Sunday, March 28, 2010

Life seems nice in the hotel. (ホテルの生活はよさそう。)

Ah ha, almost lost my daily mojo, but no, then I went and watched a movie I felt the need to tell you all about.

The Uchoten Hotel, while not a thrilling action movie, is very satisfying nevertheless.

I actually discovered it over the summer... admittedly while cruising through a listing of Katori Shingo's (my second favorite member of SMAP) former roles. However, I've seen it twice now and would watch it again, so huzzah for random happenstance, I say. According to, again, Wikipedia, it's a "2006 comedy film... reminiscent of the Holloywood screwball comedies of the 1930s and 1940s... [which was] nominated for 11 Japanese Academy Awards." Does "screwball comedies" mean anything to you? I'm certainly lost.

In any event, it's something of a mellow movie that follows the lives of a large handful of people, including staff and guests, at a fancy-schmancy hotel on New Year's Eve. At it's base, The Uchoten Hotel is a cheery kind of movie that encourages you to keep chasing your dreams, and to do what you want with life, not what others want you to. A good message I think, especially coming out of a culture notorious for submitting to societal peer pressure.

While the movie focuses somewhat on the Hotel Accommodation Manager as he tries to keep everything together, it's very even handed in dealing with everyone's problems, from the Chairman down to the bedraggled prostitute that has chosen this particular hotel for cruising. Even if you get bored with one character, don't worry, things will switch up in a minute (everyone is, however, inexorably intertwined.) You even get to see the back-side of political corruption, which is both amusing and morbidly fascinating.

The only problem with this, of course, is its capacity for abuse, in particular when they did it with YOU--an aspiring "singer" who's pushed around by her boss. The problem is, in my opinion, that she can't act, and she certainly can't sing. Also, she needs a sandwich. Or twenty. (Seriously. I've seen much more of her skeletal structure than I ever thought possible.) If you're into breathy-voiced frail actresses who look like they're lost half of the time, they may have been right on the ball here, but frankly, I think she just wanted in on the movie and was a big enough name to have it done.

But aside from that note, I do highly recommend this movie. A definite turn-around from my last recommendation, I know, but hey. I am nothing if not eclectic. If character-based, coincidence-prone, slice-of-life stuff isn't for you, you may want to pass this one by, but everyone else? Go for it. Tell them Edo sent you.

(And on a personal note, this movie may in fact be the reason I was cruising through hotel job listings for the better part of an afternoon a month or so ago.)

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