Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Japan Cuts ’15: Haruko’s Paranormal Laboratory
Minow would be appalled by Haruko. Her only meaningful relationship is with her
television. Granted, he is newly sentient, but the symbolism is still pretty
bad. As a result, they will also face some rather atypical problems when they
try to make their romance work in Lisa Takeba’s Haruko’s Paranormal Laboratory (trailer here), which screens as
a selection of this year’s Japan Cuts, the Festival of New Japanese Film in NewYork.
was always a UFO-chasing fan-girl outsider, but don’t judge her harshly. Her
whole family is kind of nuts. As she sits about her flat, the “Paranormal
Laboratory,” cursing at the banalities on her early 1960s vintage television, a
secret counter clicks towards 10,000. At that point, Terebi (TV) springs to
life like Frosty the Snowman—or rather a half-naked man with a television encasing
his head. Pretty soon, they’re fooling around, because what’s the point of
being bashful in a situation like this?
to say, the outside world is not sure what to make of their relationship, but
they find it remarkably easy to accept Terebi as a human TV. As it happens,
this sort of thing has been happening not infrequently with mid-sized
first half of the relatively short (76 minutes) Laboratory is pleasantly goofy and not particularly stressed about
stuff like narrative. However, the film’s energy level largely sputters out
once it decides it needs more structure. Eventually, Takeba sort of riffs on
the Splash! story and even recycles
the shopworn cliché of the carnival side show proprietor looking to control
is probably worth seeing Laboratory just
to be assured you really can make a film about a TV who turned into a dude.
This is strange to suggest, but it would have worked better if it had meandered
more. Still, Moeka Nozaki is quite charming as Haruko (despite seeming too cute
to be a shy loner). The usually shirtless Aoi Nakamura is a good sport as
Terebi, while Fumiyo Kohinata (a veteran of the 20th Century Boys, Outrage, and Solomon’s Perjury franchises) also helps humanize the quirky odd
ballotry as Haruko’s father.
has its share of gross-out humor, but it is
mostly a gentle and well-meaning send-up of Japanese fan culture. It is a small
film in every way, but it is determined to be liked. Recommended for those who
like their comedy both eccentric and sentimental, Haruko’s Paranormal Laboratory screens this Sunday (7/12) at the
Japan Society, as part of the 2015 Japan Cuts.
Labels: Japan Cuts '15, Japanese Cinema