Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Japan Cuts ’15: And the Mud Ship Sails Away
Hirayama’s long term plan largely consists of cashing his dole checks and
playing pachinko. It is pretty pathetic, but he doesn’t care. Still, the
withering disapproval of the half-sister he never knew he had does not sit well
with the slacker’s slacker in Hirobumi Watanabe’s And the Mud Ship Sails Away (trailer here), which screens
during Japan Cuts 2015, the Festival of New Japanese Film in New York.
basically thinks the world owes him a living and he is not about to let anyone
convince him otherwise. Somehow, he survives in a state of listless
entitlement, while sort of taking care of his sweet and somewhat blissfully out
of it grandmother. Out of the blue, Yuka turns up in Tochigi, looking for their
dead father. Apparently, she was his Tokyo love child. Not surprisingly,
Hirayama and the teenager do not get on, at least not right away. Yet, she
continues to visit, out of respect for Granny and a desire to escape her even
worse home life in Tokyo.
Hirayama could use someone like the calls-it-like-she-sees-it Yuka. Her
self-destructive tendencies also start to bring out his previously dormant big
brothering instincts. They still fight like cats and dogs, largely out of
boredom. However, when Hirayama finally decides to take work, he makes the
mother of all bad decisions, agreeing to be a drug mule swallowing bags of
heroin in Thailand.
Mud’s first two thirds
are rather entertaining in a drily amusing kind of way. However, the
hallucinatory concluding act is a lot of sound and fury, but it never really
goes anywhere. It is also a major downer when you think about it, because it
implies some of the goods inside Hirayama broke open, which is a potential
Hirayama, Kiyohiko Shibukawa is remarkably uncharismatic and unimpressive, thereby
serving the film quite well. In contrast, Ayasa Takahashi nicely expresses the
energy and angst of youth. Watanabe’s real life, ninety-six year-old grandmother
Misao Hirayama is also a warm, cherubically charming presence. It is a bit of a
shame she and Takahashi really have nothing to do in the final twenty minutes
fusion of extreme deadpan and off-the-wall trippiness is bound to win over a
cult following, but the former is much more interesting than the latter. In
fact, it is enough to recommend And the
Mud Ship Sails Away to fans of full contact sarcasm. It screens tomorrow
(7/11) at the Japan Society, as part of this year’s Japan Cuts.
Labels: Japan Cuts '15, Japanese Cinema