Sunday, 1 December 2013

JAPANESE FESTIVAL MOVIE REVIEWS: GATCHAMAN, SUMMER'S END, SHILED OF STRAW



GATCHAMAN


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When the world is taken over by an alien race its only hope is genetically enhanced warriors GATCHAMAN. On the world’s place I wouldn’t keep my hopes too high. 

GATCHAMAN is a household name in Japan, known by some as animation series BATTLE OF THE PLANETS, just like X-men in US it’s about  a team of masked heroes with special abilities battling the evil race of genetically enhanced mutants. 


The film opens with a blast with Tokyo burning, aliens invading, and GATCHAMAN fighting back. The visuals are realistic, the battles are inspiring.. until the main masked villains appear… and it all goes down the drain. 


When American blockbusters always have enough budget but at times not enough talent to sustain an entertaining film, the lack of money had definitely killed GATCHAMAN. The budget was blown first ten minutes of the film and for an hour and a bit we have nothing but talks, conversations about duty, friendship and freedom.  Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad, if the baddies were not so laughable and the lack of self awareness so gobsmacking. The dialogues are full of pathos and the entertainment factor is downing to zero. 


GATCHAMAN is a movie  created for fans that ignores fans. Its too serious for its own good, and the issues are too serious to bear. If you are a fan stay away in hope that a big studio one day will make a movie GATCHAMAN franchise really deserves.  





SUMMER'S END




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 A love triangle set in the 1930’s japan is a story of waiting, wanting and pursuing a dream of belonging whether it is a place under the sun or a true love. A young woman’s passion is re-ignited when she meets a man from her past… but she is in a relationship  with an older married man. What will she do when the doubts of the righteousness of her existence will creep in? 

In SUMMER’S END it’s an immaculate period detail that makes it all worth it. The movie is slow, the story unfolds like a dream, switching between the past and the present seamlessly, confusing at times, but is satisfying in the end.  The characters creates multiple obstacles for themselves, they put themselves in cages and struggle to break free, but in order to be free they have to stop being themselves, which is unthinkable.  


SUMMER’S END is filled of meaningful images. The dialogue is short and to the point and it’s silent acting that tells it all. This movie is all that one would expect from a modern Japanese drama, but it remains an acquired taste anywhere beyond and is not a crowd pleaser. 





SHIELD OF STRAW




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 A paedophile killer is being transported to Tokyo from one of the distant prefectures. This simple task is given to a team of cops, surprisingly all of them have common issues related to justice and the society. There’s one twist. The grandfather of the murdered girl offers one billion yen to everyone who kills the man. When every soul in Japan is after the life of one man the team of professional cops is only a shield of straw… 

I have great respect for Takashi MIike. He is an artist of horrific and the bizarre and accepts every challenge he is given.  To make a film out of Kazuhiro Kiuchi’s novel did require Takashi Miike. The moral dilemma of sacrificing you life in order to save a monstrous killer could be laughable if it wasn’t so up to date with current state of the world. This time it’s not about taking justice into one’s hands. Its about standing against everyone for your own principles… even if breaking them seems the most logical thing to do.


 I had not seen an action film in recent years that made me think every step of the way, made me doubt myself and feel for the character’s, calling them fools and then realizing that in this situation there’s no right choice to make. SHILED OF STRAW will bring out your inner devil and is an incredible achievement for an action film. 


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