Today’s movie recommend is:
BIG MAN JAPAN– 2007, dir~ Hitoshi Matsumoto, Japan
Big Man Japan is a good example of the kind of film the Japanese seem to do well; it somehow manages to be zany as hell, while at the same time feeling vaguely tongue-in-cheek. Maybe that’s just the language barrier… Hard to say, but it’s certainly a smarter comedy/psychotronic mashup than say, Zombie Ass, or Vampire Girl VS. Frankenstein Girl, especially since the low brow humor is minimal, and there’s no sex or gore to speak of. It’s a mockumentary style parody of the Japanese Kaiju genre, with an usually human protagonist; Big Man Japan. Big Man is an ordinary guy who inherited his role as the towering, monster clobbering defender of Japan from his father, grandfather, and so on and so fourth. Essentially obsolete in today’s Japan, his presence is more tolerated than celebrated by a culture which values tradition greatly, but at the same time demands the ultra-modern. Caught up in the crossfire of this contradiction is Big Man, who is obligated to devote his entire life to a people which no longer need nor truly appreciate him. If these ideas sound familiar, it’s because they’re probably the most inherently Japanese concepts of all time. That story has been told countless times through samurai fiction alone, the Japanese have wrestled with these ideas for literally centuries, but the way Big Man Japan explores them still manages to seem fresh, because it’s so grounded in human emotions, and because the historical context of the Samurai has been replaced with something equally Japanese; the Kaiju genre. The film climaxes with a Deus Ex Machina style American intervention which is even more telling about the likelihood of this being a thinly veiled exploration of Japan’s turbulent transition from the golden age of the samurai to it’s role as a major player on the international stage. Plus the monsters in this movie are wacky as hell. And it’s funny!
Is anybody still reading? The movie might feel a tad long, and the pacing may be difficult for people more accustomed to the flow of American Pop Cinema, but I would encourage just about anyone to give it a try, because it’s an extraordinarily likable movie, and I want others to enjoy it, too.