A film by Hideaki Anno

Hideaki Anno's latest film, Shiki-Jitsu (literally: "Ceremonial Day" or "Ceremony", but apparently the official translation is to be Ritual) is still in a theatrical roadshow of sorts playing in Japan. The film premiered at the museum of metropolitan art in Tokyo.

The film tells the story of a young film director who happens upon a woman who performs a curious ceremony, repeating "Tomorrow is my birthday." Intrigued, the director begins to try to communicate with the girl through his camera.

I have not been able to see this film for obvious reasons (ie: it's only showing in Japan and other Asian nations in theaters with no video release, and not yet in the US at all.. *sigh*). However, judging from the trailer - Shiki-Jitsu presents the maturing of Anno as a live-action film maker. Unlike Love & Pop which was shot on standard mini-DV videotape, Shiki-Jitsu was shot on professional 35mm film in the anamorphic 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The film has a highly polished look, with rich saturated colors and intriguing styles.

Watching the trailer, I was immediately reminded of the cinema of Peter Greenaway (specifically, The Pillow Book, 8 1/2 Women, Drowning By Numbers). Indeed, even their pasts have parallels. Greenaway was trained as a painter, before becoming a filmmaker, and thus his movies have a strong visual flare. The same is very much true of Anno, trained as an animator, who became a live-action director. Anno mentioned that when he does animation he tries to make it look more realistic, but with live-action film he intends to make the film look like a painting. This is certainly true of Shiki-Jitsu.