Thursday, October 04, 2007

Dir. by Kaizo Hayashi

The Most Terrible Time in my Life is an offbeat homage to film noir, half send-up, half love letter. The protagonist is Maiku Hama (Masatoshi Nagase), and yup, he’s a PI. He drives a vintage two-tone convertible and has a dreary office with a bottle of whiskey in the desk. Sure the convertible has a bad habit of over-heating and the office is over a movie theater that charges his clients admission before they can see him.

Mike, er Maiku, helps out a Taiwanese waiter in a confrontation with some hoods. The waiter, Yang in turn asks Maiku to find his brother. Despite advice from Lt. Nakayama, his kid sister, and Jo Shishida (A well-known Japanese tough-guy actor from such films as Branded to Kill &c., played by himself in a gloriously over the top performance), Hama forges ahead. Fingers get severed and beezers are slugged, and Hama nearly ends up sleeping with the sushi.

The humorous tone evaporates in the increasingly violent second half of the film, this is not entirely a light-hearted romp. Shot in black and white, Most Terrible Time goes for a look that echoes classic noir. Just as boundaries are increasingly blurred in modern Asia, Hayashi brings a Japanese sensibility to this eccentric and entertaining mix of French noir and American hard-boiled.

-Dave Hardy


Charles Gramlich said...

I love Noir fiction. Have you read "Drive" by James Sallis? That's an excellent noir piece

Dave Hardy said...

I've been a fan of Cornell Woolrich for a long time. I read a lot of his stuff back in the '80s. I just started digging into Jim Thompson: The Grifters and The Killer Inside Me. Haven't read Sallis.

I like a lot of French movies too: Shoot the Piano Player, Breathless, Le Cercle Rouge.