The Outlaws / 범죄도시 [BumJoedoshi] / Lit: Criminal City (2017)
DIRECTOR: Kang Yun-sung
WRITER: Kang Yun-sung
CAST: Don Lee (Ma Dong-seok), Yoon Kye-sang, Cho Chae-yun, Choi Guy-hwa, Jin Seon-kyu
Ma is a detective who leads a team that keeps the Korean-Chinese gangs under control. But the status quo gets turned upside-down when a trio of gangsters from China come into Seoul and start brutally taking away territory from the current Korean-Chinese gangsters. Inspired by real events (and probably extremely loosely).
This is a pretty solid Korean crime movie with a charismatic lead performance from Don Lee / Ma Dong-seok that’s matched by the villain Jang Chen (Yoon Kye-sang). Although the new Chinese gangsters in town are quite brutal, chopping off limbs with axes, the gore isn’t really put on screen. The movie’s overall tone isn’t dark and has some funny moments.
Continue reading “The Outlaws – film review – Fantasia 2018”
DIRECTOR: Shinsuke Sato
WRITER: Hiroshi Hashimoto
CAST: Noritake Kinashi, Takeru Satoh, Kanata Hongo, Fumi Nikaido, Ayaka Miyoshi
A father who gets no respect from his family finds out he has cancer and then he gets hit by something really bright. Instead of death he finds out that he’s become a cyborg with amazing abilities. He decides to help people with his new abilities. However, there is also a high school teenager who became a cyborg with the same amazing abilities but he decides to kill and eventually goes on a murder spree that the police cannot stop.
I’ve read a couple of the early volumes of Inuyashiki so I had some familiarity with it before watching this movie. The older man, Ichiro Inuyashiki (Noritake Kinashi) as the hero against the young high school teen, Hiro Shishigami, (Takeru Satoh) as the villain makes for an interesting contrast from the start. We can see why and how each one decides to do something different with his new cyborg body. Both actors are excellent in their roles. Satoh is very convincing as a dangerous psychopath but he also have a few people he cares a lot about. It’s practically refreshing to have a villain that’s actually fleshed out and feels like a real person (well in the emotional sense).
Continue reading “Inuyashiki – film review – Fantasia 2018 [Recommended]”
DIRECTOR & WRITER: Shinsuke Sato
WRITER: Daisuke Habara
CAST: Sota Fukushi, Hana Sugisaki, Ryo Yoshizawa, Taichi Saotome, Miyavi
Next Screening: Sat July 28, 2018; 11:45 AM
A manga adaptation of the same name, this movie focuses on Ichigo, a high schooler with a high spiritual energy. So high that he can see ghosts whom he helps out. This attracts a soul reaper/shingami, Rukia, who transfers her powers to him. But there’s a cost involved and Ichigo must train in order to face some formidable foes such as Hollows who are souls turned vengeful.
Although I’ve heard of Bleach I had no idea what it was about and I’ve never read the manga or watched the anime. But as someone who is unfamiliar with the source material I could tell that certain details were missing or that at least I was wanting for more details about certain characters or the world of soul reapers and hollows. The film feels lean and efficient in what it decides to include in its story. Luckily, it’s nothing that severely hampers the story. Continue reading “Bleach – film review – Fantasia 2018”
Louder!: Can’t Hear What You’re Singin’ / 音量を上げろタコ！なに歌ってんのか全然わかんねぇんだよ!! [Onryo wo Agero Tako! Nani Utatten noka Zenzen Wakannendayo!!] (2018)
DIRECTOR & WRITER: Satoshi Miki
CAST: Sadao Abe, Riho Yoshioka
Sin is a star singer of a metal band who actually dopes himself to help him sing as loudly as possible. But after blowing his vocal chords he encounters a street musician named, Fuka, who barely sings above a whisper. After hearing her pathetically quiet performance he decides to help her sing loudly without restraint. Events lead them both to being on the run from Sin’s music concert promoters.
The director Satoshi Miki was present at the screening and his advice to not think but feel is one that would be wise to heed while watching this movie. Don’t expect the story to make any sense. There’s a randomness and unpredictability to the plot that would be best not to spoil. This feels much more kinetic than his previous films I’ve seen. The acting is pretty good, being over the top but in an appropriate manner. This is a movie that takes place in a heightened sense of reality with some musical sequences and slapstick comedy.
Continue reading “Louder!: Can’t Hear What You’re Singin’, Wimp – film review – Fantasia 2018”
The Travelling Cat Chronicles / 旅猫リポート [Tabineko Ripoto] (2018)
DIRECTOR: Koichiro Miki
WRITER: Emiko Hiramatsu
CAST: Sota Fukushi, Yuko Takeuchi, Mitsuki Takahata
AUTHOR: Hiro Arikawa
Adapted from the novel of the same name, a young man can no longer keep his cat and visits a series of friends in order to find a place of his cat to live. The cat is not particularly happy about this and we hear his thoughts during his owner’s travels.
This is a tearjerker and one that does it well even when you see the sadness coming a mile away. It uses various tropes that I won’t reveal but anyone familiar with the genre will probably spot them. As expected the story is fairly episodic as the young man, Satoru (Sota Fukushi) visits each friend and then flashbacks occur showing his past with said friend. His final visit is to his aunt and the crying definitely get dialed up a notch.
Continue reading “The Travelling Cat Chronicles – film review – Fantasia 2018”
Da Hu Fa / 大护法 (2017)
DIRECTOR & WRITER: Busifan
CAST: Xiao Liansha, Tutehameng, Jin Shijie
Next screening: Tue July 24, 2018; 5:15 PM
A master fighter who looks like a red gourd goes to a strange village in search of a prince. The village is inhabited by odd looking humanoids who live in fear of their leader.
The background and foreground art is very nice in this movie. It’s vibrant and colorful. It definitely looks like it took inspiration from classical Chinese paintings. The character designs are the opposite in that they’re fairly simple. Animation seemed not bad although it wasn’t something I focused on as I was definitely intrigued by the setting of the movie.
Continue reading “Da Hu Fa – 3D film review – Fantasia 2018”
Kasane / 累 ―かさね― (2018)
DIRECTOR: Yuichi Sato
WRITER: Tsutomu Kuroiwa
CAST: Tao Tsuchiya, Kyoko Yoshine, Yu Yokoyama, Tadanobu Asano, Rei Dan
AUTHOR: Daruma Matsuura
In this adaptation of the manga of the same name, Kasane is a young woman with enormous acting talents but the large disfiguring scar on her face prevents her from following the footsteps of her famous actress mother. However, she has a special lipstick with a magical power. It allows her to switch faces with the person she kisses while she is wearing the lipstick. Habuta, an older man who is supposedly a friend of Kasane’s mother conspires to have her switch faces with another woman, Nina, who is beautiful but has mediocre acting skills.
The premise is very intriguing and early on we find out there is a time limit on how long the face switch lasts. Early on Kasane (Kyoko Yoshine) and Nina (Tao Tsuchiya) agree to switch faces so that Kasane can use her superior acting skills to get better roles while Nina gets the glory but as one can imagine such an arrangement can’t possibly go smoothly and it quickly gets complicated. Both actresses do phenomenal jobs in dual roles and much of the suspense is due to them making sure they switch faces on schedule but ego and jealousy causes each one to try and mess up the other’s plans. It’s a prolonged give and take arrangement and it’s interesting how the balance of power shifts between the two. However, do expect the occasional hysterics. In some cases it goes way over the top with the anguished screaming.
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Room 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
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.
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).
Continue reading “Room Laundering – film review – Fantasia 2018”