HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Sweat
Quiet Place Part II, A
Nobody
Prisoners of the Ghostland
Duel to the Death
Mandibles
Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands
Yakuza Princess
Djinn, The
New Order
Triggered
Claw
Original Cast Album: Company
Martyrs Lane
Paper Tigers, The
Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, The
Hall
ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt, The
Collini Case, The
Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard
Snake Girl and the Silver-Haired Witch, The
Superhost
Plan A
When I'm a Moth
Tigers Are Not Afraid
Misha and the Wolves
Yellow Cat
Shorta
Knocking
Bloodthirsty
When the Screaming Starts
Sweetie, You Won't Believe It
Lions Love
Demonic
Night Drive
Luca
Prospect
Toll, The
Last Bus, The
Purple Sea
   
 
Newest Articles
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
70s Sitcom Dads: Bless This House and Father Dear Father on Blu-ray
Going Under: Deep Cover on Blu-ray
Child's Play: Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 3 on DVD
Poetry and Motion: Great Noises That Fill the Air on DVD
Too Much to Bear: Prophecy on Blu-ray
Truth Kills: Blow Out on Blu-ray
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
Freewheelin' - Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends on Digital
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
Hong Kong Dreamin': World of Wong Kar Wai on Blu-ray
Buckle Your Swash: The Devil-Ship Pirates on Blu-ray
Way of the Exploding Fist: One Armed Boxer on Blu-ray
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
Let Us Play: Play for Today Volume 2 on Blu-ray
   
 
  Paco and the Magical Book Once upon a time in a Japanese insane asylum
Year: 2008
Director: Tetsuya Nakashima
Stars: Ayaka Wilson, Koji Yakusho, Anna Tsuchiya, Satoshi Tsumabuki, Ryo Kase, Sadao Abe
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Weirdo, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: Once upon a time a wealthy but ailing, embittered and cantankerous old man named Onuki (an unrecognizable Koji Yakusho) winds up in a very strange hospital. A candy-coloured hospital with living décor, where it is not uncommon for a nurse to sprout vampire fangs to feed on human blood or the chief of surgery suddenly morph into Peter Pan. Surrounded by musical oddballs and fourth-wall-breaking weirdos, Onuki vents his frustration and anger on staff and patients including a sad drag queen and a suicidal former child actor haunted by the ghosts of his past roles. One day while sitting on a garden bench Onuki is joined by Paco (Ayaka Wilson), a friendly, angelic little girl. She asks him to read from her favourite children's book, 'The Toad Prince.' Enduring an awful amount of verbal and physical abuse, Paco somehow gets him to read her the story. The next day Onuki runs into Paco again, only the child cheerfully maintains she does not know who he is. Mistaking Paco's behaviour for play-acting, Onuki is so enraged he punches her in the face!

Horrified nurses and residents separate the ranting old man from the sobbing child. Whereupon Onuki learns Paco suffers a freak medical condition. After surviving the accident that killed her parents, her memory was severely impaired. Each day Paco wakes up with no memory of the day before. Sure enough, the very next morning, she sits down, smiling and cheerful besides Onuki and asks him to read her The Toad Prince. On learning the truth Onuki, for the first time in his life, feels ashamed.

Not too many family films would dare include a scene where an angry old man punches a child in the face. Not least a little girl as angelically sweet and lovely as title character as portrayed by Ayaka Wilson. Then again not many family films are like Paco and the Magic Book, a decidedly oddball yet poetic and disarmingly moving children's fantasy from cult director Tetsuya Nakashima, better known for his hyper-stylized dramas Memories of Matsuko (2006) and Kamikaze Girls (2004). Styled like a pop-up storybook the eye-popping visuals come across like an unhinged fusion of Amélie and Moulin Rouge (both 2001) by way of P.J. Hogan's version of Peter Pan (2003). Crazy, surreal and wildly overstuffed, the deliberately kitschy visuals combine Dr. Seuss-like stylized sets, over-saturated colours, animation, numerous allusions to vintage anime, hyperactive camera moves and actors that pitch their performances at a level of hysteria unseen outside of kids TV or else drag queen theatre. Every supporting character is cartoon wacky with ridiculous haircuts and fourth-wall-breaking attitudes. Meanwhile the plot, adapted from a stage-play by acclaimed theater writer Hirohito Goto, proves akin to a child's re-imagining of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)!

Those looking for something a little different will relish Nakashima's wondrously wacky whimsy. Others may well find it insufferable. Yet beneath the film's self-consciously zany, candy-coloured artifice lie raw emotions, disarmingly faceted characters and a sincere belief in the inspirational power of storytelling. The moment Onuki strikes Paco is jarring and unpleasant to watch but crucial to the story. Like a princess in a fairytale Paco is under a spell. Slowly through interacting with a contrite, shamefaced Onuki she starts to recover her sense of self while the old man in turn regains his heart. Acclaimed actor Koji Yakushi invests Onuki with the same level of intensity he brought to his many art-house dramas while mixed race child star Ayaka Wilson is thoroughly engaging as the sweet yet delusional Paco. Her sweetness and innocence stand out amidst the gallery of Carrollian grotesques.

While far from subtle, Paco and the Magical Book proves affecting and sincere. What unfolds is a remarkable allegory about the basic human need to leave something behind us after we die, something that will endure as proof of our presence on this earth. On a technical level the film routinely dazzles. In particular the climactic Toad Prince re-enactment sequence which stands as a brilliantly edited mix of computer animation and live action goofing around in funny costumes, of endearingly silly comedy and heartfelt, moving drama.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 1606 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 star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
Andrew Pragasam
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
   

 

Last Updated: