The New York Asian Film Festival moves to Japan Society this weekend, to copresent Japanese films during the first weekend of the Japan Cuts series there. The NYAFF’s closing-night film, screening on Sunday night, is Chips (“Potetchi” in Japanese).
One reason why the New York Asian Film Festival is the most fun summer film festival in NYC: its programmers are always making exciting discoveries. With Chips, Japanese filmmaker and festival regular Yoshihiro Nakamura proves yet again why he’s one of NYAFF’s more noteworthy finds. Nakamura (Fish Story, A Boy and His Samurai) makes loose, goofy comedies about world-uniting conspiracies. With co-writer Kotaro Isaka, Nakamura has created a handful of elaborate and hilariously convoluted plots that only serve to remind us that we’re never alone, not even in our darkest hours.
Case in point: in Chips, a young thief makes an alarming discovery about himself. He consequently decides to help people he accidentally meets while robbing houses. Answering machine messages, home runs and potato chips—all of these little things take on great significance in Nakamura’s warm and deeply involving tribute to the survivors of the 2010 Sendai earthquake. In a lean 68 minutes, Nakamura and Isaka have made another accomplished zen comedy about how anything can mean everything, given the right context.