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Massawyrm declares FISH STORY to be his favorite film of the year thus far!!!

Hola all. Massawyrm here. It is incredibly rare that you see a film that quite literally gets better upon subsequent viewings. Most often good stories are structured like a great joke – certain information is kept from you, building suspense until it all becomes clear in a sudden revelation of facts that brings everything together in one, fantastic, emotional climax. And while it is very enjoyable to rewatch a film like that, you can never quite duplicate your initial viewing. But occasionally a film comes along that defies that, one peppered with so much information that at first seems irrelevant (but is not) that it actually pays off even stronger when seen a second and a third time. Such is the case with FISH STORY. FISH STORY is a great joke. It has a few key elements that it holds back from you. But returning to the film (as I have now three more times - two in the theater and once more on DVD), I’ve found just how densely packed a film it is. Virtually every line of dialog carries weight and pays off in the ending. What at times may seem like casual conversation is actually philosophical ruminations on the ending, its importance and the overall theme of the film – when it’s not actually information you might otherwise dismiss that serves to support all of the surprises the film has to offer. Even the film’s bizarre opening shot – the final moments of a 1970’s Japanese television show – pay off in creating a vast, circular work of genius that may well become one of my favorite pieces of Science Fiction of all time. I first wrote about the film in my Fantastic Fest pre-coverage here where I named it my pick for the fest. At the time, while I loved it, I had no idea how much my affection for it would grow, but each viewing only made me hunger to watch it again and again, each time dissecting it further to find more and more hidden meanings and layers. Based upon a novel, this dense two hours tells the story surrounding a comet about to slam into the Earth in the year 2012. In what feels like something out of an Albee or Sartre play, three men find themselves in a record shop moments before the end of the world – one man shopping, one running the store and a third trying to figure out what the hell these guys are doing walking around like nothing is happening. When questioned, the clerk reveals that he believes the world will be saved…by a punk song. Thus begins the interweaving of stories from 5 different time periods: 1975, 1982, 1999, 2009 and 2012. Each period of time is in fact its own story, each with its own weird, genre leanings and characters – but the film focuses mostly upon the effect this single punk song has on history – from the origins of the seemingly gibberish lyrics all the way up to the stunner of a climax. It is, for all intents and purposes, a delightful case study of the butterfly effect - the chaos theory principle that one very small event can cause catastrophic, world changing alterations. At the same time, we learn about the men in that record shop and what brought them there – because all of the characters in this movie are connected, whether they know it or not. It is a film entirely about the interconnectivity of us all; how each of us – even in the smallest ways sometimes – plays a part in history. This band, this long forgotten, 37-year gone failure, might have saved the world – or doomed it to extinction. And only one man knows it. FISH STORY is a warm, elegant, brilliant feel-good comedy swimming in good nature and full of surprises that will even catch the most jaded and observant viewers off guard. When I first wrote about this I likened it to Richard Kelly’s interpretation of MAGNOLIA – but in truth, after multiple viewings, I’ve found it more to be like Kelly riffing on Vonnegut and ending up with a sci-fi PULP FICTION. Infinitely rewatchable, the overt charm and jokes give way to wonderful subtleties that provide the backbone of an already impressive film. This is the very best film I’ve seen all year and is well on its way to becoming one of my all time favorites. It is highly intelligent comfort food, chicken soup for the nerdy soul, an absolute delight from beginning to end. While it never milked tears from my eyes, there are a few moments that get me a little choked up and force me to fight them back, even now after my 4th viewing. If you have any chance whatsoever to view this film, do so at your earliest convenience. While I doubt it will get any kind of theatrical distribution here in the states (mainly due to Japan’s self-sufficient nature and their hesitation to sell their films short to American distributors) it will no doubt be worth your while to go out of your way to find. I need to have this on Blu-ray ASAP and watch it about 50 gazillion more times. Seriously, I’m crazy retarded in love with this thing and I wish nothing more than every single one of you to find it and share the love that I have for it.
Until next time friends, smoke ‘em if ya got ‘em. Massawyrm
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Readers Talkback
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  • Oct. 7, 2009, 11:49 a.m. CST


    by unkempt_sock


  • Oct. 7, 2009, 11:54 a.m. CST

    Wow! This DOES sound pretty righteous.

    by HarryCalder

    Any film that can evoke comparisons with both Vonnegut and Pulp Fiction has to be seen.

  • Oct. 7, 2009, 11:59 a.m. CST

    BIG FISH is a great movie

    by Meadowe

    So I'll cheq this out just cuz "fish" is in the title.

  • Oct. 7, 2009, 12:02 p.m. CST

    seriously I'm gonna sneak out of school to the mall

    by Meadowe

    ......@ lunch will they have this @ best buy or a suncoast?

  • Oct. 7, 2009, 12:03 p.m. CST

    And the song is..........

    by liljuniorbrown

    The Streak by Ray Stevens. It could really save the entire planet from total destruction. Fact!

  • Oct. 7, 2009, 12:04 p.m. CST

    wait so is this even on video yet?

    by Meadowe

    Or do I have to drag someone's azz to an artsy movie theatre to see this? It actually sounds very interesting.

  • Oct. 7, 2009, 12:09 p.m. CST

    oh its a japanese film... fuck that

    by ShiftyEyedDog2

  • Oct. 7, 2009, 12:16 p.m. CST


    by D.Vader

    Man I wish that show hadn't been cancelled.

  • Oct. 7, 2009, 12:21 p.m. CST

    Yeah, sounds awful, Chrissy...

    by ErnestBorgNine

    think I'll pass.

  • Oct. 7, 2009, 12:28 p.m. CST


    by uberman

    I Like the sound of this-should be fun!

  • Oct. 7, 2009, 12:36 p.m. CST

    Better than Love Exposure?

    by samuraiyao

    I have not seen a better film than Love Exposure a 4 hour masterpiece of a film...

  • Oct. 7, 2009, 12:49 p.m. CST

    goddamn massa!

    by chimcham3000

    some of those descriptions puts this is on the top of my list o' things to see. however right now i'm just stoked i finally get to watch Trick R' Treat tonight!

  • Oct. 7, 2009, 1:08 p.m. CST

    Going to be hard for us Yanks to see this...

    by MediaGold

    for the meantime. No sign of the DVD on Amazon or eBay and even the fartiest artiest cinema shows so signs of anything aquatic.<p> So thanks a bunch, Mr Massa! "Wowee zowee, there's this awesome, incredible film that you lowly dweebsticks with your wimpy region 1 players and your total lack of media connections that you have a better chance of scoring with Kate Beckinsale than ever laying eyes upon!"

  • Oct. 7, 2009, 1:08 p.m. CST

    Thanks Massa- it in my Netflix Queue

    by daniel_larussos_gonna_fight

    Along with about 50 other people who read this article!

  • Oct. 7, 2009, 1:10 p.m. CST

    FISH STORY great, LOVE EXPOSURE better

    by VWantsRevenge

    I loved FISH STORY as well. The song is fantastic and catchy as hell. Each story is involving in it's own right, as well as the big picture which unfolds in a blissful, brilliant 10 minutes at the end.<br> <br> That being said, I would compare LOVE EXPOSURE more to MAGNOLIA (without Kelly) because of it's sprawling four hour interconnected story. Any film that can be 237 minutes and entertain for every one of those minutes, to me trumps almost all other movies. There is nothing like LOVE EXPOSURE out there, and I, for one, can not wait to see it again. It's genius.

  • Oct. 7, 2009, 1:43 p.m. CST

    Roland Emmerich's FISH STORY

    by Squashua


  • Oct. 7, 2009, 1:49 p.m. CST


    by macgruder

    Massawyrm, Does the DVD you watche dit on have subtitles? Is it an official release or screener? I know its out on DVD in Japan, but I'm not positive it has english subs, so it'd be pointless to buy it unless it does.

  • Oct. 7, 2009, 1:57 p.m. CST



  • Oct. 7, 2009, 2:07 p.m. CST

    OMG! Better than ZOMBIELAND?!?!?!?!?

    by YackBacker

    Massa, be careful of piling on the hyperbole. Take a knee and relax.

  • Oct. 7, 2009, 2:31 p.m. CST

    Does anyone know the dvd release date?

    by BoE

  • Oct. 7, 2009, 2:40 p.m. CST

    So when;s the American remake coming out?

    by MCVamp

    You know it's inevitable. Michael Cera and Jonah Hill probably already have the script.

  • Oct. 7, 2009, 3:06 p.m. CST

    Mass, is every move you see a favorite of the year?

    by lockesbrokenleg

    You say it in every damn headline.

  • Oct. 7, 2009, 3:25 p.m. CST


    by V'Shael

    For those who have multi-region dvd players and don't care about artificial marketing bullshit?

  • Oct. 7, 2009, 3:31 p.m. CST

    Japanese DVD

    by shut_the_fuck_up_Donnie

    from what I can see doesn't have subtitles so is kinda useless to me, but looks like UK version of DVD is slated for release in January. Guess I'll have to wait.

  • Oct. 7, 2009, 3:41 p.m. CST

    I wish it was playing the day I made it out to Fantastic Fest

    by T 1000 xp professional

    I saw A Town Called Panic and got veryyyy lucky with that one as it did kick major hiney, but I do wish I saw this one too. :( o well, I hope it gets distributed here, if not Blu Ray will suffice.

  • Oct. 7, 2009, 3:45 p.m. CST

    I thought Star Trek and Trannyformers 2

    by Trannyformers_Apologist

    wEr teh Beestest MoOvey OV AlL timez!!one!11

  • Oct. 7, 2009, 3:48 p.m. CST

    Oh NOES, lockesbrokenleg!!!

    by Massawyrm 1

    You mean a guy can't have a favorite COMEDY of the year (the headline you are actually referring to) and a favolrite MOVIE of the year??? Fuck. I need to re-examine my whole career.

  • Oct. 7, 2009, 4:14 p.m. CST

    PARANOMAL ACTIVITY kicking your ass in 2009

    by lockesbrokenleg

  • Oct. 7, 2009, 4:24 p.m. CST



    The only writer you can trust is Vern. Period. The rest of these gits couldn't write a goofus and gallant punchline. They're a sad lot.

  • Oct. 7, 2009, 5:19 p.m. CST

    AICN review... always skip the first 3 or 4 paragraphs

    by Heckles

    The phrase 'getting to the point' is constantly lost here. <br><br>Otherwise, the movie sounds relatively interesting.

  • Oct. 7, 2009, 5:20 p.m. CST


    by doubleARon

    But, but... Vern likes all those crappy movies. Or maybe -- JUST maybe -- experiences with movies are subjective and different people enjoy different mov-- nah, couldn't be.

  • Oct. 7, 2009, 5:25 p.m. CST

    Vern likes the low budget stuff

    by lockesbrokenleg

    I've rarely read a review from him where he liked a mainstream movie.

  • Oct. 7, 2009, 6:01 p.m. CST

    So if I'm understanding this completely

    by T 1000 xp professional

    Talkbackers named loserguy and basementc_cheetoheater are posting replies to writers they do not trust.... carry on.

  • Oct. 7, 2009, 6:12 p.m. CST

    'literally gets better'

    by scenic

    The film does not literally get better upon subsequent viewings. The film remains intact and as it was on the first viewing but your opinion of the film improves.

  • Oct. 7, 2009, 6:21 p.m. CST

    want to see it

    by NudeandAroused

    I have read nothing but good reviews about this.

  • Oct. 7, 2009, 6:47 p.m. CST


    by RipperGiles

    Does Massawyrm have this as a macro? <br><br> Massawyrm declares [TITLE] to be his favorite [FILM/TV/WHATEVER] of the year thus far!!!

  • Oct. 7, 2009, 6:51 p.m. CST


    by RipperGiles

    Ok, I'm waiting for a minute to pass so as I can post this semi-retraction to what I just said.<br><br> Massawyrm isn't the only one who jitters the catchphrase "BLANK is my favorite BLANK of the year (or all time)" thus far (gotta put that clause in there in case "New Moon" blows your socks off) on this site. It's just that his use of this AICN cliched phrase (topped only by the various conjugations of pentultimate) made me finally feel like commenting.

  • Oct. 7, 2009, 7:26 p.m. CST

    My interest is piqued.

    by Earl Warren

    I bet the song that changes the world is "The Hustle." Hopefully it will see a DVD release, as I doubt any theater near me will show this.

  • Oct. 7, 2009, 9:58 p.m. CST

    Is 2009 the best year ever for science fiction?

    by glue

    Maybe not but Moon, District 9, Star Trek and Fish Story with The Road and Avatar still to come makes it one of the best in recent memory.

  • Oct. 7, 2009, 10 p.m. CST


    by TheHumanBurrito

    Why Massa, just last summer you were talking about never owning a BluRay player or discs because it was a "DOA" format whose success will never compare to on demand digital distribution! Neccessary evil, or accepting that tangible product is still very important to consumers and will not be overtaken by a still very lacking digital distribution method?

  • Oct. 7, 2009, 10:15 p.m. CST

    fuck sake.

    by OutlawsDelejos

    Did everyone just have an aneurysm at the same time and mashed their keyboards till only petty bitching came out?

  • Oct. 7, 2009, 10:34 p.m. CST


    by Massawyrm 1

    Necessary evil. Companies have shifted special features away from standard DVD and to the collectors intermediary format Blu-Ray. So if I want to review DVDs, Blu-ray was a necessary purchase. But with my HD projector, Blu-rays look much prettier. For the record, I own about a dozen Blu-rays. And I still think it's an intermediary step that will be replaced in the next few years by HD VOD.

  • Oct. 7, 2009, 10:48 p.m. CST

    Fuck that shit, Massa

    by D.Vader

    I'm not supporting that bullshit and falling into their hands by "upgrading" to Blu-Ray bc they're going to try and strongarm the consumer into spending more money just for extras. <p> Fuck. <p> That. <p> Shit. <p> It aint cool, and I'm not going to play that game.

  • Oct. 7, 2009, 11:25 p.m. CST

    Massawyrm PLEASE READ!!!!!!!!!

    by QuizKidDonnieSmith

    How did you get a dvd of this film. i've been dying to see this for months and your article only served to reawaken the beast in me that has been determined to see this flick. did you just buy the japanese dvd release that came out without any english subs? any info would be much appreciated!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Oct. 8, 2009, 12:13 a.m. CST

    It's fun and cute but I think it's a one shot gimmick

    by reflecto

    I saw it at NYAFF and it was a big fave of the audience, but it dragged for me in the middle section. Maybe it improves with re-watching but I'm not too sure. I was much more thrilled to see "The Magic Hour" get the audience award - where's the laudatory notices for that comedic masterpiece?

  • Oct. 8, 2009, 12:15 a.m. CST

    Also, the "20th Century Boys" trilogy

    by reflecto

    That AICN isn't covering that more, or South Korea's "Breathless" - one of the best films of the year - is insane.

  • Oct. 8, 2009, 12:52 a.m. CST

    Kotaro Isaka.

    by logboy

    seen "fish story", and didn't like it as much as another isaka adaptation (which shares one cast member) known as "foreign duck, native duck, and god in a coin locker", which is out on subbed HK DVD now : and in a couple of weeks you'll be able to get juryoku pierrot (aka gravity clown), yet another adaptation : ...there are more too, with "golden slumber" due in 2010 :

  • Oct. 8, 2009, 1:38 a.m. CST


    by Massawyrm 1 You wouldn't happen to be talking about the same Breathless I am, are you? The One I reviewed several weeks ago?

  • Oct. 8, 2009, 1:41 a.m. CST

    D.Vader - 100% agree

    by Massawyrm 1

    Wouldn't have done it for recreation. I only upgraded for the review possibilities.

  • Oct. 9, 2009, 10:16 a.m. CST


    by gurugurugaijin

    I've been waiting for this film. Every few years there's a film released here that the Japanese media doesn't fawn over and slips through the cracks and IT BLOWS MY MIND when I grab it off the shelf on an unsuspecting Friday night. On your enthusiastic review I went out to the video store around the corner, picked it up and proceeded to be entertained and amused by a film in a way I haven't been for a long time. Thanks for the great suggestion. Definitely a keeper. I can't believe I spent money on 20th Century Boys when I could have been watching this instead.

  • Oct. 9, 2009, 10:55 a.m. CST

    You know a trailer link to this would have been nice

    by Series7

    I saw a still for this, is it a CGI film?

  • Oct. 9, 2009, 11:04 a.m. CST

    Also do people still watch Extras on movies anymore?

    by Series7

    Who's got the fucking time? I scroll through the extras and usually turn them on, if in a minute I can tell its just an actor/director/producor/PA talking about how awesome the movie was I know its fucking worthless. I think I've pretty much given up on deleated scenes. Though luckily I didn't skip out on The Bank Job's deleated scenes, kind of saved me from not hating that film.

  • Oct. 9, 2009, 5:11 p.m. CST


    by gurugurugaijin

    No ill will here but we should be thankful they haven't covered 20th Century Boys. The first film is garbage. You can't even call it a film, it's simply a vehicle. The second film, while watchable, is still filled to overflowing with typical Japanese overacting that they (the public) seem to think is groundbreaking when it really just channels Jackie Chan's goofiness from any given JC film without the cool stunts to make it worth enduring the acting. The Magic Hour was decent but in this case I don't think it's even slightly comparable, especially when it isn't Mitani's best work. Check out Welcome Back Mr. McDonald to see how that man can make you enjoy what's essentially a stage production without you even realizing it.

  • Oct. 10, 2009, 7:07 a.m. CST

    Bullshit, guru

    by reflecto

    20th Century Boys is plain fun, period. I think the second film drags, but those films are still a damn sight better than Watchmen. And The Magic Hour is a better comedy than any I've seen over here this year.

  • Oct. 10, 2009, 6:58 p.m. CST

    I contend your claim of bullshit

    by gurugurugaijin

    20CB is a mess. A faithful mess. Not any fault of it's own, but by virtue of being an adaptation of a time-skipping story that's covered in 2 hours. It's probably the most faithful film based on a comic I've ever seen but there's the problem. First, Japanese comics, any of them, tend to suck when you bring them into real life. The suspension of disbelief comes down like a lead balloon. Second, the insane skipping back and forth in the comic work so well because of its pace. A chapter a month easy to digest, dissect and enjoy. When they attempted that in the time the film allowed, it became a jumbled mess and furthermore, as someone who was familiar with the source (which isn't even comparable to the Watchmen comic) the story became a rehash of the comic told almost frame for frame as it HAD to, rather than someone actually thought it would be a good idea. Honestly it just became a game of looking for who would turn up for cameos. Two was far more controlled and liberal with diverting from source material and it served the film well. The out of control Japanese overacting doesn't help though. The Magic Hour IS good but it's also far from Mitani's best work. The Uchoten Hotel or Welcome Back Mr. McDonald are much better than The Magic Hour.

  • Oct. 11, 2009, 6:57 p.m. CST

    Massawyrm, please...

    by QuietMan297

    ....I have made it my (current) mission in life to find this film solely on the basis of your review, never having read or heard about it anywhere else. You sold me, I am there, I need to watch this movie. Now, please...would you PLEASE provide some kind of guide, indicator or clue as to where I may find it?

  • Sept. 3, 2010, 9:11 p.m. CST

    Friday night and Netflix is still

    by JRcanReid

    linking me to a fucking fisherman documentary. Oh well.

  • Sept. 4, 2010, 12:53 p.m. CST

    Saturday afternoon, daughter napping, ready to watch

    by WerePlatypus

    And the link on Netflix takes me to a 53 min. documentary about fishing. Gahh!

  • April 1, 2011, 1:04 p.m. CST

    I just saw the film

    by Rob

    Thanks for the heads up Massa, it was well worth the 2 hours. GREAT FILM!!