Film #291: Girl Goned (2017)

directors: Yukiro Dravarious & Duncan Whom
language: English, some Japanese, couple of sentences of German and French
length: actually not sure but about 2 hours
watched on: 4 May 2017

This is that rare review which I know will be read by the creators, since they’re my friends making an amateur project last year. I’ll try to be nice…

I got a sneak preview from Duncan about a month before watching this, and then went to the second screening on the premiere night – in a BDSM dungeon, of all places, with cages and strange-looking seats. (By the way, I just grabbed this image from a google search, as I usually do, managing to somehow filter out images from Gone Girl – I think it’s from Remiko’s blog. If you’d like me not to use the image, or have a better thumbnail image, please let me know)

The movie is set in Tokyo’s underground drag scene, so it features a few people I know from going to their shows. The plot, insofar as there is one, follows an American private detective who travels to Japan in search of a missing girl, somehow involved in the drag scene. Meanwhile, the drag queens conspire to set about armageddon. Or something. The film deliberately eschews plot at many moments, but it was more coherent than I’d expected from the previews I’d had. It has a deliberate B-movie aesthetic, and a lot of ridiculous gore, with fake blood spattered everywhere.

The main problem with it is that it’s probably incomprehensible to people outside our social group – I think there are too many in-jokes. A lot of the drag queen characters especially weren’t fully introduced. Also, it does have a bit of an episodic feel, and might be too ambitious. But I enjoyed it, and I think it’d stand a second viewing, to help me better understand it.

The other thing, although I think this is part of the aesthetic of amateur B-movies, and not necessarily a big problem, is that the sound and image were sometimes unbalanced. But I think this could be fixed.

It was long-awaited by all, so it was great to finally see it, and I enjoyed the sensation of recognizing quite a lot of the cameos. Thumbs up!

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Film #67: Iron Sky (2012)

directed by: Timo Vuorensola
language: English and German
length: 93 minutes
watched on: 3 October 2012

This was a birthday treat from a friend and it was quite a fun one, too. What’s the plot? Moon Nazis. Yeah, it’s that film. In the near future, America goes to the moon and there they discover a Nazi base, established after the war. The Moon Nazis decide it’s time to reinvade, for reasons that don’t really matter. It’s all MacGuffins.

The film is B-Movie trash through and through, and it revels in that fact quite knowingly, and is therefore quite funny, even though hardly anything about it makes much sense. For instance, there’s a scene near the beginning where the female Nazi protagonist’s clothes all come off because the airlock is accidentally opened, and she ends up in the arms of the big black guy.

Later in the film, the director seems to try and clumsily make a political point, perhaps about American imperialism, but it sometimes just comes across as strongly anti-American. The American President is a Sarah Palin lookalike, complete with taxidermied polar bears adorning her White House, and her main advisor is set up near the beginning with a scene copied from the German film “Downfall” which specifically compares her to Hitler. It’s not easy to support characters such as these, and I had to wonder whether the director was trying to get us to be more sympathetic to the Nazis, or trying to say that everyone’s as bad as each other. There’s also later a Dr Strangelove-esque War Room scene, and quite a few more knowing references dotted around.

It’s not a great film, yes, but to be honest, my biggest problem with it was not being able to understand a large portion of the dialogue. It turns out that “English and German” means almost properly bilingual (with a preference for English), unlike many films where the second language would be more of a token. No, here the German characters tend to speak German to each other and to themselves, with a few exceptions. And of course, since I’m in Japan, well you guessed it, it’s subtitled in Japanese, not English. I can understand some German (and I did anticipate this – there was simply nothing else good on at the cinemas!), but I’m sorely out of practice at it, and this German wasn’t easy to understand, since a lot of it was barked, or simply too fast for me to hear. Of course, this being the film it is, I didn’t miss out on much, but in some individual scenes I was left feeling a bit confused, and sometimes the motivations were more of a mystery to me than they perhaps should have been.

All in all, definitely good to see. The ending was a bit of a downer, and as I say, played into the anti-American theme quite heavily, and there was a sweet little sequel hook if you’re willing to stay to the end of the credits. Anyway, none of this matters because MOON NAZIS!