Far East Film Festival 20

Udine Italy April 20th/ April 28th 2018
The Film Festival For Popular Asian Cinema
Teatro Nuovo Giovanni da Udine
Monday, April 24, time 10.00 PM

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Scoop!

Japanese weekly scandal magazines are pond scum, are they not? Dishing up grainy paparazzi photos of the famous and powerful, accompanied by wink-wink stories about improprieties and crimes – alleged or exposed – they appeal to the lowest common denominator, with their only raison d’etre being sales figures. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they all vanished from the face of the Earth?
But as One Hitoshi shows in Scoop!, his delightfully scabrous comedy about one such fictional rag, the weeklies can expose truths that their hypocritical subjects – presenting a pure, upright public image that their low-down private words and actions belie – would do anything to hide. These are truths the mainstream media, anxious to avoid offending sources and rocking the institutional boat, too often suppress or ignore.
This is One’s third feature, and third set in the media industry, following Love Strikes! (2011) and Bakuman (2015), both screened at Udine FEFF. In all the films, he uses scuffling heroes as productive sources of laughs, but never treats them as two-dimensional cartoons. Instead, he reveals their flaws for maximum comic and dramatic effect, sometimes in the same perfectly crafted scene.

Based on a 1985 made-for-TV movie by Harada Masato – well-remembered by One, if forgotten by nearly everyone else – Scoop! focuses on paparazzi Miyakonojo Shizuka (Fukuyama Masaharu). Once an up-and-coming news photographer Shizuka has, in middle age, sunk to the personal and professional depths. He works for Scoop!, a publication whose bread and butter are photos of celebs in flagrante delicto and busty gravure idols (pin-up girls). To help him supply the former, hard-nosed editor Yokogawa Sadako (Yoshida Yo) saddles him with Namekawa Nobi (Nikaido Fumi), a naive new hire.
Unsurprisingly, Shizuka and Nobi are an oil-and-water combo, with the tender-minded Nobi recoiling from her slovenly, profane senior, whose behavior (like that of other male employees of Scoop!) would have him facing sexual harassment charges at a more enlightened company. But as Shizuka tracks his quarry with the aid of a dissolute tipster pal (Lily Franky), Nobi finds herself, against all her better instincts, enjoying the chase and bagging the game. Even more inexplicably, she starts to feel attracted to this debauched (if still good-looking) guy whose journalistic ideals seemingly died with the last millennium.
A pop star and actor who is a prime paparazzi target himself, Fukuyama is all but unrecognizable as Shizuka, which is to the film’s advantage. As Nobi, Nikaido initially plays Shizuka’s comic foil in everything from her lip-curling disgust at his latest outrage to her frantic escapes from his infuriated victims. I knew that Nikaido could be funny (see her as a spoiled gangster’s daughter in Sono Sion’s 2013 Why Don’t You Play in Hell for proof), but not this funny, throwing herself into gags with a sort of inspired abandon that is perfectly timed and executed.

As the film shifts into a more serious groove, with Nobi and Shizuka facing stiffer tests of their professional resolve and personal values, their camaraderie, we see, is built on more than jokes and is motivated by more than plot considerations. The surprise climax, for which One has laid the groundwork with his usual ingenuity and precision, hits harder than expected considering the laugh-on-the-beat opening scenes.
One’s insistence on realism, from Shizuka’s professional tricks to the casting of actual weekly mag staffers in bit roles, is one reason for this. Another is his pairing of Fukuyama and Nikaido, whose comic chemistry stirred up memories of Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell quarreling as a cynical editor and a fed-up former wife and star reporter in His Girl Friday (1940).
Scoop! is the most entertaining Japanese film you’ll see all year – and yes, dear media friends, you can quote me.
Mark Schilling
Film director: 
One Hitoshi
Year: 
2016
Running time: 
120

Trailer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLpLmXU6AwQ

Photogallery

  • Scoop! 00
  • Scoop! 01
  • Scoop! 02
  • Scoop! 03
  • Scoop! 04