Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Review - Loups=Garous (2010 - Dir. Junichi Fujisaku)

Ever since Fermat's Last Theorem got solved I've been waiting for another tricky equation to have a crack at. And now I've got one: Loups=Garous. Mmm, I'm not sure that the majority of mathematicians are quite prepared for that one yet. But I'm going to spend the next eight years of my life proving it and star in my own documentary on BBC2.

I'm going to zoom off on a tangent now before I actually get on with the review. It's possibly not a secret that I'm not a big mobile phone user (for some evidence check out one of our vintage intermissions - Retro Phones, and yes, I still own and use that phone). Because I rarely use my phone, I am in the privileged position of being able to observe others using their mobile devices. I'm not going to give any judgements, I'll just detail some things I've noticed:

  • Walking along with one other person chatting away when suddenly they start to use their phone. (I believe that this is called phubbing.)
  • Two people in the same room communicating on Facebook.
  • A man and a woman - possibly partners - sat in a cafe for twenty minutes having a nice cup of tea. They didn't talk to each other the whole time due to phone usage.
  • A family of four sat in a service station having a nice cup of tea. Again no interaction between any of them.
  • A mother walking along with a baby in a pushchair and/or a toddler, not engaging in any attempt at communication, yet again due to phone bothering. (I've seen this numerous times.)
  • Going to a popular music concert only to be severely disappointed because virtually no-one danced. They were too busy holding up their phones to record it.
  • A young woman with a new iPhone out in town gets it nicked and her mum gets saddled with a rather long contract.
  • The same young woman with another new iPhone on the toilet, drops it down it. Her mum gets saddled with a rather long contract at the same time as the previous one. Cheers.
  • A young woman (a different one this time) with a new iPhone out in town gets some dubious substance put in her beverage and wakes up to find her phone missing (and saddled with a rather long contract - but at least she paid for it herself).
  • I was on a course recently and everyone was engaged in the thrilling subject of lone working. It got to dinner time and the bloke said that we could get some snap (translation - dinner, or alternative translation for people who are wrong - lunch). As soon as he'd said this, I sat back and had a little stretch. Everyone else, and that's nine people, immediately got out their phones and started fiddling, their eyes glued to their screens. It was silent. I looked around amazed and slightly concerned that I'd slipped back in time to a fifties black and white science-fiction fable in the style of Children of the Damned.
"Wait a minute. Just on Facebook. Want to see our Rachel's having for her dinner."

In all of the above cases no-one actually used their phone to ring someone up and talk to them. I went to Italy relatively recently and the culture was very different there. People still used mobiles, but they used them as literal mobile phones, to chat to others using their vocal cords. 

Right, I'm supposed to be reviewing Loups=Garous, something possibly about a werewolf, and yet I'm wittering on about mobiles. (It's not really a werewolf film in the traditional sense, but we'll come to that later.) The point is that Loups=Garous is the first film that I've seen that has picked up on these behaviours. It's not subtle about it either. The basic message is: stop living your life through a tiny screen, throw it away and experience life for yourself. It also delves into the use of the word monitor. It used to be something that we looked at and now it is something that can look at us. Pretty relevant stuff.

Set in the future, Makino is a young lady with a communication disorder. She never has real conversations with anyone, only through her monitor (for 'monitor' read 'mobile'). You can possibly see where the communication disorder has come from. She gets put in a group of children to develop her language skills. But murder is afoot, as always. The plucky chums try to discover the secret behind all of this bloodshed.

Makino has to be the wettest lead character I've ever seen. Other characters in the film have some top battling skills, like knife wielding or the fancy use of kenpo. Makino's top talent is to shut her eyes. (Hey, don't knock it. It worked in City of the Living Dead.) Towards the end of the film she has to rescue her friends. And she does so in fine style. By falling down the stairs and whimpering a bit. Despite all that I couldn't help but like her, especially in her final scenes.

My favourite character has to be Tsuzuki. She's one of Makino's gang and is a tad giddy. She has a love of life that is infectious plus an ability to render monitors useless (I did say that it wasn't that subtle). The other main character is Kono who is a tad confusing in the trouser department. At one point Kono is referred to as 'he', but he seems to have lady lumps and a preference for wearing one stocking. But that's all part of the puzzle.

And a puzzle it is. Well, for me anyway. It took me two watches - and a few rewinds - to work out what was going on. I was expecting a full on werewolf film, and it's not in the slightest. It takes a while to work out what it is. It's not that I didn't enjoy it. My comment on numerous occasions was, I'm not sure what's going on, but I like it. Everything is there for working out the story, it just took me some time. The only thing that still bothers me is in one scene where the moon is waning and I'm not sure why (you'd have to watch it to understand).

One of the best things about Loups=Garous is the use of music by Scandal, who contribute a few of their ditties along with appearing in the film in Klonoa: Lunatea's Veil style. I've since downloaded the tracks for my listening pleasure. Because they're good.

So if you hate mobile phones, love wet lead characters, Japanese pop rock girl bands and plenty of shots of gibbous moons (let's face facts - who doesn't love a gibbous moon?) then this could well be for you.

I spoil you.

If you like this you could also try:
Purchasing a phone like mine that even struggles with texting.


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