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Katakuri-ke no Kofuku

The Happiness of the Katakuris

Japan 2001
produced by
Hirotsugu Yoshida for Shochiku
directed by Takashi Miike
starring Kenji Sawada, Keiko Matsuzaka, Shinji Takeda, Naomi Nishida, Kiyoshiro Imawano, Tetsuro Tanba, Naoto Takenaka, Tamaki Miyazaki, Takashi Matsuzaki, Chihiro Asakawa, Yoshiyuki Morishita, Tokitoshi Shiota, Yoshiki Arizono, Masahiro Asakawa, Kenichi Endo, Moeko Ezawa, Mutsumi Fujita, Akiko Hatakeyama, Yumeki Kanazawa, Shoken Kunimoto, Maro, Aya Meguro, Yuka Nakatani, Miho Sawada
screenplay by Kikumi Yamagishi, music by Koji Endo, Koji Makaino, visual effects by Misako Saka, choreography by Ryohei Kondo

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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All Masao Katakuri (Kenji Sawada) ever wanted was to run a guest house with his whole family - his wife Terue (Keiko Matsuzaka), his father (Tetsuro Tanba), his black-sheep-of-the-family son Masayuki (Shinji Takeda), his daughter Shizue (Naomi Nishida), a hopeless romantic with a poor taste in men, and Shizue's daughter Yurie (Tamaki Miyazaki) -, so when he gets an old farmhouse for a steal in an area that's soon to be connected by a main road, he couldn't be happier ... and circumstances make it that the whole family moves in with him to help out. But the problem is, the main road doesn't come, and neither do the guests. The guest house actually stays without guests for months, and the tension between the family members rises to almost breaking point ... when finally a guest (Tokitoshi Shiota) arrives - to kill himself in the very first night in his room. This shocks the Katakuris, but they decide to instead of calling the police to just bury the body in the nearby woods to not get any bad publicity ...

More guests arrive soon anyways, but for one reason or another, neither survive their first nights - and the woods around the guest house find themselves riddled with more and more graves. And yet, despite all these mishaps and more - like a hostage situation, a volcano outbreak, and Shizue's heart being broken by a guest (Kiyoshiro Imawano) who claims to be from the US Air Force and of British royal blood - Masao pulls through everything and sees to it that the family pulls with him ...

 

Above everything else, The Happiness of the Katakuris is stark raving mad: It's a weird genre mix between dark comedy, musical (with some intentionally clumsily choreographed song-and-dance routines), horror, thriller and whatnot. True, one might say that the film isn't exactly well-structured, and it's episodic to boot, both of which is absolutely right - but also missing the point, as rather than being a traditionally narrative movie, the film is made up of set-pieces that just happen to have a common theme, and mostly these leave you wonder what will happen next rather than where the story will take its characters. Now this approach is of course risky business, and one has seen it failing more often than succeeding, but The Happiness of the Katakuris boasts this sort of irreverent, dark, campy and yet subtle humour that make everything just one big pile of fun, and for a change Takashi Miike proves that he's a master in not overdoing it (apart from the schmaltzy ending perhaps) while still getting the most out of the story.

Definitely one of the director's very best films, and definitely a must-see for friends of dark and almost absurd humour.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
Amazon!!!

 

 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD