it convenient to have all your favorite 1980s plot points collected in one
handy digital twenty-teens-friendly format? Hikaru Tsukuda has performed this
public service, wackily mashing up Scanners,
The Empire Strikes Back, Akira, Blade Runner, and obviously, Tampopo. It is time to hit the mean
streets and noodle shops of Tokyo with a disillusioned psychic killer in
Tsukuda’s Return of Mizuno (trailer here), which screens
during the 2016 Ithaca Fantastik film festival.
of withdrawing to a convent or spiritual retreat, Mami, the retired and
retiring former government assassin now delivers ramen for a noodle shop.
However, when her last great nemesis Mizuno resurfaces in Tokyo, leaving a
trail of exploded heads in his wake, her dodgy former boss tries to lure her
back into service. However, it will be Mizuno himself who forces her hand when
he kills a colleague at the ramen shop.
makes it personal, but it will get even more personal. When the psychic battle
is joined, Mami learns Mizuno’s Darth Vader secret. Then things really start to
Return has a deliberately
low-fi, grungy aesthetic that matches its goofball sense of humor and sentimental
nostalgia for 1980s science fiction and ramen films. Its defiant lunacy is
reminiscent of Noboru Iguchi, but without the leering naughtiness (we’ll have
you know Mami always maintains a dignified sense of decorum, thank you very
much.)—or Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Beautiful New Bay Area Project, with its tongue more firmly planted in its cheek.
we’d probably hate Return if it were
an American film, but we rather like it, since its Japanese. It starts with
Naoko Matsuda, who makes one of the most endearing hard-bitten killers you are
ever likely to meet. She also displays strong action chops and a healthy sense
of humor is probably implied simply by her participation.
Return unleashes plenty of madness, but it never gets slapsticky,
because Tsukuda always stays true to his inspirations. It is definitely the
sort of film that is best seen with an “in the spirit” audience, so Ithaca
Fantastik is a perfect venue for it. Likely to bring down the house, it screens
this Sunday (11/13), as part of the Long
Form Short Films showcase.
Labels: Ithaca Fantastic '16, Japanese Cinema, Short Films