[Previous review working titles, inspired by certain scenes:
“A RIFT IN TOKYO” or “(Guit)Ar Riffs In Tokyo”]
Film: Adrift In Tokyo (TenTen / 転々)
Director: Satoshi Miki
Venue: Mini Mini Manor
Also showing as part of the East Winds Film Festival – It’s also not the only one of Satoshi Miki’s films being shown there!
Running time: 101 minutes
2008 (10th) Udine Far East Film
2008 (7th) New York Asian Film Festival – North American Premiere
2008 (12th) Fantasia Film Festival – Canadian Premiere
2008 (12th) Fantasia Film Festival
A guy, Fumiya (played by Odagiri Jo) is down on his luck, in trouble and perhaps soon to be in ULTIMATE trouble. [Apologies if that sounds like the line in a trailer!] He sees his last hope for salvation in a toothpaste tube. Is this right? Surely not… Well, you’ll have to see this movie to know.
A very real threat is upon this young man. That’s if the threat or even action of having someone’s undergarment shoved into one of one’s orifices isn’t enough… A deed performed by Tomokazu’s Miura’s character, Fukuhara. Indeed, Fumiya’s problems more relate to money.
Already an existing threat to Fumiya, but one intensified by the latter opening scene in the film, he now ponders further this very large worry. Or perhaps his mood of worry has been like this for some time. His concern is not that visually clear as far as his facial expression shows, in a scene in a video arcade. He seems to be unfazed by his recent sock incident – on the outside at least – his intensified threat perhaps perfectly suits the intense graphics on display in front of him. It would also seem that he hasn’t mentioned his woes to friends he’s with.
He soon leaves those larger than life graphics to ponder further his equally larger than life problem. It’s actually a relief that he is seen mildly worried, especially because when he was in that video arcade it felt like he was just getting on with life, despite the potential looming danger.
Approaching a certain establishment he’s stopped by two girls collecting money for charity. Could this situation, and a certain locker be an opportunity for this man to overcome his troubles? Hmmm…
But… A park setting is soon upon us, and our central character is approached by that Fukuhara. However, is this man as threatening this time around?… Well, yes… Kinda… And he definitely hasn’t forgotten about money owed. Something seems to have changed though. Who ‘nose’…
Mini Mini Observation: Look out for a certain glance to the camera by Fukuhara. It’s one almost identical to the sort thrown by Mr Ferris Bueller. But, this is slightly more clever.
Fukuhara, anyway has a proposal. A Bizarre one perhaps. Will our young man, Fumiya be asked to accompany him somewhere? And why? Perhaps A) To turn himself him. B) To escape a wrong doing concerning his wife. C) To walk all the way to Tokyo. It could even be all three of these.
Whether A, B, C or all three, I will say that it does in some way involve Fukuhara’s now somewhat elusive wife… And ‘somewhat’ is putting it mildly, or even fibbing a little.
You see, it’s essential (but not spoil-ial) that I mention the elusive ‘her indoors’, if only to lead nicely onto the fact that the film is interspersed vaguely with scenes of his presumed gone wife… Well, at least one scene. Some would say darkly is more apt than vaguely.
[Regular readers of this site or indeed avid viewers of films from Japan, may note my re-occuring mention of dark themes in such movies. Mixing darkness or death with comedy is something many Asian pictures & therefore filmmakers are good at, especially the Japanese & Korean]
Now… Often a 2nd story is just used to push the main one forwards but such scenes in Adrift In Tokyo feel necessary to run almost parallel to the main – It helps reveal a little about the missing Mrs Fukuhara. In these parts of the film, we meet and half get to know a bunch of office workers, one of these being the marvellous Fuse Eri. Although only a relatively small amount of scenes it tells us quite a bit. It also displays director Satoshi Miki’s seemingly apparent fascination with smells. [Check out my interview with Satoshi Miki to see such a related question being put to him.] That’s Mini Mini’s reckoning anyway. But… The smell of someone’s head??! Yes, and it in no way feels out of place in this film. A true Mr Miki fan would agree.
A simple but subtle & sublime trailing shot marks what is almost just the beginning of this picture. Even this far into it. We have market stalls as well as bizarre occurrences, as characters Fumiya & Fukuhara stroll along. Fumiya though, seems more confounded by all the happenings. And, what’s this? More Mini Mini Miki trademarks? I like to think so… In particular, a shot or two of falling fruits is displayed to good comedy & artistic effect. Again, this is another question I just had to put to director Satoshi Miki in the interview.
The film and therefore journey has finally begun. As this couple make their not so merry way to a final destination, we the viewer begin to feel that it wouldn’t matter exactly where they are going anyway – the walking, talking and observations made make it all worthwhile and interesting viewing.
The latter observations are made by the more talky Fukuhara and include a mini mini speech about office girls & how they carry their purses. Another example of such an observation is the involvement of old trampy men and their scratching of neither regions. I mean their own nethers of course, not one another’s. More on that in a mo’.
Without a really loud persona you still get the impression that Fukuhara likes the sound of his own voice. Then again, perhaps he just wants his thoughts to be known to the world… An indication of the reminiscent and probably regrettable nature he has at this point in his life. On one of their routes amongst various streets he says “With such varied scenery Tokyo’s perfect for taking walks” – Mini Mini compared this sentence to one perhaps like a true travel agent or TV presenter!
Around the next corner, pretty much, we stand by these two road stars… Or should that be roadsters? Either way, we really feel like we are on this journey with this couple. Standing here we witness some kind of lot, and it holds memories. We witness almost the strangest of things here, but perhaps not so strange considering this is a Satoshi Miki movie. It’s a group of men being – unknowingly, I guess – indecent, and what is almost in a statement made by Fukuhara. He states “What will this lot become?”… and I thought, well he could mean literally the lot itself as in the piece of land, or perhaps referring to the group of men [yes, those men and their nethers] surrounding some sort of incinerator.
Now, you may be thinking, due to it’s nature, setting, title or even poster, that this film is all set outdoors. To a degree it is. The following couple of examples indicate that there are some inside offerings.
First up… A Cosplay scene, although this involves both outside and in. It includes a surreal, bizarre and amusing super-hero element. A must-see, blackly comic moment, I’d say.
We also have a classic comedic coffee-making scene. This is set in a struggling artits’s ap-ART-ment. Beware… This artist regularly makes a funny ‘tscchh’ sound. Amusing. With regard to her coffee making skills, you could almost say that is a work of art itself!
Outside again, [Not necessarily directly after the previous scenes of course – Reviews and vaguity are my deliberate methodology] a Glammed-up rock Guitarist! Our Fumiya character is intrigued by this riffing guitarist and as the musician moves around (continuously jamming) he follows the sounds. This guitarist has a certain hippy-like or retro style about him and would actually go hand in hand with our previously mentioned coffee-making-artist-slash-hippy-chick.
Does Fukuhara next do a disappearing act? Maybe… And if he were to do so, leaving our other main man alone, I would compare this to Fumiya and his own lost father. Indeed. Now, would he have not only have lost a father but also a faher figure too? If that were the case it would be a shame… I’m saying nothing more.
Either way, keep on ‘watching’…
A ‘watch’ store… [*sigh* & *sorry*]… Standing outside, this is where Fukuhara randomly questions the owner about how he makes ends meet. Only to be retorted to with “it’s none of your business”. Business bring the operable word!
This is not the only play on words picked out by Mini Mini Movie, or perhaps even this was Satoshi Miki’s intention. I can tell you, and especially from my recent interview with Satoshi Miki that he’s a very clever guy, especially when giving subliminal on-screen [or off-screen, otherwise how would they count as subliminal?!] messages.
I don’t mean to play or dwell on the word ‘watch’… So I won’t… I’ll play on another word. On hearing the shop-keeper’s response, Fukuhara is not entirely satisfied and needs convincing more. Fukuhara therefore exclaims a little with “Be precise…” Now, saying “Be precise” to the owner of a shop called “Precision Watch Store”, such as this one could both be detrimental as well as ironic. Ponder if you will.
Is that enough plays on words? Apparently not:
A scuffle or rift takes place between the owner and Fukuhara, after which a comment is made to the effect of “What a waste of time”… ‘Time’? Yes.
It’s worth pointing out a lovely little touch in this watch-shop scene. This is the almost over-exaggerated ticking of watches and clocks heard when the shop-keeper-and-owner walks out when we are first introduced to him. Sheer fabulous observational comedy… Intentional? I believe so.
Next up? “The award for best line in Best line in ‘ADRIFT IN TOKYO’ goes to…”:
“His anus must be missing a crease”
I guess this is now a ‘good’ enough point to mention something about all the lines in this movie, and Asian translated ones in general. You see, “Goodness Gracious” is stated in this picture but I’m unsure if this is indeed the correct translation for what is actually said, but it works. Any regular purveyor of Asian movies will know that it can be extremely difficult translate some of what is said.
We are nearing the end of the film now and Satoshi Miki, not content with displaying a tube of toothpaste at the start, now shows us one of chutney.
Towards the end even more so, and perhaps gradually creeping up on us since the mid-section of the film, we get the feeling this man is ‘passing away’ instead of heading to prison. Of course, prison could directly lead to death but one would hope not. Perhaps it is just spelling the death of his freedom.
Mini Mini particularly liked the scenes and shots of Flashbacks… Or are these ones of Fantasy? Perhaps multiple watchings of this remarkable film will only tell. These Fant-backs are touching either way, just like the end resolution.
So, if I was to help a person considering seeing or purchasing this film I would perhaps make a slight comparison to Martin Brest’s 1988 film “Midnight Run”, starring Robert DeNiro and Charles Grodin. Only… “Adrift In Tokyo”s journey takes place by foot, and the humour is is more subtle and overall more moving. Yep, this is a more placid, poignant and pure film compared to “Midnight Run”, but I drew comparisons with the personas of the characters and their faults… But also their redeeming qualities. This is in addition to the fact that one film contains a bounty hunter out to ‘get his man’ and the other is about a guy turning himself in, but either way the two characters here teach one another a thing or two.
Mini Mini Midnight-Run-Note: It’s ironic perhaps that Fuse Eri is known for starring in a similarly titled movie, that being “Midnight Sun’.
All in all, this movie is sublime. I’m intrigued to know how much is taken directly from the original novel by Yoshinaga Fujita, the 125th Naoki Prize winner. Although I do know, from my interview with Satoshi Miki that he did indeed add much of his own stance.
What other mission could start with toothpaste and end with chutney?
Well, it’s either farewell – just like these two are indicating. Or are they welcoming you in on this beautiful trip.
Whether you too are intrigued and wishing to read this book – perhaps after a meal involving a TUBE of chutney, or before going to sleep with your partner narrowly avoiding squeezing the toothpaste TUBE – I can only envy you that you get to experience this story in an alternative format.
Either way, this re-telling by Satoshi Miki is one hell of a ride, an exquisite ‘Tube’ journey if you will.
“Adrift In Tokyo” City Clip…
Find this Trailer and other Mini-er Movies here at:
For DVD fans in the UK and fanatics of behind the scene detail, I would recommend checking out the extras on the Third Window release. They include:
- “Adrift In Tokyo” Trailer
- Making of
- Trailers – 6 Third Window Films (including “Confessions Of A Dog”, “Confessions”, “Sawako Decides”, “Underwater Love”, “Cold Fish” & “Villain”)
If that’s not enough, a true Satoshi Miki (and/or Fuse Eri) fan can check out this. It’s out at the same time as “Adrift In Tokyo”…:
Film Footnote – “Virally Vended”
Further details of Third Window Films and another Asian film favourite, Terracotta Distribution are below. However, before you rush to clickety-click-away I’d like to use this space to mention the recent mindless riots experienced here in the UK. Did you know that these riots caused hundreds of thousands of pounds in damages and loss to our favourite independent film distributors? These are, essentially… Arrow Films, Artifical Eye, The BFI, Crabtree Films, Cine-Asia, Dogwoof Films, Exposure Cinema, Eureka, Kaleidoscope Films, Left Films, Masters of Cinema, Metrodome Films, New Wave Films, Peccadillo Pictures, Revolver Entertainment, Showbox Home Entertainment, Terracotta, Third Window Films and Warp Films.
So, with the latter in mind it is even more important to spread the word, virally about these unfortunate vendors. On that note I leave you with these links… all which will, in some way assist in keeping such films to be distributed here in the so-called land of milk & honey.
Thanks for your support… in every way.