a page of madness

film writing by nicholas vroman

Tokyo-jima / 東京島 / Tokyo Island

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In 2008, Natsuo Kirino won yet another award, this time the coveted Tanizaki Prize for her novel, Tokyo-jima. Tokyo-jima basically works the possibilities of a single woman cast away on an island of men. Director Makoto Shinozaki manages to turn a story of sexual power and manipulation into a bad version of Gilligan’s Island – which is not to put down the crew and passengers of the Minnow. Nearly everything that can be misdirected, mishandled and generally missed manages to get on screen with a stupefying layering of offensive stereotypes (gay, Chinese, women), slimy sentimentality and extensive product placement. In fact, you can buy the Tokyo-jima scarf worn by actress Tae Kimura for 48300 yen. In better hands, this wicked comedy of the battle of the sexes could have had some edge. As the film relentlessly rolled by, all I could think of was Bunuel’s subversive send-up of Robinson Caruso or Peter Brooks’ Lord of the Flies. The high passions and metaphorical possibilities of castaway stories make for some great yarns. Tokyo-jima misses the boat.

Published in EL Magazine, September 2010

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Written by Nicholas Vroman

September 1, 2010 at 1:40 am

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