Posted in *Recommended, Lists, Trailers, Video

Great Films Starring Elderly East Asian Women

The last film on this list inspired me to create this list. Although I was tempted to call this the fiercest grandma list, a few movies on this list don’t actually feature grandmothers. But all these films do feature amazing actresses who show that age is no barrier to leading a film. Some of these films were also directed by women.

LuckyGrandMa

Go watch them as soon as you can or grandma will getcha!

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Posted in *Recommended, Lists, Trailers, Video

The first Japanese movies I watched

I started becoming interested in Japanese movies quite late in life although I was definitely aware of Japanese culture and the existence of Japanese movies growing up. I was first exposed to origami, bonsai and judo. Of course, I heard about karate, ninjas, samurais, and geishas. Japanese food like teriyaki and teppanyaki was also present and later on sushi. Strangely, I didn’t really know anime existed until maybe my late teens. Eventually the earliest Japanese movies I would watch would be animated films. Not TV anime because I never had the chance to watch it.

It was only after I started this blog that I began watching a whole lot of Japanese movies because they tend to be the most numerous at film festivals. As a result I began to gain an appreciation for them despite the supposed belief that Japanese cinema has become stale in the last decade. The industry apparently prefers to play it safe by producing adaptations over original work as evidenced by the ever growing number of live action anime/manga adaptations. Nonetheless, I’ve managed to discover a lot of Japanese films in recent years that I like.

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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: Kunimoto Masahiro, Okubo Tomomi
Writer: Yuki Takeda
Cast: Hidetoshi Nishjima, 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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April’s Fool’s and Coronavirus & COVID-19: the good, the bad and the predictably stupid

If there was one thing not to joke about or make pranks about on April Fool’s day, it was the Coronavirus & COVID-19. I have not scoured the internet for such April 1st shenanigans and in fact, I deliberately avoided reading anything on April 1st because of this. Here are some that I randomly encountered recently.

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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: Tsuyoshi Inoue, Teruyuki Yoshida, Toki Kajiwara
Writer: Kankuro Kudo
Cast: Rena Nonen, Kyoko Koizumi, Nobuko Miyamoto, Ai Hashimoto

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 Rena Nonen. 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, Reviews, TV

J-Drama Review: Mada Kekkon Dekinai Otoko [Recommended]

The Man Who Can’t Get Married Season 2 / まだ結婚できない男 [Mada Kekkon Dekinai Otoko] (2019)
[10 episodes, approx. 45 mins each]
Directors: Miyake Yoshishige, Takashi Komatsu, Hisashi Ueda
Writer: Masaya Ozaki
Cast: Hiroshi Abe, Yo Yoshida, Izumi Inamori, Mai Fukagawa, Takashi Tsukamoto
Japanese w/ English subtitles

I was very surprised to find out that a sequel season was recently made to Kekkon Dekinai Otoko. The added word “Mada” meaning “Still” or “Not Yet” so one could possibly translate this title as “The Man Who Still Can’t Marry.” That in itself will certainly disappoint some fans of the original which debuted 13 years ago. Hiroshi Abe returns in the main role of Kusano as do his family members except for an older actress who portrays his now teenage niece. The actor who portrayed his assistant also returns and he’s now Kusano’s partner at the architecture firm. None of the main female lead characters from the original return. But for those who wanted to see a happy ending for Kusano and the doctor, I would suggest watching the 2009 Korean remake (He Who Can’t Marry / 결혼 못하는 남자), which follows the same story very closely but then actually goes further with episodes where they date.

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Posted in Adaptation, Reviews, TV, Web

J-Drama Review: Densha Otoko

Train Man / 電車男 [Densha Otoko] (2005)
[11 episodes, approx. 45 mins each + 2 post-series special episodes]
Directors: Hideki Takeuchi , Kazuhiro Kobayashi, Masaki Nishiura
Writer: Shogo Muto
Cast: Atsushi Ito, Misaki Ito
Japanese w/ English subtitles

This a pretty well known drama that is supposedly based on real events where an otaku rescued a beautiful woman from being harassed on the train. This lead to them dating with the Train Man asking for advice on an internet message board due to his lack of experience with women. There’s also a book, multiple manga adaptations and a live action movie. But I will say right off the bat that if you’ve never watched a Japanese TV drama before that this is absolutely not the one you should start with. It’s extremely exaggerated in a way that feels quite Japanese. It’s also a far-fetched fairy tale romance and while these stories can definitely work, this one is full of overblown, cloying moments and an annoying main character. No matter how fictional, a romance story only works if the couple feels somewhat believable.

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