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Scoop! - Movie Poster
Original Title:

Japan 2016

Comedy, Thriller, Drama

Hitoshi One

Masaharu Fukuyama
Fumi Nikaido
Yo Yoshida
Kenichi Takito
Lily Franky
Takumi Saito
Shinya Tsukamoto
Ikuji Nakamura

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Scoop! - Film Screenshot 1

Story: Shizuka (Masaharu Fukuyama) is a freelance photographer and is hired by editor Sadako (Yo Yoshida) to take some scandal pictures of celebrities. He has to work exclusively for the magazine "Scoop!" and take intern Nobi (Fumi Nikaido) under his wings. Shizuka is everything but excited about this, since he normally only works alone, but the pay is good and so he ultimately agrees. Nobi herself isn't really sure, though, whether or not this is the right job for her, especially since you have to wait patiently for something to happen most of the time. But after the first car chase and outstanding pictures being taken, which allow the magazine to set a total circulation record, she is hooked. At the same time, the mentor/student relationship deepens. Being a helping hand to Shizuka, while he takes various snapshots, is his friend (Lily Franky), who he still owes a lot to from their time together in the past. With their newest case Shizuka and Nobi are on their own, though. This time they don't want to take a picture of a celebrity, but a serial killer, whom the police leads to his last crime scene to reenact his crime...

Filmroll Scoop! - Film Screenshot 2 Scoop! - Film Screenshot 3 Filmroll
Scoop! - Film Screenshot 4

Review: "Scoop!" is an extremely entertaining and also interesting movie which also tackles important questions of journalism along the way, without forcing us into a certain moral direction. Next to that the characters are fleshed out nicely and manage to keep the story going even when you start to wonder whether or not there is a central theme. All of this is already enough to give a clear recommendation. Unfortunately, there are also a few problems you shouldn't sweep under the rug. First, there is the tonal shift after about two thirds. Up until then "Scoop!" is a comedy with slight thriller elements, if any. But towards the end things head for pretty gritty direction. This suddenness and unexpectedness inevitably reminds you of Hong Kong cinema. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing is up to you.

Scoop! - Film Screenshot 5

Let's face the second issue right away, too, as it is already hitting us at the beginning. Particularly in the modern Western world Shizuka's behavior can't be described as anything else but sexist. That he calls Nobi a virgin in front of the whole team can be overlooked somehow, but that he outright gropes her or forces a kiss on her - even though she might successfully defend herself - is almost disturbing. And I don't talk about the 25-years age gap. In the still quite traditional and therefore patriarchic oriented Japanese society this also isn't a correct image of how women should be treated, anymore. Especially at the beginning this makes it hard to sympathize with Shizuka. However, in the end the story succeeds in awakening our interest for the photographer. He simply is a too fascinating individual.

Scoop! - Film Screenshot 6

Masaharu Fukuyama ("Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends") delivers a pleasantly multi-layered performance and in other parts it's also the individuals and how they interact with one another which makes this flick work out so well. The chemistry between the photographer and Nobi, played by Fumi Nikaido ("Himizu"), is also point on, although I didn't like at all which direction the initial mentor/student relationship took, including one scene I took for a deam sequence, until I realized that this is actually happening. However, also fascinating is the relationship between Shizuka and Sadako. There are constantly hints, new information and moments which force us to reinterpret the relationship between the two. This also applies to the photographer and his best friend, fantastically played by Lily Franky ("The Devil's Path"), an informant addicted to drugs, whom Shizuka owes a lot to.

Scoop! - Film Screenshot 7

It's the way we only get the necessary frame woven in front of us that makes the movie so appealing. We don't get all the answers and the background story of the characters, but enough to get a clear picture of everything happening. That way the characters all look extremely alive and are the actual reason for the things on screen never to get boring. At first, it's the humor which can win us over as the two photographers' hunt for the perfect snapshot is captured amusingly and even comes with a nice car chase, which makes us realize that you can tell a small story and such action scenes can still work out. The movie is carried by its unusal couple and the odd situations they find themselves in. This all works out great.

Filmroll Scoop! - Film Screenshot 8 Scoop! - Film Screenshot 9 Filmroll

Scoop! - Film Screenshot 10

Until the movie steers the relationship in a new direction rather rushedly and after that weaves an extremely tragic story around the informant which you won't see coming. I can't possibly claim that the last third fits into the rest of the movie. But it's also obvious from the get-go that there is more to "Scoop!" than just a comedy. The film is based on "Tosha 1/250 byo Out of Focus", a work by Masato Harada, and director Hitoshi One ("Bakuman") knows how to bring his vision to screen appealingly by fast editing and a good hand for the characters. As already stated you still have to expect a real shocker and even then there is still uncertainty what the movie actually wanted to achieve with its tonal shift. Nonetheless, "Scoop!" turns out to be a surprisingly well done movie.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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