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Cedar Rapids Ed Helms, John C. Reilly, Anne Heche, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Stephen Root, Kurtwood Smith,Alia Shawkat, Rob Corddry, Mike O'Malley, Sigourney Weaver, Thomas Lennon, Welker White, Steve Blackwood

Cedar Rapids: when ‘Brown Star’ (the best joke in the film) Insurance’s top sales guy dies they have to send a sheltered nerd to the regional insurance conference to win the prestigious “two-diamond” industry recognition. It’s billed as a ‘hilarious’ comedy, but let me break this down for you; John C Reilly is funny, Anne Heche is semi-funny, nobody else is funny at all. On paper, this is a great idea: a bunch of insurance nerds ripping it up at a corporate weekend – but it’s just not done correctly. A character from The Wire makes several references to The Wire, for no real reason – and the way everyone talks to each other is ridiculous, as if a child wrote parts of the script. Worst of all, not a whole lot of the jokes are funny – it’s definitely humor, not humour! The direction, look and feel are all classic American Indie – in the vein of Win Win, Away We Go, The Informant! – but it’s nowhere near that level. It feels like a studio said to a director “we’ve got this film that needs to be made, get all your friends on it”. As far as “Fish out of water” stories go, this could have been amazing, but the execution just isn’t there.

Score: 2.5/10

JAPANORAMA - It Lives... Bukake JAPAN-O-RAMA BANNERTokyo Decadence Miho Nikaido, Sayoko Amano, Tenmei Kano, Kan Mikami, Masahiko Shimada, Yayoi Kusama, Chie Sema, トパーズ, Topāzu, sex dreams of topazTokyo Decadence (トパーズ, Topāzu): a specialist prostitute with a very particular set of skills is doing some very strange things with salarymen in the hotel rooms of Tokyo. The opening scene has a girl strapped to a chair, gagged, blindfolded then injected with heroin – if that makes you uncomfortable, this film’s probably not for you. It starts of feeling like an exploration piece/eye-opener focusing on an extreme (sub)culture. The film portrays some extremely ‘out-there’ acts, without appearing to be overly leery or vulgar. It keeps upping the ante scene by scene until there’s nowhere else left to go; then it implodes during an ending which, out of nowhere moves the film from a risqué/explicit/shock melodrama into plain old existential pompousity. It’s packed with rough cutting and hard editing; difficult to know if it’s intentional/stylistic or just budgetary constraints. If you like a bit of smut dressed as art or ‘world cinema’ then this is about as wild as you’ll probably get; and if you dig S&M, Bondage, BDSM, Dominatrices etc etc then it’s probably a must own. As a film however, Tokyo Decadence is fairly unremarkable, and if you took away the controversial/notorious S&M scenes it would be a completely unremarkable 2-hour instantly forgettable snooze-fest.

Score: 2/10