R100: A quiet salaryman in Japan signs up for a year-long mysterious bondage contract with only one rule – you cannot cancel it. First thing you’ll notice is that this looks weird; the colours aren’t far off black and white and there’s a full-on noir aesthetic (clothes, props, etc). The next strange aspect is the editing: for no reason whatsoever the film keeps ‘stopping’ and cutting to some test viewers trying to figure bits out; and for no reason it dips in to ‘interview’ / ‘documentary’ formats – both tactics demolish the flow of the story. For a whacky, kinky S&M / Bondage comedy… there’s simply not enough laughs, one or two at most, which is unforgivable as a story like this has so, so, so much potential. Overall, R100 is far, FAR too eclectic and random for its own good; but instead of being cult, it’s TRYING to be cult, and falls short, landing up as more ‘rubbish’ than weird, even by Japanese standards.
Big Man Japan (大日本人 Dai Nipponjin): every time a monster appears and threatens the nation, ‘Big Man Japan’ is called upon to fight it off. A mockumentary superhero movie like no other, this is part monster-fighting CGI and part humdrum, everyday issues of an off-duty superhero – wage concerns, pension problems, the effects on your family – all quite quirky and different. There’s a few really gutsy / interesting lines, one in particular about Japanese people not being “anti-American”, but being brought up ‘a little bit like that’ – very interesting, and something that’s very rarely addressed in other movies. There’s a streak of very bizarre – absurd – humour that runs through the movie. There’s not a lot of laugh out loud moments, (mostly very, very low-key, mumbly, superdry dialogue) but when they pop up, they are really funny. The films looks like it’s heading towards a classic showdown, when it – for no apparent reason – changes into an Ultraman / Power Rangers type TV show spoof; which doesn’t really match the rest of the movie and feels like a stupid way to end it. The premise is completely brilliant, but instead of doing it justice, the film feels like it’s concentrating more on it’s genre-ending message that Japan doesn’t really want to tolerate any more monster movies.