The title of Soushi Matsumoto’s feature debut, “It’s a Summer Movie”, is somewhat misleading: instead of enjoying her summer vacation at the beach, the film’s intense teenage protagonist (Marika Ito) struggles to make her first film, a tribute to the epics of samurai sword fighting that she loves. Previewed at the Tokyo International Film Festival last year, it is the latest of many Japanese films that portray the relentlessness and glory of cinema.
Working from his original co-written screenplay, Matsumoto is moved across various genres, from sci-fi to romance, served with awkward semi-comic sincerity, as if trying to stylistically channel his teenage self. clumsy. The result made me cringe at times, but it was always hard not to like. Maybe I just have a soft spot for kids who vehemently debate the relative merits of period action stars Shintaro Katsu and Ichikawa Raizo.
Nicknamed “Barefoot” for undisclosed reasons, the protagonist is a member of her high school film club and receives a heavy blow when she loses the vote for the club’s annual film project, which is due to be screened at the London Cultural Festival. ‘school. The winner is a popular pretty girl whose storyline is a syrupy teenage love story akin to the pop-movie outpourings that pervade multiplex screens. Barefoot, however, has its own supporters – “Kickboard” (Yuumi Kawai), a sci-fi nerd who belongs to the astronomy club, and “Blue Hawaii” (Kilala Inori), a star of the kendo club.
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The trio find themselves in a broken down bus converted into a makeshift clubhouse, where they get excited about old samurai movies, including Barefoot favorite: “The Tale of Zatoichi” by Kenji Misumi, a black swashbuckler and 1962 white with Katsu as the titular blind. swordsman. Of course, she knows every line and every frame.
With encouragement from his pals, Barefoot decides to film his storyline, which ends with the hero tied to the top and his rival in a duel to the death. One evening, in a local theater, what else? – classics of the samurai, it finds its lead in Rintaro (Daichi Kaneko), a cinephile colleague and classmate. He has the dashing manhood and winning vulnerability that she seeks, but he adamantly refuses to appear in her film.
We soon learn that Rintaro has come from the future, in which Barefoot is considered a world-class author, but also the movies have disappeared, victims of a fly-like attention span. Though forbidden by a long-haired holographic entity known as “Doc” from changing the past, Rintaro is nonetheless anxious to see Barefoot’s first effort, considered in his day to be lost. She, however, is determined for him to play it and, after some persuasion tactics involving a wacky chase scene, he reluctantly agrees. And as Kickboard soon realizes, Barefoot is secretly in love.
From this point on, the film follows a seishun eiga (youth film) arc, with the center pair struggling to hide their feelings for each other, as Barefoot and his motley film crew, mostly used for comedic relief, overcome obstacle after obstacle to their triumph expected at the festival. But last-minute twists threaten to turn this narrative into the kind of sappy romantic drama Barefoot once despised.
As a celebration of teenage passion and energy, “It’s a Summer Film” has awkward charm and intensity. And if that makes anyone watch “The Tale of Zatoichi”, it will have served a laudable purpose. Master of cinema or not, Barefoot has a lot of taste.
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