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DOING TIME

Japan, 2002 (MIFF 2003, Regional Focus)

Director: Sai Yoichi

A prison movie like no other, this amiable biographical film is a sheer delight. Cult manga author Hanawa Kazuichi spend three years in jail, for possession of replica guns he used in simulated battles, and upon release created a popular account of 'doing time'. This is not a Midnight Express-type ordeal, rather a comic-absurdist chronicle, set in a minimum-security facility, full of wonderfully off-centre characters and situations.

Hanawa shares his 'cell' with four other 'hardened criminals', all middle-aged men who have been incarcerated for similarly minor transgressions. Their 'cell' is a cosy space, decorated with tatami matts and silk screens.Their days are filled with routines— scrubbing their already tidy floor, exercise and bath time to name a few. Mealtime is another experience altogether as the men's daily consummations are often mouth-wateringly inviting. Not everything is saki and lotus blossoms, however, as Hanawa spends time in solitary confinement for 'unauthorized communication'—writing down his cell mates' addresses! Bittersweet and deeply humanist, Doing Time was an unexpected hit in its native Japan.

See also...

TURNING GATE

South Korea, 2002
Out-of-work actor Gyung-soo flees to a popular country town to visit a former schoolmate, now writer, Seong-wu. Soon upon arrival, he has a brief, intense fling with a dance instructor Myung-sook, wh… More »

INFERNAL AFFAIRS

Hong Kong, 2002
Taking its place besides the classic John Woo and Tsuik Hark Hong Kong action films of the 80s and 90s, Infernal Affairs is as hard boiled and relentless as they come. Yan (Tony Leung Chiu-wai) is an… More »

PERFECT STRANGERS

New Zealand, 2003
When Melanie (Rachael Blake, Lantana, MIFF 2001) goes home from the pub with the best looking bloke (Sam Neill) there, she is more than pleased with herself. After a night of revelry, she passes out … More »

SPRINGTIME IN A SMALL TOWN

China, 2002
It is 1946 and China is picking itself up after the withdrawal of Japanese troops. Yuwen lives in a war-damaged house with her ailing husband, Dai, her sister-in-law, Xiu, and a house servant. She is… More »

GOZU

Japan, 2003
This Cannes Directors' Fortnight selection relates the story of Ozaki, a senior Japanese gangster whose increasingly peculiar behaviour is beginning to worry his Yakuza superiors. When Ozaki interrup… More »

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