Wednesday, September 10, 2014


Dude's a Next Level Anti-Hero
The World of Kanako is a mean damn movie. And I liked it.

Called  Kawaki, or "Thirst" in Japan, and not to be confused with South Korean Director Park Chan-wook's Thirst.  The World of Kanako follows a disgraced former detective who's determined to find out what has happened to his missing daughter. Let's just say she's something of a handful.

Spoiler level: moderate. I talk vaguely about types of scenes without giving away contexts.

So I saw the movie, and is it for you? Well that depends! Time is running out! Is this the right movie for you?  Well, I will say, there’s more on screen sex and violence than Kokuhaku. Going in, I was told that there’s just a numbing amount of subversiveness. This, of course, just got me more excited. Quality subversive films are in short supply these days.  Do I need to defend subversive movies here?

In my earlier throwback blog post on Kokuhaku I predicted that The World of Kanako was going to be a more energetic UPPER to contrast the DOWNER of the first film. Their stories don’t really have any direct ties. Kanako is a similar examination of the result of pain left unchecked in the human spirit. And that’s speaking optimistically.

While I enjoyed the film,  it is very nihilistic, and intact a total downer, like Kokuhaku.  However the method of the telling is completely different, and infused with lots of smashing and shattering of places and people.

So who should see this film? Fans of Park's Vengeance Trilogy, I believe will enjoy this. Particularly if you liked the first (and I believe most cold hearted) film Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance. You'll find all the wonderful coldness and bitterness of that movie here. Really completely different  story, of course.

The Character of "Detective with Lollipop" makes everything sting a little worse.
(not actually called this, but still accurate)
Fans of I Saw The Devil - it’s got that kind of reckless abandonment. Similar tone, and if crime stories filled with blood is your thing, there's lots of that too.

Kanako's protagonist former detective Akikazu Fujishima, you might find hard to root for. To me, that's the real charm of the movie. These are new lows for "good guy" in a detective movie. He’s a mean SOB, in serious need of professional help.  I commend the filmmakers for bravely making the world (the protagonist) inhabits just THAT MUCH DARKER for it to make sense. Here’s a low life thug, a nightmare of a husband, disgraced cop, perpetually knee deep in liquor - and that’s just how he starts! Wait, even in the backstory he’s a pretty horrible guy.

So... that much more inspiring a climb in his journey to become a better person, you might be thinking! Mild Spoiler, advert your eyes:

There’s no real redemptive transformation here - but rather the grit becomes sludge. This guy makes Harvey Keitel’s Bad Lieutenant look like an altar boy. I think he and The Shield's Vic Mackey might be able to have single a beer before Vic put two and two together and took him off his Christmas list. Take that as you will - but this isn’t a character study. It’s a gritty detective movie!

To be fair, the bad guys DO surpass Akikazu in bad deeds enough to make things interesting. I don’t want to say any more than that.

So should YOU see this film?  It depends on your stomach. I'm pretty sure a lot of veterans of the Vanguard or Midnight Madness programs will be fine.  It is extreme though.

 I went into this movie, my most anticipated film this year, having heard both hype for and against it. With my expectations in check, I wasn’t disappointed - though I feel Kokuhaku had more emotional power -this film was darkly entertaining, ridiculously violent with many memorable scenes, a unique spin on the action (Mini spoiler: there’s a pretty "up close and personal" gunfight that rocked my world) and I’ll definitely be excited to see what Tetsuya Nakashma does next.

The happiest part of this movie is it's cheery poster! It's all pain and darkness after this, folks!

Bonus poster translations by my very patient wife. TOP: "My Beloved Daughter Was a Monster" BOTTOM: "Strong poisonous entertainment that blows away your rationality"

THE WORLD OF KANAKO screening last chance!
Sat., Sept. 13th, 9:00 PM, BLOOR HOT DOCS CINEMA

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