All posts tagged: Drama

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A Crimson Star

Filmmakers, particularly writer/directors, drawing on their personal lives to inform or even inspire the movies they direct is not uncommon. When leading a production crew and directing actors on one’s first few films, communicating what one wants based on one’s experiences more than likely aids in achieving the desired results. At the age of 19, director Igashi Aya directed her Toho Gakuen Film Techniques Training College graduate thesis, Tokeru. She stated the movie was the story she could make at that age as a young girl living in the Hokkaido countryside. Tokeru is an outpouring of her frustration at watching and hearing her classmates banal conversations and pointless ambitions. The emotional and adolescent confusion portrayed by the lead character as well as the authenticity of its worldview across its 45 minute runtime attracted the attention of Kawase Naomi which lead to Tokeru being screened at the Cannes Film Festival’s Cindefondation section. Now 22, Igashi is working to complete her latest project, A Crimson Star, which by all accounts deals with matters as they relate to …

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Our House

At its core Kiyohara Yui’s Our House is a story of two women. Seri is an adolescent girl living in an old house with her mother who Seri knows is planning to get remarried with her new lover. Sana is an amnesiac who is given sanctuary in the home of Toko, a woman seemingly harboring many secrets. Gradually, however, the movie begins to reveal why it won two awards at the Pia Film Festival, and earned screenings at the Berlin International Film Festival’s Forum Section and at the Lincoln Film Center in New York. With a high-concept usually found in science fiction and the forward thinking of an experimental movie, Kiyohara slowly begins overlapping these stories occurring in parallel as the boundaries between them become increasingly porous. Yet, nothing about it suggests it is a “genre” movie per se. Though there is a level of spookiness applied by Kiyohara as the occupants of the house begin to sense one another–no doubt attributable to her mentorship with Kurosawa Kiyoshi–the contrivance is primarily a form of storytelling. …

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Eriko, Pretended

Millennials and the possible Japanese counterpart “Yutori Generation” [used describe a children brought up and educated in a non-pressure system in response to the stress and overburden placed on them to achieve] have been oft maligned by their elders for poor work attitudes, a sense of entitlement, and a narcissistic streak. Whoever is to blame and the solutions which are needed are a discussion for some other blog, but key to both is how said generation views itself and filmmakers in their 20s are beginning to take a look at who they are and where they are going. Eriko, Pretended from writer/director Fujimura Akiyo a graduate of Meiji Gakuin University and the New Cinema Workshop film school, looks to be a standout entry in this sphere primarily for its set up and development. Ten years ago, Eriko left her provincial town and headed for Tokyo in pursuit of her dream of being an actress, though has nothing to show for it except a bit part in a commercial beneath a rabbit costume. Nevertheless, she tells …

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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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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 …

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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 …

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Stolen

North Korea is on the minds of a lot of people these days with its leader and the U.S. President goading one another like impetuous children attempting to prove their manhood on a playground, except they are not playing with sand. North Korea’s ballistic missile program is certainly the latest threat from Pyongyang, but for Japan and South Korea–two countries literally currently caught in the middle–a much more human dilemma continues unresolved: the kidnapping of its citizens a few decades ago. The governments of the two countries had been engaged in negotiations to compel North Korea to either return its citizens or at least provide their current status and whereabouts. With the focus shifting to a military/defense affair, the plight of the kidnapped victims and their families have all been but brushed aside. In fact, the kidnapping issue has all but disappeared from public consciousness despite being seen as a top foreign affairs issue not so long ago. It is this human element to which the mid-length movie, Stolen, attempts to draw attention once again. Its …