One of the best films I saw in 2011 wasn’t the usual big-budget Hollywood ego piece cooked up to win award after award, but a great and often laugh out loud funny comedy from Japan that’s worth tracking down even if it’s never released in English. That said, I’ll bet writer/director Koki Mitani wants a time machine for his next birthday. I know one of the first things he’d probably do is go back and meet Billy WIlder, Michael Powell and Frank Capra for dinner somewhere expensive where they’d smoke cigars, drink good whiskey and talk movies until the sun popped up like a fresh piece of perfect toast.
I say this because Mitani’s latest film, A Ghost Of A Chance (or Once Upon a Blue Moon if you happen to live in Japan) manages to get in nods to Wilder, Powell, Capra and a few other famous directors while also being as fresh and funny as Mitani’s other inspired comedy work. While a bit overlong, the film is funny (often hilariously so), touching (you’ll probably shed a tear at some point) and despite a few flaws, is overall worth watching a few times. With a plot that’s part crime story, ghost story, courtroom intrigue and romance (for starters), there’s a lot here to keep cinema buffs happy.