Sunday, June 30, 2019
Nate Hood's 400 words on Hard -Core (2019) NYAFF 2019
Stumbling from confused set piece to ill-advised character twists, Hard-Core is an ideologically heinous film that can’t even manage to be funny or biting. It revolves around Ukon and his struggles to make it in life in the shadow of his successful stock broker younger brother Sakon (Takeru Satoh). To wit, he makes a paltry living working for an ultanationalist political group digging in a cave for a legendary caché of gold from the nineteenth century. His only friend is a mentally handicapped loser named Ushiyama (Yoshiyoshi Arakawa) who is so awkward not even prostitutes will sleep with him. (This subplot of Ushiyama’s pathetic attempts to lose his virginity tip the film’s malevolent misogyny off to those who don’t pick up on the narrative’s incel leanings.) After a time, they discover an abandoned robot straight from a 50s Republic serial they name Roboo and adopt him as one of their own. Not that a talking, feeling, hyper-intelligent robot matters that much in the grand scheme of the film; he’s an incidental side character for most of the run-time, leading us to wonder why in the hell they would introduce such a fantastical element to the story if they rarely use him. Instead, this is the story of Ukon’s personal growth, something which not-so-coincidentally happens as soon as he finds a conventionally attractive woman to sleep with.
Hard-Core is an unfunny, overlong, unfocused film that can’t even keep up a cohesive narrative.
Avoid it at all costs.