The Dude in Me / 내안의 그놈 [Naeanui Geunom] (2019)
Director: Kang Hyo-jin
Writer: Park Dae-sung
Cast: Young Jin, Ra Mi-ran, Park Sung-woong
A bullied overweight teenager is thought to have committed suicide by jumping off a building but he falls onto a 40 something year old businessman / gangster. Both survive leaving the gangster in the a coma but when the teenager wakes up, he isn’t himself but rather has the mind of the gangster.
The body swap comedy is definitely a setup that can generate laughs when well done but it can also feel routine and predictable if not done so well. This is one of the better ones and produces a good amount of laughs. It’s also accompanied by a fair number of fight scenes, which are more like beat downs administered by the gangster in the teenager’s body. The majority of the movie is the gangster in the teenager’s body. By comparison you don’t get much of the teenager in the gangster’s body as that only comes up closer to the end in the buildup to the climax.
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Brave Father Online (2019)
Director: Teruo Noguchi, Kiyoshi Yamamoto
Writer: Kota Fukihara
Cast: Kentaro Sakaguchi, Kotaro Yoshida
Cinematographer: Hikaru Yasuda
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.
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 games 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. 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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Ride Your Wave / きみと、波にのれたら [Kimi to, Nami ni Noretara] (2019)
Director: Masaaki Yuasa
Writer: Reiko Yoshida
Cast: Ryota Katayose, Rina Kawaei
A female student who is an avid surfer and a fireman fall in love with each other but then tragedy strikes when the fireman drowns but somehow the student is able to magically conjure him in bodies of water. However, her constant need to be with him even after death is preventing her from moving on with her life.
I’ve seen one of this director’s movies previously and although I didn’t like the story there, it had some pretty wild animation sequences. The style in this movie is the same and in my opinion it’s a style that is definitely Japanese but distinct enough to be distinguishable from the generic anime style. But this one’s more grounded with some fantastical sequences but nothing as bombastic or WTF as this director has shown previously.
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It Comes / 来る [Kuru] (2018)
Director: Tetsuya Nakashima
Writer: Tetsuya Nakashima, Hideto Iwai, Nobuhiro Kadoma
Cast: Junichi Okada, Haru Kuroki, Satoshi Tsumabuki, Takako Matsu, Nana Komatsu
A man with a disturbing childhood memory of an unseen monster puts it behind him and grows up to become a seemingly well-adjusted man. He gets married and eventually has a child. But this is when strange things begin to happen again and he begins to believe the monster from his childhood is now after his family. He enlists the help of a couple of people who are familiar with the occult but it seems nobody can be trusted.
It’s best to not know anything before going into this horror movie. It’s quite bombastic at times and unlike some Japanese horror, it is quite the opposite of a slow burn. One thing that some may not like is that there’s a lack of build-up or suspense. It’s not really a jump scare type of horror but there are gory moments and graphic scenes that feel like more of a quick gut punch that you don’t expect. Brief bits of sensory overload before going back to the more grounded questions that center on family and kids that almost every character struggles with in their own way. The story actually spends a fair bit of time on these themes which ties into the horror aspect.
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Almost a Miracle / 町田くんの世界 [Machida-kun no Sekai] (2019)
DIRECTOR: Yuya Ishii
WRITER: Yuya Ishii, Sho Kataoka
CAST: Kanata Hosoda, Nagisa Sekimizu, Takanori Iwata, Mitsuki Takahata, Atsuko Maeda
The next screening of this film is Thurday, July 18.
Hajime Machida is a high school boy who isn’t good at studying or sports. However, he is such a good Samaritan that he’ll drop whatever he’s doing to help someone. He proclaims that he likes all people. One day he meets a girl, Nana Inohara, who hates all people. With the nurse absent, she tends to a cut that Machida sustained. Thus begins a friendship/relationship between the two opposites that baffles him and frustrates her.
This is a manga adaptation of The World of Machida-kun which is the Japanese title of the movie. Like with most live action manga adaptations, I have not read the manga so cannot comment on the movie’s faithfulness to it.
Machida (Kanata Hosoda) is obsessively selfless and puts others ahead of himself. His classmates nickname him Christ because of this. He’s seen as a weird outsider. Inohara (Nagisa Sekimizu) is pretty but also an outsider being subject to rumors due to her mother’s cheating. As a result Inohara is closed off and has no friends. Her interactions with Machida gradually cause her to open up. These interactions are like a series of vignettes. They’re funny and awkward.
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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.
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.
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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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.
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.
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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Chiwawa / チワワちゃん [Chiwawa-chan] (2019)
Director & Writer: Ken Ninomiya
Cast: Mugi Kadowaki, Ryo Narita, Tina Tamashiro, Shiori Yoshida
Next Fantasia screening is Monday, July 15.
A young woman is found murdered and her old friend tries to find out what happened to her by talking to various mutual friends and acquaintances. In the past they partied hard using money stolen by Chiwawa but afterwards everyone went there separate ways although Chiwawa would come and go in the lives of her past friends and acquaintances.
There are quite a few music video style montages with a lot of lighting effects combined with frequent cuts. The hyperactive editing and flashing is enough to warn epileptics to stay away from watching this movie. But that may also apply to regular movie goers too. There’s a definitely an energy here that the film captures and a sense of nostalgia and youthful yearning. The music especially helps in enforcing a sense of nostalgia.
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