Posted in Fantasia 2018, Fantasia International Film Festival, Film Festivals, Funny, Reviews, Trailers, Video

Room Laundering – film review – Fantasia 2018

roomlaunderingRoom Laundering / ルームロンダリング [Rumu Rondaringgu] (2018)

DIRECTOR & WRITER: Kenji Katagiri
WRITER: Tatsuya Umemoto
CAST: Elaiza Ikeda, Kaoru Mitsumune, Jo Odagiri, Kiyohiko Shibukawa
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Tomoo Ezaki
SOUND DESIGNER: Fumihiko Yanagiya
EDITOR: Mitsuo Nishio

Next screening: Sat July 21, 2018; 11:45 AM

Synopsis

When someone dies in a house or apartment, the landlord is obligated to tell prospective renters that a death occurred but luckily the law does not stipulate how many subsequent tenants need to be notified. Miko is a young reclusive woman who is paid to stay at places where deaths have occurred until a subsequent renter can be found. However, she is actually able to see the ghost of the recently deceased at each place, which proves rather irritating to her.

Review

Okay that synopsis makes this movie sound depressing but while there are certainly sad moments and a dark opening sequence, it’s actually mostly a quirky comedy and sort of a coming of age story in the sense that Miko (Elaiza Ikeda) starts out as somebody who has shut herself away from almost all human contact but then gradually opens up and becomes more engaged with ghosts at first and then real people. Ikeda does a fine job as Miko starting out stone-faced and brooding then gradually becoming more radiant as she lets little smiles or laughs escape her until she willingly does both. Her character is given a very sad background, which feels almost too much. The story is definitely cloying and pushes the tearjerking scenes hard but for the most part it’s not too overdone (although that could be up for debate).

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Posted in Fantasia 2018, Fantasia International Film Festival, Film Festivals, Reviews, Trailers, Video

Destiny: The Tale of Kamakura – film review – Fantasia 2018

DestinyTaleKamakuraDestiny: The Tale of Kamakura / DESTINY 鎌倉ものがたり [Destiny: Kamakura Monogatari] (2017)

DIRECTOR & WRITER: Takashi Yamazaki
CAST: Masato Sakai, Mitsuki Takahata, Shinichi Tsutsumi, Sakura Ando, Min Tanaka, Jun Kunimura

Synopsis

A recently married writer and his wife move to the small town of Kamakura, known for having lots of spiritual energy. In fact, one can see ghosts, yokai and the occasional “god”. There is even a rather friendly local shinigami (god of death) who takes the recently departed onto a train to the after life. The presence of yokai scares the wife at first but she eventually gets used to it but then something tragic occurs.

Review

Masakazu (Masato Sakai) and Akiko (Mitsuki Takahata) are a cute couple and its mainly their bickering and joyful conversations we see but with fantasy elements thrown in here and there, which begin to increase as the story moves forward. They clearly have a strong love for each other. We see their life in little vignettes at first but seeds of a larger plot are placed here and there. The theme of death as it relates to the spiritual world is gradually introduced. The overall tone of the film is far from sad but quite the opposite. There are numerous funny moments but a few serious ones too. The ever talented Sakura Ando plays the local shinigami in a nice supporting role. Shinichi Tsutsumi who plays Masakazu’s agent has both a funny and touching character arc.

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Posted in *Recommended, Documentary, Fantasia 2018, Fantasia International Film Festival, Trailers, Video

People’s Republic of Desire – film review – Fantasia 2018 [Recommended]

PeoplesrepublicofdesirePeople’s Republic of Desire (2018)

DIRECTOR & WRITER & PRODUCER & CINEMATOGRAPHER & EDITOR: Hao Wu
CAST: Jiang Congyong, Man Shen, Li Xianliang
SOUND DESIGNER: Ron Bochar
COMPOSER: Michael Tuller
ANIMATOR: Eric Jordan

Next screening: Fri July 20, 2018; 1:00 PM

Synopsis

In recent years advances in high-speed internet and streaming video have lead to social websites/platforms where anyone can live stream to an internet audience. But in China, the scope of live streaming has become hugely popular and mainstream, where seemingly less than talented people can find fame and fortune by broadcasting themselves online.

Review

This is a fascinating documentary into a world that not many outside of China would likely be familiar with. There are people of questionable talent who live stream and make money doing it. This may seem like nothing new to people familiar with something like Twitch in North America but while live streaming is still fairly niche here, it’s apparently ubiquitous in China.

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Posted in Fantasia 2018, Fantasia International Film Festival, Film Festivals, Reviews, Trailers, Video

Microhabitat – film review – Fantasia 2018

Microhabitat / 소공녀 [So-gong-nyeo] Lit: A Little Princess (2017)

DIRECTOR / WRITER: Jeon Go-woon
CAST: Esom, Ahn Jae-hong, Choi Duk-moon

Synopsis

This slice of life drama paints a portrait a woman who makes little money but manages to get by while enjoying her two favorite things: cigarettes and whiskey. But when the price of cigarettes and the monthly rent are increased, her budget cannot handle it and she decides to sacrifice rent and moves out. Now essentially homeless she stays over at the places of various past friends, who have their own hardships.

Review

The premise of this movie is certainly not exciting nor does it seem particularly interesting. In such cases the characters and plot have to be strong to make the movie engaging. Miso (Esom) is the main character, a woman who is poor but enjoys the simple things in life and has a stable relationship with her boyfriend. Esom from what I can tell seems to be playing against type here. She looks suitably downtrodden but with rather good skin. Her performance is convincing and her character empathizes easily with others.

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Posted in Fantasia 2018, Fantasia International Film Festival, Film Festivals, Funny, Reviews, Trailers, Video

Tremble All You Want – film review – Fantasia 2018

trembleallyouwantTremble All You Want / 勝手にふるえてろ [Katte ni Furuetero] (2017)

DIRECTOR & WRITER: Akiko Ooku
CAST: Mayu Matsuoka, Daichi Watanabe, Anna Ishibashi, Takumi Kitamura
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Natsuyo Nakamura
SOUND DESIGNER: Hajime Komiya
COMPOSER: Masaki Takano

Next screening: Tue July 17, 2018; 3:00 PM

Synopsis

This romantic comedy focuses on a young, introverted adult woman who has harbored a 10 year crush on classmate she barely talked to back in her high school days. Despite her lack of social skills, she manages to build up the courage to find and pursue him while she is in turn pursued by an awkward coworker who has a crush on her.

Review

Adapted from a novel (same name as the Japanese movie title) by Risa Wataya, this is the romcom for the invisible introvert. It is shown from the viewpoint of a young adult woman, Yoshika, (Mayu Matsuoka) who goes through a kaleidoscope of emotions throughout the story as she pursues her first and only love, Ichi (Takumi Kitamura), the name of the character but also meaning the number one in Japanese. She herself is also being pursued by a coworker that she refers to as Ni (Daichi Watanabe), the Japanese word meaning the number two. This number one and number two comes up again later on the phone in a humorous moment. The film has a fair number of funny bits sprinkled which build upon previous moments throughout its running time.

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Posted in Fantasia International Film Festival, Film Festivals, Trailers, Video

Fantasia 2018 – Final Wave

Fantasia International Film Festival has just announced the remaining films and the full screening schedule is now posted on their website. The entries in East Asian cinema continue to be intriguing. This year’s festival runs from July 12 to August 2, 2018. Its screenings take place at Concordia University’s downtown campus.

Donnie Yen’s new movie Big Brother directed by Ka-Wai Kam (he worked on the Ip Man films with Yen) will have its world premiere at Fantasia. Yen produces, stars and is also the action director and collaborated with action choreographer Kenji Tanigaki whom he had worked with previously on movies such as Special ID and Dragon. Tanigaki was the action director on the Rurouni Kenshin films.

Another world premiere comes from Japan, The Travelling Cat Chronicles directed by  Koichiro Miki, it’s an novel adaptation starring Sota Fukushi, Mitsuki Takahata, Yuko Takeuchi, and Alice Hirose.

A couple more Japanese novel adaptations will have their North American premieres. Takashi Miikie’s Laplace’s Witch, a mystery adapted from a novel and starring Sho Sakurai, Suzu Hirose, and Sota Fukushi. Gakuryu Ishii’s Punk Samurai Slash Down starring Go Ayano, Shota Sometani, and Tadanobu Asano.

Room Laundering starring Jo Odagiri and Elaiza Ikeda in a quirky comedy by first time director Kenji Katagiri makes its North American premiere.

From Korea, comes the Microhabitat, a first feature by Jeon Go-woon.

From China, comes Da Hu Fa directed by Busifan, the rare animated film from the mainland that will be shown in 3D and looks to be a unique entry to the genre.

Back to Japan, we have more North American premieres. Kasane directed by Yuichi Sato (who also directed Poison Berry in My Brain) stars Kyoko Yoshine, Tao Tsuchiya and Tadanobu Asano in a films where two actresses swap faces. Tornado Girl is a romcom directed by Hitoshi One and starring Satoshi Tsumabuki and Kiko Mizuhara.

Bodied directed by Joseph Kahn is about a grad student who becomes battle rapper. Dumbfoundead is one of his first opponents.

More East Asian films and films from other countries are mentioned in the full press release which you can find on ScreenAnarchy.

Trailers after the jump.

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Posted in Trailers, Video

Stay – film set in Tokyo – crowdfunding campaign

This was passed to Mister Vee who passed it to me. The film was compared to Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise and the director also includes Barry Jenkins, and legendary Japanese filmmaker, Yasujiro Ozu amongst his influences. Check out the trailer and press release.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Eli Perle
Crowdfunding Campaign Launched for STAY
A Feature Film by African-American Filmmaker Set in Tokyo
Filmsnoir Motion Pictures and Fusion For Peace Productions is proud to announce their rewards-based crowdfunding campaign for the independent motion picture, STAY, shot in Tokyo by award-winning filmmaker Darryl Wharton-Rigby. The campaign is seeking to raise an urgently needed 1500000¥ ($15,000) to complete the final post-production on Makuake, a Japanese crowdfunding platform based in Tokyo, so it is ready for distribution.
The campaign seeks build a community committed to film diversity and is offering a variety of rewards such as chopsticks, key chains, posters, copies of the screenplay, digital downloads, backers names in the credits, as well as a lunch with the director and film’s star, Shogen, as well as tickets to a private screening. This is the link for the campaign in English: https://www.makuake.com/en/project/stay/
A touching love story, STAY follows two young lovers who fall passionately in love over a weekend; Ryuu, a Japanese man who is a recovering addict, and Hope, an American on her last days in Japan. The film features up and coming Japanese star, Shogen, and introduces British model/actress, Ana Tanaka. Lensed by photographer Jeremy Goldberg, STAYwas shot guerrilla style on the streets of Tokyo in 15 days and captures Tokyo up close and personal.

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Posted in Art & Animation, Fantasia International Film Festival, Film Festivals, Trailers, Video

Fantasia 2018 – 2nd wave

Fantasia will present a 35mm print of the 1989 Hong Kong classic The Blonde Fury with star Cynthia Rothrock in attendance, who rose to stardom in the Hong Kong action scene of the 80s.

The world premiere of Satoshi Miki’s film Louder!: Can’t Hear What You’re Singin’, Wimp will take place at Fantasia. This musical comedy marks the return of the director from a five year film making hiatus.

The Canadian premiere of Searching stars John Cho in a film that uses a unique storytelling approach of computer screens and social media.

Southeast Asia is represented by two action films, the Vietnamese superhero click Loi Bao by Victor Vu from Vietnam (North American premiere) and the Filipino cops & drugs actioner Buybust by Erik Matti

Two more anime films were announced, the world premiere of the horror film, Aragne: Sign of Vermillion by Saku Sakamoto and the international premiere of Penguin Highway by Hiroyasu Ishida

The rare entry from China called People’s Republic of Desire by Hao Wu will have it’s Quebec premiere.

Other East Asian films include The Vanished by Lee Chang-Hee (North American premiere), Being Natural by Tadashi Nagayama, Amiko by Yoko Yamanaka, and One Cut of the Dead by Shunichiro Ueda.

See the full press release for all the other films.

Trailers after the jump

Continue reading “Fantasia 2018 – 2nd wave”