Hengameh Panahi

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Young Yakuza Review


OK
I have to admit that Young Yakuza had me fooled. Due to my inability to read Japanese interstitial titles, I assumed I was watching a modern-day verite-style drama of life in the Japanese underworld. It wasn't until midway through that I suddenly realized I was actually watching a documentary and that all these hoodlums were for real! It was quite a shock. Talk about access. How in the world did French director Jean-Pierre Limosin get this kind of entre? As it turns out, he agreed to avoid shooting any activity that might be considered illegal, kind of a painful limitation when you're embedded with the mafia.

Limosin's initial plan was to follow the tale of Naoki, a pimply, overweight, and aimless 20 year old who mopes around the house all day. His mother, who apparently has "friends" who have "friends," is talked into sending him into the Kumagai yakuza clan as an apprentice. He'll learn discipline, respect, and hard work, she is told. She agrees somewhat reluctantly, and in an instant Naoki out the door and not looking back.

Continue reading: Young Yakuza Review

Son Of Rambow Review


Extraordinary
My wife lives in a house of boys. Our oldest son is four, our youngest three months. And my maturity level falls somewhere between the two. The next time this poor, outmatched saint-in-the-making shoots me one of her quizzical looks as she tries to decipher what giddily adolescent thoughts are rocketing through our brains, I'm going to show her Garth Jennings' Son of Rambow. The exceptional coming-of-age comedy so accurately captures how boys behave, you'd think Jennings planted his camera inside a 10-year-old's skull, then beamed the child's imagination directly through his saucer-wide eyes onto the theater's screen.

The titles refers to Sylvester Stallone's initial Rambo adventure, First Blood, which directly inspires ruffian Lee Carter (Will Poulter) and his puritan school chum Will Proudfoot (Bill Milner) to make their own movie in the summer of 1982. There are obstacles, of course. Will's family belongs to a strict religious organization that forbids movies, television, and other forms of pop culture. Lee's own family is nonexistent. His parents travel often, leaving him in the care of an older brother who could care less.

Continue reading: Son Of Rambow Review

Fast Food, Fast Women Review


Weak
My brother describes Anna Levine as "Skeletor," and damn if that isn't pretty near the truth. And Levine's not just scary to look at, she's a poor actress and a bad dancer. The fact that Amos Kollek's script is stilted and his direction is iffy makes matters worse, but unfortunately Fast Food, Fast Women is just a vain attempt at making a movie about the perils of romance in the modern age. It of course succeeds at exposing none of them.
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