[Originally published in Queen Anne & Magnolia News, June 2, 2010]
Richard T. Jameson and Kathleen Murphy light up the third week of the festival
Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo (Jessica Oreck, USA, 2009; 91 mins.)
Buried in this all-over-the-map meditation on Japan’s fascination with insects are lovely, nearly mystical moments. Did you know that there’s actually a country where little boys beg their daddies to buy them a handsome horned beetle, and families travel out into the country to enjoy the nocturnal beauty of fireflies? A place where festivals celebrate and aficionados enjoy the “crying” music of crickets and cicadas? The Japanese love their bugs (not just Mothra), which show up all over the place in pop culture, art and philosophy. An animal keeper and docent at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, Jessica Oreck is no filmmaker, but she gives us an often stunning snapshot of a national psyche that’s capable of embracing the poetry of insects, whose brief lives reflect our own transience. â€”KAM
Ondine (Neil Jordan, Ireland/U.S.A., 2009; 111 mins.)
It would be silly, of course, to build a movie around the question of whether a beautiful woman pulled from the sea in a West Cork fisherman’s net might be a mermaid. But a selkie, nowâ€”a creature with the capability of transforming from seal to woman and back againâ€”that’s another matter entirely, and a fine vehicle for writer-director Neil Jordan (The Crying Game, Mona Lisa, The Miracle) to once more travel the border where fantasy and scuffed-up reality trade valences.