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A no-budget collection of 14 short (5 min) films shot on video with one fixed camera shot. The directors have collaborated on several features before and here they create a series of shorts... See full summary »
Jason C. Kane
In a Japanese high school, a class of adolescent geeks joins the new synchronized swimming teacher and takes up the challenge to take part in the competition, in spite of the mockeries of the "real sportsmen".
This black comic feature takes a cute, but somewhat dull-witted high school student (model Noburu Iguchi, in her acting debut), and runs her through a series of increasingly bleak misadventures during about a week's time. It's not enough that her grandmother dies; but on the way home, she drops the urn, scattering the ashes to the winds. She gets lost, loses her clothes (several times), becomes the target of a teen vengeance plot... that's just the start of her woes.
Director Yaguchi flexes his indie muscles on this features, and more than once, the effects are a bit strained. This was clearly a warm-up for his next film, My Secret Cache, which puts all of the elements together with the perfect female star. As such, Hadashi no Pikunikku has its moments, but Uguchi doesn't seem to have the chops for comic acting. (By contrast, My Secret Cache boasts the gifted Naomi Nishida, whose reaction shots were often priceless.
Happily, the director would have more indie successes, including Adrenalin Drive and the charming Swing Girls. And we shouldn't forget the continually hilarious, One Piece, which impossible to locate anymore aside from film festival showings.
Perhaps this adequate feature is best for completists, but a more mature comic style (and a better budget) will be found later.
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