• Melissa Kartini

Movie Review: We Make Antiques a Film of Two Smooth-Talking Con Men

  • Genre: Comedy

  • Rating: PG-13

  • Language: Japanese

  • Subtitles: English

  • Starring: Nakai Kiichi, Sasaki Kuranosuke

... Well, actually more than two, but, technicalities.

The Japanese Film Festival is back again, and this time around, they have 13 films to offer during this special time. So what film was I lucky enough to catch during my visit to Japanese Film Festival 2018 last night? "We Make Antiques!" was the film that was served up during the Opening Ceremony, and from a glance, it is most certainly one that would capture the attention of "Antiques Roadshow" fans.

With all of that said, though, is "We Make Antiques!" worth a shot? Let's find out.

What is it about?

This film begins with the introduction of antique dealer, Norio (Nakai Kiichi), and his sassy daughter, Imari (Aoi Morikawa). Norio has a tendency to believe his horoscope, and it was after following the prediction for it that he stumbles across what he believes to be an incredibly rare find. Believing that he has found a valuable tea cup of the most famous Japanese tea master, Sen no Rikyu, from the 16th century in the storehouse of a rich family, he deceives the homeowner to get it for almost nothing.

As it turns out, however, the "homeowner", Sasuke (Sasaki Kuranosuke), is a mere house-sitter and that the teacup was made by Sasuke himself.

But just before Norio could unleash his full fury on Sasuke, he learns of the latter's gang of fellow con men, all of them experts in creating specific types of forgeries. Undoubtedly intrigued, though struggling with his anger and disbelief, Norio cannot help but stay, somewhat eager to learn more of their trade. In the process, he also learns that Sasuke was once a hopeful potter, dreams derailed by antique authenticators that Norio himself has stormy relationships with.

Suffice to say, it is through this series of events that the pair decide to team up to make a gamble of a lifetime- to create an "antique" tea cup that would fool said antique authenticators. After all, they already have everything they need to get even with those con men; there is nothing else stopping them.

With Sasuke's skill and Norio's eye for identifying antiques within seconds, this heist should be a piece of cake. Well, just about.

Is it worth a watch?

In terms of how "We Make Antiques!" does on the rating scale, I'd say that it settles somewhat nicely a little over the middle, with its dashes of humour managing to give it that much needed push.

The qualities that strongly define "We Make Antiques!" has to be its documentary-like feel (and I don't mean this in a bad way!) and its doses of character comedy.

Despite it being a movie, the film gives viewers a fascinating inside look into the world of pottery and antiques, where we are allowed to see how these pieces of art are made. Ever wondered how a potter does their work? All you have to do is watch as Sasuke toils from start to finish to create the perfect tea cup. He starts off by searching for suitable soil to use for his craft, then painstakingly sets to moulding the tea cup of his desire, taking care to fashion it in a style that is believably from its supposed "era" and then ageing it.

Of course, in the film, this isn't all that's done to trick the dastardly antique authenticators. Norio, with his sharp eye for identifying fakes, overlooks Sasuke's work to ensure that it's believable, and at the same time cooks up a story to go with the tea cup. There's no forgetting Sasuke's gang of con men either, all of whom have their own part to play in this heist.

The second defining trait of "We Make Antiques!" is its character comedy. When it comes to humour, this film doesn't seem to have a consistent style, relying instead on the antics of its characters. For instance, the overly enthusiastic tour guide who pops up at the most inopportune moments to spout as much historic facts as he can to whoever would listen, their bewilderment and boredom be damned.

Then there is Sasuke's friend, the paper expert, who does strange things that take people aback, and often speaks out of turn and says the most mind-boggling things.

These instances of comedy seem out of place, but that is not to say that they don't do their job. Far from it. It is their existence that turns up the film's entertainment factor, managing to elicit much laughter from the audience.

Now, whether this is worth a watch highly depends on the individual. If you're into antiques and the like, "We Make Antiques!" might be something you'd like to watch on a lazy day, with ample time to kick back and relax. If you're not, you would at the very least appreciate the doses of humour and the research gone into the art of pottery.

Don't miss "We Make Antiques!" and more at the Japanese Film Festival 2018!

Written by Crunch's Melissa Kartini

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