Sunday, April 10, 2011

Synapse Supports the Japan Society: The World Sinks Except Japan

For the media and the current administration, the recent disasters plaguing Japan have been little more than an opportunity for nuclear scare mongering. Bad karma for them. Over-the-top satirist Minoru Kawasaki has a film they should see. If nothing else, it should remind us all that there but for the grace of God . . . At least, the distributor, Synapse Films, recognizes the need for constructive efforts. For every Japanese DVD sold this month, they will donate one dollar to the Japan Society’s earthquake relief fund, and that most definitely includes Kawasaki’s The World Sinks Except Japan (trailer here).

Like Hobo with a Shotgun, this title pretty clearly tells you everything you need to know. Due to massive tectonic activity and “global warming,” the rest of the world indeed descends into the ocean, starting with North America. The Clintonesque President Pepiton and vapid Hollywood stars like Jerry Cruising and Elizabeth Clift take refuge in Japan. However, as the rest of the Earth’s continents also submerge, the influx of global refugees causes massive Japanese resentment. Foreigners are treated as sub-humans unless they are the legal spouses of Japanese citizens and a Fascistic government agency is created to “deport” illegals, by hook or by crook. Just as the Japanese government prepares to really throw down the hammer, Kim Jong-il one-ups them with his own evil play.

Say what you will about Kawasaki, excessive subtlety is not one of his flaws. Frankly, he makes the Zucker Brothers’ comedy looking like dry Noel Coward witticisms. Of course, he is hitting the target is aiming for (an awfully fat bull’s eye, to be sure). It is also important to bear in mind World is spoofing a recent Japanese disaster blockbuster, Japan Sinks, lest the concept be considered a tempting of fate.

Most of World’s performances are about as broad as one can possibly get, but at least Mio Dohi is cute and refreshingly restrained as the wife of a newspaper reporter. Romanian actress Delcea Mihaela Gabriela also shows some spirit as the frustrated pre-earthquake wife of another, increasingly chauvinistic journalist. She sounds about as much a native Texan as Marlena Dietrich though.

World is amusing in an unapologetically cheesy way. It even nods towards cultural staples, like Godzilla and Ultraman. For Kawasaki enthusiasts, this is the time to pick it up, since its purchase will help Japanese relief efforts. Hollywood and our own head of state should also check it out, just to see how unbecoming their inattention at a time of crisis appears to the world outside their little cocoons. Synapse’s Japanese titles can be found in its Asian Cult section here (but take note, your office might have it nanny-coated). You can also support the Japan Society’s relief fund directly here and find information about a special two night benefit concert produced by the Blue Note jazz club here.