East Bay View (a blog about several things)

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Monday, March 14, 2005

SFIAAFF '05: Cutie Honey

(Others later; this is the one I loved.)

The opening action sequence, climaxing on board an aircraft carrier, had me crying tears of laughter. Imagine an episode of Power Rangers with a multimillion dollar budget - that's what you have here, as Honey battles the superpowered Gold Claw, one of the color-coordinated Panther Claw gang, for the life of her brilliant scientist uncle. These minutes are filled with Stephen Chow-like gags - the villains surround the police chief, fire their guns, and guess what happens? - and big explosions, set to technopop and edited at an insane pace.

Director Anno Hideaki, most famous for the legendarily vague Evangelion anime saga, plays camper than an RV at all times, but unlike almost every other ironic movie ever made, the thing manages to sustain itself throughout. Loosely adapting from the '70s anime of the original manga, Anno and cowriter Takahashi Rumi know how to motorvate the nonaction scenes, neatly triangulating Honey (Sato Eriko), the cop (Ichikawa Mikako) and a mysterious journalist (Murakami Jun). Playing the sensible one, Ichikawa is particularly effective - she's pissed off with the overbearingly kawaii Honey, so that we in the audience don't have to be. If that doesn't sound like much, remember that even the great Naomi Watts couldn't deliver us from Lori Petty in Tank Girl.

Is the movie about anything? It's about energy, it's about movement, it's about color. It's about Sato Eriko's body. It's about how it's OK to love girl groups as much as boy bands. It's about nostalgia, perhaps a little too much. It's about the silliness and beauty of the source material - this is clearest in the "power of love" ending.

If Anno had added his usual pretensions, viewers might not be embarrassed to talk about this in the same breath as Hero or Kill Bill. But essentializing the pop makes Cutie Honey more thrilling and thus a richer experience than those movies. It's the most rewarding piece of camp I've seen outside of a Buffy musical.

Rating: 13,024 men masturbating in the theater. (And it was at the Castro!)


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