films seen
average score
Alive and kicking


Wonderful Paradise

Noten Paradise
2020 / 97m - Japan
Wonderful Paradise poster

What if Project X was an absurd Japanese comedy? Well, then you'd get something like Wonderful Paradise. A dry, madcap and completely absurd film that starts off quite tepid, but picks up steam in the middle and never slows down after that. Needless to say, the finale is quite something.

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Due to his own mistake, Shuji and his family have to leave their home. His kids aren't too happy with the move and to annoy her father, Akane tweets that everyone is welcome to join their farewell party. The invitation is picked up immediately, and before they know, they have a miniature festival going on in their backyard.

The first half hour is quite slow and uneventful, but that's just part of the slowly building crescendo that wreaks havoc in the final hour. There's not a lot that makes sense here and everything is clearly played for laughs. Directors Yamamoto's execution is solid, though I will say that I've seen this done better. Still, if you're in for a hilarious comedy, this one comes well recommended.

Junk Food

Janku Fudo
1997 / 82m - Japan
Crime, Drama
Junk Food poster

A classic 'seedy underbelly of a city' vignette. Junk Food serves an alternate view of Tokyo, far removed from the flashy glitz and glamour that is usually associated with Japan's capital. It's not a very original take of course, films like these are a staple of every nation's cinema, but Yamamoto's attempt is appropriately gritty and raw, so it didn't disappoint.

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We follow several stories as people traverse the Tokyo nightlife. One woman relies on hard drugs to get herself through the day at her office job, a Pakistani worker isn't finding the promised happiness in Japan and has no money to return home, and some low-ranking criminals get into a little scuffle. Just another ordinary night in Tokyo.

The plot feels a little unhinged, but this is mostly a mood piece anyway. Yamamoto plays around with both narrative and form and delivers a pretty neat and condensed little crime/drama. It may lack the punch of some of the better films in the genre and I'm not sure how memorable Junk Food will prove to be, but it was an easy watch with enough quality to please a wide array of film fans.

Robinson's Garden

Robinson no Niwa
1987 / 119m - Japan
Robinson's Garden poster

A film with ups and down, but it's certainly a lot better than Yamamoto's Carnival in the Night. I'm still not convinced by Yamamoto's particular mix of drama and punk influences, but at least there were some very nice scenes that made it a lot easier to get to the end of Robinson's Garden.

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A Tokyo girl finds an abandoned terrain in the outskirts of the big city. It's an old industrial site that hasn't been maintained for years, so obviously nature took over. She plans to turn the site into a beautiful garden of Eden, but despite all her hard work and commitment, the project is getting the better of her.

I liked the quieter moments here. There are some truly beautiful scenes, helped by the unique setting, a very nice soundtrack and some inspired set designs, but they're mixed with some louder and more hectic moments, that took me out of the film time and time again. Still, a film worth seeking out.

Man, Woman, and the Wall

Kikareta Onna no Mirareta Yoru
2007 / 84m - Japan
Drama, Romance, Thriller
Man, Woman, and the Wall poster

A film that garnered a small cult following, though I fail to see why. It's all pretty basic and straight-forward. The film looks cheap, the acting is mediocre and the mix of genres isn't exactly slick. There are a couple of funny scenes, but overall it comes off as quick and dirty filmmaking.

Carnival in the Night

Yami no Kânibaru
1981 / 109m - Japan
Carnival in the Night poster