Blu-Ray Review – The Happiness of the Katakuris (2001)

The Happiness of the Katakuris tells us the story of the close knit Katakuris family, a family who quit city life and opened a guest house in the countryside. The family is made up of a couple who worked in a shoe shop, their siblings, their granddad and their little niece. Business is slow at first; they do their best to drag in any passing trade.

One man they manage to rescue from adverse weather conditions, they treat him like a king, bed, board and a hot meal. How does their guest repay them? He commits suicide in their suite. In order not to ruin the name of their business the family decide to bury the body in the woods. It’s soon revealed that all of their guests seem to have suicidal tendencies/terrible luck when booking into the White Lover Motel. Oh and this film is also a musical!

Happiness of the Katakuris, I first came across this film maybe 10 years ago. Knowing that I’ve seen this film already gave me a vague expectation of what to expect when refreshing myself with this viewing. But man! How bloody weird is this film, remember this is a remake of The Quiet Family, a dark comedy from South Korea, take that film and look at it through the kaleidoscope perspective of master director Takashi Miike

From the opening clay-animation short of a small creature being digest by various animals in the food chain, only to be reborn at the end AND then eaten again – you have to relax and let the weirdness wash over you. Happiness has clearly accrued a cult following to warrant it a re-release from Arrow. It does have some fun gags and the musical numbers cover all genres (karaoke to electric guitar solo!).

That final sequence we’re treated to another clay stop motion animation snippet! Probably because it was cheaper than CGI and getting to see that family dog Poichi surfing down a landslide was worth it alone.

To summarise I’ll repeat myself, it’s fecking weird, but the up-beat musical numbers makes Happiness of the Katakuris surprisingly watchable.

Blu-Ray Special Features

We’re spoiled! Arrow have decked the halls of this release with several features. We’ve got everything from The Making of… to not one, but two audio commentaries! Here’s our run down of the features.

In Animating the Katakuris we’re show footage of the clay animation directors arranging shots, occasionally knocking all his shit over in the process! Miike is also there look busting balls joking with the crew whilst factoids are scrolling across the screen in Japanese.

Dogs, Pimps and Agitators is a new feature from Arrow, the segment is mostly a slide show of movie posters and brief clips of Miikes work, whilst Tom Mes narrates the career of Takashi Miike. Mes credited as an author focusing his essays on the work of Miike – so he’s right guy to cover this subject. He does a good job managing to cover a large majority of Miikes very colourful career in cinema.

When it comes to the audio commentaries they’ve went to lengths of including the Audio Commentary from Takashi Miike and one of the leading actors. We are given two viewing options, listen to the commentary in Japanese, accompanied with English subtitles OR listen to an audible translation of the Japanese into English read out by two boys speaking as Miike and the others! That’s a first for me, it’s weird!

3.5/5

Review – Ant-Man (2015)

Ant-Man tells the tale of ex-convict Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) an electronics expert who wants to get his life straight and  fix his relationship with his young daughter. He’s got two choices get a job in a fast food chain and earn a honest living OR do a heist with his new buddies! They’ve got a tip that some old man’s on holiday and he’s got this phat safe in the basement – easy payday!

Unfortunately it’s not fat stacks of cash waiting for Lang when he gets through the safe – it’s a suit? Unbeknownst to Lang, he’s being monitor by acclaimed scientist Hank Pym and he’s found his new protégé.

Enter, Darren Cross the current disciple of Pyms, but Pym stopped helping Cross after noticing Crosses intentions to militarising his fabled shrinking technology. Cross believes he’s on the cusp of mastering the formula needed to power the Yellow Jacket…

Ant-Man! Marvel takes a risk by throwing millions into an C level superhero, in hopes it’ll pay off like Guardians of the Galaxy and not like well, um, Thor 2? (it wasn’t that bad)

Marvel movies always bank is what I’m saying. Ant-Man is one of the first new era of Marvel movies that openly had issues surrounding its production; Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright left after conflicting visions with Marvel. People squinted at the news of Yes Man! Director Peyton Reed was announced as the Wrights replacement.

But is it any good? Yes, I enjoyed Ant-Man! I went in with the right level of expectation, Ant-Man isn’t an Avengers movie, don’t expect overly heroic battles, one versus thousands. It’s a close knit story with a half of the cast you normally see from Marvel, there’s not half a dozen Guardians, it’s Scott Lang, Hank Pym and his daughter Hope – and I’m certain 3/4’s of this is filmed in Michael Douglass living room! It’s a very safe project, great casting, plenty of MCU references and the right superhero; higher than the likes of Daredevil, not amongst the ranks of Iron Man etc.

Problems? Well it’s an origin movie. Which means we’ve got a slow start, it takes thirty minutes before we to see Lang as Ant-Man. We get all out dialogue heavy scenes at the start, perfect timing for some of the familiar faces from the Marvel Cinematic Universe to get their cameo appearances in.

My personal highlights are the legit tip sequences, this where Michael Peña almost animated as a Pixar character tells Scott about the tip for this heist if it’s a sure-thing or not. Cut to a a fast sequence of Peña talking to a friend, who knows a girl, who works for a man, who has safe etc. The editing is face and every character is talking in perfect sync Peña. They’re ace!

Paul Rudd, easily one of the most charming actors in the movie business, it was only a matter of time before a Marvel movie was delivered to him on a plate, hell, he even got the standard; Ooh I’ve got Marvel Abs, look at my sweat-soaked abs!

His characters dynamic as the ex-convict cat burglar/father who just wants the right life worked well. When he’s chosen to become the Ant-Man from Hank Pym we get a great teacher / student montage of Lang getting put through the ringer as he looks to live up to his expectations and a great test run montage of Lang falling through the apartment block.

Michael Douglas is ace! We even get a glimpse of CGI 80’s era Douglas opening the movie in the SHIELD HQ. Douglas is flawless when in character and he gets to drop a few choice swearwords against Rudd, you could tell Douglas savoured the delivery of those lines. Evangeline Lilly playing Douglas’s on screen daughter and love interest to Darren Cross. As you can expect she’s against the inclusion of Scott Lang into her fathers work. Lilly is great in the film, cute as heck, but the evil business woman hair cut, didn’t cut it for me (sorry).

Corey Stoll playing the role of Darren Cross / Yellow jacket was great casting. Stolls previous work on House of Cards left me confident in knowing he has the chops to pull off a decent Marvel villain. He’s excellent at delivering evil, lengthy monologues! That scene where Pym walks into his living room after finalising their heist on Cross Tech and Cross is standing there – I almost swallowed my tongue.

Overall it’s a great film, it’s not the summer blockbuster that Guardians was, but once Ant-Man gets past its slow start, the rest of the film is a Thomas the Tank Engine out of control!

4/5