Saturday, 5 November 2011

Mitani Kouki 50th Anniversary Special: Welcome Back, Mr McDonald

Or Rajio no Jikan to give it its Japanese name.

This film from 1997 is the earliest work from Mitani Kouki that I’ve seen, but his style is clearly already fully formed. Set in a radio station performing a live drama by a new writer, it follows the series of events caused by one of the actresses insisting that her character’s name is changed. After this, everyone wants their ideas to be included in the show. The writer tries to please everyone and the radio play soon turns into something quite different.

The pacing reminded me of the old screwball comedies from the 1930s, and the setting (a live drama on the radio) adds to the slightly old-fashioned feel. But the stereotypes of pompous actors, producers who only want to keep the sponsors happy and apathetic technicians are timeless so, in that sense at least, it is still relevant.

But at its heart, this is all about the absurdity of performing and writing: how the idealistic writer has to endlessly compromise. Its a funny and charming diversion, and well worth your time if you happen to come across it.

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