Fly Me to Saitama / 翔んで埼玉 [Tonde Saitama] (2019)
Director: Hideki Takeuchi
Writer: Yuichi Tokunaga
Cast: Fumi Nikaido, Gackt, Yusuke Iseya, Masaki Kyomoto
Producer: Hiroki Wakamatsu
Two parents are driving their daughter to her engagement ceremony. She’s looking forward to moving to Tokyo and is ashamed of growing up in Saitama. They listen to a radio drama (or urban myth as the daughter calls it) about how Tokyo oppressed and persecuted people from Saitama, who then rebelled in a revolution.
This is a tongue in cheek comedy that doesn’t merely skewer but viciously makes fun of Saitama as a place with nothing interesting. There are some jabs directed at other prefectures including their rival Chiba, Gunma and Tokyo but make no mistake target #1 is Saitama. The jokes are also varied. There are sight gags like less desirable prefectures looking like desolate areas or wild untamed jungles. The high class Tokyo people wear ridiculously garish, bourgeois outfits. They stutter out of disgust and fear when merely attempting to say the name of an undesirable prefecture. The actors completely chew the scenery and are as pompous as possible. One joke is so funny because it puts the character in the ridiculous situation of a smelling test. I won’t say more about it because it would spoil the joke but that got huge laughs from the audience.
Continue reading “Fly Me To Saitama – movie revew – Fantasia 2019”
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
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.
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.
Continue reading “Dance with Me – 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
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 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.
Continue reading “Brave Father Online – movie review – Fantasia 2019 [Recommended]”
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.
Continue reading “It Comes – movie review – Fantasia 2019”
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.
Continue reading “Almost a Miracle – movie review – Fantasia 2019”
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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Another edition of the Fantasia festival will start very soon. The full schedule is available on their website.
For the 2nd/final wave announcement of films see the following Fantasia press release.
Here are some of the East Asian films announced.
Continue reading “Fantasia International Film Festival, July 11 – August 4, 2019”