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Dai-Nipponjin by Hitoshi Matsumoto

Dai-Nipponjin by Hitoshi Matsumoto

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Dai-Nipponjin opens in cinéma vérité style, following a man’s miserable, almost tramp-like existence. The man is timidly answering the cameraman’s questions about his life, his divorce and problems with the neighbours when his cell phone rings. He says he has to get to work immediately and invites the film crew to follow him. We end up in a hangar where a team of scientists and military servicemen are awaiting his arrival; once there, a powerful electric charge transforms the man into a giant superhero (the title « Dai-Nipponjin » is, literally, « The Giant Japanese »), the nation’s superman whose mission is to defend the country from repeated attacks by a succession of ever more grotesque monster aliens. His failures and non-stop gaffes undermine his status as  Japan’s saviour, and in fact make him a super unpopular hero, a kind of national disgrace, and cause him to become chronically depressed. Aesthetically, the film becomes the manifesto for a new mixed form of cinema, symptomatic of modern film trends, mixing different stories and several cinematic genres, in an explosive marriage of documentary and science-fiction, comedy and pathos, digital special effects and the purely “real”.

Olivier Père

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