â€œLife’s more fun when you’re an idiot,â€ says one of the characters in FINE, TOTALLY FINE and this movie is Exhibit A in the case against brains. Set in the dusty margins of Tokyo, FTF is a surreal comedy that’s a spiritual successor to previous festival hits like THE TASTE OF TEA, and it charts a lazy love triangle between the world’s clumsiest woman, Akari (Kimura Yoshino of Cannes hit BLINDNESS and SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO), who can’t even open a box of Kleenex without setting off destructive shock waves, a tamped-down hospital administrator Hisanobu (Okada Yoshinori) and his brother, Teruo (Yoshiyoshi Arakawa), a clueless part-time park keeper who is so unconcerned with the world around him that he doesn’t even realize he’s working part-time (â€œWhy do you think you have so much free time?â€ a co-worker asks). Teruo is obsessed with building the world’s greatest haunted house, one that will terrify grown-ups but he’d rather spend his time talking about it than doing any actual work. It’s a star-making performance by Arakawa who has appeared in dozens of Japanese films playing everything from a cloud of flying sperm to Vinnie Jones’ translator, and who can get a laugh from something as simple as typing on his computer. Gormless and weird, his Super! Ultra! Deluxe! deadpan is this movie’s stylistic touchstone. First time director, Yosuke Fujita, was a hospital janitor for eight years before making FINE, TOTALLY FINE and this movie is full of characters who are all turning 30 and going nowhere fast, and what stands between them and true happiness are the exact same things that ruin all of our lives: the magic marker that’s going dry just when you really need it most, a disappointing corndog or even that horrible person who won’t let you gracefully escape their boring company before three o’clock in the morning. This is a movie made by someone who is cautious about strong emotions and who treats them with a hushed respect. There isn’t a big moment of emotional catharsis here, instead the closest these characters come to nirvana is when they’re all sitting quietly together, listening to the rain. Life can be an unfair string of humiliating indignities, but sometimes it gives you these moments where you can’t possibly imagine wanting anything more
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