gThree Laughs a Minuteh
by Japanfs Master of Comedy
Koki Mitani Conjures up
gThe Magic Hourh!
Nobody in Japanese entertainment has come close to rivaling Koki Mitani for comedic screenwriting talent ever since he made his film directorial debut with the multiple award-winning gWelcome Back, Mr. McDonaldh in 1997 (winner of the Prize Don Quixote at the Berlin Film Festival).
His string of box office successes continued with gAll About Our Househ (f01), and gSuite Dreamsh (f05), a fast-paced farce set in a four-start hotel and featuring an all-star ensemble cast. gSuite Dreamsh drew an audience of 4.7 million and total domestic box office earnings exceeding 6 billion yen, a rare achievement for a non-adapted film. But Koki Mitanifs unique storytelling abilities have helped to establish an unprecedented brand value to his name that translates into box office hits. With expectations running high, Mitani has just completed his fourth feature film from a self-penned screenplay called, gThe Magic Hour,h a gturbo-charged, non-stop comedyh about a hapless middle-aged actor who gets tricked into thinking hefs playing the role of a legendary hit man, only to find himself at the center of a real-life gang war. Mitanifs stated goal for The Magic Hour is to have audiences howling in their seats at a rate of about three laughs a minute.
Mitani once again enlists Japanfs gA-listh
For gThe Magic Hourh, Koki Mitani has once again succeeded in assembling a rich ensemble of the best and brightest acting talent in Japan. It is, in fact, developing into one of his signature traits and a testament to his acknowledged writing skills. Koichi Sato (also in Suite Dreams) takes on the lead role of the endearing but ill-fated stunt actor, Taiki Murata. Satoshi Tsumabuki, arguably Japanfs biggest new star, plays Noboru Bingo, a desperate nightclub manager about to be snuffed out by his crime boss for stealing his girlfriend. The Brando-esque underworld boss, Konosuke Tessio, is fittingly played by legendary actor, Toshiyuki Nishida, while character actress, Eri Fukatsu, jumps into the femme fatale role of Mari Takachiho. Looking out for Bingofs interests is Haruka Ayase as his aide de camp, Natsuko Shikama, who will go to any lengths to protect him. The exceptional casting is rounded out by Keiko Toda as the townfs Madame Ranko, and Fumiyo Kohinata as Muratafs bumbling manager. With The Magic Hour, Koki Mitani bids to further demonstrate his unique ability for weaving together a host of stand-alone type characters into a richly entertaining and colorful narrative, making him a standard bearer for the ensemble film.
Mitani conjures up a fictional town, and then a story to fill it!
For Suite Dreams, Mitani built an enormous set to house his opulent, four-star hotel. In The Magic Hour, however, Mitani has upped the ante by building an entire town! gThe set itself was really the launching point and inspiration for the screenplay, dictating to me what kind of characters would appear in the story,h says Mitani. The fictional port town of Sucago was created entirely from Mitanifs imagination since no actual location was capable of fitting the bill. Taking up over five studios at the Toho Studios, including three of Japanfs largest, Mitani recruited production designer, Yohei Taneda (with past credits including Shunji Iwaifs gSwallowtailh (f96), Chi-Ngai Leefs gSleepless Town (f98), Quentin Tarantinofs gKill Bill, Vol. 1h, and Mitanifs gSuite Dreamsh) to give physical shape to the town, complete with a main street, Bingofs extravagant nightclub, Madame Rankofs Harbor Hotel, the offices of crime boss, Tessio, and a pier for a gunfight scene. Spanning 39,427.5 cubic meters of filming space, the town stands out as the filmfs principal character.
What is the gMagic Hourh?
The gmagic hourh is a film term referring to a brief period of time between dusk and nightfall when the most beautiful footage can be shot. Spanning the time when the sun has dropped below the horizon to the moment when the last lingering rays are blotted out by darkness, it is the world bathed in an ethereally pale light. The principal characters in the film, too, find the sun setting on their hopes for success or happiness in their lives. That is, until second-rate actor Taiki Murata comes to town in a scheme that will send everyonefs fates dovetailing into their gmagic hourh. Says Mitani, gEveryone has a defining moment in their lives. Hopefully, this movie will give audiences a little lift that the best is yet to come.h
gIf you value your life, bring me that legendary assassin within five days.h
Bingo (Satoshi Tsumabuki) has stolen away the girlfriend (Eri Fukatsu) of his crime syndicate boss (Toshiyuki Nishida), and now he faces an ultimatum: find him a legendary assassin named Della Togashi, or die. But time is running out and Dellafs whereabouts remain moot. As a desperate measure, Bingo decides to hire a failing actor, Taiki Murata (Koichi Sato) to play the part of the elusive assassin. Believing hefll be starring in an epic gangster film in the role of his life, Taiki comes to the port town of Sucago, where the film is to be shot. In his attempt to convince his boss that he has found Della Togashi, Bingo inadvertently winds up indenturing Taiki into the service of the townfs crime syndicate just as it prepares for a major gang war.
A movie unlike any youfve seen!
But one youfve been dying to see!
- Taiki Murata - A second-rate actor duped into playing a sham lead role. (Koichi Sato)
- Noboru Bingo -gThe Red Shoeh nightclub manager who deceives Murata. (Satoshi Tsumabuki)
- Mari Takachiho - Center of a love triangle and ex-lover of crime boss Tessio. (Eri Fukatsu)
- Natsuko Shikama - gThe Red Shoeh nightclub clerk and loyal aide to Bingo. (Haruka Ayase)
- Kenjuro Hasegawa - Muratafs easily manipulated manager. (Fumiyo
- Madame Ranko - Garishly made up Harbor Hotel proprietress, (Keiko Toda)
- Hiromi Kurokawa - Fearsome Tessio Shokai crime syndicate loan shark (Susumu Terajima)
- Konosuke Tessio - Tessio Shokai Chairman and local crime boss@(Toshiyuki Nishida)
- Written and directed by : Koki Mitani
- Produced by : Chihiro Kameyama, Yoshinari Shimatani
- Executive Producers : Takashi Ishihara , Kenji Shimizu, Minami Ichikawa
- Producers: Yumiko Shigeoka, Kuga Maeda, Kazutoshi Wadakura
- Cinematography by Hideo Yamamoto J.S.C. (J.S.C.)
- Lighting by Akira Ono
- Sound by Tetsuo Segawa
- Production design by Yohei Taneda
- Original Music by Kiyoko Ogino
- Film Editing by Soichi Ueno
- VFX Producer: Tetsuo Oya
- VFX Supervisor: Ayako Watanabe
- Scripter: Tetsuko Kai
- Costume Designer: Ikuko Utsunomiya
- Hair and Makeup by Mariko Tanaka
- Production Decoration by Hiroshi Tanaka
- Actor Assistance by Yasutaka Suzuki
- Assistant Direction by Shozo Katashima
- Production Assistance by Tomoo Fukatsu
- Presented by: Fuji Television Network and Toho
© 2008 Fuji Television Network, Toho