レンタネコ – Rent-a-Cat
The quirky Naoko Ogigami returns to the director’s chair for her 6 ½ time (her first movie was a short), with レンタネコ/Rent-a-Cat, a movie that sticks to her well established style of zany characters living in the mundane and everyday world we all know too well. The humor is both silly and subtle, but it is also gentle and easy on the pallet, and add the cute factor of countless cats and you have a movie it would be hard to hate, especially if you are a fan of Ogigami’s past work like Toilet or Glasses.
Mikako Ichikawa plays Sayoko, a young and bright woman who lives alone, besides hordes of feline friends. Her main line of work is making people happy, regardless of their age, profession or problem, she feels she has the answer; renting one of her cats. The film dips its toes into the icy water of depression in Japan, with an elderly widow, a downtrodden father whose children wanted a dog, an unmarried office lady and a disillusioned bad boy wannabe, but it doesn’t wallow in these people’s sorrow, but looks at how easy it is for us to lend a hand.
貞子３D – Sadako 3D
Remember when Japan was the forerunner for horror? It may seem like a lifetime ago, but for a few short years, there came a steady run of scary flicks, most of which were adaptations of the now famous novelist Koji Suzuki, most notably, his Ring series. Hideo Nakata did such an amazing job with the first movie back in 1998 that he soon became a household name and is still pumping out horrors today and has a Hollywood credit to his name.
But where as Nakata has moved on from the series, the infamous Sadako is being wheeled out again for a not so subtle 3D shocker. This time the story follows a high school teacher, Akane Ayukawa (Satomi Ishihara) who hears rumors of a suicide being taped and broadcast over the internet. As if that weren’t grim enough, it is said that whoever watches the video dies afterwards…sound familiar? Now Sadako has access to the internet and a human ally, she threatens to take control. Commenting on how technology has changed and how that would aid the Ring virus is an interesting angle, but the film is a little rough around the edges, with the delicate approach to discomfort being replaced with jumpy moments and scrappy 3D effects.
Another trip down memory lane comes courtesy of Jim Henson’s loveable and iconic Muppets, who have returned to the big screen with a little help from star and co-writer, Jason Segel. Perfect for fanatics of the original series and movies, it is also very easy on new comers and should be entertaining (and surprisingly moving) for audiences of any age. It has been over 12 years since Muppets From Space, and fans have been teased with a string of ads for the new movie, in classic tongue-in-cheek style. The film has to live up to a lot of expectation, which it does rather well.
The narrative is basic, with Gary (Segel) and Mary (Amy Adams) teaming up with the original Muppet line-up, and a few new additions, to restore the Muppet theatre and get back on the stage. Sounds clichéd, but the story isn’t really the driving force behind this movie, with a modern take on the franchise that is well thought out and considerate. The humor is perfectly-timed and on key, courtesy of The Flight of the Conchords director, James Bobin and a number of tracks being penned by Conchord star Brett McKenzie. There is enough slapstick to keep the kids chuckling and a sprinkling of irony for the supposed adults.