a page of madness

film writing by nicholas vroman

Snow Prince / スノープリンス

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Lifting The Dog of Flanders and placing it in a Showa Japan, director Matsuoka Joji, takes the well-tread tale of that mixes class, sentimentality, tragedy and a big dog, applies the worst of Spielberg-style manipulation to create a thoroughly maudlin big screen holiday epic that falls short on several levels. Even with a raft of some of Japan’s best talents – screenwriter Kayama Kundo (Okuribito), actors Tadanobu Asano (Ichi the Killer), Teriyuki Kagawa (Tokyo Sonata), a host of industry stalwarts and appealing new young talent in star Morimoto Shintaro and supporting player Kuwajima Marino – Matsuoka weighs down the proceedings with such a heavy hand attempting to squeeze out every last tear, that the film comes becomes laughable. Though the film looks good in that sort of quality picture way, Matsuoka’s sense of visual logic are at best suspect and mostly mired in cliché. Part of that cliché is the dog, Chibi, a handsome white Hokkaido inu that shows up in nearly every shot – but mainly as decoration. He should have been the real star of the film.

Originally published in EL Magazine, December 2009

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Written by Nicholas Vroman

December 1, 2009 at 3:26 am

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