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The other movie I saw at the DC Film Fest, I Just Didn’t Do It is a film by Masayuki Suo, the guy behind Shall we dansu?, the Japanese movie which would be remade as Shall We Dance? By the way, Shall We Dance is a surprisingly decent movie, considering it is about ballroom dancing. It has a pretty great cast (Richard Gere, Bobby Cannavale, Nick Cannon, Susan Sarandon, Jennifer Lopez et al). So shut up.

I Just Didn’t Do It is an indictment of the Japanese court system, but also partially of Japanese culture. It tells the story of a 20-something guy accused (wrongly?) of groping a schoolgirl on the train, a too-prevalent act that ends with an alarming 99 percent conviction rate in the courts, leading most charged with the crime to pay a fine and stay a few days in jail.

There are a few interesting characters along the way, and the story is probably worth telling, but ultimately the movie just drags on too long. Probably a half hour could have been cut without really losing anything other than a few subplots that went nowhere. And it would have added to the surprising lack of tension.

I also saw this movie with John, and we both remarked on the newbishness (yes, I went there) of the audience. It was as if they hadn’t seen a movie before, but because it was a movie in a film festival, they felt obliged to cover for it by laughing 30 seconds after a joke or loudly remarking on incredibly stupid things a few beats after a comment would have been appropriate (not that comments were appropriate, but where they would have been if it had been more of a participatory movie).

Also, strangely, while watching the movie, I couldn’t help but notice Brian furiously taking notes.

What? Look, I really tried, and I almost made it, but it is a movie about getting in trouble for groping Japanese schoolgirls. The joke had to be made. It just had to.

Trailer after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

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Well, I got about a month behind on my reviews, and now I can barely remember these movies. So here are some quick hits to clear out the backlog.

La Zona was the first movie I saw at the DC Film Fest. It was in Spanish, which is my sworn enemy, but I still found it quite entertaining. So, you know how there are nice parts of cities and then crowded, rundown, dirty parts of cities (at least until they become cool and become a nice part)? Imagine an entire city that’s poorly off, save for one heavily fenced-off zone (I’m assuming that’s La Zona, but again, I passed Spanish based entirely on my rugged good looks) that looks roughly like your average upper middle class neighborhood.

There’s a power outage, three riffraff youths manage to make it over to La Zona, a few people die, and one of the youths ends up trapped, desperately trying to get back as he’s stridently hunted. We get a little Lord of the Flies/civilization vs. nature action as the select citizens in La Zona attempt to prevent the police from disrupting their world by taking matters into their own hands.

Not a perfect summary, but close enough. John said something along the lines of how the plot ripped off like four Twilight Zone episodes. Maybe more like Alfred Hitchcock Presents, but still, the point is both valid and works in the movie’s favor, I’d argue. It is a fascinating study and constantly entertaining. The movie does run a little thin at points, but it is definitely worth a look. Also, I’d be a poor IB student if I didn’t mention the similarities to Durrenmatt’s The Visit. Which I thought was pretty great.

Also, the movie co-stars Javier Bardem’s brother. Who I actually enjoyed. Trailer after jump: Read the rest of this entry »

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