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Jul 24, 2021Nursebob rated this title 3.5 out of 5 stars
With his side-splitting ode to zombie flicks, "One Cut of the Dead", Shin’ichirô Ueda revelled in his love of both film and filmmaking as he called upon every trick in the book to blur the line between real and staged. With "Special Actors" he returns to this familiar territory and while the results may not be as slapstick-hilarious as the former, it still has a certain charm of its own. Hapless aspiring actor Kazuto is having trouble landing roles due to his unfortunate habit of fainting whenever he feels pressured. Then he’s introduced to the Special Actors talent agency which specializes in manipulating real life situations with strategically placed performers: a milquetoast gets to impress his girlfriend by punching out a subway station “thug”; a row of paid thespians get the audience going by continuously laughing at an unfunny comedy; sexy mourners show up at a gangster’s funeral. You get the idea. Kazuto’s first gig proves to be a whopper however—he and a group of fellow actors must infiltrate a cult in order to expose its leaders as frauds. Will he be up to it or will he spend most of his big break flat on his back? Generating more smiles than laughs, Ueda toys with our perceptions of reality, keeping us guessing as to which reactions are genuine and which are scripted before pulling that one final trick out of his sleeve. Aside from the occasional lapse into pure silliness his approach works for the most part because, like the film’s closing pop tune suggests, “We’re all acting for someone”. I, for one, was more than happy to oblige.