Cinema Epoch // 1999 // 88 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge Dylan Charles (Retired) // June 15th, 2007
Sex. Murder. And Poisonous Mushrooms.
Harry (Sab Shimono, The Shadow) is running from the mob with a large chunk of their money. He decides he wants to set things right with his children before he cashes in his chips and plans to give them a share. He's got one week before he's found, but Harry finds something unexpected in the short time he has left: a mysterious woman with a past perhaps as tragic as his own.
Playwright Philip Kan Gotanda is the director and it's easy to tell where he's coming from. The words are the best part of Life Tastes Good, with a quirky story and a great script. Gotanda has written an interesting cast of characters with folks like a hitman who loves lemons (played by Mr. Gotanda), Harry's three unusual landladies, and the two detectives who look like they just walked out of a 1940's film noir fedoras and all. Harry himself is a wry fellow who easily puts up with the often odd antics of the people around him.
Each of the other characters zipping around have their own quirks that are pulled off successfully by the actors. Julia Nickson-Soul, in particular, moves through the movie like a ghost, drifting in and out of scenes. She plays Harry's counterpoint and it's only fitting that such a woman (who isn't even given a name) is drawn to Harry, a man with a fixation on his own approaching death.
The film switches perspectives between characters, moving from Harry to the cops following his trail to Mr. Jones, the hitman who is after him to get the money back. It's only in bits and pieces that the full import of Harry's actions are fully realized as aspects of his past are revealed one broken shard at a time: the true amount of damage his criminal activities have done to his children's lives, the significance of the poisonous mushroom and why he's doing what he's doing. Gotanda slowly ties everything together until all the plotlines are neatly wrapped up at the end.
There's an interview with Gotanda included on the disc. Which is brief at less than ten minutes long and only has a brief bit of information on the movie itself. I definitely would have liked to have heard more from him about the movie. There's also Gotanda's short film The Kiss which has the same quirky style as Life Tastes Good and is well worth checking out.
Life Tastes Good is a darkly funny piece of filmmaking with memorable characters and a great script. I hope to see more from Mr. Gotanda on the screen at some point.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Cinema Epoch
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Release Year: 1999
MPAA Rating: Unrated
* Filmmaker Interview
* The Kiss