I have 498 movies in my Netflix Instant queue. I tend to watch one thing for every five that I add, but now my library is close to being full and I have to make room. So, every Monday I’m going to pick a random movie out of my queue and review the shit out of it. But (like Jesus), I’m also thinking of you and your unwieldy queue and all the movies in it you want to watch but no longer have the time to now that you’ve become so awesome and popular. Let me know what has been gathering digital dust in your Netflix Instant library and I’ll watch that, too. One Monday for you and the next for me and so on. Let’s get to it.
What’s the movie? Fish Story (2009)
What’s it rated? Unrated for life affirming humanism, finding beauty in all things and attempted rape.
Did people make it? Based on the Novel by Kotaro Isaka. Written by Tamio Hayashi. Directed by Yoshihiro Nakamura. Acted by Atsushi Ito, Kengo Kora, Mikako Tabe, Mirai Moriyama, Gaku Hamada, Nao Omori, Kenjiro Ishimaru and Hidekazu Mashima.
What’s it like in one sentence? An Asian Magnolia
Why did you watch it? You guys have been trying to get me to watch it for a year now. It was time.
What’s it about in one paragraph? Don’t read any of this until you see the movie. It’s about so many different things. First we meet a couple of guys in a record store in modern day Japan. There’s a comet headed towards Earth, bringing with it an extinction level event, but all the music enthusiasts want to do is hang out and listen to records. As one of the men discovers the mid-70’s Japanese punk band Gekirin and their first and only single Fish Story, we jump beck to 1975 and watch Gekirin’s struggle to record the song. We then head to the 1980’s as a quiet and timid man listens to the song and is told he’s going to do something to save the world by a strange and mystical young girl. Then it’s off to the ’90’s as we watch a student fall asleep on a ferry and miss her stop, only to have it hijacked minutes later. All of these seemingly desperate elements connect by the end in ways hilarious, bittersweet and unpredictable.
Play or remove from my queue? I thought about just writing the words “Play It” 500 times instead of actually going into it, but I thought that might not be very nice. I found myself in turns frustrated, in love, captivated and on the edge of my seat with this film and as soon as it ended I wanted to restart it and take the journey again. It’s actually a very simple story, but because of the structure and the narrative timelines, it sort of hides its brilliance for awhile. It might even be predictable to viewers less enamored with the story than myself, but I was so caught up in every single second of the film that, when all of the stories finally connected, I was shocked I hadn’t figured certain parts out earlier.
This is the first film I’ve seen by Yoshihiro Nakamura and he’s got me for life now. If all of his films have such lovely things to say about overcoming oppression, self-actualization and the tentative bonds of friendship, then he’ll probably become the feel-good director of the century. Because that’s what Fish Story did for me. I’m sick as hell right now (sorry about missing last week), but watching Fish Story brightened my day immensely and made me feel plugged into the world in a way I haven’t felt in awhile. I read this depressing article about how China is forcing every one to say “Harmonious Living” once a day in order to promote…whatever the fuck China is after these days. Maybe through fear and programming, the repetition might actually subconsciously do something, or maybe not. What I do know is Fish Story made me feel Harmonious Living, but not in a cynical, mind-controlly kind of way, but in a way that makes me forget the lung infection I’ve had for the last two weeks. For that, I’ll always love this movie and will recommend it to anyone I can. Maybe next week, if I’m feeling better, I can dig into the themes and whatnot a little more. Highly, highly recommended.
Do you have a favorite line? It’s actually a moment of silence. While Gekirin is playing a show, some asshole starts throwing ice cubes, so the lead guitarist gently sets down his axe and runs off the lip of the stage and dives full body onto the guy and starts beating the shit out of him. Harmonious Living.
Do you have an interesting fun-fact? This is the second of three films Nakamura has made based on the novels of Kotaro Isaka. Anyone seen the others?
What does Netflix say I’d like if I like this? Boys on the Run (looks weird and awesome. Added!), Drop (even weirder, even more awesome. Added!), The Great Happiness Space (looks boring as shit. Added!), Negative Happy Chainsaw Edge(not as awesome as that title implies) and Still Walking (looks sad and awesome. Added).
What does Jared say I’d like if I like this? I don’t feel right comparing it to anything. It is structurally and thematically similar to Magnolia, but without the clinical distance. Just watch it and let Fish Story become the thing you compare other films to.
What is Netflix’s best guess for Jared? 4.2
What is Jared’s best guess for Jared? 5.0
Can you link to the movie? Sure!
Any last thoughts? This is the best movie I’ve watched this year and added to my list of all time favorites. Just a joy to have discovered this. Thank you to everyone who recommended it.
Did you watch anything else this week? God Bless America (wonderfully entertaining and awesome, but missing something) and Battleship (not great, but I don’t think Taylor Kitsch was as bad as everyone says).
Any spoilerish thoughts about last week’s film, Ink? I was just wondering if anyone knew if there’s going to be more films set in this world or whether that’s the last we’ve seen of The Storytellers and The Incubi. Oh, and I love that Ink turned out to be the little girl’s father and fought the monsters to save her. I’m not gonna lie, I teared up. It’s a twist that should not have worked for a second, but it did and I loved it.
Next Week? Tyrannosaur! Then Pontypool!