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Sinophiles Rejoice! Another Hit! #JapanCuts2017 MY DAD AND MR ITO

Thanks, Tanimaru!

 

Remembering ONE MILLION YEN GIRL which was a wonderfully entertaining movie, I guess I was expecting a bit more screw ball antics with this movie. How surprised I was to see another well crafted picture that speaks so much about aging in Japan, family responsibilities and the complicated relationship between a very traditional Japanese father and his daughter. The cast all shine and even a cameo by a notorious aunt is delightful. Simply lensed and composed, we follow as the father haplessly moves from his son’s home to the daughter’s apartment that she shares with Mr. Ito. He is 54 and she is 34, so this kind of “living in sin” disturbs the father and prompts their early sparing. It all reaches a crescendo as the father seeking a place to call his own decides to return to the family house outside the city only to have a freak storm burn down a favorite persimmon tree (memory of his wife) and as a branch breaks off, the entire house itself. All ends as the father decides to join seniors in a home, and carrying a single bag, he heads for the train and his final stage of life. As he departs, Aya has the urge to pursue him and complete some unfinished business between father and daughter.

Lily Franky has to be complimented for his true and steady performance. He anchors the movie and, when he is not on screen, you feel it. Aya  felt a bit one note to me. Forever pouting or complaining, the smile on her face as she pursued her Dad revealed some aspects of her performance we wished we could have seen earlier.

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July 23, 2017 Posted by | ART, BUSINESS, CULTURE, FILM, Uncategorized, We Recommend | , , , , , | Leave a comment

FILM/ Festivals – Reviews #NYAFF2017

More from Tanimaru!

 

Tokyo Sky

Shinji and Mika are two young people trying to make their way in Tokyo. He is a day laborer blind in one eye and she is a girl from “inaka” the countryside with a dysfunctional past. One of Shinji’s friends dies while on the job and at his funeral Mika and Shinji begin a relationship – a relationship that is slow and careful as the world around them changes with death and people moving on. Both actors charm you as they manage the dog eat dog world of Tokyo. There is a street singer appearing throughout the film and they suppose another loser in Tokyo, but in the end, her face appears on the side of a van advertizing her first EP.

Aside from a couple of places where animation suddenly appears, the claustrophobia and busy world of Tokyo is accurately rendered. The narration is a bit on the nose in places and one might wonder if it is really necessary because the visuals do a very good job of telling the story of what it is like living for the city and trying to find love and companionship.
Happiness
I have followed the work of Masatoshi Nagase since his first films with Argo Project more than 25 years ago. Nagase is a veteran now, a true leading man with the gravitas fitting Japan’s most famous actors. His sensitive performance in AHN still stays with me. Here in HAPPINESS he is guided by Sabu, whose film CHASUKE’S JOURNEY was a cinematic tour de force in last year’s NYAFF. Nagase plays a man who arrives in a small town with a happiness helmet and when the residents put it on, they see they most treasured memories. But there is a dark side, that will soon emerge for Nagase’s character and it is here where the film take a turn into a kind of madness. Nagase is stoic throughout. A carefully measured performance of depth. HAPPINESS is not happiness at a certain point in the film, but the journey leading to happiness, for the patient, is worth taking.
Aroused By Gymnopedes
Since this is a Nikkatsu film, it is easy to understand why just about every 10 minutes there is a sex scene, but what is so strange is the lack of a coherent story to wrap around the frequent trysts in the movie. Furuya is a has been director. Washed up, hasn’t made a film in about a decade and in the midst of a possible come back, his lead actress quits. Thus begins a series of wanderings as Furuya beds numerous women including his student and finally a nurse at the hospital where is wife lies in a coma. There is also a horny neighbor who tries to seduce him from the start. The music of Erik Satie seems to be the cue for the sex business to start with whomever is in close quarters to Furuya but this one trick pony runs out of steam pretty early in the film. The composition “Gymnopies” by Satie was played by Furuya’s wife and clearly it was her tool to arouse him – a tune that obviously continues to play in his head with every woman he encounters.
Dawn Of The Felines
DAWN OF THE FELINES is a romp. A look at the lives of young ladies in Tokyo trying to make ends meet via sex for sale agencies. Masako is the lead lady who has a on and off relationship with a client. There is another who is clearly a single mom trying to manage child care while she turns tricks and finally Rie, who is married but unknown to her husband is also having sex for money. The film is clever shooting on the streets of Tokyo in a wonderful guerilla style. The actors are not shy about showing the underbelly of sex life in Tokyo – a world that is pretty much out of the view for a foreigner. So with some laughs and sad moments, the reality of life in Tokyo is revealed. Don’t point a finger at these ladies – they know full well what they are doing.
DEALER HEALER
Totally retro in design and execution, DEALER/HEALER is an homage to the early films of Chinese gangsters and the ladies who love them. “Cheater Hua” is the archetype of the gangster who is reformed and proceeds to get the members of his inner circle to do the same. My only criticism is the overly used soundtrack that is way to on the nose. This may also be a homage but in some ways it seems to take away from storytelling, but if you like this genre, DEALER/HEALER will please
RAGE
Is an elegant thriller. A fine performance by Ken Watanabe. We have missed this subtile but powerful work in a small film. He reaffirms his status and stardom. The rest of the cast is also effective and committed. The intertwining stories don’t really connect, so re-reading the synopsis for RAGE – I wanted to have a frame for these comments. Each of the three stories is so compelling I keep wondering why “rage” became the title? There is clearly rage in the Okinawan story, even though it subverts geography to place a American GI drinking area next door to Naha’s main market – the real distance is at least a 30 minute drive and this is important because this is the inciting incident of the this story. I was moved, entertained and I was engaged in the firm and confident structure of the film but at the end I kind of wished that one of the stories had been the focus of the film.

July 14, 2017 Posted by | ART, avant-garde, CULTURE, FILM, Uncategorized, We Recommend | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Film / Festivals / Review SOMEONE TO TALK TO — #NYAFF2017

Another Excellent Revie from our own Tanimaru.

 

Right from the start, it is too good to be true, after viewing one couple who want to divorce, Angio and Lina proudly submit their papers for marriage. Fast forward 10 years and now with a daughter, they are falling apart. Angio’s sister plants the seed that Lina is cheating. Lush in visuals (you can almost taste the food of a restaurant) SOMEONE TO TALK TO pulls you into a world of infidelity, pursuit and murderous plans. The sense of China as mix of traditional and contemporary is both fascinating and tragic as the marriage falls apart and other adulterer goes back to his partner. Angio refuses to divorce Lina so she runs away with her lover, leaving her daughter and her life behind to be cared for by her sister in law and a new husband, as Angio travels north pretending to look for them. He meets an old high school friend, recently divorced, who shares with him – “Life is in the Future, not the past”. Angio leaves abruptly as his daughter falls ill. When she finally wakes up, he goes out to buy her wontons and at the station, meets Lina, still on the run. Considering first to kill them both, he abandons his plan now ready to divorce her and move into the future.

Everyone in the movie talks about wanting “someone to talk to”. Relationships have fallen apart because people do no communicate. SOMEONE TO TALK TO is sensitive and full of life – ordinary people seeking someone to talk to.

July 10, 2017 Posted by | CULTURE, FILM, Uncategorized, We Recommend | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Film/Festivals – NY Asian Film Festival Review — SOUL MATE

An EXCELLENT Recommendation foe tonight’s #FSLC/#SubwayCinema screening!

 

 

Derek Tsang’s SOUL MATE is a wonderful film. The performances by the lead actresses playing July and Ansen are marvelous and capture you right from the start. The screenplay is smart and loaded with excitement and twists to the very end. Above all, it is a film about the power of love and friendship that endures and endures. Don’t miss it!

July 7, 2017 Posted by | ART, CULTURE, FILM, Uncategorized, We Recommend | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

#NYAFF 2015 reviews – CHASUKE’S JOURNEY, SOLOMON’S PERJURY Part 2, MY LOVE DON’T CROSS THE RIVER

MY LOVE DON'T CROSS THAT RIVER still 3

Our trusted and valued guide through this year’s New York Asian Film Festival, Tanimaru, gives us his closing reviews for the 2015 festival.

CHASUKE’S JOURNEY – this by far was the most entertaining film for me. Chasuke is a tea server in a kind of heaven where scriptwriters craft the lives of everyone in human form. Chasuke is sent to earth to save the life of a young woman and a curious mix of Okinawan mysticism mixes with a case of Chasuke becoming an old fashioned “healer”.

CHASUKE'S JOURNEY -¬ BANDAI VISUAL, SHOCHIKU AND OFFICE KITANO

There is a word in Okinawa, “champeru”, and that is what you have with a cast of characters and unlikely situations that keep the audience entertained from the start. The final msessage at the end seemed a bit too “on the nose” and perhaps a reshoot, but overall CHASUKES JOURNEY is a trip worth taking.

SOLOMONS PERJURY Part 2 – a bit of a let down after the way the director and a very able cast crafted the events leading to the students holding a trial. It seems like the importance of all the episodes leading up to the ultimate court date reduces everyone’s performance to what part they play in the machine of story. Ryoko manages to hold her own in the midst of this plodding, Her eyes deeply searching for the truth.
There are some splendid moments when she confronts one of the students responsible for the letter that launched the trial, and the penultimate scene between the two friends – one, the deceased, and the other, defending the accused, reveals the truth and gets us back to some real drama. Still, if you missed Part 2 and could only see Part 1, you saw the better of the two films..

 

The most touching and genuine of all is MY LOVE DON’T CROSS THE RIVER, a film that showcases the unconditional love

MY LOVE DON'T CROSS THAT RIVER still 2

of an older Korean couple as we watch the husband’s life finally come to an end, leaving the wife to burn the clothes he will wear in the afterlife.

MY LOVE DON'T CROSS THAT RIVER still 1

Beautifully lensed with a hauntingly elegant soundtrack, you are swept up into both their world and that of their extended family – even their pets – and, like their masters, one pet passes on and the other remains to bring more life into the world. I am still touched by this film.

July 14, 2015 Posted by | ART, CULTURE, ENTREPRENEURS, FILM, HOLIDAY GUIDES, LIFESTYLES, Uncategorized, We Recommend | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Film Review Johnnie To’s DRUG WAR

POP! BAM!
It is not your average day that we recommend a crime thriller. This has subtitles. The absolute truth is that this is the type of film you actually should see in a movie theatre. It is not a children’s film. It is not a family film. But, other than FRANCES HA , FRUITVALE STATION, and THE HEAT, this is the ONLY commercially released film we are recommending this strongly at this point in the summer.
We must confess an admiration and near obsession with the director’s earlier work (THE MISSION, EXILED, ELECTION, TRIAD ELECTION a/k/a ELECTION 2, among others). A serious student of Buddhism can also appreciate the understated symbolism of the characters in many of his works.
But you have to remember Michael Mann’s HEAT to recall a series of shootouts so brilliantly staged, choreographed and edited. One of the reasons you are SO EXCITED by the action scenes in DRUG WAR is because you are so unprepared for them. Like the action centerpiece in Michael Mann’s HEAT, the action in DRUG WAR subtly sneaks up on you and then unrelentingly explodes.
In ways you really do not understand, you really never anticipate the events in DRUG WAR. You think you might, in a Rube Goldberg machine type of way, but you don’t, because the human behavior in this film is not a scripted cliche.
The shootouts in this movie are things that make you want to go to the big screen to see movies. And in the midst of it all, Johnnie To gently drops in an homage to the silent film masterpiece GREED.
This film opened at the New York Asian Film Festival at #FSLC, opens July 26 in NYC at the IFC Theatre, followed by openings in Los Angeles and nationwide.
We RECOMMEND this film.
The tension and bravura set pieces woven into what becomes the character study of a criminal anti-hero as he manipulates his way in and out of the hands of a police captain’s undercover squad and his own betrayed crime family escalate.
It is fitting that, as #BreakingBad edges towards its television series finale, DRUG WAR encapsulates both the criminal world and the police world succinctly in 105 minutes with action scaled at maximum impact.

The Asian world equivalent to Alain Delon in looks and style, Louis Koo serves up his unreserved villain with cool panache. Following a near-death explosion at one of his meth labs, Koo’s character Timmy Choi crashes his car and wakes up on a hospital in police custody. From there, Koo and police Captain Zhang ( a superb Sun Honglei ) play a sophisticated game of wits.

See it.

July 26, 2013 Posted by | ART, CULTURE, FILM, opportunity, Uncategorized, We Recommend | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

   

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