Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy
By Steve Anderson
April 1st, 2006

The Last Supper

The Last Supper
Directed by Osamu Fukutani
Written by Osamu Fukutani
Starring Masaya Kato, Hibiki Takumi, Hitomi Miwa, Fumina Hara
Produced by Yuichi Onuma
92 mins

Any time you can look on your shelves and find a movie from Psycho Films, it's really got to give you pause.

Okay, I'm overstating. "The Last Supper" actually comes to us from Saiko Films, which is merely a sound-alike, but still, a pretty nifty one at that.

And what Saiko Films brings our way is a story that should be shockingly derivative--namely, a cannibalistic doctor. Yes, I know, there's lots of eye-rolling and catcalls that feature dear old Hannibal Lecter at this point but don't let that scare you off. Yes, it's about a Japanese doctor who turns cannibal. But this time around, it's a plastic surgeon! And if you think about it, just for a minute, how he gets started down the road to cannibalism will make so much sense it's unsettling, even if it is pretty disgusting when you get to the end of it.

Yes, "disgusting" will be the word of the day with "The Last Supper" in your DVD player--lots of blood, squishy sounds, body parts, and assorted gooshy whatnot flying around every few minutes features heavily into the film.

You can't get around it. It's a movie about a plastic surgeon turned cannibal. Of course bodies are going to be rendered into cold cuts and flank steak with all the precision of a doctor in his prime!

But--and this is where "The Last Supper" parts company with all the things that'll make your eyes roll--it's the how that will keep your attention. Japanese movies have one fairly common element running through them: patience. Subtlety. And coming from a movie about cannibal doctors, subtlety is the last thing you'd expect to see. And yet, it's here! Check out the cool nonchalance as our doctor rebuffs a camera crew out at his house to film him for a talk show. You never saw HANNIBAL do interviews! You never saw Hannibal store his choice cuts mere feet from where he slept at night either, but that's another crucial difference. Our Japanese Lecterite has a development cycle, growing into cannibalism. Lecter, meanwhile, just started carving faces one day and eating the results with wild mushrooms because someone made fun of his aunt.

Even better, "The Last Supper" trots out some of the old Wendigo parallels, much the same way as "Ravenous", implying that by eating people meat you gain their strength. The Japanese doctor here goes from ham-handed dork getting shot down by the ladies and a job given to him as a favor to master surgical chick-magnet getting fawned over on Japanese television all because he was into the pre-processed Soylent Green.

And it doesn't stop there! People throughout the movie will come to crave our doctor's special cuisine, wolfing it down at any opportunity, including an absolutely brutal climax at the ending wedding scene. Nobody knows exactly what it is they're eating, but everyone who gets a piece loves it. And I mean LOVES it--they're oohing and aahing and making various other noises of gastric bliss that suggest nothing so much as they're having a giant meatgasm right in front of us.

Speaking of which, the ending is going to be an absolute hoot, packed to the gills with surprises, one right after the next in a magnificent firecracker string.

The special features, meanwhile, are pretty slim, offering us Japanese and English audio--avoid the English audio; the dub is just really awful. Stick with the Japanese audio. Why? Because there will also be English subtitles, and Spanish ones besides. Plus, we get trailers for "Kibakichi" and "Kibakichi 2".

All in all, "The Last Supper" is a sweet little Japanese entree fresh and hot on our plates. Maybe not as good as some, but plenty filling, and plenty satisfying.

Able Edwards

Able Edwards
Directed by Graham Robertson
Written by Graham Robertson
Starring Scott Kelly Galbreath, Keri Bruno, David Ury, Steve Beaumont Jones
Produced by Scott Bailey, Graham Robertson
85 mins

I could start this off with a really convoluted "What do you get when you cross" joke, but frankly, I'd just wind up looking insane. And I have "Able Edwards" to blame for that.

Because, you see, "Able Edwards" has decided to just completely blow my mind by giving me a retro-science-fiction style version of the Walt Disney story.

See? I already sound nuts. Imagine what would've happened if I'd gone with the joke. But anyway, "Able Edwards" basically takes the story of a Disney-esque character born in the late nineteenth century. He grows up, fights in World War One, and eventually gets the idea for Perry Panda, the practical equivalent of Mickey Mouse. Edwards Studios rises to prominence, and in pretty much every way mirrors the Disney company rise to prominence.

Now, where the difference comes in is that "Able Edwards" takes the ball and really, really, runs with it. Some time into the future, man is living in space following a biological contaminant's release into Earth's atmosphere. And in space, the Edwards Company, now the premier manufacturer of androids--the logical extension from all those damn animatronics, no?--is facing a profit plateau. In a truly stunning move, the Edwards Company decides it needs some new blood.

Same as the old blood.

Namely, they clone Able Edwards to put him in charge.

That's what is actually the most spectacular thing about "Able Edwards"--sheer authenticity. During the embattled Eisner era--and can anyone even remember the new guy's name?--tell me anyone there wouldn't have given their eyeteeth to be able to clone Walt and put him back in charge! Tell me!

There's lots of impressive themes running through "Able Edwards"--we get a look at nature versus nurture in all its glory, the ethicality of arranging people's lives from behind the scenes, not to mention the really turned-on-its-head concept of escaping the virtual existence lived by our spacegoing humanity through, of all things, interacting with reality.

And, in an oh-so-snide thumbing of the nose to "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow", "Able Edwards" will make abundantly clear that, dammit, IT was the first one to be filmed entirely in front of a green screen. Which sort of loses its punch when you remember that "Sky Captain..." has been on video store shelves for years.

Which isn't to say it's all sunshine and daisies down here. "Able Edwards" has its moments where it just drags, and plenty of corporate-speak. Which is probably good given that it's a movie ABOUT a corporation, but still--it's not that entertaining. It can even be a downright snooze every so often, but it doesn't happen too often.

The ending even packs a couple nice surprises into things.

The special features include director and producer commentary, a behind the scenes featurette, production notes and green screen reveals, plus a trailer for "Able Edwards".

All in all, with a storyline that makes you sad words like "Poignant" are overused, and only a few draggy moments, "Able Edwards" is a fantastic look not at what might have been, but what might yet be.