Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ten Days of Holiday Movies: Day Nine

Did you know that Toys R Us is open twenty-fours hours this week? I kind of want to go at three in morning just to do it. I don't have anything I need there, but it seems like it would be fun. Of course this is completely off topic, so lets get back to the reason I'm writing this, eh?

Here we are on the ninth day of my favourite holiday movies; the penultimate day, if you will. We're going back to the world of animated features again, but not for kids (although not spectacularly adult either), and we're crossing the ocean to the shores of Japan for this second to last choice:

Tokyo Godfathers (2003)

I love the late Satoshi Kon's work, like “Paranoia Agent” and “Perfect Blue”, and evidence of how much I like his work based on its own merits is that I loved the movie the first time I saw it without even knowing that it is one of his. Most of Kon's movies tends to be very adult, but this is a much softer film than works like “Paprika” without losing any of the art style or humour.

On Christmas Eve three homeless people, an alcoholic, Gin, a transvestite, Hana, and a teenage runaway, Miyuki, find a very unusual item while scavenging through the trash; a baby. Hana first views this as the answer to her Christmas wish to have a child despite the obvious reasons he could not actually be a mother. Soon the trio realize that they cannot care for this child, whom they dub Kiyoko (pure child), and they set off in an attempt to find out who Kiyoko belongs to using clues found in the bag that the baby was in.

The quest to track down Kiyoko's parents finds the homeless protagonists caught in the middle of an attempted mafia hit, a kidnapping, a car chase, and even a death-defying leap from the roof of a building, all the while being guided and protected by God (or just Deus Ex Machina, if you prefer). As well as finding the truth about who the infant belongs to, the trio may also discover the truth about themselves and the decisions that they made that led them to where they are now.

Even though I am not ranking the films on my list, this may well be my favourite one. It's funny, exciting, and a little sad at times. The only bad thing about it is that I've never been able to find an English dub of it (there is, supposedly, a dubbed version done for Animax, but that dub is not on the DVD). I'm not one of those “dubs suck” kind of people, I usually prefer dubbed films over subtitled ones because I rarely devote my full attention to any one thing, but even if I was a dub-hater, the problem with this not being available with an English voice track means that a lot of people who might really enjoy it will never give it a chance. This is especially sad because Kon's work is fantastic, and this is probably the film that would be accessible to the type of people who would find “Paprika” or “Paranoia Agent” incomprehensible.

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