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Assault Girls (2009)
Let the game begin.
Filmmaker(s): Mamoru Oshii

Three women and one man - with an assortment of weaponry - wage war against giant mutant sandwhales in a barren digital landscape, all to achieve points within the virtual reality video game called Avalon.

Assault Girls (2009)

Long Form Loop

I study long form film to see how it works.

Some times what I end up seeing doesn’t work. That is the case here; only the costumes matter, and one episode has resonance. Does that one episode qualify this as long form?

Maybe. Long form has less to do with length than whether things evolve and the film has some chance of helping the viewer evolve.

The outer wrapper of this is a dreary ten minute initial narration that gives us completely irrelevant history. An inner wrapper that constitutes most of the hour has three young women (hardly girls) and a scruffy guy “playing” a virtual reality game. This is as much a waste. We never exit the game but we sometimes ‘pause play.’

But smack in the middle is an odd sequence. Twice earlier we have a well photographed closeup of a snail. One of our ‘girls’ puts it on the head of a small weathered statue of a wizened if young traveler.

It is a very Katachi action. She and us study, admire and move on. In turn, each of the other three encounter it and we are supposed to get key aspects of their person from this. We don’t, so that is a waste too. But that initial encounter evokes a deep inner narrative I have about some facet of Japanese spirituality and form, sex and striving in general and within my private shell what urgent peace is all about.

All the hard work was done by me, based on what boils down to one moving image. Would I call this long form? It had the effect of long form, but there was essentially no interaction between me and the artists.

In the midst of all the provocative narratives I had spinning within me (whether to fight, whether to seek grace), was one about other filmmakers and who I wish was my companion here.

Fruit Chan. His Public Toilet goes on and on, using lives I could not care about, folded casually. But at the end, oh what resurrection of everything that went before. That one scene connected with all else, in the film and without. Mastery. Now that’s long form.

Posted in 2015

Ted’s Evaluation — 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.


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