The title of Soushi Matsumoto’s feature debut, “It’s a Summer Film,” is somewhat misleading: Instead of enjoying her summer break at the beach, the film’s intense teenage protagonist (Marika Ito) is struggling to make her first film, a homage to the samurai sword fight epics she loves. Having premiered at last year’s Tokyo International Film Festival, it’s the latest of the many Japanese movies that depict the grind and glory of filmmaking.
Working from his co-written original script, Matsumoto stirs in various genres, from sci-fi to romance, served up with a gawky semi-comic sincerity, as though he is trying to stylistically channel his awkward adolescent self. The result made me cringe at times, but it was still hard to dislike. Maybe I just have a weakness for kids who heatedly debate the relative merits of period action stars Shintaro Katsu and Ichikawa Raizo.
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