Tokyo Koen / 東京公園 / Tokyo Park
Tokyo Koen finds the otherwise dependable and usually engaging filmmaker Shinji Aoyama (Eureka, Sad Vacation) floundering with an aimless script and an unconvincing protagonist. In addition, the annoying cinematography – where a majority of scenes feature fairly mundane medium shots, all with a short range of focus that blurs the foreground and background of locations– does little to set any sense of place or mood. The story, such as it is, is a sub-Antonioni exploration of voyeurism and desire that hardly touches on either. Haruma Miura plays Koji, a rather unexceptional photographer enamored with taking candid pics of women (mainly) in parks. Accosted by a man (Hiroshi Takahashi), Koji finds himself hired to photo-stalk a woman and her young child throughout parks in Tokyo. Throughout all this he touches base with girlfriend (Nana Eikura) and his stepsister (Manami Konishi), reflecting on this mysterious photo assignment and his relationships with women. When the thin mystery resolves, the viewer is left without much feeling or thought about a man with a camera and his relationship to the world.
Originally published in EL Magazine, June 2011