Nazotoki Wa Dinner No Ato De / The After-Dinner Mysteries (2013) - "Death On The Nile" meets "The Naked Gun" - 7/10 (13/01/14)
"The After-Dinner Mysteries" is apparently a quite popular Japanese series but you don't need to know that to enjoy this vivid movie. This very Japanese over-the-top film mixes elements of different genres such as dramas, slapstick comedies or old-fashioned suspense movies. This movie surely has a touch of "Death On The Nile" but also elements of "Casino Royale", "Robinson Crusoe", "The Naked Gun" or "Titanic" for example. The mixture of Western and Eastern elements is in fact very balanced in this film but it really depends on your very individual taste if you find this movie pretty entertaining or just ridiculously overwhelming.
There are many elements I really liked about the movie. First of all, the film features several interesting side stories that are leading into one big story in the end. We basically get introduced to different pieces of the same puzzle. We follow the paths of a hysterical lottery winner, two lame-brained thieves, a lonely lounge-singer and more. All these stories are connected to two mysterious murders that are taking place on a luxurious cruise ship that seem to be more or less connected to the presence of two worthy oeuvres d'art that are getting transported from Japan to Singapur.
The way the movie mixes tension-filled scenes as when the main character gets mysteriously kidnapped and her life only depends on a risky poker tournament her assistant must win, dramatic or romantic passages when the lounge-singer slowly realizes that people all around her aren't what they pretend to be and funny moments when slapstick characters such as Detective Kazamatsuri ("Hai, hai, hai!" is by far my favourite and most memorable tag line in the movie) come into play is really diverting. The acting is quite good in this movie even though or maybe exactly because this plot works with amusing stereotypes.
I also liked the movie's out-thought final parts when the mysteries get completely resolved as in a classic suspense movie and when we see the falling action and the impacts of the climax on the different characters who gain more and more depth towards the end.
From an even more artistic point, the set decorations are very detailed, the camera and light work is truly solid and even the soundtrack is very well chosen.
There are still a few negative elements in this movie. It's a truly diversified movie but that's why it also feels a little bit too direction-less at times. Some scenes feel rather like a a ridiculous waste of time without adding much to the story. The scenes on the desert island are a good example for this category.
While most actors give their very best in this film, the main character Hosho Reiko is rather annoying, superficial and almost unimportant. That's the first time I remember a more epic movie with many characters where the main characters is by far the least intriguing one. Maybe it's because of some flaws in the script or due to the ordinary acting by Kitagawa Keiko or in reason of both. The idea of a smart but two-faced woman who is an elegant and rich heiress and a nervous rookie police officer at the same time is quite good but its potential is not quite used in this film. There would have been room for some more amusing scenes between Hosho Reiko and her amusingly stupid superior Kazamatsuri and even the chemistry with her snobbish but clever butler Kageyama.
While the movie definitely has several flaws, it remains a fast-paced and entertaining movie that kept me guessing until the end and that had a few charming twists. Fans of Japanese cinema will adore this movie. Everybody else might find the mixture of genres in here exotically exciting or simply exaggeratedly odd. Choose your camp and watch some trailers first before you spend any money on this film.« Shin Kanashiki Hittoman / Another Lonely Hitman (1995) - The odyssey in between is more important than the beginning or the end - 8/10 (12/01/14)47 Ronin (2013) - An epic fantasy movie about a legendary tale of Japanese culture - 8/10 (17/01/14) »