Posted in *Recommended, Festival du nouveau cinéma, Film Festivals, Nouveau cinéma 2019, Reviews, Trailers, Video

So Long, My Son – film review – Nouveau cinema 2019 [Recommended]

So Long, My Son (2019)
Director Wang Xiaoshuai
Screenplay A Mei, Wang Xiaoshuai
Producer Wang Hai, Han Jianv, Yang Wei, Wang Xiaoshuai, Liu Xuan
Cast Wang Jingchun, Yong Mei

The next screening of this film is on Saturday, October 19, 2019.

Synopsis

Two families each have a son born on the same day. Their sons become best friends but  the death of one of the sons and a forced abortion before the incident due to China’s one child policy causes a rift between the two families with the pain of that tragedy lasting for decades.

Review

At three hours long, one might hesitate to watch it but there is not a wasted frame in the entire film and it always remains engaging with good pacing. To me, It did not feel like three hours had past as I was engrossed by the story and the characters. The acting is great with lots of subtlety. This is a very naturalistic and realistic film about working class Chinese. There are a few threads that are all mostly resolved with an emotional ending although not all truths are told.

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Posted in *Recommended, Music, Reviews

Miyavi concert at Otakuthon 2019

Last year was the first time I went to Otakuthon and I mainly went to attend the Capcom Live! music concert, which turned out to be mostly disappointing. Basically, I only liked the Street Fighter and Okami songs, which are both games that are overflowing with great tracks and easily merit their own concerts.

This year I went for Miyavi’s No Sleep ‘Till Tokyo concert on Saturday, August 17, 2019. I became familiar with him after hearing about Angelina Jolie casting him in a movie but didn’t really pay much attention to him until he started appearing in Japanese movies like the live action Bleach. Discovering that this guy is a major rock star and skilled guitarist swayed me into going to Otakuthon pretty much only to see him. Was it worth it?

MIYAVI

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Posted in *Recommended, Art & Animation, Fantasia 2019, Fantasia International Film Festival, Film Festivals, Reviews, Trailers, Video

White Snake – movie review – Fantasia 2019 [Recommended]

White Snake / 白蛇:缘起 [Báishé: Yuánqǐ] (2019)
Director: Amp Wong, Ji Zhao
Writer: Da Mao
Cast: Xiaoxi Tang, Tianxing Yang, Zhe Zhang

Synopsis

A snake demon, Xiao Bai / Blanca, who has attained human form loses her memory and is rescued by a human man, Xuan. They begin to fall in love but Xiao Bai’s fellow snake demons including her sister, Xiao Qing / Verta, track her down in order to remind her of her mission. Humans and demons are enemies and cannot be allowed to fall in love with each other.

Review

The inspiration of this story has roots in Chinese folklore and mythology. This movie is apparently meant to be a prequel to the Chinese legend, Madame White Snake, an extremely popular tale in China. Like that legend, this movie’s story is very much a forbidden romance type of story. It’s also more adult oriented. There’s nothing that is necessarily sensitive for kids to see but there is an obviously implied sex scene at one point but nothing is shown at all. There’s no blood (or at least I don’t really remember it) but some fight scenes can be pretty violent and one involves something being cut into multiple pieces.

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Posted in *Recommended, Fantasia 2019, Fantasia International Film Festival, Film Festivals, Reviews, Trailers, Video

House of Hummingbird – movie review – Fantasia 2019 [Recommended]

House of Hummingbird / 벌새 [Beolsae] (2019)
Director & Writer: Kim Bora
Cast: Park Ji-hu, Kim Sae-byuk, Lee Seung-yeon, Jeong In-gi

Synopsis

During the year 1994, a teenage girl struggles with a seemingly unsympathetic family and other challenges with school and friends. She encounters problems big and small but ultimately there is happiness and love to be found in her less than ideal life. She begins to realize that those around her also struggle with their own problems.

Review

This is the first full length feature of director (Kim Bo-Ra) and what an amazing debut it is. It’s a slice of life family drama shown mainly from the perspective of the youngest daughter, Eun-hee (Park Ji-hu) who has an older sister and brother. She has to deal with her brother hitting her and friendships that seem to come and go on a whim. She meets a sympathetic cram school teacher, Young-Ji (Kim Sae-Byuk) but like many things she latches onto, it doesn’t last.

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Posted in *Recommended, Dance, Fantasia 2019, Fantasia International Film Festival, Film Festivals, Music, Reviews, Trailers, Video

Dance with Me – movie review – Fantasia 2019 [Recommended]

Dance with Me / ダンスウィズミー [Dansu Wizu Mi] (2019)
Director & Writer: Shinobu Yaguchi
Cast: Ayaka Miyoshi, Yuu Yashiro, Chay, Takahiro Miura, Tsuyoshi Muro
Producer: Shoji Masui
Cinematographer: Kazuhiro Taniguchi

Synopsis

A female office worker, Shizuka Suzuki (Ayaka Miyoshi, former idol member of Sakura Gakuin), detests musicals but unintentionally gets hypnotized into dancing whenever she hears music. This causes real-life consequences such as very costly property damage. When she can’t find the hypnotist where she first encountered him, she embarks on a road trip to track down him down so that he can reverse the hypnosis. She meets others who join her along the way such as the hypnotist’s former assistant and a street musician.

Review

This is a comedy musical but it’s not your typical musical where nobody bats an eyelash when everybody suddenly bursts into song then returns to the regularly scheduled story as if it was all totally normal. This movie actually shows the difference between the fantastical musical that Shizuka perceives while she uncontrollably sings & dances and the actual bewildered and sometimes horrified reactions of the people in real life. It’s ingenious and hysterical.

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Posted in *Recommended, Adaptation, Fantasia 2019, Fantasia International Film Festival, Film Festivals, Games, Reviews, Trailers, Video

Brave Father Online – movie review – Fantasia 2019 [Recommended]

Brave Father Online – Our Story of Final Fantasy XIV /
劇場版ファイナルファンタジーXIV 光のお父さん (2019)
Director: Teruo Noguchi, Kiyoshi Yamamoto
Writer: Kota Fukihara
Cast: Kentaro Sakaguchi, Kotaro Yoshida
Cinematographer: Hikaru Yasuda

Synopsis

Adapted from the TV series Final Fantasy XIV Dad of Light, which itself is based on a true story of a son who secretly becomes friends with his father in Final Fantasy 14, an MMORPG video game, in order to get to know him better.

Review

I initially had zero interest in watching this. The title and premise sounded cheesy to me. The idea that a significant part of the movie (apparently around 40%) is told with video game scenes sounded like an awful narrative device. However, on the other hand, it’s intriguing that these video game scenes required a separate director to direct real video game players to play the game in a way that would work to tell the story in a film. I’m pretty sure this is innovative (well besides the TV show version that did it already). At least, I certainly cannot think of a movie that has used an actual video game world to tell part of its story.

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Posted in *Recommended, Fantasia 2019, Fantasia International Film Festival, Film Festivals, Reviews, Trailers, Video

Another Child – movie review – Fantasia 2019 [Recommended]

Another Child / 미성년 [Miseongnyeon] (2019)
Director: Kim Yoon-seok
Writer: Lee Bo-ram, Kim Yoon-seok
Cast: Kim Hye-jun, Yeom Jung-a, Park Se-jin, Kim So-jin, Kim Yoon-seok

The next screening of this film is Saturday, July 20.

Synopsis

An affair between the single mother of one classmate, Yoona (Park Se-jin), and the father of another classmate, Joo-ri (Kim Hye-jun), brings conflict between the classmates. As if that wasn’t complicated enough Yoona’s mother is also pregnant. Then Joo-ri’s mother finds out about her husband’s affair and pregnancy.

Review

A setup that is ripe for melodrama and histrionics is told with nuance and grounded realism. The drama remains compelling with characters dealing with the situation in their own ways.  The high school classmates have the bulk of the screen time and show both maturity and vulnerability. The story also gives enough time to the adults who are far from all knowing and in some ways act more immature than their own kids. This is mostly a serious movie but there are also a few moments of well placed humor.

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Posted in *Recommended, Fantasia 2019, Fantasia International Film Festival, Film Festivals, Reviews, Trailers, Video

Extreme Job – movie review – Fantasia 2019 [Recommended]

Extreme Job / 극한직업 [Geukhanjikeob] (2019)
Director: Lee Byeong-heon
Writer: Bae Se-young
Cast: Ryoo Seung-ryong, Lee Hanee, Lee Dong-hwi, Jin Seon-kyu, Gong Myoung, Shin Ha-kyu, Oh Jeong-se, Kim Eui-sung

The next screening is on Wednesday, July 31.

Synopsis

A team of cops are trying to bring down a drug ring but with little success. After staking out one of their locations, they decide to take over a fried chicken restaurant across the street. But the restaurant’s unexpected success distracts them from their police work.

Review

This is a cop comedy and action movie rolled into one deep fried chicken. It’s exaggerated with slapstick at times. This team of cops are more like bunglers in the beginning, especially the way the first case we see them handling goes awry. The ensemble cast work really well together and much of the comedy is physical. The actors really sell the physicality of their scenes.

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