Tag Archives: Yoshiko Tanaka

Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989, Omori Kazuki)

Godzilla vs. Biollante is an odd Godzilla movie. It’s got some cool devices–there’re these Godzilla alarm system, which do a great deal to establish the film’s believability–even if the computer readouts are impossibly old. Stylistically, both in its approach to visually explaining settings and in its music, Biollante really reminds me of Star Trek II. The comparison starts at the beginning of the film and I was still thinking about it at the end. However, though there are a lot of good things about Biollante, it’s excruciatingly boring.

The good stuff is actually a lot of the characters and their actors. There’s the gung ho army commando who’s been out to pasture, played by Minegishi Tôru. Minegishi is a joy to watch. He approaches it with a sense of measured comedy. He never quite looks at the camera and winks, but you’re never sure he’s not going to do it. On the flip–in one of the film’s greatest successes–is the young colonel who’s got the huge responsibility of dealing with Godzilla, played by Takashima Masanobu. While the film’s not interested in being believable beyond it’s own setting, Masanobu makes the character real, which is quite a feat, given how few lines of dialogue the character actually speaks. There’s a similar juxtaposition with the scientists, though only the younger one, played by Kitamura Kunihiko, the ostensible lead, is actually good. The older one is a mad scientist, which is a reasonable segue into the next paragraph.

The bad stuff is mostly–besides how boring it all is to watch–how goofy Godzilla vs. Biollante gets in order to fill a hundred minutes. There’s the ominous Middle Eastern state–which is actually really funny at times, unintentionally I’m sure–the ominous, but better than the Arabs, American corporation, and then there’s the mad scientist. The mad scientist scenes are actually out of a 1950s sci-fi, with thunder and lighting and everything. The film’s effective moments are, not surprisingly, when it deals with either characters or people’s reaction to Godzilla. The special effects are a little slight in parts and the miniature city just doesn’t work, but there are a few great shots in that city scene.

Coming after the 1984 Godzilla, Biollante is a disappointment to be sure, but it does have some “real” scenes in it. Not goofy giant rubber monsters fighting each other, but real scenes of human struggle. It also has the scene where all the people run through the city. I wonder if it’s a status thing for the extras, who must just be regular people there are so many… “Did you see me evacuating the city? Did you see me? I was carrying the giant cactus.”

1/4

CREDITS

Directed by Omori Kazuki; screenplay by Omori, based on a story by Kobayashi Shinichirô; director of photography, Kato Katsuhiro; edited by Ikeda Michiko; music by Sugiyama Kôichi; production designer, Ikuno Juichi; produced by Tanaka Tomoyuki; released by Toho Company Ltd.

Starring Mitamura Kunihiko (Kirishima Kazuhito), Tanaka Yoshiko (Okouchi Asuka), Takashima Masanobu (Major Kuroki Sho), Takahashi Koji (Dr. Shiragami), Minegishi Tôru (Lieutenant Gondo Goro), Odaka Megumi (Saegusa Miki), Nagashima Toshiyuki (Director Yamamoto Seiichi), Kaneda Ryunosuke (Azuka’s Father), Yuge Yasunori (Prime Minister), Kuga Yoshiko (Prime Minister’s Wife) and Sawaguchi Yasuko (Shiragami Erika).


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Install (2004, Kataoka Kei)

I watched Install because I was curious to see Ueto Aya in a non-Azumi role. She’s good in Install, though it’s impossible to determine whether or not she could have been bad. The film’s constructed very carefully not to put her–or any of the actors–in difficult situations. Acting situations. Ueto narrates the film and the beginning is classy–the film’s nicely shot, cinematographically speaking, and beautifully edited–so I had some high hopes for it. Install does something different with music in a drama–the music reacts to what’s happening on screen. It’s not a revolutionary practice, films have been doing it for specific moments since… what, 1933? But Install takes it a step further by never stopping with the music integration. Unfortunately, besides the opening theme, the music in Install is incredibly annoying. It’s carnival music and it repeats over and over and over again. It was driving me nuts. But the film’s still nicely edited. Great editing.

However good the editing, Install fails. Ugh. I was about to say the install fails to complete. Sorry. Ueto’s character is a teenage girl, apparently reeling from her parents’ divorce and not having at boyfriend. Well, maybe on the boyfriend part… She doesn’t have much conflict, but the film’s goofy and I’m not sure she really needed much. She’s just floundering and a floundering girl is an interesting character. Install even sets up an indigenous agent of solution–a similarly floundering (or so it seems) ten-year old boy. The opening scenes with the kid and Ueto are great. Install’s first twenty minutes are mostly narrated summary scenes, but the twenty minutes moves. Then, once the kid is introduced, the film starts to crawl as the hook is introduced. And once the hook is introduced, Install craps out.

The direction doesn’t help the film at all. Kataoka Kei is fantastic at one person shots, but once he’s got two in the frame, he does this silly distorted long shot and he does it every time.

Ueto was never going to be some great dramatic actor, but I had hoped Install would have been, well, watchable.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Kataoka Kei; screenplay by Omori Mika, based on the novel by Wataya Risa; director of photography, Ikeda Hidetaka; edited by Omori Shin; music by Iota Rita; production designer, Isoda Norihiro; produced by Kuroi Kazuo; released by Kadokawa Pictures.

Starring Ueto Aya (Nozawa Asako), Kamiki Ryunosuke (Aoki Kazuyoshi), Nakamura Shichinosuke (Kouichi), Kikukawa Rei (Momoko-sensei), Kojima Hijiri (Kayori), Tanaka Yoshiko (Kasa Megumi) and Ôkôchi Hiroshi.


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