Good entertainment with Japanese movies

WHEN I Get Home, My Wife Always Pretends to be Dead — it’s a movie title to tickle pink, isn’t it? And it does, offering some insight into the making of a happy marriage, with some laughter thrown in.

One of 13 movies offered in the 16th Japanese Film Festival at selected GSC cinemas in the country, the tale revolves around office worker Jun (Ken Yasuda) who marries a young happy-go-lucky  Chie (Nana Eikura), after his first marriage ended some time ago.

She doesn’t seem to work and I guess decides to pep up life by staging some far-out death scenarios as a way to greet Jun when he comes home from work.

His office colleague and wife are captivated by Chie’s cosplay, but Jun wonders about his young wife’s state of mind as their third wedding anniversary gets near.

According to Japanese newspapers, the movie’s tale stems from a question posed on a 2010 Yahoo! Answers topic about his wife’s unusual behaviour.  The man had asked how to deal with his wife who repeatedly played dead upon his return home from work. The topic went viral and it went into song, and then a book, a comic book and now movie.

Debut feature movie director Toshio Lee understands comedy as he gives Chie room to show off her morbid antics. But pacing stutters when the tale goes into the whys behind Chie’s funny-sad behaviour. Yes, it’s a little draggy in some places but the narrative is carried forward by the captivating performances of Ken Yasuda and Nana Eikura who seem to the ying and yang of a good marriage.

You can also feel Toshio’s love for Tokyo in the many street scenes captured on screen. From food, shops and an ice cream seller to traffic and neighbourhood walks, somehow the cinematography made you want to enjoy the city!

But that’s a by-product of this movie, which message is simple and clear: You need humour and communication to make a marriage work, people!

CAFE Funiculi Funicula, which is about a coffeeshop and time travel, is an entertaining premise that doesn’t quite translate into cinematic enjoyment.

A scene from Cafe Funiculi Funicula. Pix courtesy of Japan Foundation KL

Different from the premise in the famous Back to The Future series, with  Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) in a time travel machine and helping his parents fall in love etc, Cafe Funiculi Funicula is about patrons of a coffeeshop who take a particular seat which then allows them to go or forward in time, but only for as long as it takes to drink a cup of coffee.

Should their drink go cold, travellers will be unable to return home. The rules in the café run by Kazu (Kasumi Arimura) state that the would-be time traveller cannot change the past, or leave the café!

As one customer said: “Then what’s the point of time travel?!”

And then, to make matters even more strict, only a woman from the Tokita family can pour the coffee.

Cafe Funiculi Funicula, based on the novel Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi, offers vignettes of customers trying to reconnect with their loved ones.

In contrast to the debut movie by movie director Toshio Lee, this first feature attempt by another television director Ayuko Tsukahara has an episodic feel and scenes are clearly set in a studio-like area.

There is also a ghost of a woman (Yuriko Ishida) at the café who just sits there, serving as a cautionary reminder to anyone who dares overstay their time travel.

Kazu is a bit of a dull character, and even when she gets a love interest (Kentaro Ito), the pace does not pick up. However, it seems she has a mystery behind her puppy-dog look – she also has something from her past to revisit.

The movie basically is about letting go of regrets and carpe diem.

JFF 2019

When: Sept 12-15, GSC Gurney Plaza, Penang

Sept 19-22, GSC Paradigm Mall JB, Johor Baru

Oct 3-6, GSC CityONE Megamall, Kuching, and GSC Suria Sabah, Kota Kinabalu.

Tickets for JFF 2019 movies are priced at RM9 each. For movie showtimes and information, visit

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