Hot as Hell: The Deadbeat March 青春墓場～明日と一緒に歩くのだ～
2010, colour, 16:9, 74 mins
Directed by Okuda Yosuke (奥田庸介)
By Derek Elley
Tue, 25 January 2011, 22:47 PM (HKT)
Quirky black comedy about drug dealers and losers has an offbeat but limited appeal. Festivals.
Kawaguchi city, just north of Tokyo, the present day. Young punk drug dealers Tetsuo (Iida Kaoru) and Saburo (Kameyama Susan Kumiko) consider running a scam by cutting the cocaine with protein powder but are warned off by their immediate superior Amada Makio (Okuda Yosuke). During a deal, Tetsuo is arrested by plain-clothed policemen and rats on his boss Hideo (Tamura Kensaku), who decides to lay low for a while and leaves some cash and a gun with Makio. While reading the water meter at the house where Makio and his druggie girlfriend Fujita Natsuko (Katakura Waki) live, public service employee Yamada Ippei (Itabashi Shunya) recognises Natsuko as his college ex, and the two strike up a friendship again. When Makio, who has tracked down and killed Tetsuo, is beaten up by some of Tetsuo's friends outside a public toilet, Ippei by chance finds the bag with Hideo's money and gun that Makio left inside the toilet for safe keeping. But from thereon it brings him only trouble.
Following the two shorts Hot As Hell 青春墓場 (2007) (a graduation film) and Hot as Hell 2 青春墓場～問答無用～ (2008), young Japanese indie director OKUDA Yosuke 奥田庸介, still in his early 20s, completes the trilogy with his first feature-length movie, as well as playing one of the leading roles himself. Though Quentin TARANTINO is Okuda's proclaimed hero, the film doesn't play like either a clone of or a hommage to the American director's works: for a start, the dialogue isn't nearly as sharp, nor does it drive the picture. Structurally, it's closer to a movie by Okuda's fellow countryman Sabu サブ — with one event triggering another, once the pieces click into place after a leisurely start — though without Sabu's discipline and complexity.
Basically, Hot as Hell: The Deadbeat March 青春墓場～明日と一緒に歩くのだ～ (2009) is rooted in the slacker culture of so much Japanese independent/no-budget cinema. What sets it apart is Okuda's classical approach to film-making technique, in both his camera set-ups and editing, with little handheld wandering. Clever use of varied music and songs, often ironically, is a further plus. At its best, the movie has a quirky humour and invention that sometimes surprises — a bath scene featuring the hapless hero is genuinely inventive. At its worst, it seems either like an unfinished sketch for a properly developed feature or an over-extended short that would have been better at 50 rather than 74 minutes. Performances, including Okuda's portly, lumbering gangster, are good and believable, though a spacey cameo by well-known actor MORIOKA Ryu 森岡龍 will only mean something to Japanese viewers. Locations around Kawaguchi city, where Okuda studied film-making, make suitably offhand settings for an equally offhand movie.
The Japanese title more pointedly means Graveyard of Youth.
ContactSales: PIA Film Festival (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Premiere: Yubari Fantastic Film Festival (Competition), 27 Feb 2010. Theatrical release: TBA.
Presented by Eiga Banzoku (JP), Okuda Foods (JP), Namamo (JP). Produced by Eiga Banzoku (JP). Producer: Kojima Yoshinari.
Script: Okuda Yosuke. Photography: Kobayashi Gaku. Editing: Onodera Takuya. Sound: Nemoto Asuka. Special make-up effects: Nemoto Asuka.
Cast: Itabashi Shunya (Yamada Ippei), Katakura Waki (Fujita Natsuko), Tamura Kensaku (Hideo), Okuda Yosuke (Amada Makio), Iida Kaoru (Tetsuo), Kameyama Susan Kumiko (Saburo), Morioka Ryu (Yamada's work colleague).