Posted in *Recommended, Art & Animation, Reviews, Trailers, Video

After the Rain – live action movie review & anime comparison [Recommended]

koi_wa_ameagari_no_you_niAfter the Rain / 恋は雨上がりのように / Koi wa Ameagari no You ni (2018)
Director: Akira Nagai
Writer: Jun Mayuzuki (manga), Riko Sakaguchi
Cast: Nana Komatsu, Yo Oizumi

On a flight back home, I was surprised to see Japanese films available and this one was at the top of the list since it was in alphabetical order. I had never heard of the movie but recognized the two main actors so decided to watch it.

The story centers around a 17 year old high school girl, Akira (Nana Komatsu), who has a crush on her 45 year old manager, Kondo (Yo Oizumi), of the restaurant where she works. But what initially looks like a cringey wish fulfillment setup is actually more about two individuals who have both lost their passions and how they end up helping each other rediscover them. The original source material is a manga and an anime adaptation already exists. I ended up watching the anime later which made for an interesting comparison.

Normally my reviews are spoiler free but this one will have some mild spoilers since I’ll be comparing it to the anime.

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Posted in Music, Reviews, Trailers, Video

BTS World Tour: Love Yourself in Seoul – concert movie review

BTS World Tour: Love Yourself in Seoul is a concert movie that had limited theatrical releases. The screening I went to was sold out, which should not have surprised me. But luckily, I still managed to get a last minute ticket. Although I don’t follow k-pop much, especially boy bands, I was vaguely aware that BTS was one of the more popular boy bands.

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Posted in Food, Reviews

Miyazaki beef at Park restaurant in Montreal

Antonio Park was the first (and probably still the only) Canada-based chef to get a Kobe beef license. However, it seems the menu at his restaurant, Park, has changed from offering Kobe beef to Miyazaki beef. What’s the difference? Both Kobe and Miyazaki beef are high-end, marbled Japanese beef, otherwise known as Wagyu. Each comes from different parts of Japan. Kobe is most famous to foreigners but apparently Miyazaki beef has won two Wagyu Olympics in a row and the Prime Minister’s award at the last three most recent Wagyu Olympics (but Kobe doesn’t participate in it).

Park is one of the most well known Japanese restaurants in Montreal. Antonio Park himself is not Japanese. He’s Korean and grew up in South America and trained as a sushi chef in Japan. He has a lot of different culinary influences. His restaurant is highly regarded and its prices reflect that pedigree. I didn’t get any sushi or sashimi which is something I’ll have to do the next time I go. The reason for this is because 2oz of Miyazaki beef costs $99 and that’s the appetizer. There is a main dish of 4oz Miyazaki beef which is $199. Granted, I read somewhere that Park makes pretty much no profit on Wagyu and he does this because he wants to educate eaters in Montreal about Wagyu. So these prices are not inflated or outrageous at least by Wagyu standards.

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Posted in *Recommended, Reviews, Trailers, Video

Last Letter – film review [Recommended]

LastLetterLast Letter / 你好,之华 / Lit: Hello Zhihua (2018)
director & writer: Shunji Iwai
cast: Zhou Xun, Qin Hao, Zhang Zifeng, Deng Enxi , Bian Tianyang

Synopsis

A married woman’s older sister passes away leaving behind two children. At the sister’s house she finds an invitation to her middle school reunion. The woman decides to go to tell her sister’s old classmates the bad news but ends up being mistaken as her sister. At the reunion she notices a man whom she had a crush on as a teenager. He approaches her, also assuming that she is her sister, and they exchange contact info. She begins writing letters to him under her sister’s name.

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Posted in Film Festivals, Film Screenings

RIDM – Montreal International Documentary Festival – Nov 8-18, 2018

There are some documentaries from China and Japan in this year’s edition of RIDM (Montreal International Documentary Festival). It has screenings from November 8-18, 2018 mainly at Cineplex odeon quartier latin, Cinema du parc and Cinematheque quebecoise.

There are several Japanese documentaries screening from Kazuhiro Soda (a director based in New York City). There’s one Danish documentary appropriately titled “Dreaming Murakami” about the Danish translator of Haruki Murakami’s books.

“A Little Wisdom” by Kang YuQi follows boys being raised in a monastery in Nepal. There is also “Self-Portrait: Sphinx in 47 KM” by Zhang MengQi.

Posted in *Recommended, Music, Next Music From TOKYO, Reviews, Video

Next Music From TOKYO vol 13 live show

I missed the last volume in May due to personal reasons (and certainly regretted it) so I was looking forward to this one even more with its stellar lineup. It also reminded me of the first NMFT show (vol 8 in May 2016) that I ever saw since Mass of the Fermenting Dregs were returning. Another thing it shared in common was that there were no idol acts. Vol 9-12 all had idol acts.

After the unfortunate closing of long time venue Divan Orange, vol 12 was held at La Sala Rossa which I’ve never been to so I’m not sure what the vibe and surroundings were like there. Vol 13 changed venues again to Le Ministere. I like this venue. It’s small and intimate, easy to get too and is actually fairly close to Divan Orange’s old location. There’s wasn’t as much space for the merch tables and no fussball table but I think it’s a good replacement. Sound was good as far as I could tell.

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Posted in Festival du nouveau cinéma, Film Festivals, Reviews, Trailers, Video

Burning – film review – Nouveau Cinema 2018

Burning / 버닝 (2018)
Director: Lee Chang-Dong
Screenplay: Lee Chang-Dong, Oh Jung-mi
Cast: Jun Jong-seo, Yoo Ah-in, Steven Yeun

Next Screening on Sunday, Oct 14

Synopsis

In the city of Paju, a young man, Jong-su, who recently completed his military service encounters a childhood classmate, Hae-mi. She seems to like him but later starts dating a mysterious, affluent stranger named Ben whom she met on a trip. Jong-su soon suspects something sinister about Ben.

Review

This is a slow-burn story with a bit of a thriller aspect. It focuses on its two young characters who are lower class without much of an idea what they will do with their lives. Youth unemployment is high and it’s probably not a coincidence that the antagonist is a rich person, a “Gatsby” as Jong-su calls him. There’ also a subplot with Jong-su’s dad who’s arrested for allegedly assaulting a government official.

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Posted in Festival du nouveau cinéma, Film Festivals, Reviews, Trailers, Video

Ash is Purest White – film review – Nouveau Cinema 2018

Ash is Purest White / 江湖儿女 (2018)
Director & Screenplay: Jia Zhang-Ke
Cast: Zhao Tao, Liao Fan, Zheng Xu

Synopsis

Follows a couple involved in the underworld/jiang hu in the city of DaTong and eventually elsewhere over two decades. The tone of some trailers (like the one below) is quite misleading. This is a pensive, personal type of film without exciting action or high stakes conflict.

Review

This isn’t a plot heavy movie. The pace is relaxed. It can feel a bit slow at times but it never lingers too long on a scene. Events happen without much explanation for them but they don’t feel contrived or forced. The focus is on the characters, specifically the main couple, a woman Qiao (Zhao Tao) and her boyfriend, Bin (Liao Fan) and more so on the former than the latter. They are involved in shady business but what sort of shady business they do is not revealed and simply implied. Their relationship changes over the course of the film and their emotions are often restrained. There’s a bit of a mysterious quality that is compelling rather than frustrating in its lack of specific detail. This relies heavily on good acting and both actors do their jobs well. This is definitely not an overwrought Hong Kong triad love story (as fun as those can be). But the tragedy here as love and jiang hu mix is more due to how the characters react to events and how they continue trying to survive rather than a seemingly inevitable suicide mission or last job set piece.

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