All posts tagged: Family

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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 Adventuress Spirit

The poster for Nishikawa Fumie’s The Azemichi Road depicts a young girl in school uniform captured ecstatically jumping mid-air on a country dirt road. It’s a pastoral image processed to resemble a painting that invites the viewer to speculate the story within. Though a poster is no means representative of the movie itself, in this case, the image does give insight into the Tokyo native. Nishikawa loved to draw manga and write stories in elementary school. She was studying to pursue that path when her eyes were opened to the wonder of movies during high school. Her ambition shifted from illustrating a picture to telling the story within it; to bring that image to life. It’s a fundamental component of her craft apparent in her graduate thesis at London College of Communication where she went after high school to study film & video production. Nishikawa wrote, shot, and produced While You Sleep. With its evocative title and simple premise of a teen awakening to family realities when her mother falls into a deep coma, the …

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Innocent 15

Kai Hirokazu’s feature-length debut, Innocent 15, first came to my attention through its poster (below). A simple, photographic image of a young girl apparently sitting on a young boy’s lap, his face advancing on her’s, perhaps a first kiss, though somewhat unwillingly. It’s a moment simultaneously capturing youthful innocence as well as its loss. The mid-teens are turbulent time for most. The struggle to be “grown up” while still being treated as a “child” creates inner conflicts which often manifest in what adults regard as “rebellion”. However, on occasion, outside elements force youth to grow up which is the theme of Kai’s movie. As he explains why the movie is titled Innocent 15 at the Raindance Film Festival (paraphrasing): “The two 15-year-olds are in one sense ‘pure and unspoiled.’ But the world isn’t like that. There are horrible situations in this world like those depicted in the movie–no, worse probably exist–yet because they’re still ‘unworldly,’ such things are like scenery blurring by in a car window; they’re irrelavant to them. But slowly, the harsh world …

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The Sower

For independent filmmakers, shooting a family drama has the added benefit of a low production cost. However, the story and script must then be the primary value of the movie, and this is where wheat is separated from the chaff. Takeuchi Yosuke’s The Sower seems to have all the qualities to set it apart from most others. It’s theme of redemption and renewal may be representative of the genre, but the journey on which Takeuchi takes the characters is both special and emotionally impactful. A man afflicted with the mental and emotional grief of working in the disaster stricken areas of the Great East Japan Earthquake is released from a mental hospital after three years and is warmly welcomed back by his brother and his sister-in-law, who have two children; two girls, one with down syndrome. When the man agrees to take the two children to an amusement park, a tragic accident occurs which tears apart the family. A lie begets another lie while sorrow and anguish brings to the fore long held, deeply held …