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Reviews for October 20th, 2021

Labyrinth of Cinema

Directed by Nobuhiko ‘bayashi

      Setoichi Kinema, a movie theater, screens Japanese war films on the night before the theater closes for good. Three young men, Mario (Takuro Atsuki), Shigeru (Yoshihiko Hosoda), Hosuke (Takahito Hosoyamada), attend the screenings and end up magically transported into the war films when lightning strikes the movie theater.

      The screenplay by writer/director Nobuhiko ‘bayashi deserves a lot of credit for being bold, outrageous and unconventional. Its concept alone which combines sci-fi, action, drama, romance and comedy is wildly imaginative, refreshing and inspired. To describe the plot wouldn't do the film any justice, though, because it's hard to describe the zaniness and campiness that it unabashedly exhibits. If you thought Free Guy or Fast 9 was bonkers, wait until you see Labyrinth of Cinema. ‘bayashi takes bonkers to a whole new level. Unfortunately, when he tries to add poignancy later on in the film that's reminiscent of the poignancy in Cinema Paradiso, it feels clunky. To call it Cinema Paradiso on acid would be an insult to Cinema Paradiso. The lunacy onscreen is amusing for the first 90 minutes or so, but then the film goes on for yet another 90 minutes, so it overstays its welcome and becomes exhausting, even more than The Suicide Squad. Zaniness can only go so far when it comes to entertaining the audience---if other zany films like Airplane! were 3 hours, they probably wouldn't be as effective either. Perhaps the film would work best if you were high or drunk while watching it. At 179 minutes, though, you feel the weight of the running time and it makes the movie seem like it's a short that's stretched way too thinly.

      The visual effects are part of the film's charm and the same can be said about the cinematography and lighting which add some visual style. The pacing, though, is too fast and hectic which not only feels headache-inducing, but also nauseating which is no fun. With a running time of 2 hours and 59 minutes, Labyrinth of Cinema is over-the-top, zany and refreshingly unconventional, but it's too exhausting and overstays its welcome.

Number of times I checked my watch: 5
Released by Crescendo House.
Opens at Metrograph.