I remember taking Introduction to Film Studies in college, and how it felt to take movies seriously for the first time. I remember the wonder I felt at being allowed to write an analytical paper about Guys and Dolls, and trying to wrap my mind around the idea of Hitchock being different from “Hitchcock.” Most of all, though, I remember how it felt to be in a classroom full of people who loved movies as much as I did. After doing nothing but annoy my friends in high school, suddenly my ideas about sex, lies, and videotape were listened to. And instead of weird looks, I got theories and passionate discussion in return. It was an amazing, if brief, time, before we all got too cynical and sophisticated (we thought) to care so shamelessly about something.
This is the intellectual wonderland where the student filmmakers in Mitsuo Yanagimachi’s Who’s Camus Anyway? are in their academic lives. Their chatter is full of eager film references, both because they love to talk about movies, and because each wants to show off how much he knows. As Yanagimachi’s film begins, the students are scrambling to be ready for the scheduled start of their thesis film, which has just lost its lead actor. The team is led by Matsukawa (Shuji Kashiwabara), the director who may have taken the job entirely for its prestige, and Hisada (Ai Maeda), his business-like, highly competent assistant. Rounding out the crew are the requisite types: the socially awkward, brainy producers, the flighty-yet-talented musician, the slightly mysterious, possibly gay actor, and the easygoing goofball who gets by on his charm and looks alone. Overseeing the project from a distance is their teacher (Hirotaro Honda), a legendary director who hasn’t made a film in years. The motley assortment of personalities is inevitably disrupted by all sorts of conflicts, from artistic disagreements to ill-advised sexual encounters, but the eventual success of their film is never really in question.