JAPAN 2010 Directed by: Yoshihiro Nakamura Novel by: Kotaro Isaka Produced by: Hitoshi Endo Cast: Masato Sakai, Yuko Takeuchi, Hidetaka Yoshioka, Hitori Gekidan, Shihori Kanjiya, Saki Aibu, Akira Emoto, Teruyuki Kagawa, Nao Omori, Bengal, Shiro Ito, Gaku Hamada
Some movies defy all logic. Or maybe they create their very own view of what’s logical. Nakamura’s man-on-the-run flick GOLDEN SLUMBER is either absurd or a brilliant example of a Kafkaesque situation spinning out of control, paired with more conspiracy theories than even Noam Chomsky can dream up.
Everyman hero Aoyagi meets an old friend, only to realize that his mate had been ordered to lure him close to the prime minister’s parade that day so that some dark forces can make him the scapegoat of an assassination plot. Just as predicted, Aoyagi becomes the new Oswald as soon as the prime minister is dead. As his friend dies from a car bomb Aoyagi starts running with hundreds of cops on his trail, trying to understand what on earth is happening. Things only get worse when he crosses paths with a wanted serial killer who seems to have a score to settle with some of the investigators chasing Aoyagi. After being double-crossed by friends and foes alike the serial killer is about the only one left to trust – until a small group of people comes to Aoyagi’s rescue and joins forces with him to fight against the authorities and their dirty games.
Nakamura must be an admirer of Hitchcock and avid fan of Hollywood thrillers, just as much as he must have studied most of Sabu’s oeuvre very well. We’re back to the question of logic: logic is not what we expect what should happen based on empirical assumption, logic is what works for you no matter how fucked-up the situation is you’re in. Logic’s not about what is, it’s about what will be.
According to Nakamura there is no point in asking why Aoyagi is framed and how come he of all people must run into that serial killer on the loose. The ending of GOLDEN SLUMBER is the best proof that the movie is not about why – it completely ignores the audience’s wish to know who’s behind the assassination and how exactly it was plotted. Equally irrelevant is the question who the serial killer is and what beef he has with the police – or why he sympathizes with Aoyagi.
The really smart thing about GOLDEN SLUMBER is that we are and stay in the same situation Aoyagi is in, and we have to deal with it just as he has to deal with it. This is a very creative process, unpredictable, hilarious, never boring. There is method to the madness.
GOLDEN SLUMBER is creativity unleashed and then channeled through a very tight story corset so that the pressure is always on and pushes us to the edge of the seat. Multiple plot threads are tied together, but will never be fully untied so that the heat of the moment is the driving force behind GOLDEN SLUMBER, and not a linear chain of cause and effect. All this wrapped in fantastic visuals, outstanding editing and a great score, filled to the brim with black humor, smart dialogue and fabulous acting across the board.
Most movies suffer from the need to explain everything. They do not leave any room for imagination. They are designed for people who love to avoid thinking and just want to consume what’s put in front of them. The celluloid guinea pigs.
Movies that come close to what art’s supposed to be involve the viewer, inspire contemplation and leave many things unexplained simply because art doesn’t dictate perspectives, it opens perspectives. A great movie is a movie that allows us to see ourselves in it.
GOLDEN SLUMBER is one of the best Japanese movies of 2010 so far, and it stands a chance to come out on top of the hit list by end of the year. Clearly, GOLDEN SLUMBER is must-see cinema.
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