All posts tagged: Drama

Eye-On-Orphans'-Blues

Orphans’ Blues

Ema exists in a world where summer seems to go on forever. Recently, she’s become rather forgetful so she always has a notebook handy, and there are all sorts of notes pasted everywhere at home as well. One day she receives a drawing of an elephant in the mail from Yan, a childhood friend from her days at an orphanage whose whereabouts are currently unknown. Hoping to see her dear friend again, Ema sets out on a journey to find Yan using the letter’s postmark as a clue. Along the way, she happens to run into Ban whom she’s known since childhood like Yan, and also makes the acquaintance of Yuri, Ban’s girlfriend. Having failed in their attempt to flee to Tahiti, Ban and Yuri slowly but surely become companions on Ema’s journey. Meanwhile, Ema’s feelings toward Yan are beginning to intensify as is her dread over her accelerating memory loss. Fukuoka born Kudo Riho decided to pursue filmmaking in her second year of high school. She had been moved by Nishi Kanako’s novel ‘Sakura’ …

Eye-On-She's-Gone

She’s Gone

Kotoko, a teenage girl who just entered high school, does not have any friends. School life, home, and even TV have been far from enjoyable for her lately. At school, the seat behind her is empty. Seto Sachi, the frail girl who sits there, is recovering from an illness in a hospital. Although they have never met, Kotoko knows her by her nickname “Satchan”. When asked by her mother whether she has made any friends at school, Kotoko tells her that she has made a friend named “Satchan.” From then on, Kotoko starts spending time with Satchan, an imaginary friend born out of a lie. The streets they walk, the parfait they ate together… Kotoko’s high school life means nothing without Satchan. Then one day, she finally meets the real Satchan in person – but at her funeral. Writer, director and editor Ogawa Sara is also an actress whom you might have seen in Innocent 15 or The Sacrament which garnered her a Best Actress award at Moosic Lab 2017. She is currently a student at Waseda University studying film …

Eye-On-Sayounara

Sayounara

High school student Yuki lived a peaceful, uneventful life until one day Aya, her classmate since middle school, is killed in a car accident. Her other classmates were at the beginning saddened by Aya’s death, but when a rumor Aya killed herself is spread, their sudden change in attitude causes turmoil among them. Yuki stands up to a classmate who is maligning Aya and as a result is ostracized by the rest of the girls in her class. Meanwhile, unexpected repercussions also begin to spread among the relationships of Yuki’s classmates. Ishibashi Yuho directed her first independent film while attending Toyo Gakuen University. Her 2015 short Bokura no Saigo was screened at numerous film festivals in Japan. She followed with several more short movies which have garnered attention in one form or another including 2016’s Sorekara no Koto, Korekara no Koto starring Imou Haruka all while working a number of part-time jobs over those years. Apparently still employed at a job unrelated to the film industry, making her debut feature was also fraught with the challenges of independent …

Eye-On-Domains

Domains

Aki and Naoko are childhood friends who are drifting apart as adults. Immersed in her family life, Naoko now has a husband and daughter; Aki, on the other hand, remains single and is on leave from work due to a personal crisis. The plot might sound familiar but it has never been told like this. The director Kusano Natsuka stages the interactions through an actors’ table-read and, as the lines are repeated, the scenes gradually develop into on-location conversations. Moreover, she repositions the dramatic peak of the story to the beginning: Aki has murdered Naoko’s daughter. Structurally inventive, Kusano’s daring cinema implements ‘distantiation’ effects to get to the heart of friendship issues at times when life has settled. While the repetitions convey the suffocation of role patterns in both friendship and family, a line left out or added in unsettles and reminds us life can take unexpected turns. (IFFR 2018) Kusano Natsuka’s Best Director and SKIP City Award-winning debut Antonym is an intriguing character study of a relationship between opposites, of differences that define the other as the …

Eye-On-Manga-Tanjo

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 …

Eye-On-Sweating-the-Small-Stuff

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 …

Eye-On-3ft-Ball-and-Souls

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 …