Angel In The Box

A Japanese shopkeeper's mid-life crisis and his daughter's small-town blues are the focus of "Angel in a Box." Pic has all the hallmarks of a Japanese indie, but with the action tied primarily to the family-run convenience store it gives off more of a sitcom aroma. Intermittent bursts of charm may be enough to float the movie toward fests.

With:
With: Fumiyo Kohinata, Megumi Satoh, Miyoko Asada, Yo Oizumi.

A Japanese shopkeeper’s mid-life crisis and his daughter’s small-town blues are the focus of “Angel in a Box,” a sushi-flavored combo of “Clerks” and a fatherhood-themed Steve Martin movie. With its ensemble cast and aimless activity, pic has all the hallmarks of a Japanese indie, but with the action tied primarily to the family-run convenience store it gives off more of a sitcom aroma. Intermittent bursts of charm may be enough to float the movie toward fests with Asian sidebars.

Artistic teen Yuki Kitajima’s (Megumi Satoh) desire to flee rural Hokkaido forms the opening act, but pic clearly prefers her put-upon father, Shouichi (Fumiyo Kohinata), who understands neither his surly daughter nor his wacky clientele. Kohinata’s Bob Newhart-like performance elicits sympathy but isn’t enough to compensate for the film’s other failings — including gun-for-hire direction by Takayuki Suzui that’s strangely inconsistent with the energy he showed in last year’s “river” — which deprive pic of the emotion needed to make it work. Transfer from DV is adequate, but the fluorescent-lit locale means visuals are flat.

Angel In The Box

Japan

Production: A Progressive Pictures production. (International sales: Media Suits, Tokyo.) Produced by Toshiharu Ozawa, Hiroaki Saitoh. Directed by Takayuki Suzui. Screenplay, Norio Kida.

Crew: Camera (color, DV-to-35mm), Masami Inomoto; editor, Souichi Ueno; music, Hiroyuki Nagashima; production designer, Ryuuji Noguchi; sound (DTS stereo), Nobuhiro Shibayama. Reviewed at Tokyo Film Festival (Japanese Eyes), Oct. 24, 2004. Running time: 110 MIN.

With: With: Fumiyo Kohinata, Megumi Satoh, Miyoko Asada, Yo Oizumi.

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