Labyrinth of Cinema (2019, Nobuhiko Obayashi)

A journey through Japanese cinema and political history by the wacky House dude should’ve been very fun. I liked the stock characters (the romantic, the nerd, the tough guy, and the girl) and the Sherlock Jr. screen-hopping concept, but would describe most events, the onscreen text, compositing and editing all as “annoying.” Movie is a history lesson but it’s… no there’s no but, it’s just a lesson.

Noriko:

Some sharp comic-book images. Trips through silents and animation, the lo-fi greenscreen of late Ken Russell, poems between scenes. Lot of time spent in wars and discussing the atom bomb. After intermission, the Tough Guy spends some time failing to rescue a prostitute. He is Takahito Hosoyamada of All About Lily Chou-Chou… romantic lead Mario is Takuro Atsuki of another Obayashi, film history expert Shoue is Yoshihiko Hosoda of Detroit Metal City, all chasing young newcomer Noriko around. I lost track of characters, but superstar Tadanobu Asano was in there somewhere, and Riko Narumi (the unblind girl in Yakuza Apocalypse) and Hirona Yamazaki of As The Gods Will and Lesson of Evil. Fanta G (Yukihiro Takahashi of Norwegian Wood) is the guy in the spaceship, but I dunno about Kinema G (older guy inside the movies with the kids) since sites are using different character names than my subtitles did.

Omniscient space traveler Fanta G:

L-R: tough guy, nerd, romantic

Evan Morgan in Mubi:

And like Godard’s magnum opus [Histoire(s) du cinéma], Labyrinth of Cinema is haunted by the possibility that — if only things had been different, if only the movies had been more true — cinema might have altered the course of the 20th century, might have thwarted its greatest horrors. That it ultimately failed to do so is, for Godard, a source of deep sorrow — shame, even. And, like a spurned prophet, he retreated into monasticism, fled to his little tower on the shores of Lake Geneva from whence he issues the occasional gnomic utterance, if only to remind us that the world remains irreparably fallen. Obayashi, on the other hand, earnestly believes — as he himself tells us — that “a movie can change the future, if not the past.” Labyrinth of Cinema may be composed of bitter, inalterable histories, but it exists to shape an undetermined tomorrow.

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