films seen
average score
Alive and kicking
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The good stuff

Umbrella Flower

2000 / 116m - Japan
Umbrella Flower poster

The inoffensive

Sailor Suit and Machine Gun

Sêrâ-fuku to Kikanjû
1981 / 131m - Japan
Sailor Suit and Machine Gun poster

Not the crazy genre fest you may expect from the title (or even the premise of the film), but a rather stylish and well-made coming of age drama set against a Yakuza background. This is only my second Somai film so far, but it seems I should be paying a bit more attention to his oeuvre in the future.

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When a Yakuza boss dies, he carries over his gang to his nephew. What he doesn't know at that time is that his nephew isn't alive anymore. In that case the responsibility is carried over to the next of kind, but that turns out to be Izumi Hoshi, a young school girl who has never seen a Yakuza member up close.

Sailor Suit and Machine Gun has its share of genre elements (yes, at one point Izumi empties a machine gun in a room full of gangsters), but most of the film is a lot slower, reminding me a bit of Kitano's crime oeuvre, with people just hanging around. The cinematography is pretty nice too, the only thing that bothered me was the mediocre performance of Hiroko Yakushimaru as Izumi. An interesting film though, well recommended.

Worthy but flawed

Typhoon Club

Taifû Kurabu
1985 / 115m - Japan
Drama, Romance
Typhoon Club poster

A somewhat meandering coming of age film by Somai. There's not much in the way of a real plot here, instead Somai creates a setting where his characters are allowed to blossom. The idea is pretty solid, but the execution feels a little too unfocused and some scenes drag on for too long.

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The setting is a small rural school building. A typhoon is coming and everybody is asked to return home, but several kids get stuck at school and with the storm raging outside, they have no other choice to spend the night there. There's little else to do than loiter and get up to some good old-fashioned mischief.

Performances are pretty decent and I do appreciate the concept, but the film's a bit rowdy and the characters feel somewhat generic, which makes it exceedingly tough to spend two hours with them. There are some moments that stand out, but not enough to keep me engaged all the way through.