Friday, January 8, 2010

Dare mo mamotte kurenai – Nobody to Watch Over Me

Last night I was invited as a member of the Screen Actors Guild Film Society to a last minute screening of the 2009 Japanese film Dare mo mamotte kurenai – Nobody to Watch Over Me.
I had not heard of this latest film from Toho Studios but when I learned that it had been Oscar nominated to represent Japan in the category for best foreign film, I instantly jumped on this. As an added bonus, Director Ryoichi Kimizuka, and lead actress Mirai Shida would be there for a pre-film meet and greet session. To use my favorite Pulp Fiction quote- “Shit! – Well that’s all you had to say!

Shot entirely on location in Tokyo and the West Izu Peninsula, Nobody to Watch Over Me deals with the impact and cries for retribution from the family members of an accused murderer. In this film an eighteen year old school boy is accused of killing two grade school age sisters. No sooner than the Tokyo Police is on the scene the Japanese media is all over it with unrelentless pursuit of the accused family members. The young Mirai Shida plays Saori Funamura who is whisked away from school by the police and brought home to the media frenzy that takes place outside her home. Her entire world is instantly turned upside down as the Funamura household is overwhelmed with police detectives and special detachments from the courts and the schools.
Everything happens in such a fast pace that there is no opportunity for 15 year old Saori to absorb what is happening to her family. No sooner than her brother is whisked away by the police his name and picture is all over the internet and the Tokyo media as well as the identities and whereabouts of the accused family. The police and courts force their parents to instantly divorce and remarry under Saori’s mother’s maiden name as the police outside cover the Funamura name with packing tape. The decision is made to pull Saori out of school and separate the family. Saori has no choice in the matter and has no time to understand what is happening to her family as cries for vengeance to be exacted on the Funamura family flash all over the internet and Japanese Media.
Koichi Sato plays Takumi Katsuura, A Tokyo  detective assigned to protect young Saori. Together with his partner played by Ryuhei Matsuda of Gahatto (Taboo) fame, they race across Tokyo while being hunted down by the media in high speed chase scenes that makes you think of Princess Diana’s last car ride. There is nowhere Katsuura can take Saori who is now marked for death by vicious internet bulletin boards run by evil nerd techno geeks inciting calls for death to all the surviving Funamura family members.

The issue here is the girl has done nothing wrong yet people are blaming her and her family for the twin sisters murders her older disturbed brother is accused of committing. It is the Police who enact measures to assist the families and ensure that the families to not attempt suicide. This of course does not always work out as planned for even within the police there is predjudice and outright conviction in the court of public opinion.

The fast pace of the first 24 hours in this four day ordeal proves too much as Saori finds out via her teenage boyfriend that her mother committed suicide no sooner than the family was separated. It seems like there is no one she can trust as public outcries call her death. The only person she can rely on is Detective Katsuura who has been assigned this task of protecting Saori at the expense of a planned vacation trip planned by his own 15 year old daughter to save his own family from an impending divorce. The timing of this assignment could not be any worse as now internet and media are revealing the home address of detective Katsuura whose family is now recieving death threats of thier own. Katsuura has no easy choices as the vicious Japanese media airs out old accusations against the detective for failing to stop a child murder he was tailing three years earlier. He is accused of protecting murderers at public tax expense. This of course is an unfair call and Katsuura has to face his own demons that has all but destroyed his own family to save the life of Saori’s.

(Left photo) Me With Mira Shida                
(Right photo) Mira Shida with Director Ryoichi Kimizuka

I won’t give away any more of this film for you. The stand out performances by Koichi Sato and Mirai Shida are both memorable and Oscar worth. What struck me as my own sign of good luck was that they film the second half of the film on the West Izu Peninsula which is the area where my fictional historical novel takes place. I couldn’t help but literally leap out of my chair to see on the big screen a land I am writing about come to life. The screening took place at Raleigh Studios’s Chaplain Theater. This was preceeded by the most awkward moment when the Director Ryoichi Kimizuka and actress Mirai Shida’s van was denied entrance by a determined Security guard who I swear had it not been some black rap star showing up he would have denied entry to Al Pacino & Robert De Niro even if they came in character with Joe Pesci in tow. Inevitably, both the stars and producers were finally let on the Raleigh lot. I swear I have snuck into bigger studios with less hassle. Baka!

Once we were all up in the lot the producers and cast were there to individually meet and greet the selected guests. Naturally, they were not expecting me or anyone else who spoke Japanese. As you could imagine they were quite happy to meet me & the Tinahime.

We introduced ourselves and customarily bowed as they happily did the same. We wished them all a Happy New Years and great success with the film. Mirai Shida was nice enough to pose for a picture with me and later tried to give a prewritten speech to the non-Japanese speaking audience in English. She was very delightful and I wish her great success. Dare mo mamotte kurenai is both a controversial film and deals with the difficult subject in Japanese culture. This has all the drama and heart you would expect from a Toho Studios film. This film may already be available in DVD. See this however you can. You will not be disappointed!

1 comment:

  1. Mamoru ... to protect .. this is believable.. who do you really trust and ask for protection... in reality .. yononaka can be kowai ....