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 Adaptation, Festival du nouveau cinéma, Film Festivals, Nouveau cinéma 2019, Novels, Reviews

Diner – film review – Nouveau cinema 2019

Diner (2019)
Director Mika Ninagawa
Screenplay Hirohito Goto, Yoshikazu Sugiyama, Mika Ninagawa
Producer Takuya Ito, Morio Amagi
Cast Tatsuya Fujiwara, Tina Tamashiro, Shun Oguri

Synopsis

An abandoned young woman, Kanako, with no aim in life has the bad luck of becoming a waitress in a restaurant for assassins (because it ran out of waitress who got killed for various service-related mistakes). This is based on a book and possibly the manga adaptation.

Review

A kooky but mostly derivative movie. While it looks nice and has some stylized combat there are signs of a low budget here. The first sign is that the majority of the movie takes place in a single location, which is the restaurant. It is seen mostly empty with only Kanako & her harsh boss and head chef, Bombero. Despite there being multiple gang bosses, you only actually see the gang of one of the bosses. Two appear to have nobody and one only seems to have the one assassin. Because of the world of movie feels very small.

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Posted in Adaptation, Art & Animation, Festival du nouveau cinéma, Film Festivals, Manga, Nouveau cinéma 2019, Reviews

Children of the Sea – film review – Nouveau cinema 2019

Children of the Sea (2019)
Director Ayumu Watanabe
Screenplay Daisuke Igarashi
Producer Eiko Tanaka
Cast Mana Ashida, Gorô Inagaki, Hiiro Ishibashi, Seishû Uragami

Synopsis

This is based on a manga. It is about a young girl with an innate connection to ocean animals. Thinking she’s alone, she meets a couple of boys who were raised in the ocean by dugongs. Besides that unconventional upbringing there is are other odd things about he boys and the mystery related to them goes far beyond their upbringing.

Review

Visually and aurally the movie is quite amazing. With music composed by Joe Hisaishi, that also signals that the soundtrack will be excellent. Scenes of all the variety of sea creatures in the ocean to lush greenery and vibrant flower above ground, there’s no shortage of incredible art. There’s also fair amount of zoom effects and camera shifts which appear to be computer aided. The animation is very high quality overall.

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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 Reviews, TV

Kim’s Convenience – Season 3, Episodes 1-2

I’m pretty late with this but then again we had to go through all of 2018 without Kim’s Convenience but I guess the shift of the season premiere to January must have some benefits. Although season 4 has been greenlit with Simu Liu’s recent casting as Marvel’s Shang Chi, one does wonders if this will complicate plans for a potential season 5. But in any case, here are reviews for the first two episodes of season 3.

New Appa-liance

The opening is pretty funny. No gain without pain for Janet although what a sadistic thing for Appa to do. Speaking of Janet, her makeup seems different this season. The main plot of this episode is the search for a new dishwashing machine and the way Umma reminds Appa is pretty creative.

Janet is tries to stand out by changing her name after her teacher can’t find her website because of all the other Janet Kim’s crowding the search results. Umma tells Janet why she gave her that name.

We also see Jung dealing with the consequences of the season 2 finale and attempting to get his old job back. Cue the always enjoyable Shannon – Jung awkward interaction.

Best exchange is between Janet and Umma:
“Can you please call before coming over?”
“No.”

Most jokes from the side characters aren’t good but the main cast have some good ones. The ending to the dishwashing machine plot is funny although I’m surprised nobody mentions all the money spent.

On to episode 2…

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Posted in Adaptation, Fantasia 2019, Fantasia International Film Festival, Film Festivals, Manga, Reviews, Trailers, Video

Tokyo Ghoul ‘S’ – movie review – Fantasia 2019

Tokyo Ghoul ‘S’ / 東京喰種 トーキョーグール S [Tokyo Guru S ] (2019)
Director: Kazuhiko Hiramaki, Takuya Kawasaki
Writer: Chuji Mikasano
Cast: Masataka Kubota, Shota Matsuda, Maika Yamamoto

Synopsis

This sequel (although I doubt that’s what ‘S’ stands for) has Kaneki facing off against an uber foodie ghoul, Tsukiyama, nicknamed the “Gourmet” who becomes obsessed with Kaneki due to him being a hybrid of ghoul and human. Tsukiyama wants to eat Kaneki. Obviously Kaneki does not want to be eaten.

Review

While I’m tempted to say the ‘S’ stands for stupid, I don’t think this sequel is all bad but it is a step backwards. Before getting to why that is, this sequel makes several references to the first movie. The main plot is simple enough that it could be understood without watching the first movie but a lot of background will be lost on those who didn’t watch the first movie or don’t remember it. I strongly suggest that you watch the first movie before this one. The first movie establishes the world and characters and the sequel assumes you’re already aware of all that.

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

Twilight – movie review – Fantasia 2019

Twilight / 薄暮 [hakubo] (2019)
Director & Writer: Yutaka Yamamoto
Cast: Hiyori Sakurada, Seishiro Kato

Synopsis

A female freshman, Sachi, who likes to play the violin and a male freshman, Kijinami, who likes to paint meet at a bus stop. Sachi enjoys seeing the countryside during twilight just after the sun sets and part of the sky turns green. Kijinami likes to draw outdoor scenery and the two students strike up a friendship and potentially more.

Review

This is apparently the third movie of a trilogy of movies that deal with the aftermath of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. It’s a short one that a bit less than an hour but it uses that time effectively to delivery a simple but endearing story.

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Posted in Adaptation, Fantasia 2019, Fantasia International Film Festival, Film Festivals, Manga, Reviews, Trailers, Video

Kingdom – movie review – Fantasia 2019

Kingdom / キングダム [Kingudamu] (2019)
Director: Shinsuke Sato
Writer: Tsutomu Kuroiwa, Shinsuke Sato, Yasuhisa Hara
Cast: Kento Yamazaki, Ryo Yoshizawa, Masami Nagasawa, Kanna Hashimoto, Kanata Hongo

Synopsis

Two slave orphans, Shin aka Xin (Kento Yamazaki) and Hyou aka Piao (Ryo Yoshizawa) and  grow up and practice sword fighting because they believe this will help them escape the slave class. One day a nobleman picks Hyou to work for the emperor while leaving the other one behind. But when a gravely injured Hyou comes back to Shin, he asks Shin to protect the emperor.

Review

This live action movie is based on a manga/anime that itself takes inspiration from real Chinese history, namely the Warring States period. I am unfamiliar with the manga/anime or the real history.

Although this is a live action, the way the characters act made it quite obvious that this is a manga/anime adaptation. It’s exaggerated in a way that tells you this isn’t meant to be taken completely seriously. In this sense, those expecting a serious movie will not find it here. The king’s plan in the end is also kind of dumb and gets resolved by a deus ex machina character. The use of flashbacks is kind of annoying and I think largely unnecessary. In fact, I find the use of flashbacks to rouse or inspire a character to be a cheap trick to elicit audience feelings. The repeated talk of dreams is meant to inspire but becomes insipid after seemingly the umpteenth time it’s mentioned.

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