Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Kantoku · Banzai! (2007)
I can see why some people would hate this movie, but there are a lot of people who shouldn't miss it. I will argue that it is immensely funnier and more meaningful if the viewer: 1.) Has seen several of Takeshi's other films (at least one or two gangster ones, Kikujiro no Natsu, and Zatoichi for good measure)
2.) Is familiar with classic Japanese cinema, particularly the works of Yasujiro Ozu...but samurai and horror films are skewered here, too, so if they're more your bag, you'll still have something to relate to.
Bonus enjoyment if the viewer: 3.) Has some knowledge of Japanese and can catch the nuances that subtitles can't capture--the subtitles are indeed serviceable, and my Japanese isn't good enough to understand it without them, but some of the ritual Japanese expressions I caught were uproarious in certain contexts in the film
and 4.) Has spent some time in Japan. I feel like Japanese society, ritualistic conventions, and mannerisms are lampooned often in the film, and any Westerner who is often confused or frustrated by them may find this film a relief and a delight.
All in all, though, what is most necessary is an open mind. This film does not have a very meaningful ending, and even makes fun of the loose ends it leaves undone. It was made for the sake of comedy and is not plot or character-driven, so don't expect Hana-bi. If you're looking for a send-up of Japanese cinema (including the director's own works) and some completely ridiculous, from-way-out-in-left-field humor, check out Glory to the Filmmaker. Some of the gags do fall painfully flat, but even some of the really silly stuff made me laugh harder than I have at any other film in quite a while. Some of the film parodies are pretty subtle and understated, where you could *almost* take them seriously if they weren't in the context of such a ridiculous film, but since the movie makes it clear from the start that everything's a joke, you'll find yourself laughing out loud at the little things that are deliberately askew in them. The narrator is wonderful, too, and is responsible for a good portion of the laughs in the film. Personally I found this more accessible and far more enjoyable than Takeshis', perhaps because unlike that film, the director's intentions are clear here from the start: he's just doing it for the laughs.
Zukan ni nottenai mushi (2007)
The Japanese Equivalent of Epic Movie
This film is completely idiotic, unfunny trash. The humor in it caters to a five year old's sensibilities at best. I chuckled twice, maybe, but the rest of the time I was rolling my eyes and cursing at the relentless stupidity on screen. I can't believe I made it all the way through the movie, but I forced myself to because I have a bizarre compulsion to finish movies I've started, provided I've rented them and not just tuned into them on TV, and I had indeed (unfortunately) rented it for a whole 80 yen. The only reason I rented it in the first place was that it was one of the only Japanese movies there that had English subtitles; had I had any idea of how bad it was going to be, I would have left it on the shelf, or paid not to be burdened with it.
An example of the humor you can expect to find throughout the movie: in the opening scene, the female boss of this magazine is yelling at the main character, a journalist, and giving him an assignment he doesn't want to do. Then she farts really loud. And goes, "Oops, that was me...Oops, I may have made a mess. I'm going to go clean up. I'll be back."
That's about as highbrow as it got.
Cloak and Dagger (1946)
has its moments
While this is probably the first Fritz Lang film I wasn't overwhelmingly impressed with (well, maybe Siegfried, too), it does have a couple of things that make it really worth watching. Cooper's fury as a scientist early on in the movie railing against the amount of money the government pays for the development of killing machines, as opposed to curing diseases and making the world a better place, is beautiful and gave me chills. It's an incredibly powerful expression of grief and outrage in the wake of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (this movie came out only a year after the end of the war). Also, there's an INCREDIBLE fight scene late in the movie, in which Cooper's character (who's really a professor, and just an ordinary man, not a hardened fighter) struggles with an Italian spy. I don't think Lang is known for his fight scenes, but this one is a masterpiece. There's no Jackie Chan flying over tables, swinging on chandeliers, or kicking people through walls; instead, you have an ordinary man struggling with a somewhat superior opponent, in a very realistic, very brutal fight scene. A lot of small, practical self-defense moves I remember my dad teaching me when I was young are employed in this fight, including stomping on someone's instep and a couple of simple arm grapples. The action is extremely believable and practical, and the combat is savage, between two men fighting desperately for their lives. No one watches Fritz Lang movies for the fight scenes, but this one's really one of the highlights of this otherwise "eh" film--it's extremely well-done, and very surprising for a 1940s movie.