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Review: Amiko

Saw Amiko, my third and final Japan Cuts screening.

Twenty-year-old(!) director Yoko Yamanaka, who was on hand to introduce the film, seemed self-conscious about the technical quality of her work, and while it’s certainly rough around the edges, that only adds to its inherent do-it-yourself charm. First-time/developing artists that haven’t yet learned all the “rules” often make bolder creative choices than seasoned storytellers; in this case, I’d even argue that Yamanaka’s defiantly unconventional, borderline anarchic style is thematically appropriate, perfectly embodying the personality of the wannabe-punk-rock title character, who isn’t nearly as smart or “counterculture" as she believes herself to be. Sure, the cinematography and sound design are nothing to rave about, but the editing and blocking (which exhibit a strong sense of comedic timing—the audience burst into laughter every time Amiko slowly and creepily slid into frame) more than compensate for such minor shortcomings.

In many ways, Amiko reminds me of Kevin Smith’s earliest cinematic efforts: it may not be the prettiest thing to look at, but it’s still perfectly enjoyable on its own terms. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be sitting in the corner, trying very hard to remember what the hell I’d accomplished by age twenty…

[Originally written July 29, 2018.]

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