) might be a nice retreat for those attending. On a personal note, it’s a bummer, because the highway between my home and Calabasas is one of the busiest in the country, constantly jam-packed with traffic and none too inviting for all but the hardy and the Hummers.
Which is too bad for me, because they’ll be hosting the US Premiere of a challenging Japanese film entitled RUNIN (aka BANISHED). The director’s first first was the underseen, much praised by those who did, AN ADOLESCENT.
RUNIN’s narrative is a bit slack and it runs quite long, but it effectively captures the rhythms of rural life and also features a splendid set piece involving rolling large round wooden cages (in which men are locked in) down a hill into the sea. It may sound like something Jackie Chan might do, but it’s very serious, and it fits the narrative very well. Besides, it’s the one image that’s remained with me, in a rather haunting fashion, since I saw it.
RUNIN – BANISHED
(Japan, 149 min.)
Director: Ejiji Okuda
Writer: Izuru Narushima
Producer: Mika Matsumoto
Starring: Keiko Matsuzaka, Kazuhiro Nishijima, Mayu Ozawa, Mariya, Hikaru, Eiji Okuda
For the travel-minded, here’s more about Calabasas.