All posts filed under: Eye On

Eye-One-The-Last-Persimmon

The Lasting Persimmon

Risaki is coming back home to her wintery countryside, Yamagata which is 400 km away from Tokyo. There she finds the seemingly unchanging snowy life of her beloved family and home village—snow shoveling, making pickles, bridges over a big river covered with snow, and persimmon fruits left unharvested on its tree. The original Japanese title of Chikaura Kei’s 2016 short movie is Nagori-Gaki which is a type of Japanese persimmon that become very ripe and sweet when left unharvested to endure the brutal winter. This is a custom in northern areas of Japan in order for travelers and birds to have something to eat. “Warm, Gentle and Strong” is how Chikaura described the people from the region and their customs that inspired The Lasting Persimmon. Homepage at: http://persimmonfilms.com

Eye-On-After-the-Exhibition

After the Exhibition

At the closing of his exhibition in the rural city of Mito, local artist Qualia declares “I don’t feel like going home” and loiters around the gallery. His girlfriend and his friends ultimately begin filtering out the door. Then Qualia comes up with an idea. Though shorter than YEAH, at 24 minutes, there is still no less to be digested in Suzuki’s observation about the nature of our interactions with one another depending on the situation. In the case of After the Exhibtion, Qualia–a real-life artist whom Suzuki befriended in Mito–is seen in different lights, when he is at the front of the gallery versus the time he spends in the gallery’s “backyard”. Or in other words, the separation between our public and private selves. Currently, Suzuki is working on his second feature-length, tentatively titled “Abokke” which will also be set in Mito and by all accounts may have already begun shooting.

Eye-On-Yeah

Yeah

Ako, a resident of a housing complex, appears to have some sort of personal problem. As a consequence, she is unable to find her own apartment and has no choice but to keep wandering about the housing complex grounds. Sometimes, she begins speaking with inanimate objects as if they were people–a tree here, a bicycle there, but never people. What exactly is her problem, and where does she intend to go? Suzuki, currently residing in the Ibaraki Prefecture capital of Mito, got together with actress Yanagi Elisa (Capturing Dad, Rolling) and decided to shoot something together in Mito. With the determined support of staff members from his previous movie Ow and newly made acquaintances in Mito, Suzuki was able to shoot this distinctive work which once again looks to be demonstrating Suzuki’s penchant for eccentricity combined with satirical wit as in Ow. This not only makes for fascinating viewing, but simultaneously provides ample food for thought. YEAH world premiered at the International Film Festival Rotterdam in 2018 where programmers commented: “In this politically charged setting, …

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The Manga Master

Updated 2018/10/08: Added new trailer in anticipation of its World Premiere at the Tokyo International Festival The proliferation of manga across the globe has been one of the pillars of the Japanese government’s economic soft power initiative, “Cool Japan” which also works to spread Japanese culture internationally. Many Japanese are often surprised by how knowledgeable foreigners can be regarding many popular manga titles as well as the increasing number of tourists who flock to Japan to consume and experience manga culture first hand. That being said, the roots of the medium itself is most likely unknown to both Japanese and international fans alike. Revealing the little known history of manga is the aim of The Manga Master which is directed by Oki Moe who is helming her second feature. Her debut work, Firecracker Ideals was a purely independent spin on the contemporary morose of young people as they grow to see the wide disparity between their life idealized through youthful ambitions versus unwelcome realities. It was hailed as a confident movie capturing some of the …

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Sweating the Small Stuff

It’s often said a filmmaker’s second work tends to be their most personal. For Ninomiya Ryutaro, the writer, director, editor, and star of his sophomore effort Sweating the Small Stuff this could literally be the case. Reportedly based on true events, and apparently shot in the locations those events happened, is the story of the protagonist (also named Ninomiya Ryutaro) spinning his wheels through a nihilistic life his very own? Auto mechanic Ryutaro, 27 years old, lives a fairly simple life. He seems confident, at least his swagger communicates as much, but spends much of his time reading books and drinking beers with friends. Something seems to be holding him back. One day, he receives a phone call from Yusuke, his childhood friend whose mother, Ryuko, is dying from Hepatitis C. Despite knowing for a while that Ryuko was sick, Ryutaro hasn’t visited her. And then he finally decides to go. Japanese independent cinema is populated with similar tales of characters aimlessly drifting through life but Ninomya’s movie may be able to distinguish itself from …

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Tale of a Butcher Shop

There is a German documentary from 2005 titled Our Daily Bread. Without narration or much in the way of music, it brought to light with mesmerizing visuals the impact convenience and modern mass-production methods have had on the food we consume. The meditative quality of the documentary left reaction solely to the viewers, be it shock, disgust, amazement, etc. On first look, Hanabusa Aya’s 2013 documentary Tale of a Butcher Shop may well be the Japanese pseudo-companion piece. The local butcher shop remains a visible and well-loved part of many communities throughput Japan. But like everywhere, these are slowly disappearing feature of the landscape due to modernization and demands for meat to be sold at volume and for low prices. The Kitades are a family who live outside Osaka. They have been raising and slaughtering the cows they sell for meat at their small butcher shop for over 100 years. As the family embark upon their decision to close shop in response to competition from corporate supermarkets, the three butcher siblings contemplate life afterwards. By …

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3ft Ball & Souls

When Harold Ramis and Danny Rubin had Bill Murray relive a single day repeatedly until he got the day right, the concept was so original and fresh the title of their movie is used to describe any story with a similar narrative device. Most recently, ‘All You Need Is Kill’ the Japanese manga and Edge of Tomorrow put a sci-fi spin on the concept by making the time loop a stratagem employed by the antagonists. However, this latest update and many others following the original were focused on the protagonist’s retries as a vehicle for personal development which ultimately breaks the cycle. The fresh and emotional spin director Kato Yoshio has put on the concept for his latest, 3ft Ball and Souls, is three characters are tasked with the maturity of another. Four troubled strangers, a fireworks craftsman, a first year residency doctor, a grief stricken mother, and a high school girl–the youngest among them–meet at online suicide club and decide to get together for the singular purpose of dying together. Fate intervenes, however, as …