Tag Archives: Masami Nagasawa

Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003, Tezuka Masaaki)

While it doesn’t make the film any better, one sort of has to have seen the original Mothra to truly appreciate Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.. Why? Because director Tezuka keeps that film’s weird Christian imagery. Pretty sure the living Barbie dolls who deliver messages for a giant moth isn’t Christian, but dang if it isn’t effective for them to proselytize while standing in front of a cross.

Sadly, Tezuka doesn’t have any fun with their scale. It’d have been awesome if the cross were made out of a couple straws in a takeout bag or something.

Even more sadly… there’s nothing awesome in Tokyo. In fact, it’s often boring. Four giant monsters, one giant robot, nothing interesting going on. Some of the effects composites are great, most are not. Tezuka makes it worth with some terrible composition for his human actors too. He has one unpredictable moment in the entire film and he degrades it with a cheap reaction shot.

He and cowriter Yokotani Masahiro set up some interesting character relationships–lead Kaneko Noboru has a female admirer, a rival in the hot shot Mechagodzilla pilot and then some extended family issues–and do nothing with them. Kaneko isn’t great, but he’s not bad. Yoshioka Miho’s actually quite good in her three scenes as his admirer. Tezuka simply doesn’t know how to make a good movie, not with action, not with narrative.

Another sore point is Ohshima Michiru’s lame score.

Tokyo isn’t particularly horrific or atrocious, but it’s insufferably lame.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Tezuka Masaaki; written by Tezuka and Yokotani Masahiro; director of photography, Sekiguchi Yoshinori; music by Ohshima Michiru; production designer, Miike Toshio; released by Toho Company, Ltd.

Starring Kaneko Noboru (Chûjô Yoshito), Yoshioka Miho (Pilot Kisaragi Azusa), Koga Mitsuki (Mechagodzilla Operator Akiba Kyôsuke), Koizumi Hiroshi (Chûjô Shin’ichi), Nakao Akira (Premier Igarashi), Ueda Kôichi (General Dobashi), Takasugi Kô (JSDF Lieutenant Togashi), Nagasawa Masami (Shobijin), Ôtsuka Chihiro (Shobijin), Nakahara Takeo (JSDF Chief Hitoyanagi), Tomoi Yûsuke (Lieutenant Hayama) and Shaku Yumiko (Yashiro Akane).


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Godzilla: Final Wars (2004, Kitamura Ryuhei)

According to Toho, Final Wars is the Godzilla movie for at least ten years. They haven’t been doing to well at the box office. It’s also the 50th anniversary movie (it actually came out last year in Japan, only showing up now on DVD in the US). The film is definitely homage, but not the kind you’d think. Instead of being somber, like the original, or a serious attempt (like Shusuke Kaneko’s Giant Monster’s All-Out Attack–really, it’s a serious attempt), Final Wars is dedicated to the Godzilla movies most people saw on Saturday afternoon TV. It’s the goofy, wrestling Godzilla. There isn’t a serious moment in the whole movie–whether it’s Godzilla fighting his Hollywood incarnation or the American actor who apparently understands Japanese but can’t speak it, it’s all light.

I wasn’t expecting much, of course, but I did think there’d at least be some good Kitamura fight scenes. There are lots of fight scenes, but they’re short and there’s a lot of visible computer assistance. It’s Versus-lite. Kitamura can make a better movie and he has a good time with the straight (as straight as this movie gets with the evil aliens), but the giant monster scenes are sort of without imagination. I can’t tell if he even likes Godzilla movies.

Final Wars clocks in at two hours and two minutes, which probably makes it the longest Japanese Godzilla movie, but Godzilla doesn’t even show until after an hour into the film. The film’s a little bit a remake of Destroy All Monsters and it could have gone further–more Godzilla, less people. It didn’t even have to do it straight, it could still goof, just go further.

There aren’t very many good Godzilla movies–just one, probably (though there’s a slight chance the 1984 Godzilla is all right)–and Final Wars is one of the better ones. Its target audience is actually a lot bigger than any other recent Godzilla film, just because so many people did watch those Saturday afternoon movies….

1/4

CREDITS

Directed by Kitamura Ryuhei; screenplay by Kiriyama Isao and Kitamura, based on a story by Mimura Wataru and Tomiyama Shogo; director of photography, Furuya Takumi; music by Keith Emerson, Morino Nobuhiko and Yano Daisuke; produced by Tomiyama; released by Toho Company Ltd.

Starring Matsuoka Masahiro (Ôzaki Shin’ichi), Kikukawa Rei (Otonashi Miyuki), Kitamura Kazuki (The Controller of Planet X), Don Frye (Douglas Gordon), Takarada Akira (Daigo Naotarô), Mizuno Maki (Otonashi Anna), Nagasawa Masami and Ôtsuka Chihiro (The Twin Fairies), Sahara Kenji (Jingûji Hachirô), Mizuno Kumi (Namikawa Akiko), Funaki Masakatsu (Kumasaka), Ibu Masatô (The Xilian General) and Takashima Masanobu (Major Kita).


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Crying Out Love, in the Center of the World (2004, Yukisada Isao)

Boy meets girl, boy woos girl, boy gets girl, girl gets sick.

Crying Out Love has a frame too: boy never gets over it and still hasn’t, twenty years later, when he’s engaged to be married. The engagement actually doesn’t set off the story, some of the silly plot contrivances do, but it doesn’t really matter. Crying Out Love succeeds where most films of its sort fail–it creates a good teenage love story. It does it small and it does it with good acting. The kid in it, whose name you can find on IMDb if you care (he hasn’t been in anything else), is fantastic, so’s the girl. Even the acting in the modern day is good, it’s just that the character never worked himself out, so it’s sort of unbelievable that anyone would want to marry him. It’s adapted from a romance novel and I’ll bet the fiancée has a limp in it too–but I bet she isn’t supposed to be so good-looking.

Of course, the film falls apart once the girl gets sick, mostly because it’s no longer from the kid’s perspective. The perspective just loafs around after that point and there’s something at the very end that’s bad, but I don’t even remember what now and I just finished watching it five or six minutes ago. It’s also incredibly predictable.

The director is a complete champ, however, and that alone would make the film worth watching. But, it’s got the good acting to top it off.

2/4★★

CREDITS

Directed by Yukisada Isao; screenplay by Yukisada, Sakamoto Yuji and Itou Chihiro, based on a novel by Katayama Kyouichi; director of photography, Shinoda Noboru; edited by Imai Takeshi; music by Meyna Co.; produced by Haruna Kei and Ichikawa Minami; released by Toho Company Ltd.

Starring Osawa Takao (Sakutaro), Nagasawa Masami (Aki), Moriyama Mirai (Teenage Sakutaro), Shibasaki Kou (Ritsuko), Yamazaki Tsutomu (Shigezou) and Takahashi Issei (Ryunosuke).


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