|Bashauma san to biggu mausu 2013 Japan The Workhorse & the Bigmouth|
Another home run for Keisuke Yoshida of Himeanole and Cafe Isobe fame. This is another small, tiny, little, dinky flick. Yoshida knows how to cut film. Bad cuts are when you're all like, "wtf?" Good cuts are when you can't help but joyfully ponder where the next few minutes of a scene might have gone if it wasn't cut. Thank you. I'm here all week. Don't forget to tip your waiters.
This is my anti-LaLaLand. The gut punch here, the Anagnorisis (even though the fantastic fansubs totally boinked the money shot) is when Kumiko Aso, as a 34 year old wannabe screenwriter says (something to the effect of): "Getting rejected every time, never even making it into the first round, year after year after year ... that's nothing compared to giving up a dream you've had since childhood because you recognize you don't have the talent for it."
Kumiko Aso is fabulous. If you don't like her you won't like the film. She's about as plain jane as a person can be, has an insincere smile, and yet while never wearing tight jeans she's totally hot. And she doesn't really act. As the "Workhorse", since she can't really act (thank god), she simply owns every scripted line. The ironic beauty of having her play a scriptwriter who attends classes and does every act I, act II, act III thing by the book was not lost on me.
The film is almost a standard jrom-jom. Aso is independent. The "Loudmouth" isn't loud, thank goodness, more of a slightly cocky Jeff Spicoli without the drugs, who attends the script writing classes, wants Aso, and criticizes everyone else's writing for playing by the rules, while unable to write anything of his own. I pondered punting when I feared the two of them would end up together. If Spicoli would have bad eating-acted I would have punted for sure. In the hands of a lesser director he would have bad eating-acted, and gotten Aso. .
There's also Aso's ex who is goodness personified. He's an ex-actor who now works as a caregiver wiping butts and cleaning up puke. Aso calls him and asks if she can volunteer at his nursing home as research for her next screenplay. Will they end up together?
You have to be fairly smart and creative to write a screenplay about screenplay writers who dream, and discuss talent. What is talent? Who's got it? Can it be measured? Can it be improved?
There are also a handful of incidentals who all rise to level of characters. The Workhorse & the Bigmouth is a slow burn, smart and talky little anti-romcom. I loved this thing from top to bottom ... well, not quite. A few years ago when this came out I immediately dismissed it because the film poster is bad. You can almost always infer the quality of a movie from its poster. Yoshida needs help in the poster making department. My guess is he doesn't involve himself with it. Mistake #1. Mistake #2 would be the title of the film.
Summary: Mabuchi and Yoshimi meet at a screenwriting class. Mabuchi works hard to become a writer, but can't see a future for herself. Meanwhile, Yoshimi is a bigmouth who never tries hard at anything. These two people's fate intertwined.