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RUNNING TIME: 110 min
A Japanese family gathers together to honor their deceased patriarch.
Kiichi Nakai, Yoshino Kimura, Houka Kinoshita, Takashi Sasano, Kumiko Tsuchiya, Mayuko and Taro Ishida
Count Hiro Dracula stars in “Hello Necro Kitty 2000″.
Wakeful Nights centers around a troupe of actors, as they gather together following the death of their master. They hold a series of wakes following the death, where they open up and share stories about the dead man. Fun is had and you even get a quick flash of some Asian poon. That’s really the gist of it. I wish there was more to share.
The Japanese never really got The Accused.
Director Masahiko Tsugawa splits the film into three parts to focus on the surviving actors’ stories. You get the gang gathering together to remember their dying master’s last words being misinterpreted as a quest to see some pussy. The master’s apprentice dies and the gang gets back together to tell even more story. Then, the master’s wife kicks it. What’s so fascinating is how the director approach the material. There’s not beginning, middle or end as everything is thrown at you in media res.
Wakeful Nights opens on Shomantei (Hiroyuki Nagato), as he makes a deathbed wish to see a woman’s genitals. He was actually asking to see something outside, but his dying words were misconstrued and one of the actors is forced to talk his wife into flashing her junk while straddling the man’s deathbed. This is what can you expect throughout the rest of the movie. Friends and family come together to share stories and open up to each other. Death is used as a chance for celebration, as they want to move onto whatever comes next.
The best scene in a Japanese movie since the opening title card of Ichi the Killer.
The film is an odd piece that flows in the ways that all good stories flow. They just kind of happen and people fall into place, as the tale carries on. Random storytelling doesn’t provide for a steady narrative. What does is give us a series of moments to enjoy. That might be entertaining enough for most people, but it’s worth a viewing.
Still, nothing beats a quick beaver flash. The director was wise to push that towards the start of the movie, as it gives you that moment to decide whether or not you’re going to stick the film out. AnimEigo was wise to spend a lot of times in the subtitles and supplemental materials explaining away a lot of the cultural differences. But, too much explanation can kill enjoyment. Oh well, can’t win them all.
Watch me morphy into Adrien Brody, Jun-san.
Wakeful Nights comes to DVD from AnimEgo. I know that these guys have done the Lone Wolf and Cub films for Region 1, so I wanted to see what they had to offer for contemporary Asian cinema. Much fuss has been made of the new literal translation that AnimEgo did for the subtitles. Long gone are jokes about pussies, they’ve been replaced with the word honey pot. It’s not quite a whitewash, as it stays closer to the original Japanese language. Still, it feels like they ran the film through Babelfish at points.
The A/V Quality is sharp as hell. There’s some lighting issues at first, but those go away. The audio is a sharp Dolby Digital 2.0 track that carries across all the channels. That might not be saying a lot, but I was really impressed with the sound mix. Chalk one up to traditional Japanese dramas defying the DVD expectations.
In the end, Wakeful Nights is an interesting release that brightened my day. Not everything translates well, but serious viewers are able to get what’s going on. If you are willing to give something new a shot, then I recommend this. Otherwise, stick with more of the same generic shit that you swill down. Don’t take that last bit personally. I don’t know a lot of you, but I’m sure that you might have some redeeming qualities.
In Japan, even the deceased love Zorba the Greek.