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JAPANORAMA - Feast BANNER JAPAN-O-RAMACold Fish Megumi Kagurazaka, Fukikoshi Mitsuru, Denden, Asuka Kurosawa, Hikari Kajiwara, Tetsu Watanabe, Masaki Miura, Taro Suwa, Jyonmyon Pe, Makoto Ashikawa, Lorena Kotô, Suwaru Ryû, Masahiko Sakata, Sion SonoCold Fish (冷たい熱帯魚, Tsumetai Nettaigyo) (mild spoilers): a mild-mannered fish-shop owner crosses paths with a larger competitor who at first seems like an ideal business partner – but that veneer doesn’t last long. It feels like the director started out with two completely separate film ideas; the first 1-hour 45 contains a pretty credible, low-key, tense, but slow-burning con-man drama – with an off-kilter / black comedy undercurrent. The final act transforms the film into a full-blown slasher – which dwells on depraved sex, violence, gore and some body disposal scenes for a little longer than would be deemed comfortable (or necessary), peaking in a hyper-messy crimson-soaked blood ‘n’ guts finalé – shock cinema at it’s best; or perhaps worst! This wouldn’t usually be a big deal, but at 2.5 hours you could have cut two (better, and) entirely different 90-minute movies out of it – an Evil Dead style gore-romp, or Coenesque black comedy. There are glimpses of superb direction and storytelling, straight off the bat, but they end up getting lost in the bigger-picture. Acting is also solid (the runaway star being leading man Mitsuru Fukikoshi’s full-bodied transformation) – although, along with everything else, it all gets watered down and lost within the superfluous runtime. This would, by normal standards, be anything but an ordinary film – particularly because it’s littered with gropey and sensational sex scenes – but when you’re following up from an epic like Love Exposure, this feels lukewarm in comparison.

Score: 5/10

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Goon: a bar bouncer joins a misfit Ice Hockey team as their tactical muscle (a goon) and helps them struggle through the play-offs. Humour is about the only thing that carries this film; it’s crammed with classic jock/locker-room insults. Sean William Scott somewhat over cooks the stupid angle, making Doug the Thug look a bit more Forrest the Gump at times. The ragtag team are a great bunch of characters though – the juvenile eastern Europeans and Richard Clarkin as the divorcee in particular are great to watch. The insult-centric jokes won’t be for everyone, but with ‘Superbad’ and ‘Pineapple Express’ plastered over the poster/trailer you should know what to expect – a swear x-rated comedy. Full of sports movie underdog clichés and sports-comedy clichés (like the inappropriate announcer) it adds absolutely nothing new to the genre, and when you think about it, nobody – not the director, not the fans, not even the cinema audience – even cares if the Highlanders win the cup at the end, it’s all about the brawling! Like Win Win it’s an indie-feeling sports flick centered around a normal guy; but this focuses more on the humour than developing a decent story. Baseketball, on ice, on drugs. Goon is funny beyond expectations if you like these sort of films, and enjoyable to watch, even if it’s a predictable sports story.

Score: 8/10