Quick Takes #5

May 27, 2013

Wandering Alien Detective Robin (Sasurai no alien, 2012)

A modern film noir inspired by Sting’s alienation song Englishman in New York. A lonely private detective searching for a killer. A sad world that does not accept differing individuals. What makes Lisa Takeba’s 19 minute short film unique is the main character: a big headed alien from outer space.

The odd but amusing film does not make a number of its peculiarity. Takeba plays tribute to the genre with stylish B&W cinematography, jazzy soundtrack and moody bars – not special effects. Aliens live on earth next to humans, and being a minority, they are often discriminated. The “no aliens” signs on restaurant and bathhouse doors remind of the “no foreigners” policy that some Japanese businesses still engage in even in reality.

The alien mask, which marks as the film’s main special effect, is worn by a relatively well known face: Alien vs. Ninja’s Masanori Mimoto. Sushi Typhoon man Marc Walcow doubles for the New York scenes – it was cheaper to fly just the mask than the cast.

Audio Erotica (Iro koe, 2012)

A man’s voice becomes fuel for erotic desire and despair in an urban Tokyo film. A stunningly promising movie by the young (female) director Kimi Yawata.

Somewhat resembling Shinya Tsukamoto’s movies such as Snake of June, Audio Erotica follows a woman who becomes obsessed with her boyfriend’s voice. The sublime film remains focused to its theme and features no sex scenes or female nudity at all. Such scenes simply did not have place in the story. The outcome is one of the most unique and stylish takes on sexual psychology.

The well acted and written film is supported by superb cinematography and harrowing audio. The scenes with the protagonist wandering in Shibuya’s neon light jungle, filled with warm colors and low sounds, are the most impressive.

The storyline eventually descends to a Tsukamotoan hell, but even then the film suggest of a birth of a new talent rather than a tribute to an old master. Here’s hoping Yawata’s film will get enough attention in the festival circuit and not ignored just for being a short movie. The 37 minute movie is easily one of the most interesting discoveries of 2012.

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