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Posted by martinteller on July 22, 2013

20-year-old Shin (Jô Odagiri) is “sleepy and restless” in Japan.  Looking over tourist destinations, he fixates on New York as a dangerous locale.  Smitten with the city and its excitement, he buys a T-shirt that says “Hazard” and tries to get someone to take him to “Hazard”.  In the process, he’s robbed of all his belongings.  He meets up with two street thugs: another recent arrival named Takeda (Motoki Fukami) and a half-Japanese/half-American named Lee (Jai West).  The three go around committing minor but dangerous crimes, and sell drug-laced ice cream from a truck.  Shin’s not so sleepy and restless anymore.

This sucks.  No, not the movie.  What sucks is that the second I finished watching this film, I had to run out to catch another one… and now that second movie is filling my brain and I forgot most of what I wanted to say about Hazard.  This is why I always try to write my reviews immediately after a viewing.  Well, I’ll try my best, but this will probably be a short one.

Truth is, I can’t think of much to say.  Sono’s film has a raw aesthetic to it, with grainy, handheld camera and a documentary feel.  Performances are interesting: Odagiri makes a believable transformation, and West has a madcap energy.  A couple of the American actors aren’t that hot, but for the most part they’re not bad.  It’s hard to say whether the film is condemning America, or having fun with certain cultural stereotypes, or even commenting on Japanese attitudes.  It’s something to think about… if only I’d given myself more of a chance to think about it.

But it is an entertaining movie with some intriguing elements (Lee’s obsession with Walt Whitman, Takeda’s puppy love, the zany ice cream business).  Sorry this isn’t a deeper review.  Rating: Good (75)


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