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NYFF: “I Just Didn’t Do It.”

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"I thought my innocence would validate me."
When you’re in Japan, resist any urge to break the law. Seriously. 99.9% of cases that go to trial, the engrossing, excruciating "I Just Didn’t Do It" informs us, end in a conviction. The country’s legal system is heavily focused on pleading guilty; ‘fess up and you’ll get off relatively lightly for trespasses like groping someone on a crowded train. Insist on your innocence, and you’re headed for a labyrinthine court procedure in which you scarcely stand a chance. That’s what happens to Teppei Kaneko (Ryo Kase), a droopy 26-year-old accused of getting handsy with a schoolgirl on his way to a job interview. Before he can quite comprehend what’s happening, he’s whisked away to a holding room in the train station and then to jail, where it takes a fellow inmate to inform him that he has the right to a lawyer (who suggests he cop a plea) and a phone call. From there unfolds a nightmare of unreasonable interrogations and hearings and months of imprisonment.

This is much heavier stuff than can be found in the last film from director Masayuki Suo, 1996’s cutesy, popular heart-warmer "Shall We Dance?" The two films do share an equable appraisal of Japan’s societal problems, which in "I Just Didn’t Do It" mostly come through in the instant, uncharitable assumptions different characters make about Teppei, a freeter drifting through life without much direction or prospects for employment. Suo’s critique of the Japanese legal system is devastating, though he refuses to single out any one group for blame. Judges are overworked and subject to impossible standards, lawyers must fight a hopeless fight, and there are plenty of victims deserving of justice — the schoolgirl making the accusation, for one, had been molested before on trains and likely was on the occasion she implicated Teppei, having simply been mistaken about who her attacker was. These facts don’t lessen the film’s solid sense of outrage, which ends up being, at 143 minutes long, a little exhausting. Suo wants change, and "I Just Didn’t Do It" can delve into the didactic, particularly during expository dinners with the lawyers Teppei’s mother finds for him, the studious Sudo (Asaka Seto) and saintly Arakawa (Koji Yakusho). Still, it’s a fascinating, provoking glimpse into a Kafkaesque system we were complete unaware of. Our blood boiled, and for once, a jury of our peers seemed appealing.

"I Just Didn’t Do It" screens October 9 at 6pm and October 10 at 8:45pm at Frederick P. Rose Hall. It currently has no US distribution.

+ "I Just Didn’t Do It" (FilmLinc)
+ "I Just Didn’t Do It" (IMDb)

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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