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Quick Takes #4

January 28, 2013

I’m Flash (2012)

Toshiaki Toyoda’s second theatrical release for 2012, in the heels of the art house affair Monsters Club, is a more mainstream oriented gangster tale. Death Note’s pretty boy Tatsuya Fujiwara stars as a young cult leader who escapes political scandal to his Okinawa base, protected by three bored bodyguards lead by Ryuhei Matsuda.

I’m Flash is somewhat a return to roots for Toyoda, with stylized visuals and rock score, yet it is a disappointment. For what was intended as trendy genre pic, it is neither stylish enough nor especially original. The setting echoes of Kitano’s Sonatine, but without the laconic humor. Fujiwara falls short of charisma, Matsuda has little to do until the final reel, and the religious cult theme is underutilized.

The mediocre film only comes to life during the final 15 minutes, which is a blazing showdown of violent old school Toyoda. Had the entire film been as good, it would be small gem.

Lesson of (the) Evil (Aku no kyoten, 2012)

One for the high school teachers! Students need not be tolerated, they can be executed! Takashi Miike’s violent thriller sets a school load of teenager on the line of fire when the beloved English teacher decides to go postal.

Miike’s film is lacking in clever satire, especially when compared to Battle Royale which keeps creeping to mind more often than once. Yet, the bloodbath is strikingly stylish. Bodies keep piling up and Die Moritat von Mackie Messer (1928) builds tension on the soundtrack.

Hidaki Ito, with the charisma and looks of The Bold and the Beautiful’s Ronn Moss, is a standout as the charming but murderous teacher. His victims are little more than an excuse for the bloodshed, but the young cast is solid enough to keep the film together during the long build-up.

The film should mark Miike’s commercial return after a few misses, grossing in one month more than the new Batman did in all year at the domestic box office! In the light of the recent real life events, though, all US screenings seems destined to be cancelled.

Giant God Warrior Appears in Tokyo: Movie Version (Kyoshinhei Tokyo ni arawaru, 2012)

The end of the world by Hideaki Anno. Tokyo is destroyed to the last building in this poetic, jaw dropping tokusatsu tribute shot entirely in live action. No CGI effects were used, but rather miniatures and trick shots.

With razor sharp images that look magnificent on a 20 meter screen, narration by Neon Genesis Evangelion’s Megumi Hayashibara, and villain appearance by the giant monster from Miyazaki’s Nausicaä, it would make a perfect opening sequence for an Evangelion movie. Indeed, the movie edition, the slightly extended from the original 9 minute tokusatsu museum form, was attached to Evangelion 3.0 as a pre-movie.

It’s a shame Anno’s brilliant attempts at live action Evangelion sequences never seem to come closer to reality than pre-movies, trailers or deleted scenes. Giant God Warrior Appears in Tokyo, which was produced written and produced by him, and directed by Evangelion director Shinji Higuchi, is the most impressive so far. The production house behind the film is none other than Studio Ghibli.

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