Arts 44

Published on October 29th, 2005 | by Greg


HIFF #2: Executive Koala

The Hawaii International Film Festival is bringing over 200 films from 40 countries to Honolulu, and they were nice enough to invite us to attend. This is the second article in a series of reviews of the festival, please check out our other coverage.

If you have seen their last movie, The Calamari Wrestler, you know that director Minoru Kawasaki and writer Masakazu Niigita have an oddball sense of humor, and a penchant for putting actors in animal suits. If you haven’t seen it, don’t worry- Executive Koala is better, and not simply because the costumes completely work this time.

What do you say about a movie where the lead actor is a Japanese businessman in a koala suit, his boss is in a rabbit suit, and The Executive Koala is seeing a shrink regularly? I guess you can only start by saying that it works- they don’t play it for laughs very often, and the rest of the cast seems perfectly comfortable with the weirdness. Just so we’re clear, the audience is to assume that he is a koala- it’s not supposed to be a suit, or some weird cosplay thing.

It must be pretty challenging for the actors and director to try and make something emotionally powerful when your leads are wearing masks and more than a bit limited in their movement. And that seems to be the main answer to the obvious question: “Why in the hell would you put your actors in costumes, if not for comedy?”

“So we’ll have to work harder on the story, the characters, the dialogue, and not rely on simple facial cues to express feelings. Oh, and because it’s kind of kookily Japanese.”

You can’t help feel sorry for the Executive Koala. His girlfriend has died mysteriously, much as his wife did a few years ago, and he is barely able to… well, bear it. But does he give up and turn back to the old addiction, eucalyptus? No! He throws himself into his work, expresses his complete devotion to the pickles company he works for, and tries to negotiate a business deal with a Korean kimchee manufacturer. We won’t spoil too much, but be prepared for a scene in a strangely Asian-centric Alcatraz, and some fairly scary scenes of animal cruelty… of the kind where the animals are cruel to people.

The Executive Koala deserves your love. Clever, offbeat, it’s a “horror” movie of a completely different stripe.

About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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