R100: Midnight Madness at Toronto Fest

Following earlier TIFF premieres of his previous films BIG MAN JAPAN (2007) and SYMBOL (2009), Japan’s most absurdist auteur Hitoshi Matsumoto returns to Toronto with R100. One of the country’s leading comedians, Matsumoto brings an anarchic flavor and deadpan humor to film, playing with local genres such as kaiju (big monster) in BIG MAN JAPAN and the wandering samurai in SCABBARD SAMURAI. With the fetish-driven R100, he tackles Japan’s pink films. Whatever the subject, Matsumoto knows absolutely no boundaries, defying any filmmaking conventions. Each of his films is a planet of its own – or sometimes even several parallel planets – which would leave Michel Gondry gasping for air if he were to land on one.

The title of R100 is a word play on the Japanese ratings system, suggesting that the viewer should be at least 100 years old to see the film. Mr. Matsumoto thought of the title while doing publicity for his previous film SCABBARD SAMURAI. With R100, he wants to challenge the concept of rating, or any kind of judgment, of films–which he explores in a tongue-in-cheek subplot about the filmmaking process.
The universe that Mr. Matsumoto created for R100 is decidedly kinky. He dives headlong into the world of sexual fantasies, bypassing the usual fetish clichĂ©s. In a hilarious performance as a dead-pan, no-nonsense police officer, Matsumoto gets to ask the pivotal question: “What happens if you get what you asked for?”

A very ordinary man (Nao Omori) who takes care of his son while his wife lies in a coma, enters a very ordinary building. Following a seductive ride on a merry-go-round, he signs up with an exclusive club. Membership is one year only and cannot be cancelled under any circumstances.

Happily he endures dominatrix intrusions in his daily life, until they get a little too close to his unsuspecting family. With a courage not displayed in his professional life as a bed salesman, he tries to cancel his membership, evoking the wrath of the American CEO, who descends upon Tokyo to teach him a lesson…

The all-star cast includes Nao Omori of VIBRATOR (2003) and ICHI THE KILLER (2001), Mao Daichi, a renowned stage actress, Shinobu Terajima of CATAPILLAR (2010), Hairi Katagiri of KAMOME DINER (2006), Ai Tominaga, a Japanese supermodel, Eriko Sato of FUNUKE SHOW SOME LOVE YOU LOSERS! (2007), and Hitoshi Matsumoto himself. Warner Bros Pictures releases the film in Japan on October 5.

About Hitoshi Matsumoto

An entertainer, film director, an essayist, Matsumoto is best known as the boke (funny man) half of the popular comedy duo Downtown opposite straight man Masatoshi Hamada. Having changed the face of TV comedy, Matsumoto made a major splash in the film world with his directorial debut BIG MAN JAPAN (2007), which premiered in Cannes (Directors’ Fortnight) and screened at Toronto, Busan, and Rotterdam.

BIG MAN JAPAN is the portrait of a 40-year old slacker who turns into a building-sized, but less-than-efficient creature to protect Japan from monster attacks. Subsequently Columbia Pictures picked up the remake and sequel rights to be produced by Neal Moritz (FAST AND FURIOUS 6 and 7, JACK THE GIANT SLAYER).

Matsumoto’s second film SYMBOL (2009) is a Beckett-like study of a man (Matsumoto) locked into a room that presents him with random objects, which he tries to manipulate to escape, only to end up in further rooms. Showcasing Matsumoto’s unlimited talent for visual gags and mime, SYMBOL premiered in Toronto and screened at Rotterdam, Berlin, and Busan.

SCABBARD SAMURAI (2011), in which he explores the wandering samurai genre, premiered at Locarno International Film Festival and screened at Busan and Mar del Plata.

About Yoshimoto Kogyo

Having started as a theater in Osaka in 1912, the Yoshimoto Kogyo group has grown one of Japan’s largest entertainment and talent agencies on the strength of its owarai (comedy) business. Subsidiary Yoshimoto Creative Agency, which produced R100 and all of Hitoshi Matsumoto’s films, handles talent management, sales and production. Yoshimoto created the Okinawa International Movie Festival specializing in comedies, which will have its sixth edition in March 2014.

Filmography

2013, R100, Toronto world premiere
2011, SCABBARD SAMURAI, Locarno, Busan, Mar de Plata
2009, SYMBOL, Toronto, Rotterdam, Berlin, Busan
2007, BIG MAN JAPAN, Cannes Directors’ Fortnight, Toronto, Busan, Rotterdam