All posts filed under: Eye On

Eye-On-Beloved-Nora

Beloved Nora: A Chance Encounter with Happiness

In terms of the role they play in the lives of humans, pets have gone from being “domesticated animals” fulfilling a function for their masters to being integral members of the family. Whether cat, dog, fish, bird, snake, or something more exotic, pets figuratively and often times literally occupy a special place in the home. For young children, they may seem like another sibling. For adults, they may be viewed like their own children; in some cases, pets take the place of children who have left they nest or had never been. This is the essential focus of Beloved Nora – A Chance Encounter with Happiness (lit. translation). The story revolves around an insignificant screenwriter, Tsukumo Sakumi and the stray cat which wanders into his life. Naming the cat Shiro, he and his wife, Hiori, decide to keep it. Without children of their own, the couple dote on Shiro like parents would a child. Then one day Shiro does not return home after going outside. Sakumi disregards his work to go in search for Shiro, …

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Samurai and Idiots–The Olympus Affair

The whistleblower has often provided movies with an underdog character whom audiences can root for such as Russel Crowe’s character in Michael Mann’s The Insider. In 2002 Time magazine’s Persons of Year were three women, real whistleblowers who exposed FBI intelligence failures as well as corruption at corporate giants Enron and WorldCom. They were hailed as heroes for defying the larger entity to which they belonged in order to expose truth . In 2011, then president and CEO of the Japanese Olympus Corporation, Michael Woodford, blew the whistle on a 1.7 billion dollar fraud the company kept secret for more than two decades and was abruptly dismissed from his post by the board of directors citing “cultural differences” in management style. Instead of being hailed a hero, the few Japanese media that bothered to cover the story used the angle of this just being another example of a foreigner failing to adapt to the Japanese way. The international press, however, reported a brewing scandal in which Woodford’s ousting was done to damage control the effect …

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The Night I Swam

Some movies are better experienced than talked or written about. They take advantage of the medium of cinema in ways that sometimes are forgotten by even the most experienced, respected filmmakers. Movies are a visual medium. They are meant to show rather than tell. The Night I Swam, a Japanese/French co-production co-directed by A Young Poet’s Damien Manivel and Hold Your Breath Like a Lover’s Igarashi Kohei, certainly seems to epitomize this. On paper, the story is described thusly: a 6-year-old boy is awoken by the departure of his father, a fisherman, every night when he makes his way to the market in town. Finding it impossible to fall back to sleep, the young boy draws a picture as the household slumbers and then slips it into his satchel. In the morning on his way to school, still drowsy, he strays off his usual path and wanders into the snow…. Visually, however, it is the young boy’s journey we are shown that is the heart and soul of the movie. Shot in the majestic snowy vistas of Hokkaido and completely devoid of …

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The Hungry Lion

The internet was once hailed as the “information super highway”; information would travel across vast distances at incredible speeds allowing people to have more access to more types of information than they ever had before. Today, however, the internet more closely resembles a battleground than a highway, with information becoming the barbs and arrows of the media and its consumers. It is becoming more difficult to differentiate fact from fiction. “Fake News” has probably come to be the defining phrase of 2017 and perhaps beyond. Director Ogata Takaomi was aware of the way the mass media was beginning to trade away its obligation to provide objective information for the sake of profitability and audience size long ago. His latest movie, The Hungry Lion throws into relief how the proliferation of convenient means to record and disseminate information across the vastness of the internet is not only turning us into prey, but potential predators as well thanks to a mass media that is packaging information for ready consumption by a hungry public. One morning, 18-year-old Hitomi’s …

Eye-On-Blanka

Blanka

There is the phrase, “appearances can be deceiving,” and this may best describe many people’s perception of poverty, especially when it may define the image of a particular place or country. Having been born and raised for a few years in the Philippines, I was never aware of my country as being a “less fortunate” one. But even as I grew up and I became aware the Philippines did have economic and political instabilities which kept many living in poverty, return trips to visit family never impressed upon me the woeful image many abroad held for the people living in makeshift shacks on squatted land; to this day I see commercials by non-profit organizations asking for support in the aid of children earning their living rummaging through trash on a once smoldering pile of refuse known locally as “Smokey Mountain.” No matter what the world may see when they gazed at those intentionally heart-rending (read: manipulative) depictions, I knew the Filipino spirit was more vibrant, indomitable, and selfless than in many countries to which those …

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Out of My Hand

The death of the American dream is a typical trope a variety of movies have tackled, mostly to the somber tune of disappointment and sadness. However, trope or not, there are still a plethora of stories on the subject matter still remaining to be told. What will separate wheat from chaff is the angle a filmmaker chooses to approach it. Just as Kohki Hasei avoided “poverty porn,” in the case of Hokkaido born Fukunaga Takeshi, that angle was not a tale of bitter realities in an unfamiliar country, but the resilient and determined spirit of immigrants looking to better their lives in a new country. Considering the controversial issue immigration has become recently, one might think Out of My Hand to be extraordinarily timely were it not for the fact Fukunaga shot the movie, his debut feature, in 2013. Feeling “out of place” in Japan, Fukunaga moved to New York wanting to meet and learn about people from other countries. After studying film production at Brooklyn College, he worked as an editor for a documentary about Liberian …

Eye-on-Reminiscentia

Reminiscentia

Memories are probably the second most complex aspect of the human experience next to our emotions. They are incredibly powerful, able to take us back in time to relive moments again even to the point of engaging any and all of our five senses. Memories help keep us connected to the people and places which we maintain as precious experiences. However, memories can be sources of great sadness and pain. This dual nature of our memories is at the heart of Reminiscentia, an independent Russian-language movie made by Japanese director, Inoue Masaki. Mikhail is a novelist who lives a quiet life with his beloved daughter, Milenia, on the outskirts of a Russian city. Troubled people come to Mikhail asking him to erase their memories with his uniquely special gift. The ideas for his novels come from the memories he removes from others. Then one day, Mikhail notices a portion of his memories with his daughter is gone. Distressed by being unable to recollect the past, Mikhail goes to the church to pray. Thereupon he encounters Maria, …