Posted in Reviews, Trailers, TV, Video

J-Drama Review: Boku to Star no 99 Nichi

99 Days with the Superstar / 僕とスターの99日 [Boku to Star no 99 Nichi] (2011)
[10 episodes, approx. 45 mins each]
Directors: Masahiro Kunimoto, Tomomi Okubo
Writer: Takeda Yuki
Cast: Nishijima Hidetoshi, Kim Tae-hee
Japanese w/ English subtitles

Available to watch for free on AsianCrush (Canada & USA only)

Synopsis

A man who loves astronomy but works for a security company is hired as a bodyguard for a rising Korean actress who’s in Japan to shoot a drama for 99 days. However, she is also searching for someone from her past and proves to be more than a handful for the bodyguard. In spite of their numerous clashes and near non-stop bickering, a growing attraction between the two develops.

Review

The overall story is quite predictable. The setup is also nothing particularly original. But the characters are likeable and have funny interactions. The development of their feelings is done well with a gradual buildup of moments and small selfless gestures that bring the two closer to each other bit by bit. It’s an opposites attract scenario with the underdog and the seemingly unattainable star that actually ends up being fairly believable by romcom standards.

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Posted in *Recommended, Reviews, Trailers, TV, Video

Warrior – Season 1 – review [Recommended]

Warrior (2019)
10 episodes (approx. 45 mins each)
Creator: Jonathan Troppe
Cast: Andrew Koji, Olivia Cheng, Jason Tobin, Dianne Doan, Joe Taslim, Kieran Bew, Joanna Vanderham, Hoon Lee

Synopsis

Based on an old pitch by Bruce Lee, it’s set in 1870s San Fransisco’s Chinatown during the Tong Wars. Chinese immigrants are hated by the Caucasian majority including the police and by the Irish who are unemployed due to the cheaper wages given to Chinese workers. The main character, Ah Sahm, comes to this city, literally fresh off the boat, to find someone but ends up being entangled in the Chinese triads.

Review

This is an entertaining show with some sharply written characters. Each with their own views and agenda with no shortage of conflict. Ally or enemy, it can change depending on the day. The first four episodes do a good job of introducing all the major characters. Episode 5 is like a filler or break episode as it is pretty self contained but then for the rest of the episodes it continues the main story.

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Posted in *Recommended, Music, Reviews, TV, Video

J-Drama review: Amachan [Recommended]

Amachan / あまちゃん (2013)
[156 episodes, approx. 15 mins each]
Directors: Inoue Tsuyoshi, Yoshida Teruyuki, Kajiwara Toki
Writer: Kudo Kankuro
Cast: Nounen Rena, Koizumi Kiyoko, Miyamoto Nobuko

This is an asadora (aka morning drama). I’m not familiar with these and this is the first one I’ve watched. Although there are a lot of episodes, each episode is only 15 minutes and airs 6 days a week. The six episodes in a week all have the same title so they kinda form a larger 1.5 hour episode. In terms of total running time, you’re essentially looking at the equivalent of about 2 seasons of American TV of 20 episodes each, more or less.

Amachan stars Nounen Rena. It was apparently her breakout role although I first saw her in one of her later works, a live action film adaptation of Princess Jellyfish in 2014. It was her last movie before she mysteriously disappeared from the entertainment world. Very little info can be found about it but it seems likely that leaving her agency resulted in her being blacklisted from TV and film. She only recently returned in the last few years under a new stage name “Non”. She released some music and there is an “I am Non” youtube series about her making a film. In early 2020, she starred in a new movie, Stardust Over the Town. Her long absence was so disappointing but she’s still young and hopefully she’ll continue to get more movie and TV work.

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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 / 地久天长 [dìjiǔtiāncháng] (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 Art & Animation, Festival du nouveau cinéma, Film Festivals, Film Screenings, Trailers, Video

Festival du Nouveau Cinema – Oct 9-20, 2019

Another edition of Nouveau cinema is fast approaching and runs from October 9-20, 2019 in various cinemas such as Cinema du Parc, Cinematheque quebecoise, Cinema du musee, and Cineplex quartier latin. A listing of screenings of notable East Asian films will be followed by trailers.

Quebec based director Ky Nam Le Duc will have the world premier of his movie, “Canada”,  and he along with the cast will be in attendance for a Q&A.

Nouveau cinema also has augmented reality or virtual reality works and one intriguing one is “East of the Rockies”, an interactive narrative written by author Joy Kogawa.

There will be three screenings Chinese movie “So Long, My Son” directed by Wang XiaoShuai, an award winning director who is part of the sixth generation of Chinese directors.

Fans of old school martial arts will certainly want to see the restorations of two films by legendary wuxia director King Hu that will be screening, “The Fate of Lee Khan” (1973) and “Raining in the Mountain” (1979). The latter is a North American premiere of a brand new restored version.

Japan as usual has many entries in this festival such as the world premiere of “Videophobia” directed by Daisuke Miyazaki whom along with actress Tomona Hirota will be in attendance. “Diner” is directed by Mika Ninagawa stars Tatsuya Fujiwara and Tina Tamashiro. “They Say Nothing Stays the Same” is the first film by well known actor Jo Odagiri and makes its North American premiere. “To the Ends of the Earth” is directed by award winning Kiyoshi Kurosawa and stars Atsuko Maeda. “37 Seconds” is the first film directed by Hikari.

There are also two animated features from Japan. “Pom Poko” is a lesser known Ghibli classic directed by Isao Takahata. “Children of the Sea” is a recent movie directed by Ayumu Watanabe.

Update Oct 10: A surprise announcement was just made and “Parasite” directed by Bong Joon Ho will have a screening.

Trailers below:

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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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