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Quick Takes #7

August 20, 2013

About the Pink Sky (Momoiro sora o, 2011)

Keiichi Kobayashi’s Tokyo International Film Festival winner is an empty affair. The youth film follows a high school girl who finds a wallet on the street. This leads to a series of encounters with various characters, most importantly the wallet’s owner.

Storyline is secondary to Kobayashi, who is more interested in looking into the psyche of a high school girl. It is for the audience to decide how fascinating of a protagonist a frequently screaming, idiosyncratic and selfish teen girl makes.

Rather than atmospheric and existential, the film is loud and scripted. Comparisons to such masters as Shinji Somai or Shunji Iwai are a far cry from reality – Yuya Ishii’s awkward comedies would be a closer match.

On the positive side, the film’s B&W cinematography is gorgeous and effectively hides some of the shortcomings of digital video

Zero Man vs. the Half Virgin (Hanbun shojo to zero otoko, 2011)

Takashi Miike screenwriter Sakichi Sato’s (Gozu, Ichi the Killer) trendy romance /drama / comedy / fantasy. A policeman wakes up with no memory, but instead a new skill. He can see the number of other people’s past sex partners as the figure appears on their foreheads.

Raunchy concept makes for relatively innocent comedy romance. Sex is limited strictly to one scene where the titular semi-virgin (pink star Shijimi) comes out of her shell. Characterization is decent enough to hold the film together.

Sato makes most out of his limited budget, utilizing wonderful pop/rock soundtrack and some visually mesmerizing scenes. The film is 20 minutes too long, but the energy and innovative camera angles keep the film running.

Performances are solid, including a standout stand-out supporting performance by film translator Don Brown as a 55-hit gaijin. Nobuhiro Yamashita regular Hiroshi Yamamoto co-stars.

The amusing little film is unlikely to be discovered by larger audiences, but possesses potential for minor cult classic. Among mini-budgeted J-obscurities, this is certainly a small discovery. Part of the second season of Artport’s Seishun H films.

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