Saturday, 1 January 2011

Just watched: The Uchoten Hotel

It’s the first of January, and I’m writing about a film set in a hotel on New Year’s Eve. It’s almost as if I planned it! I didn’t, of course: I’m not that organised. But when I sat down yesterday evening to watch this, you can imagine how pleased I was to see that the date in the film matched the date on the calendar.

This film, also known as Suite Dreams, is a comedy from 2006 about the various misadventures of a group of guests in a high class hotel as the staff prepare for the end of year celebrations. It’s directed by Mitani Kouki and stars Koji Yakusho (who previously worked together on the excellent University of Laughs) and is an homage of sorts to the screwball comedies of the 1930s. The comedy is kept light and sophisticated, and the stories intertwine very neatly. Most of the first ninety minutes is spent making everything go wrong, while the last half an hour is spent putting everything right. Well, most things.

 The cast is full of well-known faces. I won’t list them all because half the fun is spotting them, but noble mentions go to Shinohara Ryoko as a call girl, and Takako Matsu as a maid who gets mistaken for the mistress of a rich man by his son. There are plenty of cameos to enjoy, and it looks like everyone is having a lot of fun making it.

It’s a perfect holiday film, and if you can find it then watch it quick, because it’ll be a whole year before you can see it without thinking “I wish it actually was New Year’s Eve.”

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