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JAPANORAMA - SEGA BANNER JAPAN-O-RAMA.jpgFast and the Furious Tokyo Drift Lucas Black, Bow Wow, Nathalie Kelley, Brian Tee, Sung Kang, Leonardo Nam, Vin Diesel, Sonny Chiba

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift: a ‘teenager’ who’s always in trouble moves to Japan to dodge juvenile prison (is this a real thing?), but is soon back in the shit when he joins the underground drift/racing crew in Tokyo. For being a franchise film, the only thing connecting it to previous outings is a 20 second Vin Diesel cameo in the final frames – that’s stretching it. A brief list of the things that pissed me off about this film would be: the cheesy all-Americanism, particularly the leads honking redneck accent & attitude; why would anyone give a total stranger their high-spec supercar to race in!?; suspiciously old actors playing teenagers; and most worryingly, all of the girls in the film are there to be race trophies, one of whom actually states “The winner gets me” – what a skank! Also, what the fuck is martial artist legend Sony Chiba doing in this, and why does every street corner, garage, club and eatery in Tokyo have a DJ with decks and big headphones?!?! In the film’s defence, the stunt driving / drifting sections are pretty cool – and to an extent, that’s probably the biggest target it had to hit. The visuals are rich and for all the flaws, it’s well shot and directed on a technical level. Tokyo itself is represented through vending machines, gadgets, high-tech garages, neon signage, quaint bath-houses and gangster-punks. There’s a handful of obligatory ‘Culture Clash – LOL’ moments also put in for good measure. If the rest of the Fast/Furious movies were normal Jonas Brothers this one would be the talentless, embarrassing, tone-deaf one that the parents intentionally keep locked in the basement – hoping that the world forgets about him: unfortunately, Tokyo Jonas is still part of the family, so comes with the box-set, and thus has to be watched and reviewed. Tokyo Drift feels like a totally unrelated, knock-off, emotionless, empty-car-chassis of a film, that had the potential to kill off the franchise. This one definitely failed it’s M.O.T.

Score: 2/10

The Fast and The Furious
2 Fast 2 Furious

Silver Linings Playbook: after a mental breakdown and bi-polar diagnosis, Pat Solitano strikes up a relationship with an equally challenged family friend. STOP PRESS! HOLD THE PHONE! Someone somewhere managed to find a very good performance in Robert De Niro, how the hell did they do it? Both leads are also way above what’s required and expected from ‘rom-com’ standards, and both deliver solid, believable, performances as afflicted people. The story’s engaging and interesting, right up until the final act where it runs through the entire checklist for clichéd movie endings. In saying that, you don’t really grudge the ending as the laugh-count in the first two-thirds of the film was ridiculously high (again) compared to what you usually get in a rom-com. The only thing that kept pinching me was that both leads are ridiculously good-looking Hollywood A-listers, centered around an interesting, unconventional relationship – those two roles could have been brilliant breakthrough fodder for unknowns, but in a way, they still are eye-opening performances, and you wouldn’t want to change the casting of Cooper or Lawrence. Silver Linings Playbook is a surprisingly funny and enjoyable quirky rom-com.

Score: 7/10

Borat: mockumentary following a Kazakhstan TV personality who’s sent to learn aspects of American culture to benefit his country, major hilarity ensues. After about 25 minutes I was thinking “Holy crap, this film’s heading for a score of 9!” however it drops the ball soon after and doesn’t really get going again. It was the first film I’d seen in a cinema where almost everyone laughed continuously for the entire duration – not just a few funnies or gross moments. On re-watching it at home it’s not quite as effective, but still very funny. Most gags are at someone’s expense and / or gross-outs – with a particularly disgusting and pointless naked fight at one point. Because there’s actors and some of the scenes were supposedly staged it’s hard not to dissect each scene, but doing so will ruin the enjoyment for you. The rough documentary style means that the majority of what made the final cut is funny, but doesn’t really have much flow or continuity. Is it the funniest film of the 2000s? Possibly: it’s definitely up there with Anchorman, Superbad, and Team America. Best enjoyed in a big group.

Score: 7/10