Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Crime or Punishment reviewed

An alarm clock goes off. A hand stops it. The camera focuses on the daily routine of a office worker in Tokyo. On his way to work, he stops in his usual shop, to get a smile from a beautiful assistant, who gives him his usual purchases, just they are somebody else's purchases, as she mistook him. Then, this invisible man, people keeps banging, and looking down, on him, witnesses a murder, when a woman's body fell in front of him. He cannot find his mobile, so he crosses the street to a public phone, and gets run down by a fancily decorated truck. When the truck departs, a young woman is there, standing, watching, almost unbelieving what her eyes are seeing.

Meet Ayame Enjoji (Riko Narumi), a rather unknown, and shy, model who has been getting printed out upside down in a fashion/softcore magazine for men for which she models. A flashback reveals that she had come out of the magazine office, disgruntled because not only no one wanted to know about her complaints, but they laughed at her, being nicknamed as “the upside down” model. Her school friend, Momo (Sakura Andô), has become the cover girl, and laughs at her too.

Ayame steals a copy of the magazine from the shop, the same one we saw at the beginning, where a man wearing a uniform was sketching the floor layout. Of course, shy Ayame gets arrested and, as a PR stunt, her agency arranges for her to be the police chief for one day. On her first speech as such, high on a podium, in front of a bunch of press photographers, the wind lifts her skirt, and all the camera start clicking. This rather innocuous scene, I thought, is quite a key one in the film, as it points out at the flesh merchandise value attributed to young women (one of the furtive actions of the office worker we saw at the beginning was to grope young women in the underground), adding to their sense of unsecurity, a theme which has been treated a number of times in recent Japanese cinema.

As the police chief for a day, she is taken seriously by the force, and the officers wait for her commands in her rather surreal office. Commands that, at the beginning, she finds to be incapable of issuing. Ayame also meets her former boyfriend, now a detective, from whom she split five years before, a dark secret being the reason. There is a link here to the beginning of Crime or Punishment. However, near the end of her tenancy of her post, and resolving a hold up on that shop, she finds her feet, and becomes a self confident young woman, now sure in her path.

A riotous comedy, a parable on contemporary urban life in Japanese society, Crime or Punishment grew out of a scene in a play staged by Nylon 100°C, the theatrical company founded by Keralino Sandorovich, who also directed the film. In fact, this quality permeates through its scenes, many which were shot in enclosed spaces. The final scenes, in particular, had the hallmark of a theatrical comedy.

The DVD also contains excellent features, one of them being a short film of a scene from the play. Many of the actors from the play also acted in the film.

Crime or Punishment DVD is now on sale in Britain, brought to you by third window films.

Have you ever experienced a day when you are carrying on as usual just like the day before but strange things keep happening one after another on that particular day? This is a slapstick comedy, like Kafka’s novel, filled with incongruous nightmares and nonsensical laughter.
Ayame (Riko Narumi) is an unsuccessful girl celebrity, who happens to take on the PR role of a “police chief for a day”. The job of a campaign girl is to smile and act as a police chief for one day. It should have been a simple job, however, the police station staff treat her like the real police chief and look to her for instructions, which makes Ayame feel perplexed. In addition, she runs into her ex-boyfriend, Haruki (Kento Nagayama), who is now a detective at the station, which means her ex is her subordinate for the day.
Furthermore, Haruki holds a dreadful secret which was the cause for the couple’s separation. To make matters worse, a major event takes place on that particular day, and the situation takes an unexpected turn. Would Ayame be able to solve the case, and what is Haruki’s secret?
Director - Keralino Sandorovich Profile
Born in 1963 in Tokyo. In 1982 he formed a new wave band, Uchoten. In 1985 with Inuko Inuyama and Minosuke he also established a theatre company, Gekidan Kenko, where he commenced theatrical works. After the company’s dissolution in 1992, the following year, he formed Nylon 100. He won the 43rd Kishida Kunio Drama Award for his “Frozen Beach” in 1999. In the theatre, in addition to productions by his theatre company, he headed up and participated in other troupes as well as participating in many external productions. His recent works include an award winning Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?” by SIS Company Inc.(Directed), “Okasankana” by CubeWritten and Directed, and “The Lower Depths” by Theatre Cocoon on Repertoire 2008 (Directed). In films, he directed “1980” (2003), “A Delicious Way to Kill” (2006) and “Gumi Chocolate Pine” (2007) as well as this film. As for TV dramas, he wrote the script and produced “Jikokeisatsu” (TV Asahi, eighth episode) and “Kaettekita Jiko Keisatsu” (fourth episode).
Written & Directed by Keralino Sandorovich
Riko Narumi, Kento Nagayama
Yasunori Danta, Inuko Inuyama, Hajime Yamazaki, Megumi Okina, Koji Okura, Sakura Ando
Yui Ichikawa, Yu Tokui, Eriko Sato, Seiji Rokkaku, Minosuke, Yasuto Hida, Hitomi Takahashi ,
Akira Otaka, Kumiko Aso, Takuya Ishii, Masato Irie ★ Kazuyoshi Kushida
Producers: Joohoon Lee Mato Obata Hiroyuki Kitamaki Chikako Nakabayashi
Planning: Norio Enomoto
Cinematography: Shinji Kugimiya Lighting: Hiroshi Tanabe
Recording: Satoshi Ozaki
Production Design: Kei Itutsuji
Props: Tetsuji Tatsuta
Editing: Koichi Takahashi
Costume: Atsuyuki Okada Make-up: Mariko Honda
Scripter: Kaoru Yamauchi
VFX: Norio Ishii
Production Manager: Ryuta Hashimoto
Music: Fumio Yasuda
Production Companies: Shipyard Company, Booster Project
Ending Theme: (DefSTAR RECORDS) Song by Sowelu Produced by Taku Takahashi
© “Crime or Punishment !?” Production Committee

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