Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
New York-Tokyo: The Apology King
call it kowtowing. This is the “Dogeza,”
a traditional form of Japanese apology that does indeed involve lowering one’s
head to the ground. Yuzuru Kuroshima
knows it well. As director of the Tokyo
Apology Center, he counsels clients in need of forgiveness. Business will be brisk in Nobuo Mizuta’s The Apology King (trailer here), which screened this
week in Manhattan as part of the New York-Tokyo film program, in advance of its
September 28th Japanese opening.
Kuramochi had a fender-bender with the wrong people. After compounding her problems, she enlists
Kuroshima’s help apologizing to the yakuza. Having been saved from a life in
the sex trade, Kuramochi enlists as Kuroshima’s assistant. She might be considered an office manager, if
Kuroshima had an office. Instead, they
work out of a coffee shop, which is very New York. Frankly, it does not matter. They will spend a great deal of time out in
first, King appears rather episodic,
but eventually characters from one case will reappear in another. With varying degrees of success, Kuroshima
will coach a clueless junior executive in the lingerie industry accused of
sexual harassment, a veteran actor and his ex-wife with a public embarrassment for
a son, and a team of filmmakers who inadvertently shot footage of the crown
prince of Mantan.
a tiny principality, Mantan is a critical trading partner for Japan. Unfortunately, they have very different
cultural traditions. Filming the royals
is a big no-no, as are other common Japanese practices. As further misunderstandings snowball,
Kurosawa finds himself advising the government in the midst of a diplomatic
and his frequent collaborator, screenwriter Kankurô Kudô, certainly are not
afraid a little goofball humor. It is frankly
kind of amazing to see such distinguished looking cast members engaged in the
climatic dogeza-trumping apology. Mizuta
must be one persuasive director. He also
handles the flashbacks and overlapping strands of narrative quite dexterously. While King
is out for shameless guffaws, it is oddly impressive how it all fits
bowl cut sporting Sadao Abe is appropriately manic as Kuroshima, but he is
never abrasive, pulling viewers in rather than pushing them away. In fact, he displays understated sensitivity
in his own backstory flashback sequence.
Likewise, as Kuramochi, Mao Inoue plays off and with Abe’s Kuroshima
quite well. Katsumi Takahashi fittingly
hams it up as the hammy thesp Tetsuro Nambu and Yasuko Matsuyuki is wonderfully
tart tongued as his Helen Mirren-esque ex.
However, Gaku Hamada is weirdly mannered and shticky as Wakbal, the
Mantan translator from Hell.
Granted, much of King’s humor is so broad it requires little translation. Yet, some of the material involving the more
confused than remorseful undergarment client will fall flat for American
audiences. Aside from that misfiring
subplot, King is a charmingly goofy
with a nice heart. As an extra added
bonus, it ends with a music video style dance number, featuring Abe’s eccentric
moves and the synchronized choreography of J-Pop girl group, E-girls.
Recommended for those who appreciate screwball humor, The King of Apology opens the 28th in Japan, following
its Fantasia and New York-Tokyo screenings in North America.
Labels: E-girls, Japanese Cinema