Toronto Japanese Film Festival 2018: Our Review of ‘blank 13’

Toronto Japanese Film Festival 2018: Our Review of ‘blank 13’

Takumi Saitoh has worked both in front of and behind the screen. His first feature blank 13 belongs to the latter category, a dramatization of the youth of writer Koji Hashimoto. The movie basically has a lot of flashbacks.

The central relationship here is between Koji Hashida (Issey Takahasi) and his deadbeat father. That man, Masato Matsuda (Lily Franky) leaves home to buy a pack of cigarettes only to never return. He’s actually escaping his debtors.

blank 13 then flashes forward thirteen years later, hence the title. Koji discovers that Masato is in a hospital somewhere, with death at his doorstep. His resentment about Masato’s departure isn’t on the surface as of yet.

Koji is an interesting character. The movie writing him out as someone whose activities centering on the few memories that he has of Masato. He goes to batting cages since baseball is the one thing they did together.

The movie does its last flash forward to Masato’s funeral and it plays out that macabre scenario. Of it having one of the few lowest funeral attendances in cinematic history. There’s an unwelcome, stark sadism during this section.

There are a few attendees. They end up being a cross section of mostly cis male deadbeats who Masato met during his missing years. The first of these thin characters is a stereotypical version of an alcoholic.

The tonal shift between a mostly sweet melodrama and the Asian cadet branch of cringe cinema is startling. What’s worse is that a film that’s only more than sixty minutes has scenes that drag on for too long.

Other scenes halt the movie into a standstill. Saitoh, who also appears on this film as Koji’s brother Yoshiyuki, tried out something new in his first feature. But cringe cinema fails more when its characters are stereotypes.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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