Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Executive Koala (2005)

Is there any director in Japan crazier than Minoru Kawasaki? An idiosyncratic director to say the least (the least?!), Kawasaki is mostly know for his unique, satirical view of Japanese culture. And by unique, I mean "holy shit what is this?" While other directors may take a darker, more cynical approach, Kawasaki does something else. Like what? Well, there's

  • "The Calamari Wrestler", in which a large squid becomes a professional wrestler
  • "The Rug Cop", in which a cop is able to use is toupee as a weapon
  • "Beetle: The Horn King", in which a large beetle becomes a professional wrestler
  • "The Whole World Sinks Except Japan", which doesn't need a summary
And the movie you are about to read about, 2005's utterly indescribable "Executive Koala."

Meet Mr. Tamura. He's an Average Joe who's becoming big in a pickle distribution company. He's got a gorgeous wife. He's been accused of murder, and must find out who's behind it all.

Oh, and he's a Koala Bear.

You may have noticed the "What The Hell Did I Just Watch?" tag in the past. I say this because "Executive Koala" defines this tag. In the span of 80+ minutes, the viewer sees: a musical number, axe murders, talking animals (there's also a White Bunny Rabbit and a Frog) holding respectable to high maintenance jobs, women being horribly mistreated (the sole drawback, as it doesn't fit with the tone of the rest of the movie, and is quite unpleasant to watch to say the least), breaking of the fourth wall and so much more. It's like an episode of "The Office" made feature length by a Japanese director on LSD.

So apart from the sheer "what the hell" factor, what else is there? Well, it's a pretty well directed and acted (the cast deserves awards for saying things like "Justice is Gray like the fur of a Koala" with a straight face) satire of Japanese corporate culture with slasher movie undertones. Maybe there's a cultural significance to the various species of animals and the jobs that they hold. Maybe it's commenting on the doldrums of office jobs and the constant ass kissing and dumb speeches that goes along. Maybe it's a commentary on corporate greed and malpractice. Or maybe it's just a movie about a Koala Bear accused of murder, with brief nods to "The Evil Dead" and Brian De Palma. Whatever it is, I've never seen anything quite like this before.

Can I recommend it? Yes, especially if you want an insane experience that differs from 99% of what you watch. I can guarantee this-you've never seen anything else like it, and it may change the way you look at those cute little marsupials forever.

Rating: 8/10

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