I saw a Japanese movie last night, for free.
My best friend Jo asked me if I’d be interested to go to the Japan Film Festival ongoing at the Shangri-la Mall. Aside from my interest in seeing a good movie, I wouldn’t pass up on a chance to hang out with her, of course I accepted. For more details on Eiga Sai 2008, read this.
I guess it was a blessing that I had to cover for Debbie at work on Saturday morning. It allowed to get off way earlier than usual.
A Stranger of Mine was scheduled for the last full show and that’s what we saw. Jo had to fall in line, two hours before the movie started just to get us tickets. I almost didn’t get to watch! After chatting over dinner for over an hour, we stopped by the john before queuing for the theater. When we came out, I checked my pocket and found my ticket to be gone! I was quite sure it fell somewhere in the comfort room so we went back for it. The ladies’ room sure filled up fast when we got back 2 minutes later, and there was no sign of a ticket lying on the floor. Good thing the cleaning lady remembered it and then she and Jo fished it out of the trash bin. Good thing it wasn’t one where you’d find spoiled tissue or what not. And the ticket escaped any kind of spoilage!
It was a fun movie to watch! The director did very well in piecing together the events of the night. I think the whole story transpired in just about three hours but it was shown in different perspectives. They were very effective too, and the attention to detail was awesome! The twist at the end was unexpected too, I didn’t see it coming.
The funniest part, I think, is the part about the yakuza boss who didn’t actually have any money! Image is indeed everything. Haha.
Alfred would have enjoyed the movie and I can’t wait to find the schedule for the UP Film Institute screenings so he’d get the chance to see it too.
Now, more about the story. Sorry for the spoilers. This is also going to be a long post. 🙂
It started with Maki, who was shown to be leaving an apartment with her luggage. She pawned her engagement ring for a measly 3,500 yen. She finds herself in a restaurant, blaming herself for being in that situation after depending on others for her happiness. She vowed not to be that way from then on. At the end of the first segment, she was invited over by a stranger to dine with him – food tastes better when shared with others.
The next part showed Miyata, an office worker, staring at a woman’s picture on his desktop. His co-worker was imposing on him to lend his apartment for his date the following morning. Though very reluctant, he did draw him a map eventually. He went home to his big apartment and got a phone call right away from his friend Kanda who was whispering. He invited Miyata out to dinner; news about Ayumi (his ex) was what convinced him it made him rush out, literally. They met at this restaurant. Kanda was very concerned about his friend who was still hanging onto his ex-girlfriend’s shadow. He was convincing him to go out on dates, saying that timing is everything and he should have asked for the girl’s phone number if he has any interest in her. It was Kanda who then invited Maki over to their table. Kanda eventually left the two to themselves.
After dinner and on their way out, Miyata found out that Maki had nowhere to go so he invited her to stay at his apartment. After much convincing, she agreed. They hopped on Miyata’s bike, with Maki insisting on driving. They almost got hit by the handyman’s truck! So of course, they walked the rest of the way home. Maki was supposed to stay in Ayumi’s old bedroom, where all her stuff were still stored. It was the guy’s turn to tell his sad story. It was funny how, to show her empathy, Maki hugged Miyata. It really surprised the latter. While Miyata was running her a bath, someone came to the door. Who else but Ayumi coming to get her stuff.
Maki really gave it to her at that point, telling her how selfish she was to leave Miyata and then come back for her stuff just like that. She then took off. Miyata told the ex to get what she needed and then he’ll be throwing out the rest. He ran after Maki; he ran after her even after she hopped on a cab – that was a long way to run. He eventually intersected the cab, all he wanted was to ask for Maki’s phone number! He said that he may never see her again so she has to give him his number.
The next segment is where it all started to come together. Kanda found a lady waiting at his door. It was Ayumi asking for his help to get her Passport from the apartment. Kanda was reluctant and told her how he knew everything about her – she was a con artist who had already gotten millions of yen from her old boyfriends. She left Miyata when he spent all of his savings buying the big apartment. Her latest victim happened to be a Yakuza boss and she took a brief case full of money with her in her escape!
Kanda refused to meddle with Yakuza and didn’t want to help her at first. Eventually, he asked for a million in exchange for his help. He made Ayumi promise to give back the money. When she agreed, he took her to Miyata’s apartment. While there, Miyata arrived. You’d know exactly when it happened because in Miyata’s segment, he closed one of the doors on the hallway – it was the bathroom door where Kanda was actually peeing! It was from there that the call was made earlier mentioned and it was the reason why he was whispering! He actually held his pee until after Miyata rushed out to meet him.
From the apartment, Kanda dressed up as a delivery person and took the briefcase of money to the Yakuza boss’ office. After that, Ayumi gave him his payment in exchange for the Passport and they parted ways. That was the only time he went to the restaurant to see Miyata. All he told him was that he met Ayumi and found out that she was getting married. He didn’t tell him the truth. They showed the scene again when Kanda asked Maki over to join them. Then he got up to go to the john because he saw the Yakuza guys come in to the restaurant. They took him with them. So he didn’t intentionally leave the two together after all. The Yakuza stripped him of his clothes before reporting to their big boss. He was then taken to the office where the boss talked to him – and Ayumi was there too. It turns out that the briefcase he brought over did not have money, but lingerie, and his PI card was in it. Ayumi really intended for the Yakuza to go after Kanda. The boss took Kanda’s money but let him go. His condition was he would be using Kanda’s PI services for free when he needed it. He found Kanda’s folio about his investigation into Ayumi’s life. So where was the money? The next morning, Kanda went to see Miyata. He found out that Miyata had thrown out the rest of the boxes, and the garbage truck had already come by to get it. MIyata happily reported though that he got Maki’s phone number. He tried calling during breakfast, but found out that he had been given the wrong number.
There was also a segment focusing on the Yakuza boss. He was shown in his office with the handyman, they had cut bundles of paper and pasted real money on the top and bottom of the bundles until they appeared like bundles of real money. Everytime someone knocked on the door to see him, he would take the fake money from the safe so that the person would see him stacking the money onto the safe when they came in. Image. This was what Ayumi saw the first time she came in to her boyfriend’s office. As they went out to the car, Ayumi excused herself saying she needed to use the ladies’ room to freshen up. The new Yakuza was left to wait for the girl. The next scene showed the boss back and Ayumi to be missing. The boss went over to his safe and true enough, the fake money was gone! The new person said sorry and was kneeling for forgiveness. The head guard immediately went into action to look for the missing girl/money. The boss looked as if he wanted to stop them, but thought better of it. After some time, Kanda came over to drop off the briefcase. Only the boss was in his office to look at the contents – lingerie and the card. He received a call sometime after, it was the girl saying that the PI forced her to take the money and then took it from her. She told him where he was and that’s how the Yakuza men got Kanda.
The Yakuza boss went to Kanda’s place. He asked the handyman to pick the lock. That was the same handyman that almost hit Miyata and Maki earlier in the movie! That’s where the Yakuza boss found out about Ayumi. He was puzzled why she didn’t take anything from Miyata, so he headed over to the apartment. While he was there, he found the money in the box of Ayumi’s stuff but Miyata and Maki arrived so he hid under the bed. It was funny how the earlier scene between the two was now being shown, but only through the two’s footwork. The awkwardness felt when Maki suddenly hugged Miyata, was also portrayed by their feet! Do you remember what happened next? Ayumi came!
After Maki left and Miyata ran after her, Ayumi went into the room to retrieve the money. She found the boss then they headed back to the office to meet with Kanda. In the car, the boss let her know that he knew all about her and proposed to be partners in crime.
We thought that the movie was ending right then. But the credits rolled back, then Maki was back on the scene. She had found the money in the box of lingerie. Knowing it was Ayumi’s, she took it. The taxi driver was the one who gave her the pen and paper to write her number on. Later on, he said that that Miyata seemed like a nice guy, he would do everything to make you happy, he said. Ayumi was alone again, back at the fountain where she found herself at the beginning of the film. She had decided she didn’t want to be alone again.
She went back to the apartment, ready to give back the fake money. At the door, Miyata’s co-worker also came by. That was the end. Yet another stranger in the mix.