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Executive Koala

After introducing crustaceans to professional sports via "The Calamari Wrestler," Nippon helmer Minoru Kawasaki serves up another non sequitur concept in "Executive Koala." Natural midnight fare at fests, it's sure to expand on "Wrestler's" overseas cult appeal as a DVD item.

With:
With: Hironobu Nomura, Arthur Kuroda, Hideki Saijo, Eiichi Kikuchi, Lee Ho, Ho Lee, Ryu Hairken, Chika Kunmada, Hitomi Takashi, Elli-Rose.

After introducing crustaceans to professional sports via “The Calamari Wrestler,” Nippon helmer Minoru Kawasaki serves up another non sequitur concept in “Executive Koala.” Absurdist comedy about a man-sized furry critter who’s traded trees for the boardroom looks like a one-joke effort at first. But increasingly surreal progress transcends that expectation, spoofing multiple genres while piling on metaphorical, even existential layers. Natural midnight fare at fests, it’s sure to expand on “Wrestler’s” overseas cult appeal as a DVD item.

Big-eared Mr. Tamura (an unbilled actor in a plush gray headpiece, possibly Kawasaki himself) is a junior exec at a Tokyo pickle factory. His proposal the firm merge with a South Korean kim-chee company looks like a triumph, but scandal looms when his (human) girlfriend is found murdered. Police suspect him — and indeed, Tamura is a blackout-prone divorcee whose ex-wife disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Is he a violent schizophrenic or the victim of conspiracy? Pic is a thinly veiled comment on Japanese attitudes toward Koreans, but hardly a primly corrective lecture; Hitchcockian psychological thrillers, TV commercials, horror and martial arts flicks are all parodied. Production values and design aspects are deliberately cheesy.

Executive Koala

Japan

Production: A Klockwork Co. presentation of a River Top production. Produced by Minoru Kawasaki, Hiroyuki Yamada. Executive producer, Shuntaro Hanai. Directed, edited by Minoru Kawasaki. Screenplay, Kawasaki, Masakazu Migita.

Crew: Camera (color), Yasutaka Nagano;music, Masako Ishii; production designer, Shuntaro Toi. Reviewed at San Francisco Film Festival, May 2, 2006. Running time: 85 MIN.

With: With: Hironobu Nomura, Arthur Kuroda, Hideki Saijo, Eiichi Kikuchi, Lee Ho, Ho Lee, Ryu Hairken, Chika Kunmada, Hitomi Takashi, Elli-Rose.

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