‘The City’ Review: A Stylish But Empty Tokyo Noir


Stylish and indirect far past the purpose of pretentiousness, Katsuki Kuroyanagi’s The City makes use of gritty black & white and evocative city settings in an try to create drama its script by no means a lot tries to ship. Wandering the streets of Tokyo’s Shibuya neighborhood presents visible intrigue, however that novelty rapidly wears off as a viewer begins to suspect how little else there’s to see right here. Import worth is nil, although the pic might discover a number of supporters on the fest circuit.

Characters are unnamed, and even the credit (by which a lot of the actors go by single names, as in: “The Punk: Leo; The Eliminator: Ryota; The Revenger: Yaco”) depart a lot room for interpretation. So readers are requested to bear with improvised character names.

The City

The Bottom Line

A monotonous, empty train in fashion.

Venue: Oldenburg Film Festival
Leo, Yaco, Ryota, Kiyohiko Shibukawa, Ippei Tanaka
Director-Screenwriter: Katsuki Kuroyanagi

1 hour 34 minutes

The film shifts focus between two seeming protagonists, whom we would name Goatee and Big Hair. Its motion stretches over 4 years, although when you’ve pieced collectively the minimal plot (it takes an hour to get even slim clues about why something is going on), you would possibly surprise the way it all took so lengthy. Nevertheless, Kuroyanagi expects you to be so riveted that each different scene delivers a slow-burn timestamp, with the yr going up first, for no guessable cause, earlier than the remainder seems, a la “1/29/2017 22:43 pm.” (Isn’t the entire level of 24-hour timekeeping that you simply don’t use “am/pm”?)

Much of the primary hour revolves round Goatee going to nice lengths attempting to acquire a sure vintage mannequin of Colt handgun. (If there’s ever a touch about why that mannequin of gun is required, this viewer missed it.) His hunt requires the assistance of a man referred to as “Liquor Boy” who just lately modified his title to “Fish Boy” — a rare-goods vendor who gained’t do something until you carry him obscure, classic gaming units in return. It additionally entails plenty of time interacting with ladies who stand on the road handing out packets of face tissues. (Such packets, with ads on them, are a not-uncommon technique of enterprise promotion in Japan.) He wanders the Shibuya district, previous love inns and tiny specialty bars, as Kuroyanagi tries to wow us with insert close-ups of road grime.

But even the contrived, overly quirky particulars quickly peter out, and focus shifts to Big Hair, a raveled older man whose personal mission is hampered by badly injured palms. We watch, for example, as he tries to speak the help he wants from a deaf bike mechanic: He palms him a design for one thing and insists “just make it,” seeming to not care if his phrases are understood. (Which appears to be the filmmaker’s angle as nicely.)

Style (and oppressively urban-gloomy sound design and music) substitutes for storytelling for thus lengthy that few viewers will care when, an hour in, a flashback exhibits us the 2017 killing that set all this in movement. Is this miniature gang conflict actually all about an harmless man that was killed? A bleach-blonde streetwalker who has appeared to be a minor character might in reality be the plot’s most important driver. Or possibly not: Near the very finish, we meet a greater dressed gangster known as God, who presumably has some connection to the hood with God Son tattooed on his stomach. Anyone nonetheless awake at this level is welcome to reinterpret the entire affair as a Christian allegory, which might make about as a lot sense as every other studying.


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