Life through my myopic eyes.

Starfish Hotel (2006): Noir or Not to Noir


What do you get when you have a film that relies heavily on the film noir verse and then takes a sidestep into fantasy, horror and downright weirdness? You get Starfish Hotel, that’s what. I will just mention here that the giant rabbit costume worn by one of the characters actually creeped me out miles more that the one in Donny Darko. Although you can argue that the giant rabbit in Darko wasn’t in a suit.

Written and directed by John Williams (the current CEO of Tokyo‘s 100 Metre Films) in a move to presumably show that anyone can write and direct a film, Williams helmed this his third film. I am not sure that CEO’s of any company should give up their ‘day job’ if they churn out a film as confusing as Starfish Hotel.

That is not to say that Starfish is unwatchable, the reverse is actually true. I could not stop watching the film. Despite it’s meandering plot and story, it was compelling enough that I had to see it through to the end. I will be honest though and say that the main reason was the presence of Japanese actor Kôichi Satô whom I’d first seen in the superior horror film Infection (2004).

The plot revolves around Arisu (Sato) and an elicit affair he is having with another woman that he first met in the Starfish Hotel. He carries on this affair for years, each time returning to the hotel to meet his lover. The only other passion that Arisu has in his life is his enjoyment of a mystery writer’s newest stories. When they are published, Arisu rushes to get his copy.

The latest book is titled The Starfish Hotel and it appears to be about Arisu. In the meantime, Arisu’s wife goes missing and he has to find her. It turns out that she has been working in a brothel and someone has burned it down.

The noir-ish pattern of intermixing fact with fiction and fantasy does not work in this film, which is a shame. The film looks stunning. The colours create a moody and intense atmosphere and help to create a feeling of loss and confusion. But Williams introduces too many characters and lets them interact with too many people.

I found this film by accident on LOVEFILM and decided to give it a go. Like I said, it was a compelling watch. It was hard to follow and it got a little frustrating at times. It is by all means not the worst film I’ve seen this year, but it’s coming a close second or third.

You know a film hasn’t been received all that well when you cannot even find it on Wikipedia. I think honestly that the side stepping into J-noir hurt the film overall.  But again, I can only plead puzzlement over what Williams was trying to achieve with Starfish Hotel. I do know that I found it had to not watch.

It wasn’t the sort of ‘train wreck’ fascination that compelled me to stick to the end. It was more of a, ‘let’s watch just a little bit longer I’m sure it will all make sense soon.’

Unfortunately, by the time I got to the end, I was more than a little underwhelmed. All that painful interaction and subterfuge and dangling interludes just left me cold. Don’t get me wrong, I love film noir. To see how it really should be done just watch the Coen bros first effort Blood Simple (1984).

Blood Simple could be used in film schools as a template on how to make a darn near perfect noir thriller in any language. But I am wandering off topic here, somewhat like the film itself, and I wish that I could come up with an overall rating of  Starfish Hotel.  It falls into the category of interesting little film.

Just imagine that you’ve entered the local film store. As you go down the aisles looking for a film you haven’t seen yet, you spy a film hiding behind the rest of the DVD cases. Reaching back you grab the ‘hidden’ film and read the back cover. Despite the information printed on the back you decide to watch the film.

Why?

Because you found it. It wasn’t recommended by anyone, or panned, or reviewed by anyone. You just stumbled across it. That alone makes it worth watching. I found many ‘hidden gems’ this way. Sadly Starfish Hotel is not a hidden gem, but more of a curiosity as it struggles to find a genre that it belongs in.

The Coen bros show how noir should be done.

Tagged as: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Categorised in: Film Noir, Film Reviews, Japanese Cinema, World Cinema

3 Responses »

  1. God, that rabbit suit *is* a pile more horrifying than DD’s.
    Interesting review. You couldn’t stop watching yet it’s in your bottom three for the year? Weird. Ima have a look.
    ALSO mike your birthday post was absolutely rad; my phone wouldn’t let me like or comment on it for some reason. But it was one of the best things I’ve read in ages. Happy birthday, with all my good vibes from over the pond in Melbourne :>

Trackbacks

  1. The Detective (2007): Pang Bros Noir | MikesFilmTalk

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Goodreads

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 12,937 other followers

Blog Stats

  • 142,510 hits

Liebster Award

Liebster Award

The Versatile Blogger Award

The Versatile Blogger Award

Inspiring Blogger Award

Inspiring Blogger Award

Super Sweet Blogging Award

Super Sweet Blogging Award

The Sister Abigail Show

Activist, Author, Nutritional Consultant, Raw Food Chef

Charlottesweb

Sherlock, Star Trek Fan Fiction. Original Stories Too

Storiform.com

Writing Popular Fiction

Cornelius' Life Story

This blog is about me, growing up in Africa and now in The states pursuing a degree.

MovieScience101

Everything you need to know about science in movies

lionaroundwriting

Let us make an exchange - I provide stories, you enjoy them.

Espen Stenersrød- From Pen To Heart

Jack Kerouac with a scent of Henry Vaughn

Tonya R. Moore

Speculative Fiction Writer

Ludica

A storyteller.

Benedict Cumberbatch

Celebrating Benedict Cumberbatch, his work and his fandom.

pgcps mess - Reform Sasscer without delay.

Fight corruption in PGCPS. Innovate, Change and Transform - Create Transparency and Accountability Initiative.

Vonj productions

Inspiration received and put forth for the good of the people

LeonnaDenisa

Hakunamatata (^o^)/

Confessions Of A Hollywood Nobody

Every journey begins with a single... word

Pulsar Passages

What you see here is "come what may".

meganelizabethmorales

You're insane? We're all insane! Bwahahahaha!

Paul Laight

Writer. Filmmaker. Semi-Pro Comedian. Wageslave

C A M S H I E

Witness The Truth: Spot Your Greatness

Prowler Needs a Jump

Films of every stripe

COURAGE TIMES THREE

A fine WordPress.com site

All Food Cooking Recipes

The Original European Cooking Recipes. All Cooking Recipes. All Continental Recipes. All Mexican Recipes. Italian Recipes.

FY HI!

A particular remarkable and usually surprising bit of information

Words n' Clouds

News told by words, news shown in clouds

Abby Mabb

Snarly female. Occasional book reviewer.

Dream, Play, Write!

Today, make a commitment to your writing.

Indie Hero

Brian Marggraf, Author of Dream Brother: A Novel, Independent publishing advocate, New York City dweller

behindtheglamorsblog

This World Is Not Perfect Like You Still Imagine

Craig Lumen

Characters

Travel Magazine New Zealnd

For the Love of travel is New Zealand’s premium Travel Magazine

VentaForce

Network Engineering Software By Sankalp

Indo Africa Times

Reed to succeed in Africa !!!

Subterranean Cinema - Redux

the return of Don Alex

storyofthekitchn

FOOD & DRINK

Its me...pleasure!

This WordPress.com site is the bee's knees

Eat Diamonds for Breakfast

and shine all day.

YONA PHOT©

Street photography, Travel Photography, Exploration Photography

Top of the Bottom Pile

My favorite part of the bottom is the top.

RyanOnFire.com

Speaking my sports mind at an incredible rate.

Healthcare Professional Development Institute - HCPDI

Healthcare Job Skills Training| Online, Face-to-face, & Blended| Continuing Professional Education (CPD)| Certificates of Completion| Associate of Healthcare Certificates|

环游K场

纵贯音乐大世界 K-Xpress

Celia Fitzgerald

"As every thread of gold is valuable, so is every moment in time." - John Mason

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 12,937 other followers

%d bloggers like this: