Recently Seen, Part 31 (September 2019)

divemaster13

Member: Rank 4
Why Don't You Play in Hell? (2013)

Well, well, well. Another Sion Sono film that showed up in my mailbox from Netflix. How about that. For the first hour, I wasn't sure what I was supposed to be gaining from this movie-watching experience. The plot was rather disjointed, popping between a renegade film crew of losers and 2 rival Yakuza gangs that I couldn't quite figure out what their beefs with each other were. And a little girl singing a toothpaste commercial.

I was mildly entertained. It was obvious the film was not to be taken too seriously. I'd categorize the first hour as "slightly whimsical." Unfortunately, "slightly whimsical" is not really in my genre/tone wheelhouse.

But then, about an hour in (right when the "pretend boyfriend" gets kidnapped to direct a Yakuza raid home movie)...it hit me. Farce! The movie just went all-in Farce, and I really started liking it. Farce is very difficult to do well, but Why Don't You Play in Hell?'s last half is a very enjoyable farce. I was all smiles and even laughed out loud a few times.

Very obvious homage to Kill Bill (even the music is almost a carbon copy of the "House of Blue Leaves" fight between Beatrice Kiddo and O-ren Ishii). Obvious homage to the Zatoichi films, with the style of samurai sword fights. Stylistic homages to HK action (slo-mo and double guns). The renegade filmmaking hints at Bowfinger. I'm not sure that Sono intended it, but I even got a Peter Jackson (Dead Alive) vibe, if you remember the carnage with the lawnmower. The Bruce Lee wannabe was very good. And hilarious. And the toothpaste girl! As a little girl, she's as cute as the dickens, and as a grown-up? I'll call her "short-shorts samurai." Miss SSS might be the most flirtatiously sexy/hot/cute Japanese actress I've ever seen. She's...amazing.

4 stars.
 
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sitenoise

Member: Rank 5
Miss SSS might be the most flirtatiously sexy/hot/cute Japanese actress I've ever seen. She's...amazing
Fumi Nikaido ! @plsletitrain talks about her a lot. I think she's one of her favorite actresses. Me, I take a more measured approach. Fumi started out way awesome but as she's matured past a teenager (almost 40 films in ten years, and she's only 24) she's made some bad choices. If you can stand any more Sono, I think we all had our first crush on Fumi in Sono's Himizu - before she was legal to do much of anything, like drive a car and whatnot

It's a blast reading your reviews of Sono. As someone who hasn't drank the Kool-Ade, you're a great barometer of what 'normal' people might think of his various films.

https://letterboxd.com/film/himizu/
 

divemaster13

Member: Rank 4
It's a blast reading your reviews of Sono. As someone who hasn't drank the Kool-Ade, you're a great barometer of what 'normal' people might think of his various films.
I'm glad you enjoy my reviews/thoughts. As far as Sono goes, I may be at the end of the road for a while. I've seen everything offered on my Netflix plan, and, unlike Korean movies, I don't have a lot of enthusiasm for purchasing Japanese blind buys from YesAsia.

I'm open to suggestions. And, yes, that includes watching from a dodgy website as long as I'm getting the real movie, not some rough cut or dark theater phone-filmed bootleg with subtitles added by some Japanese fanboy loser.

So now that I've poisoned the well, what Sono film should I seek out next and how to watch it?
 

sitenoise

Member: Rank 5
what Sono film should I seek out next and how to watch it?
I think I've been keeping track but you should post a list of the ones you've seen.

I'm surprised Himizu and Cold Fish aren't on Netflix. Himizu, remember, is the flick that launched Fumi Nakaido's career. I can't believe how stoopid it is that you can't search Netflix without signing in, but whatever.

Cold Fish was too mean for me but others like it. Cold Fish and Guilty of Romance are (I just learned from Wikipedia) part of Sono's Hate Trilogy with Love Exposure--if that means anything. I wouldn't really urge you to watch either one, but I liked Guilty.

I would urge you to watch Be Sure to Share, though, if only to see Sono make a "normal" movie. It's about his daddy issues.

So ... Himizu and Be Sure to Share might be all you have left.

I hate this new editor that stylizes my text for no apparent reason. And when I select a word to Italicize, it decides to also italicize the entire next paragraph as well grr.gif
 

divemaster13

Member: Rank 4
I'm surprised Himizu and Cold Fish aren't on Netflix. ... I think I've been keeping track but you should post a list of the ones you've seen.
I've actually seen Cold Fish (via Netflix). According to my notes, I watched it in April 2014. I have vague recollection of it; certain scenes here and there. I remember appreciating it and rated it 3.5. I've been meaning to re-watch it.

All of Sono's other films I've seen this year. A comprehensive summary:

Noriko's Dinner Table: 2.5 (really closer to 2.0, I think)
Cold Fish: 3.5
Suicide Club: 3.5
Strange Circus: 4
Why Don't You Play in Hell?: 4
Love Exposure: 4 (could be closer to 4.5)
 

divemaster13

Member: Rank 4
Ok; I bit the bullet (reasonable price on eBay):

Sold by cinegeekdvds ( 2673 )Order number: 11-03847-79817Processed by PayPal
+ Show additional actions​


Estimated delivery Wednesday, Sep 11, 2019 - Friday, Sep 13, 2019
Himizu (DVD, 2014)

Himizu (DVD, 2014)
Item price$12.49
Quantity1
Item number322975232784
Shipping serviceUSPS First Class Package
 

sitenoise

Member: Rank 5
I've actually seen Cold Fish (via Netflix). According to my notes, I watched it in April 2014. I have vague recollection of it; certain scenes here and there. I remember appreciating it and rated it 3.5. I've been meaning to re-watch it.

All of Sono's other films I've seen this year. A comprehensive summary:

Noriko's Dinner Table: 2.5 (really closer to 2.0, I think)
Cold Fish: 3.5
Suicide Club: 3.5
Strange Circus: 4
Why Don't You Play in Hell?: 4
Love Exposure: 4 (could be closer to 4.5)
That's about it. Besides Be Sure to Share, which you should look at if it shows up on Netflix--don't pay for it, the only other Sono I have at 4 or above is Tag. You wouldn't like it. It's a solid three times re-watched 5/5 for me, for the soundtrack and the running. I love running. I love people running almost as much as people staring pensively out a window of the moving vehicle.

OMG. I'm watching it again
 

divemaster13

Member: Rank 4
Oh no.

You received a refund, divemaster13!​
eBay
Your order was canceled​
Hi David,​
The seller canceled this order due to the following reason: I'm out of stock or the item is damaged.​
They sent a refund to your original payment method.​

I was able to order this DVD movie from another vendor. However,

Ex-Library rental. Disc(s) are professionally cleaned and free of scratches. Disc(s), case, and artwork may contain library/security stickers and ink writing. ARTWORK MAY BE UNORIGINAL AND PRINTED BY LIBRARY. Case and artwork may show some wear.
 

divemaster13

Member: Rank 4
My Friend & His Wife (2007)

I'll be going through my "Korean not yet watched" DVDs this month. Tried My Friend & His Wife, which mas made by the same guy that directed Host & Guest. Maybe I'll call him the ampersand director.

Well, I didn't much like it. About the same reaction as I gave Host & Guest ("Grouchy out-of-work film professor and introverted Jehovah's Witness strike up a strange but fairly boring friendship.")

The first 45 minutes or so were ok. Setting up the relationships. Young married couple barely making ends meet and the on-the-rise stockbroker friend of the husband. The young couple has plans to emigrate to the U.S. to better succeed in their respective skill areas (cook and salon worker). But their plans fall through. It seems like the rich friend will assist, but it was never clear how he did. In any event, they didn't go to America. Note how I said "it was never clear." I can say that about of lot of the plot details.

So then a tragedy strikes. After this occurrence, none of the characters' actions or motivations made a lick of sense to me. From scene to scene, everything seemed so arbitrary. Is this character mad? Jealous? Fearful? And how come the next time we see him/her, the emotions are completely different for no apparent reason? And so many scenes just have characters stating at some fixed point in space. Not answering questions put to them. The director cuts away and then presents some other arbitrary action/reaction in the next scene.

The last 10 minutes could have been the topper (in a good way) if the film was presented as a revenge thriller. Or a twist. But the movie is just a meandering confusing relationship drama until the end which tries to be something else. But the director didn't have the courage to go whole hog and really trip your mind. Nope. So the ending comes off as nonsensical and arbitrary. If it had been interesting up to that point, I can forgive a mis-step at the climax, but this movie was just a series of missteps.

2 stars (mainly due to the actors/actress obviously trying hard with the limited direction they were given).

 

BuX

Member: Rank 1
So now that I've poisoned the well, what Sono film should I seek out next and how to watch it?
I really liked his film Love and Peace. Another one of his films not mentioned is The Land of Hope, based on Fukushima Nuclear Incident and the Tsunami. Its quite powerful considering as it features the real destruction of houses from the earthquake and tsunami.
 

sitenoise

Member: Rank 5
That’s what I rated it. I don’t have any notes though. When a film gets a 2 from me I’m done with it. I think the only time I’d write about it would be if I was picking a fight with someone who gave it a 5. I admire your ability to memorialize why a film failed for you. They’re often your more amusing reviews. Because you’re pretty fair about it. I can hardly do more than vomit a few expletives:)
 

divemaster13

Member: Rank 4
Jungle Juice (2002).

Stars the main guy from Please Teach Me English (also in Volcano High) and some other guy. And a round-eyed girl who plays a goofy hooker and goes by the name of "Meg Ryan" except she keeps getting called "Meg Lion" b/c of the Korean difficulty with "Rs."

Yep, it's that type of movie.

The basic plot revolves around two completely inept street thugs. They feel they would be better off in a gang, so they try to join the local gangster "family" (which is also pretty inept.) There's some confrontation with another gang where $20,000 goes missing (drug sale gone bad), and then another confrontation with the cops (who are also pretty inept) where a bag of cocaine goes missing. Our two goofballs are on the hook for the money and somehow ended up with the cocaine. So they try to fence it in Pusan with the help of Meg Lion's "girlfriend partners in crime" who do nothing but try to rip them all off.

As an action/comedy, it's not too bad. The first 20 minutes are pretty stupid, and after they all get to Pusan, it all pretty much falls apart plot-wise (and ability to suspend disbelief-wise).

I had two laugh-out-loud moments and a third good chuckle when the 2 goofballs get buzzed up on pills and decide to steal an ATM. One of the laugh-out-loud lines was when the local cops were fitting the goofballs up with wires and sending them in to the gangster hideout to record information.

"But they'll find out and kill us!"

"We're kindof counting on that, so then we can book them for murder as well."

Ha ha ha!

If the last 30 minutes held together, I'd bump it up to 3 stars. But no. It's not a great (or even "good") movie, really, but I don't have any regrets watching it. The infinitely better No Blood, No Tears came out the same year, so if you have the choice for an action/gangster/comedy, definitely go with that. But Jungle Juice has inspired me to try "windmill style" one of these days. LOL.

2.5 stars
 
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