|Index||4 reviews in total|
It's New Year's Eve for the Hotel Avanti, and the whole place is in
panic mode. There's an award ceremony and countdown party to prepare
for, guests to greet, entertainment to organise, a persistent call girl
to deter, an escapee duck to find, and more.
It is near impossible to sum up this film in a few neat concise paragraphs. The level of writing that has gone into this film is fantastic. Throughout, it really feels like a stage play. The viewer feels intimate with the story and characters, and there is a real warmth and closeness there that is rare to find. Perhaps it the writer's experience with the stage that allows that quality to come through, and as such it is a real strength for the film.
This intimacy really helps the viewer to involve themselves in the story, which is incredibly fast-paced and deliciously mischievous in design. The film is really funny, and represents a very full spectrum of humour, from "hmmm" funny to "hah hah", and wry to downright silly, but still manages to be quite understated. This isn't the kind of film that you will make Pepsi come out your nose, but it is really funny all the same, and and there are some hilarious cock-ups that will have you giggling gleefully.
The jokes of course wouldn't work without the film's biggest strength: the characters. They are all so enjoyable to watch, as their adventures and mishaps tangle and spiral together, gathering momentum in one huge snowball effect. Some scenes are the culmination of so many threads that it is wonderfully painful to watch it all come together. It is hard not to talk at the TV. To the writer's credit though, the film is often refreshingly unpredictable, and I was impressed to find that this comedy of errors didn't just rely on the same old gags as similarly styled comedies.
The film also carries a dramatic message, and while all of the characters are caricatures of sorts, they are much deeper than that, and live and breath to the extent that the viewer finds themselves genuinely caring about what happens to them. There are so many great characters and scenes in this film that it would be a very cynical viewer that couldn't take away something memorable from it.
The Uchoten Hotel is a delightful film, expertly written, directed and performed. Even as the film effortlessly straddles zaniness and sophistication, and its many threads entwine together, the viewer can, just as the Hotel Avanti promises, think of the place as their second home.
The Uchouten Hotel, is, like the name suggests ("uchouten" means
something like "to be beside oneself with joy") an extremely
fast-paced, incredibly hysterical comedy by Koki Mitani (who also wrote
and directed "Warai no Daigaku") about a very busy New Year's Eve in
the five star Avanti hotel.
The comedy varies from situational comedy to elements of typical Japanese slapstick and spiced up with unexpected turnouts and embarrassing cock-ups for the main characters.
The film sports some of Japan's most popular actors, such as SMAP singer Katori Shingo and Yakusho Kouji, famous worldwide for his part in the recently Hollywood remade "Shall we Dansu?".
The movie is classical Japanese humour performed flawlessly without retreating too much to old clichéd banalities. I warmly recommend it to any lover of high-paced comedy.
Suite Dreams plays like one of those Michael Hui's style of 70s and 80s
style of comedy. Everything takes place in one location. Known as
Japan's "King of Comedy", director Koki Mitani certainly displays a
good sense of humour. In Suite Dreams, he is able to create a
light-hearted, mindless, carefree comedy that is both outright funny
and somewhat refreshing. Mitani's style of comedy is simple; a bit like
stage comedy, what you see is what you get, which translate to obvious
comedy. In that, you laugh at what you see, you hear and how the
characters react to situations thrown at them. While a lesser comedy
director like Wong Jing will go overboard, Mitani never drags out his
sets or jokes, which results in his ability to achieve direct humour
rather than over the top annoyance. Running at over 2 hours long, Suite
Dreams feel like a quick car-ride and breezes by before you realise.
Movies made for laughs are a rarity nowadays and Suite Dreams delivers
exactly that. All in all, Suite Dreams is unlikely to set any house on
fire, but as a comedy it simply works. It is a kind of movie that
requires the audience to check-in and enjoy your stay till your next
check out point
Neo rates it 7/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Uchoten Hotel is a fast-paced portmanteau piece focusing on a dozen
characters brought together under the roof of one hotel on New Year's
Eve. Ably scripted by Koki Mitani who gave us the underrated Warai no
Daigaku, populated with a stellar cast, this film achieved very decent
box office in Japan. Mitani's tributes to Billy Wilder that crop up
through the film give a clue to the audience demographic that fueled
the grosses in Japan: 50-plus middle class couples looking to smile.
That is not to denigrate the film, only to more clearly say what it is
and what you should not expect. There are no real laugh-out-loud
moments (though Toshiyuki Nishida, who pops up half-way through, comes
closest), and you won't cry. It's not It's A Wonderful Life, but it is
not bad if you are in the mood.
The performances on the whole are top drawer, with Koichi Sato, Nishida and the ever- flawless Koji Yakusho stand-outs. YOU is under-used as a timid singer who finally finds some steel (though not a voice, as her stage appearance at the end reveals), and the only cringe-inducer is Kabira who shouts his way through his role as a frustrated suitor. Some of the stories, too, work better than others - the cheating professor gets tiresome, and the Chairman's face-painting dilemma doesn't quite come off. But the bellhop who gives away all the icons of his failed musical ambition only to have them return through convoluted routes is quite touching, Takako Matsu as the single mother bringing together star-crossed lovers plays out nicely, and the spineless politician who is saved by a hooker and, inadvertently, a busker, is strong on heart and comic irony.
The film came out during a wave of nostalgia in Japan for the Showa era, more specifically the post-war period up to 1989. The Japanese baby boomers who came of age and shaped that era, and who are now in or approaching retirement and have all the disposable income in the country, took to the film, a feel-good flick with the look of a previous era and a life-affirming message. It might not receive such a warm welcome overseas, but for those in the mood for Japanese-style unchallenging schmaltz, the film is worth a look.
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