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Japan Cuts Roundup: It's Me, Bad Forest!

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We're in the home stretch

So Japan Cuts has officially ended, but that doesn't mean we're done writing about it. We've still got a few more reviews to do and our massive roundup coming this Friday (a scaled down version of which will be posted here).

Today, we've got reviews of It's Me, It's Me and The Warped Forest, as well as a non-review of Sion Sono's Bad Film. Also, we've finally got together a proper review of I'M FLASH. That can be found here.

[For the week, Japanator's sister site Flixist will be covering the 2013 Japan Cuts Film Festival. They will be rounding up their coverage here for your convenience. For their full coverage, click hereFor their coverage of the New York Asian Film Festival, which is a Japan Cuts partner, click here. Keep up with the Japanator roundups here.]

The Warped Forest (Asatte no Mori | あさっての森)
Director: Shunichiro Miki

Synopsis: Three businessmen lounge around a hot spring chatting, when suddenly the owner opens the door and plotzes: these guys have been missing for days. What are they doing here? Cue dance-powered teleportation to a quiet village where differently-sized people all peacefully co-exist. There are giants, or maybe they’re normal sized and everyone else is tiny. There’s a guy who has a tiny bio-monster attached to his nipples, a weapons shop owner obsessed with hacking his dreams, and a young woman with a weiner gun who’s hunting the wild Pinkie Pankie. And, of course, everyone is eating Kittka fruits, which grow on young girl-trees, look like genitals, and seem to make those who suck their milk deeply stoned. Hovering over it all is an inverted black pyramid floating in the sky like some kind of 1960’s science fiction sun off a prog rock album cover.

Thoughts: When people think of Japanese craziness, they're thinking of The Warped Forest. You need only read the synopsis above to get a sense of just how bizarre the whole thing is, and it's so much weirder than it sounds. There's not really much else to say. Although if you do see it, don't see it alone. Having other people who are just as confused as you are makes it a much more pleasant experience.

Verdict: See it (with a crowd). [Read the full review here!]

Bad Film

Bad Film
Director: Sion Sono

Synopsis: In an alternate history 1997, Tokyo is a gangland war zone, divided between feuding factions from the Chinese Baihubang and the Japanese Kamikaze. The Kamikaze prowl the streets in a campaign bus, spewing vitriol from a loudspeaker; their leader is a bald lunatic whose only abiding passion is for a severed pig's head he keeps in a plastic bag. The hyperactive narrator tells us that ancient race hatred is the war's driving force. But when a Kamikaze girl meets a beautiful Chinese junk dealer, a lesbionic Romeo & Juliet story blossoms. Soon, they and the other closeted queers, freaks and cripples of the rival gangs band together to form a more perfect, omnisexual union. It appears that the years of old grudges and mutually assured destruction are at an end. Nothing could be stronger than love. Except hate.

Thoughts: Bad Film is fascinating, a technical failure that is all the more perfect for it. Shot back in 1995 (on the never-should-be-blown-up-for-theatrical-projection Hi8, no less) but not finished until last year, it is the product of a bygone era and it shows, but it's such a fascinating realization of a vision that it's impossible to do anything other than love it. It's kind of like the Deadly Premonition of movies, clocking in at 161 minutes of brilliance that I never wanted to end... even as the finale couldn't come soon enough.

Verdict: Love it. [Read the full non-review here!]

It's Me It's Me (Ore Ore | 俺俺)
Director: Satoshi Miki

Synopsis: After picking up a cellphone left behind by a customer, Hitoshi, a young electronics store clerk with a case of multiple person disorder (played by pop star Kazuya Kamenashi of the band Kat-Tun), undertakes a popular scam: he calls the person's mother and with the open-sesame magic formula "It's me! It's me!" poses as her son, easily talking the mom into transferring cash to his own depleted bank account. Soon, Hitoshi gets not just a lot more money, but a new mum, and a new "me," in the person of a doppelganger. And that's not the end of it, the young man ends up proliferating, until the whole city becomes a metropolis of "me" (well, him) walking around everywhere. Which is great for the narcissistic young man… until they start killing each other.

Thoughts: When It's Me It's Me is at its best, its a comfortable weird tale, like a Japanese relative to Being John Malkovich or the the work of Michael Gondry, Franza Kafka, and Steven Millhauser. Kazuya Kamenashi is especially good at portraying his doppelgangers (roughly 33 of them over the course of the film), giving each a unique body language and style of line delivery. As mo' me's lead to mo' problems, the film breaks down a bit despite the kooky promise of its initial conceit, and yet it's intriguing becase it remains so peculiar. The main issue I had came from the film's attempt to explain what might actually be going on in this world of doubling and self-multiplication, and what's implied is limiting and not particularly interesting, especially when compared to what's come before. It wasn't enough to undermine my own enjoyment of the film, though it's not best resolution for a promising set up either.

Verdict: See It. [Read the full review here!]


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Alec Kubas-Meyer
Alec Kubas-MeyerContributor   gamer profile

Alec is Reviews & Features Editor over at Japanator's film-centric sister site, Flixist. He primarily covers indie and foreign films, especially ones from Asia. He's not madly in love with Japane... more + disclosures


 



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