I am so glad I didn’t see this film in the theater. From what I can tell, it was well reviewed, and I imagine my uncontrollable laughter at the end would have offended a few folks. Japón is long. It’s only 132 minutes, but you feel every one of them.
It was shot 16mm and blown-up to 2.35:1, which is at times successful, at times not. Reygadas knows how to shoot some scenes and doesn’t know how to shoot others. Imagine if Terrence Malick knew how to take pretty pictures, but not how to take pretty pictures that meant something. Reygadas also is a fairly terrible writer–a man, apparently shallow enough to want to kill himself because he limps, goes to the middle of nowhere to do it. There, he meets an old woman and decides life’s worth living–so long as she gets jiggy with him.
Japón is incredibly serious, so much so I think Reygadas is daring people to say it’s a pretentious piece of shit (Carlos, it’s a pretentious piece of shit), and he seems to keep the critics at bay. Or maybe critics are stupider than I thought (just got done reading someone making fun of Woody Allen again. An Entertainment Weekly “contributor”). Reygadas also self-indulges a lot (no, not just showing us the naked old lady and the dude playing with himself), he forces us to sit and watch the all amateur cast sit around. In one scene, one guy starts bitching about the movie crew, only to be shushed by someone.
The film was all right for a while, maybe the first forty minutes, and I was planning on a reasonably nice review about how people who aren’t Terrence Malick shouldn’t pretend to be Terrence Malick (like that George Washington nitwit). Terrence Malick can write. Carlos Reygadas cannot (neither can that GW nitwit). Either GW nitwit, actually.
Wow, this film has really put me in a bad mood. I’ve got to stop thinking Guillermo Del Toro is indicative of Mexican filmmakers.
Written, produced and directed by Carlos Reygadas; directors of photography, Diego Martínez Vignatti and Thierry Tronchet; edited by Daniel Melguizo, Carlos Serrano Azcona and David Torres; production designer, Alejandro Reygadas; released by Artecinema.
Starring Alejandro Ferretis (The man), Magdalena Flores (Ascen), Yolanda Villa (Sabina), Martín Serrano (Juan Luis), Rolando Hernández (The judge), Bernabe Pérez (The singer) and Fernando Benítez (Fernando).