September 28, 2016
Top Knot Detective (2016)
Still not ringing a bell? That's probably because Top Knot Detective isn't real. That hasn't stopped it from being the subject of a feature-length documentary of the same name by Western Australian filmmakers Aaron McCann and Dominic Pearce. For Australian audiences it airs on SBS2 tonight. For international readers, I can only implore you to check out this outstanding comedy as soon as you are legally able. This is a stunning - not to mention stunningly original - piece of Australian filmmaking.
The film follows maverick - and hugely untalented - Japanese pop singer Takashi Takamoto, who took it upon himself to write, direct, produce and star in Ronin Suirui Tantei - translated to English as Deductive Reasoning Ronin. It is visibly dreadful stuff, with bad visual effects, awful acting, unconvincing stunt work, and crew members regularly popping up in the background. Takamoto himself appears throughout the film via interviews, as do his cast and crew, and a host of Australian commentators who note the cult following that developed after its brief once-only screenings on television here. Legendary SBS film host Des Mangan narrates, with appearances by Danger 5 creator Dario Russo, journalist and critic Travis Johnson, newsreader Lee Lin Chin and many others.
The other really impressive element is that the documentary contains an actual honest-to-god story, which surprised me. An early proof-of-concept pilot (still available via SBS Online) suggested a fairly superficial satire of bad Japanese TV shows. The completed film has a fully-fledged and effective narrative to it. We become invested in the various directors, producers and stars, and as events take a somewhat darker turn the film manages to balance comedy and drama and come to a hugely satisfying conclusion. There are a lot of balls being juggled here: straight comedy, satire, cultural commentary, drama, and so on. It is remarkable how well it all comes together.
Top Knot Detective is a must-see, not just because it's clever and funny but because it is a wonderfully original, one-of-a-kind sort of production. Whether on its broadcast tonight, or via SBS Online over the next few weeks, you absolutely owe it to yourself to check this one out.