Kaspar Astrup Schröder: I Want to Cheer Up Ltd.

The Danish director behind ”The Invention of Dr. Nakamats” and ”My Playground” was praised by filmkommentaren last year through the words:”A multi-artist, an original talent, who also makes films… definitely a refreshing new talent in Danish documentary”.

In his new documentary, the second one he has shot in Japan, he shows – with the help of a Japanese woman behind the camera – we hear her questions to the main character Ryuichi Ichinokawa but we do not see her – huge talent for getting close to the man, whose normal job is to bring out post and parcels, with the addition that he runs a company that offers special service to families, or rather to people who do not have “enough” family members for weddings, receptions etc. So Mr. Ichinokawa steps in as organiser, as a kind of metteur-en-scène, including himself to play a father for a young girl, who wants her boyfriend to meet the father in order to get his permission to live together before eventual marriage.

This is a fine, entertaining and attractive invitation to watch the film that, however, turns out to be much more about Mr. Ichinokawa’s problems with his private life in a family, where love between Mr. Ichinokawa and his wife seems gone long ago, with him working to make the family with two children survive. Mr. Ichinokawa talks about his hell of a life, very few things seem to be good for him, yes he adores the dog of the house! And he says openly to camera that he has often thought of taking his own life.

His family knows nothing about his job as a helper for other people to repair their relationship. Mr. Ichinokawa builds up to tell his wife, which he does at the (far too abrupt) end of the film.

The family situation and the main character’s strong melancholy and small appetite on life fills up – it feels so – a big part of a film that through lack of more layers and a development of the identity theme becomes repetitive and flat in structure accompanied by a strong music score that serves to bring energy to scenes that lack strength. I hate to use this cliché of television commissioners but maybe the film is too long and Mr. Ichinokawa no strong and interesting enough to carry the story.

The film premieres in 50 cinemas in Denmark this Wednesday August 22 through the excellent DoxBio initiative that brings documentaries to cinemas.



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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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