Friday, November 30, 2012

JFF 2012: Thermae Romae

The raw came out a couple of weeks ago but I have already bought my ticket for Thermae Romae and its more fun watching movies in cinemas with fans. The Festival Director made a very interesting point in that the Japanese Film Festival is the only place outside of Japan where one can catch so many Japanese movies at one place and I have to agree as a fan of Japanese cinema. This year's line up is awesome and I guess I'm living in the right country outside of Japan for Japanese movies.

Anyways, Thermae Romae is a very funny movie, especially the first half and humour is basically the reverse of Jin. Instead of modern doctor going to the past, its an bathhouse architect Lucius, played magnificently by Abe Hiroshi going to the modern era and marveling at all our bath and toilet inventions. You can't go wrong with fish out of water comedy.

Lucius's trips to the future are short and he always runs into Ueto Aya who plays an aspiring mangaka. Everytime Lucius time travels, he goes back with new ideas and we see him trying to transplant modern stuff into ancient Rome to great comedy effect.

The movie slows down for me when it becomes about Ueto Aya's character traveling back to ancient Rome with Lucius. The relationship just does not work. Ueto Aya still looks like an 18 year old girl and all she does is try to act cute. I know its a comedy but they really need someone who can act and sell the relationship with what little screen time they share.

It could have worked better as a dorama series but getting the budget to do the Roman scenes would be tough. I love the Rome scenes. I was thinking where in Japan did they got so many gaijin extras until I released that it was shot in Italy. I like how the Romans get dubbed over in Japanese like a cheesy B grade movie and the director must have watched quite a few of those old Roman/Greek movies from the 70s and 80s cause its got that feel.

Thermae Romae is a very funny, if uneven movie which is hard to avoid given that there is not much time to develop the characters but someone needs to realise that Ueto Aya is not a good actress. You put Ueno Juri in there it becomes a better film. Lucius moping after Kitamura Kazuki told him he was a hack just felt so disjointed. Thermae Romae is a watchable comedy that tries to please too many people to the point that the narrative takes a back seat.

 Need Abe Hiroshi kickass WOWOW action dorama.

 Love the Bilingual sign as a funny way to get past the language barrier.


animemiz said...

Ahhh still waiting to see this, and read the manga... yep.. Ueno Aya can't act, but she probably still has that fan base in Japan that want to see her on the big screen.

Akiramike said...

Its out on the interwebs with English subs.