HOME |  JOIN |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Eye for an Eye
Prisonniere, La
Z for Zachariah
Marty
Walk with Me
JFK
Kirlian Witness, The
Kid for Two Farthings, A
The Freshman
Hear My Song
Wild Wild West
Cure
Doraemon: Nobita and the Green Giant Legend
Locke the Superman
Psycho
Magic Flute, The
Top Secret
Ghost Punting
Hitman's Bodyguard, The
Touch, The
Akko's Secret
Backfire
Loving Vincent
Adventures of the Wilderness Family, The
Plot of Fear
Desperate Chase, The
Baskin
Time and Tide
X - Night of Vengeance
Bunny Drop
   
 
Newest Articles
The Cinematic Darkside of Donald Crowhurst
Dutch Courage: The Flodder Series
Coming of Age: Boys on Film 18 - Heroes on DVD
Country and Irish - The secret history of Irish pop culture
Wash All This Scum Off the Streets: Vigilante Movies
Force the Issue: Star Wars' Tricky Middle Prequels and Sequels
Rediscovered: The Avengers - Tunnel of Fear on DVD
Sword Play: An Actor's Revenge vs Your Average Zatoichi Movie
Super Sleuths: The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes on DVD
Stop That, It's Silly: The Ends of Monty Python
They're All Messed Up: Night of the Living Dead vs Land of the Dead
The House, Black Magic and an Oily Maniac: 3 from 70s Weird Asia
80s Meet Cute: Something Wild vs Into the Night
Interview with The Unseen Director Gary Sinyor
Wrong Forgotten: Is Troll 2 Still a Thing?
   
 
  Taste of Tea, The Dream BigBuy this film here.
Year: 2004
Director: Katsuhito Ishii
Stars: Maya Banno, Takahiro Sato, Tadanobu Asano, Satomi Tezuka, Tatsuya Gashuin, Tomoko Nakajima, Ikki Todoroki, Tomokazu Miura, Anna Tsuchiya, Saki Aibu, Hideaki Anno, Keisuke Horibe, Ryo Kase, Rinko Kikuchi, Kirin Kin
Genre: Comedy, Weirdo
Rating:  9 (from 1 vote)
Review: The Haruno family live in rural Tochigi Prefecture, the countryside of northern Tokyo. Father Nobuo (Tomokazu Miura) is a hypnotherapist while mom Yoshiko (Satomi Tezuka) is an aspiring animator. Refusing to be an average housewife she labours on an anime film project aided by crazy old grandpa Akira (Tatsuya Gashuin), himself a former animator and model, who can't help bursting into the occasional song-and-dance number. Meanwhile Nobuo's visiting brother Ayano (Tadanobu Asano) provides a sympathetic ear for son Hajime (Takahiro Sato) whose adolescent awkwardness around girls is really put to the test when he falls hopelessly in love with beautiful new classmate Aoi (Anna Tsuchiya). And then there is eight-year-old Sachiko Haruno (Maya Banno) who has a most unusual problem. Wherever Sachiko goes she is followed by her giant-sized identical double.

Katsuhito Ishii's early oddball crime thrillers Shark Skin Man and Peach Hip Girl (1999) and Party 7 (2000) had him dismissed by critics as a Quentin Tarantino wannabe. It did not help matters when Ishii contributed to the animated sequences featured in Tarantino's Kill Bill: Volume 1 (2003). Yet over time Ishii matured, developing his own distinctively quirky voice. The Taste of Tea marked a significant turning point in his evolution as a filmmaker. Despite featuring Ishii's by now trademark genre-bending surrealism and cast of lovably wacky oddballs, this is a charming and lyrical comedy more heartfelt and humane than anything yet attempted by his spiritual mentor Tarantino. In stark contrast to the critical bemusement that greeted his early work a 2012 poll in Sight & Sound ranked The Taste of Tea among the greatest movies ever made. That might be over-selling it but the film is undeniably a charmer.

While some critics describe it as a surrealistic version of Ingmar Bergman's Fanny and Alexander (1984) aspects of the film also evoke Amarcord (1974), an equally warm-hearted, strange and high-spirited ode to small town eccentricity by Italian maestro Federico Fellini. Indeed The Taste of Tea blends fantasy with reality in a very Fellini-esque although its soul remains deeply Japanese. Ishii structures the film as a string of storybook vignettes, adopting multiple cinematic forms, blending the magical with the mundane as we follow various characters throughout their daily lives, punctuated by cartoonish daydreams. At times it feels like Ishii took an otherwise realistic portrait of country life a la Yasujiro Ozu and covered it in crazy manga doodles. Each strange flight of fancy provides a window into the characters hopes and anxieties. Art also plays a significant role throughout several interwoven stories. The Japanese are famously reticent about expressing their feelings openly. In The Taste of Tea Ishii addresses this with some frequently laugh out loud funny though also tender and bittersweet observations including Ayano's awkward encounter with an old girlfriend who has since married.

Especially engaging is Hajime's fumbling long-distance attempted romance with Aoi which unfolds in a way that is heartrending, funny and all too real. He is so wrapped up in the romantic fantasy of adoring Aoi from afar he struggles to make a move in real life. While sultry-voiced Japanese-American pop star Anna Tsuchiya won all the awards the performances by young actors Maya Banno and Takahiro Sato are equally outstanding, wholly naturalistic and engaging even when the film veers into Twilight Zone territory. Interwoven with the dreamlike misadventures of the Haruno clan are subplots concerning a couple of anime otaku cosplaying as their favourite characters, some baseball-loving yakuza thugs stalking the man who embezzled their boss' money and a dorky manga artist (Ikki Todoroki) whose prank calls to his female assistant's husband backfire in hilarious fashion. Other bizarre tangents include a feral jungle girl whose debut as a stand-up comedian goes awry on live TV, an absurdist musical sequence celebrating the beauty of nature, a cameo from renowned anime director Hideaki Anno and a nutty two-minute anime sequence drawn by Yoshiko. Far from random however, the sprawling plot is beautifully drawn together by Ishii for a moving finale that expands little Sachiko's subplot in an unexpected cosmic direction contemplating the wonder of the universe. Beautifully shot in warm wistful hues by D.P. Kosuke Matsushima with an eclectic score by Little Tempo including unorthodox but strangely effective use of the Christmas hymn 'Good King Wenceslas'!

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 70 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which film has the best theme song?
Spectre
The Ups and Downs of a Handyman
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
George White
Darren Jones
  Butch Elliot
Andrew Pragasam
Enoch Sneed
  Mark Scampion
  Frank Michaels
   

 

Last Updated: