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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.
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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

   

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