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quick takes: Ramblers/A Band Called Death

Posted by martinteller on July 13, 2013

I know I’ve been pretty quiet lately.  I just haven’t been in a movie-watching mood, and even less in the mood to write about them.  But here’s some brief thoughts on two that I watched today…


Riarizumu no yado (Ramblers) – Nobuhiro Yamashita continues in the vein of Hazy Life with this Jarmusch-y tale of Tsuboi (Keishi Nagatsuka), a screenwriter, and Kinoshita (Hiroshi Yamamato, also returning from Hazy Life), a director.  They don’t know each other but they’re brought together by an actor who wants to work with them both.  Tsuboi and Kinoshita wait around for the actor to show up, staying at cheap inns, meeting a strange girl (Machiko Ono) and gradually running out of money.  It’s like “Waiting for Godot” but more comic (says the guy who’s never read a word of Beckett’s).  It doesn’t really have any particular point of view, and once again Yamashita fails to live up to the promise of Linda Linda Linda, but there’s some pretty funny bits.  The two leads are quite likable.  Rating: Good (73)



A Band Called Death – The latest documentary getting a lot of buzz, about a proto-punk band (called… wait for it… Death) made up of three African-American brothers in 1970’s Detroit whose music languished in utter obscurity for 35 years.  There’s a lot of interesting facets to their story, and some nice bits of humor.  Death’s music is actually really good.  As a (former) musician and (former) music collector, there were several moments I could relate to.  However, the movie feels padded, and there’s not enough to this story to fill out an hour and a half running time.  It would work better as a more concise “Behind the Music” episode.  Towards the end it really started to feel draggy.  And as I’ve said before, this documentary trend of “animating” still photos by separating the elements and making them float around is getting very tired.  It’s okay for stills to be still, guys.  We can handle it.  Rating: Good (71)

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