Starting with his feature debut, 2013’s “And the Mud Ship Sails Away,” director Hirobumi Watanabe has made all of his films in and around his hometown of Otawara, Tochigi Prefecture, and almost entirely in black and white.
For his latest, the music-themed comedy “Techno Brothers,” Watanabe departs from Otawara for the road to Tokyo, where a sibling trio hopes to find success in the music business. In another first for the director, the film is shot in full color.
The Watanabe style, which leavens minimalist arthouse influences with the director’s own brand of off-kilter humor, is still comically alive and well, though the contribution of his brother Yuji, who has served as composer on all of his films, is large: He wrote the film’s many techno tunes, which reference genre pioneer Kraftwerk. All are played from start to finish with little visual variation, which may be designed to put viewers in a techno trance but struck this non-fan as an overload.
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