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#NYAFF 2015 Review — TAKSU and the amazing SOLOMON’S PERJURY PART 1: JUDGEMENT

Intrepid and indefatigable cinephile-at-large Tanimaru graces us with a laser like focus on 2 more films from the 2015 New York Asian Film Festival:


The description of TAKSU in the NYAFF catalogue at first did not entice me to watch it, but after viewing the film, I was really impressed.

Kiki Sugino’s patient direction and cinematography pulled me into the story and into the lives of the two couples. I particularly liked that in places which may have been improvised, there were so subtitles.

TAKSU still 2

The nuance of the Japanese language had a chance to be “heard” by foreign ears since there was nothing to read and at times the subtitles were incorrect in terms of really conveying the meaning.

I was also impressed with the characters they encountered in Indonesia – everyone somehow a reminder of colonization and tourist amusement. Even the young baby born into the world is not “pure” anything but a mix of Japan and the Dutch. Sugino herself is listed on IMDB with yet another name, Seo Yeong – hwa and the film is titled Yokudo. Yuri (Yoko Mitsuya) leads us through these worlds as she tries to make sense of her marriage and her dying husband. Her encounters are raw and mysterious just like the world around them of rituals and indigenous culture. When there is passion, not just sex, Sugino lets it play out unfiltered and at times a bit too long – but it is deliberate as we unravel along with Yuri towards the final climax of the movie.

TAKSU still 1

If you missed it – try to catch it next time.

Before it gets away, here are my thoughts on SOLOMONS PERJURY PART 1:

From the opening scene, you know you are in store for something unexpected in what appears to be a normal, Tokyo life. The body of a young boy is found by his classmates and the story begins.

What is curious about this film and a few more (PALE MOON) is the look back filmmakers are taking of Japan’s bubble era. The human toll that was faced. We watch as parents stressed out with consumption and debt, fight with teachers who feel morally responsible for the young man’s death and his classmates, some who want to move on and others, haunted by the memory of this young man, press on to come up with the idea of a trial to fully investigate what really happened.

SOLOMON'S PERJURY PART 1

The performances by the young cast along with the teachers and parents is powerful. The look of the film is also rich is muted tones of light and color that bring a grit to every scene. What is most telling is the extent of the violence. Domestic violence witnessed by family and ordinary bystanders. It is a look at Japan we rarely see but a revealing look as we begin to understand the cycle of violence that carries from generation to generation.

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July 11, 2015 Posted by | CULTURE, ENTREPRENEURS, FILM, HOLIDAY GUIDES, LIFESTYLES, opportunity, Uncategorized, We Recommend | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

#NYAFF2015 Review — PERMANENT NOBARA, PALE MOON, and KABUKICHO LOVE HOTEL

Director Daihachi Yoshida bursts onto the New York Asian Film Festival for 2015 with two feature films and a delicate touch.
Here is our adored guest, ardent cinephile-at-large Tanimaru, with a review  for PERMANENT NOBARA:

The island sea and Shkikoku is such a marvelous part of Japan, so the setting for PERMANENT NOBARA is special. Ever since I have seen the film 24 EYES, a classic of Japanese cinema, I have always wondered about the life in this prefecture. This film captures small town atmosphere is a marvelous way – a patient and detailed set up of the environment and the lead character, Naoko, her very interesting Mom (the veteran actress Natsuki Mari, a former Tora San Madonna), along with a chorus of ladies in the beauty parlor. Their conversations about men and their private parts is hilarious.

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But what makes PERMANENT NOBARA so special is the story. It comes in two parts and when, the second act takes over, focusing principally on Naoko and her life now after divorce, it becomes more mysterious. It is almost as if, in development, some of the lighter sections in the beginning were added to what was the more nuanced and layered story of the second half.  I don’t want to spoil anything, but the last 10 minute sequence is an eye opener.

Like STORY OF YONOSUKE of a few years ago, these new directorial voices are finding marvelous ways to mix the lighter fare of recent Japanese films with some potent messages about society and the younger generation.

The same director has the more recent PALE MOON:

 PALE MOON still 1-¬ 2014 Pale Moon Film Partners

Daihachi Yoshida who directed PERMANENT NOBARA also is at the helm of PALE MOON. The iconic Rie Miyazawa remains stunningly beautiful in her role as Rika Umezawa, a wife turned, banker, turned thief to support her young paramour. The loose freewheeling style of NOBARA is replaced by elegance and form in PALE MOON.

PALE MOON still 2 -¬ 2014 Pale Moon Film Partners

The look of Japan in 1994/95 just as the bubble was really unraveling and debt was exploding is curious from the point of view of those who counted and clocked the money. No one wanted to admit that the economic party was over and because of that, no one seemed to notice what Umezawa-san was up to.

PALE MOON still 3 -¬ 2014 Pale Moon Film Partners

But, alas, the screenplay falls flat about three quarters of the way into the movie. The wonderful style, performances and montage early in the film with a slamming soundtrack — gets replaced with predictable scenes and situations. The silences and subtlety are lost and, in the end, it is a let down. If you like watching Rie Miyazawa, then you will still enjoy PALE MOON. But from the standpoint of solid screenplay – PALE MOON is lacking.

Tanimaru also reviews KABUKICHO LOVE HOTEL

KABUKICHO LOVE HOTEL still 3 -¬ 2014 Kabukicho Love Hotel Film Partners

KABUKICHO LOVE HOTEL is a stunning piece of work. The intertwining of stories is reminiscent of CRASH and other films where the lives of so many people intersect in the most unusual and unpredictable places. The Japanese “love hotel” is one of those attractions that most foreigners want to experience just for the fun of it.

KABUKICHO LOVE HOTEL still 1 -¬ 2014 Kabukicho Love Hotel Film Partners

We never think of what happens in the underbelly of the world of rooms providing an entertaining place for sex –  ironically the largest hotel rooms in Japan unless you can afford the 5 star hotels: The lives of a brother and sister both drawn to the same love hotel for different reasons; A Korean born couple working in Japan to start new lives back at home when they leave; and the sad tale of a wife, a victim of domestic abuse, counting down the days until she can come out of hiding with her lover.

KABUKICHO LOVE HOTEL still 2 -¬ 2014 Kabukicho Love Hotel Film Partners

The lives collide in predictable and mostly unpredictable ways. The director give authentic voice to all of the participants – even when some humor is needed to break the somber tension. KABUKICHO LOVE HOTEL is another wonderful rendering of Japan today – the aspirations, the fears and the challenges faced by all, particularly the younger generation.

July 7, 2015 Posted by | ART, BUSINESS, CULTURE, ENTREPRENEURS, FILM, opportunity, We Recommend | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

#NYAFF Reviews — THE WHISTLEBLOWER and THE LAST REEL

Guest commentator and cinemaphile-at-large Tanimaru brings infinite technique and wisdom to review several titles for this year’s NEW YORK ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL held at the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the SVA Theatre with the fine folks at Subway Cinema.

NYAFF2015poster

Here is the first!

THE WHISTLEBLOWER begins as a powerhouse thriller with a very compelling opening scene but due to writing that seems more in common with an American evening soap opera than ALL THE PRESIDENTS MEN or THE INSIDER, the good efforts of director Yim Soon-rye and a fine cast of actors become prisoners to a very predictable and melodramatic script. Stylishly lensed with elegant production design and a multitude of locations, all the production elements are in place for a great film, but the writing keeps getting in the way as after a while no scene is allowed to really play out providing the tension and raw drama that an audience expects from a story about stem cells and cloning.What I found interesting is the slight twist at the end where the Korean public is manipulated to blame the reporter and his network for their investigation. The Korean public is depicted as easily swayed believing that despite whatever wrongs the lead villan may have done – he should be allowed to continue because his efforts are a boost to the image of the Korean people and the economy. In other words, do not embarrass someone supported by the government. This harkens to the recent news that this year’s Busan Festival was under government attack (cut in budget) for screening a film about the boat disaster.

I don’t know WAIKIKI BROTHERS, but my sense is that with great writing, this is a filmmaker who can deliver.

The WHISTLEBLOWER and THE WAIKIKI BROTHERS both screen at the NYAFF in NYC on July 7th, 2015 at 8:45pm and 6:30pm, respectively.

Here is the review for NYAFF title THE LAST REEL:

THE LAST REEL

Some films just move you. THE LAST REEL is one of those films. Set in Cambodia today with flashbacks to the dark day of the Khmer Rouge. we trace the story of a young woman learning her Mother’s past as an actress in Cambodia and, along the way, a cruel history. The performances are at times uneven – with many of the actors probably in their first acting roles – but that is what brings power to the film. Their first hand experience/knowledge adds depth even to the smallest roles; the look and feel of Cambodia today is compelling. (Spoiler Alert) – The final titles are a homage to all the actors and filmmakers executed by the Khmer Rouge – the real once living and breathing and now sadly departed Cambodians whose spirits surge in this wonderfully touching and moving film.

THE LAST REEL screens Sunday, July 5, 2015 at 8:15pm.

Our deepest thanks to Tanimaru.

July 3, 2015 Posted by | CULTURE, FILM, opportunity, Uncategorized, We Recommend | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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