Review: Kinta and Ginji (Japan Cuts 2020)

by Matthew Edward Hawkins

As previously noted, JAPAN CUTS 2020‘s virtual screenings may be your one and only chance to see certain films, and at the absolute top of that list is Kinta and Ginji. It’s also one of those things that I absolutely loved, yet have a hard time recommending to most anyone else, because it’s basically the 2020 edition of the Merriam-Webster dictionary’s definition of “not for everyone.”

The movie stars a robot and a tanuki who hang out in the woods, either shooting the shit or talking shit about each other. That’s it. Basically. It’s just one shot after another, of mostly trees, and of said pairing amongst the trees. Either walking and talking, or sitting down, sometimes laying down, but still talking. All they do is talk and talk and talk and talk and talk. Again, that’s seriously it.

Well, what do they talk about? All kinds of stuff: what they did since they last saw each other, what ever happened to such and such, what they dreamt of the other night, what in the hell is the other person’s problem, etc. They’re not best friends, yet the best conversations sometimes come from those we kind of can’t stand? Given its nation of origin, there’s a good amount of existential food for thought dished out, intermixed with utterly banal banter. But don’t take my word for it; the trailer is basically required viewing…

Basically, Kinta and Ginji is My Dinner with Andre, except, as noted, there’s a robot and a tanuki. And I feel just as strongly about the former as both Siskel and Ebert did when they reviewed the latter back in the day. So here’s the deal once more: 99.99% of the people out there will find the entire super boring, super dumb, maybe even super pretentious (I may have made things sound a bit more arty-farty than in really is, especially with the My Dinner with Andre comparison, but trust me it ain’t).

Yet for the other 00.01% whose reaction is, “ok, that sounds kinda interesting”, I implore you to not miss this chance. As stated above, I highly doubt that this will get picked up for distribution, and if it does, it’ll probably be saddled with a wretched dub like Violence Voyager. Also, this might be one of those films that you’ll really dig while enjoying a drink or a smoke, just sayin (tho I saw it clean and sober and legit believe it to be a staggering work of genius, again just sayin).

You can view Kinta and Ginji, via online rental, from July 17 to 30, by clicking this link.

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