Party ‘Round the Globe
t.l. Festa attorno al globo
地球はお祭り騒ぎ (Chikyu wa Omatsurisawagi)
Japan, 2018, 117’, Japanese
Directed by: Watanabe Hirobumi
Script: Watanabe Hirobumi
Photography (b&w): Bang Woohyun
Editing: Watanabe Hirobumi
Music: Watanabe Yuji
Executive Producers: Watanabe Hirobumi, Watanabe Yuji
Production Company: Foolish Piggies Films
Cast: Imamura Gaku, Ringo, Watanabe Hirobumi
Date of First Release in Territory: March 10th, 2018
Premiere status: Italian Premiere
Watanabe Hirobumi’s fourth film, Party ‘Round the Globe, again features Imamura Gaku, the tall, stone-faced star of the 2016 Poolside Man. And once again, Imamura’s character, Honda, never utters a word from beginning to end. Meanwhile, Watanabe again plays his co-worker and friend, who delivers comic monologues as Imamura drives.
Party ‘Round the Globe is more than a retread, however. It builds on Watanabe’s previous work, while bringing fresh takes to familiar tropes. It’s same kaleidoscope, in other words, but shaken into new patterns.
Similar to the pool attendant in Poolside Man, Honda is a loner doing repetitive work – he assembles parts at a small electronics factory – and living a repetitive life. Every day he reads the paper, listens to the news, walks the dog, hangs the laundry and waters the plants. And every day at the factory he goes out for a smoke and every day his co-worker Hirayama (Watanabe) tries fruitlessly to strike up a conversation with him.
But unlike the attendant in Poolside Man, who is obsessed with news about war and terrorism in the Middle East, Honda is no powder keg waiting to explode. As shown in flashbacks, he once had a happy home life with his wife and young daughter (played by Watanabe regular Hisatsugu Riko), but for reasons unexplained is now living alone with the family dog and is perhaps depressed (with Honda it’s hard to tell).
Also, the look and structure of the film differ from the black-and-white linear minimalism of Poolside Man. It begins with a child’s story, presented in colorful, whimsical animation, about a factory making multiple moons and a confused astronomer trying to sort the real moon from all the fakes.
The main story, though, concerns the journey of Honda and Hirayama to a Paul McCartney concert in Tokyo, with Hirayama, a hardcore Beatles fan, opining on the group and other random topics on the drive to the city. As in Poolside Man, Watanabe proves himself a natural comic, who gets laughs from his character’s singlemindedness – and his obliviousness to Honda’s blank indifference.
The monologues are interspersed with incidents leading up to the trip – or rather non-incidents since nothing much happens beyond the daily round. But the background buzz of the news and the glimpses of the natural world, such as the clouds that Honda is forever gazing at, add depth and contrast.
After the concert, which is never glimpsed, Hirayama and Honda retire their budget hotel where Hirayama proclaims himself “blown away” by Paul’s genius, celebrates with a cold beer and invites Honda to the 100th birthday party of his grandmother.
Honda, as usual, answers with silence, but shows up. As the film’s theme song plays (composed by Watanabe’s brother Yuji, it is as simple and sweet as a tune on a child’s music box) we see the party unfold and Honda smiling and chatting with Watanabe’s real-life granny. We can’t hear what he is saying, but the warmth of the moment comes through loud and clear. The message: Give peace a chance.
2013 – And the Mud Ship Sails Away...
2015 – 7 Days
2016 – Poolside Man
2018 – Party ‘Round the Globe
2018 – Life Finds a Way
2019 – Cry
2020 – Kamata Prelude (segment)
2020 – I’m Really Good