Saturday, January 02, 2010

Movie Reviews: "Christmas" Movies, Part 1

Usually around the holidays we watch all our old Christmas favorites*, but for some reason we haven't gotten around to it this year. Although for weeks we've had them piled up in the living room along with a dozen or so that I'd checked out of the library, we only watched three (library) movies, and I'm not so sure they meet most folks' idea of "Christmas" or "holiday" movies. (There are no depictions of Jesus' birth, no Santas or elves or reindeer, no little children awakening to Christmas morning miracles.) Another thing worth noting is that they're all foreign--one Japanese and two French--which is odd because we don't watch many foreign films.

Tokyo Godfathers: Maybe you guessed that this is the Japanese film. Tokyo Godfathers, which we watched with Sean, earned three thumbs up, one (mine) somewhat lukewarm. Three homeless people--a drunken gambler Gin), a transvestite (Hana), and a teenage runaway girl (Miyuki)--find an abandoned baby girl on Christmas. Hana believes the baby is a gift from God, and refuses to turn her over to the authorities. The three attempt to care for the baby until, realizing the danger that poses to the baby, they embark on a search for her parents. I don't think I've spoiled anything, because you learn all that just from reading the dvd jacket, but that's all I'm going to say about the plot.

Now I'll explain my lukewarmness. You probably know that we lived in Japan. (I'd move back today if I were guaranteed a job that'd keep My Dearest O and me out of poverty.) I love Japan and all things Japanese--the people, the language**, the history, the culture... One thing I never grew to like very much is anime, and Tokyo Godfathers is anime. The film's city scenes are beautiful, but, like a lot of anime, the exaggerated depictions of the people are rather alarming. Hysterical Hana, with her bugged out eyes and gaping mouth and her sobbing and screeching, particularly freaked me out.

Other than that, I liked it okay. The story wasn't bad. Most of the non-human animation was very good. I guess I'll give it 3 out of 5 stars.

*It's a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the real one with Boris Karloff), Love Actually, Elf, Charlie Brown Christmas, and A Christmas Story.

**I understood almost none of the spoken Japanese in this film. Guess the 20-something credit hours in class and oodles of money on language materials were well spent!

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