Junk Food

  • 1998
  • 1 HR 28 MIN
  • NR
  • Drama

The two short films that make up Masachi Yamamoto's tour of Tokyo's sordid underbelly are of such varying quality it's a wonder that they're from the same director. In the first, a young woman (Miyuki Ijima) awakes in a seedy junkie pad, gets high, then murders her sleeping companion. She then dresses in a smart suit and goes to work at her office job in...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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The two short films that make up Masachi Yamamoto's tour of Tokyo's sordid underbelly are of such varying quality it's a wonder that they're from the same director. In the first, a young woman (Miyuki Ijima) awakes in a seedy junkie pad, gets high, then murders

her sleeping companion. She then dresses in a smart suit and goes to work at her office job in a computer firm, but ends up spending the rest of the afternoon looking for money and a fix. It's a nearly perfect short film, economically told and quietly horrifying: By the end, it becomes perfectly

clear how far this woman has fallen. As night falls, the creatures of the second film emerge: Hide (Yoshiyuki), a tattooed kid from Kyoto who's come to Tokyo to scatter his friend's ashes; Mexican Mariarna (Esther Moreno), a professional lady wrestler who's getting ready to leave town; Cawl (Ali

Ahmed), a Pakistani immigrant who murders his girlfriend after she dumps him; and Ryo (Onimaru), the Japanese leader of a lowrider-driving gang of wannabe Latinos who are ready to rumble. Yamamoto carefully presents each character, then seems at a total loss as what to do with them. The result is

a glamorous shock-schlock slide show that totally lacks the pin-point focus of the first film. Yamamoto owes a hefty debt to Wong Kar-Wai's CHUNKING EXPRESS -- a brilliant portrait of Hong Kong similarly rendered through two tangentially connected stories -- and to Quentin Tarantino's PULP

FICTION, in its attempt at comic gore. Yamamoto dares to show the face of another Japan, a sexy, dangerous world of drugs, sex and brutality that has little to do with affluence and salarymen. But given the recent outpouring of New Wave Japanese films -- much better films by Takeshi Kitano,

Sogo Ishii and Takshi Ishii -- shock value alone is no longer enough.

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