Dragnet Girl: Joji (l) and Tokiko (r)
Director Ozu’s Dragnet Girl is an absorbing silent film about Tokiko,a gangster moll, who becomes jealous when Joji, her boyfriend, gets a case of the wandering eye. Tokiko looks as sweet as can be, but actually she’s quite a coquette. She works at a company by day and the boss’s son is smitten with her plying her with expensive gifts that she’s happy to take.
Her night’s are spent with Joji, the head of a small crime outfit that seems to fix boxing matches. Tokiko is Joji’s main squeeze. Selfish and extravagant, she’s quite brazen and disloyal as she’ll wear her boss’s gifts in front of Joji.
When a high school boy, impressed with Joji’s flash and power, tries to join his gang, the boy’s sister, Kazuko, who’s simple and innocent, begs Joji to get her brother back on the straight and narrow. Joji’s instantly smitten with Kazuko. He starts hanging around her music shop and starts appreciating classical music and all that Kazuko, who pays him no mind, appreciates.
At first Tokiko dismisses her rival, but when she sees that Joji is changing for real she gets nervous. She goes as far as plotting to shoot Kazuko, but then she comes to appreciate Kazuko’s magnetic innocence. Tokiko is not to be trusted after telling Joji she wants to change and become more like her rival. She’s been branded as a delinquent and that label’s impossible to remove.
The film has the style of a noir classic and takes some interesting turns as Tokiko refuses to marry her boss and plots to rob him with Joji. It’s a beautiful simple film that didn’t need talking.
By Satoshi Kon, Tokyo Godfathers shows three homeless misfits–a gambler, who’s lost his family, a transvestite and a runaway teen–who discover an abandoned baby. These outsiders, though flawed and somewhat to blame for their situation, come to get the audience’s sympathy and respect. They bicker as they seek the baby’s parents, which is a wild odyssey full of surprises against a gritty backdrop I rarely see in Japanese films.
The misfits have interesting backstories and as the story progresses they are forced to come to terms with their mistakes and history. They lead us through Japan’s shadier sides and the artwork is realistic.
Unlike the other Kon films I’ve seen this one sticks to the story with no departures into the character’s subconsciouses. Tokyo Godfathers/em> is a film I’d watch again and again.
Disney’s Zootopia is a fun kids’ movie that adults can enjoy. Zootopia’s plucky heroine is a new police officer, who though highly qualified gets put on meter maid duty because of stereotypes and discrimination against rabbits. She must team up with a fox who’s a con artist to catch the mastermind behind a slew of kidnappings. If she can solve this case, she can prove her worth. As you’d expect in this “buddy” film the fox is her polar opposite in terms of ethos and personality.
The film is fast paced and clever, but like many Disney films lacks unique perspective. It feels like it was made by a committee rather than an individual artist. Not a bad film. It’s an entertaining film, but I do wish an American studio could produce some films that are not so packaged, so pat.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot stars Tina Fey as Kim, a broadcaster who half-heartedly volunteers to go to Afghanistan on assignment. Fey’s character leads a nice, but ho hum life in New York with a steady boyfriend (Josh Charles) and a steady, unchallenging job just reading news. Once in Afghanistan, she realizes she’s way over her head. She eventually adapts to life during wartime.
While away, she discovers her boyfriend is cheating so she’s free to take up with Martin Freeman’s politically incorrect, usually philandering, war-savvy character, who’s a photo journalist.
I felt the first half of the movie drags and contains a lot of obvious jokes and clichéd situations about culture, but it’s worth watching on DVD or on a plane where you can watch half, take a break and watch the second half. Tina Fey does a fine job as does Martin Freeman and Josh Charles. The reason to watch is to see what sacrifices people make during this war that too many of us forget and to see what has gone on in Afghanistan.