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Posts Tagged ‘Japanese’

REVIEW – Audition (オーディション)

October 8, 2016 1 comment
auditionDirected by: Takashi Miike
Produced by: Satoshi Fukushima, Akemi Suyama
Screenplay by: Daisuke Tengan
Edited by: Yasushi Shimamura
Cinematography by: Hideo Yamamoto
Music by: Koji Endo
Starring: Ryo Ishibashi, Eihi Shiina, Jun Kunimura, Renji Ishibashi, Tetsu Sawaki, Miyuki Matsuda, Toshie Negishi, Shigeru Saiki, Ken Mitsuishi, Ren Ohsugi
Year: 1999

 

“Kiri, kiri, kiri…”

For years, this movie remained a source of almost profound morbid curiosity for me. When it was available on Netflix’s streaming service, I put it there almost immediately, and yet it sat in my queue for what seems like years (and probably was). The woman with an ominous syringe in her black-gloved hand in the artwork seemingly looked down upon me for my cowardice for being far too frightened to just hit “Play” and see what she intends to do with it. I’d heard about the film and even read some vague commentary on its premise, but I’d managed to avoid spoilers for the most part, and I never really had the full picture as a result. Most of what I’d heard surrounded the film’s sudden shift in tone and allusions to the shocking and disturbing imagery that awaited viewers who worked up the courage to follow through in their own viewing experience. Read more…

THEATRICAL REVIEW: The Wind Rises (風立ちぬ)

March 12, 2014 1 comment
The Wind RisesDirected by: Hayao Miyazaki
Produced by: Toshio Suzuki
Written by: Hayao Miyazaki
Edited by: Takeshi Seyama
Cinematography by: Atsushi Okui
Music by: Joe Hisaishi
Starring: (Japanese) Hideaki Anno, Miori Takimoto, Hidetoshi Nishijima, Masahiko Nishimura, Steve Alpert, Morio Kazama, Keiko Takeshita, Mirai Shida, Jun Kunimura, Shinobu Otake, Nomura Mansai; (English Disney dub) Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Martin Short, Werner Herzog, William H. Macy, Darren Criss, Mae Whitman, Mandy Patinkin, Jennifer Grey, Stanley Tucci, Elijah Wood, Ronan Farrow, Zach Callison
Based on the manga Kaze Tachinu by Hayao Miyazaki, the novel The Wind Has Risen by Tatsuo Hori, and inspired by a true story
Year: 2013, 2014 (US)

 

Review is based on the Disney/Touchstone English dub.

Touted as the last film to be directed by legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki, The Wind Rises understandably will carry a lot of weight with fans of the director, Studio Ghibli, and animation in general, with the film even being nominated recently in the Academy Awards’ Best Animated Feature category. The director has, since the 70s, made a name for himself as a whimsical filmmaker with a fine attention to detail, both visually in the work his crew puts out and within the worlds and personalities of the characters he portrays in his films, which rarely feel anything like the stereotypical animé Western audiences are more familiar with, and yet also so distinctly different from Western animation from any era. Understandably, he’s going to be missed, and while Studio Ghibli has plenty of talent to build off of and directors who have proven to be more than capable of creating films in the same mold as the elder Miyazaki, it’s unlikely that we’ll be seeing the like of his work ever again (so long as he’s actually serious about staying retired). Read more…

REVIEW: Tokyo Godfathers

December 24, 2013 5 comments
Tokyo GodfathersDirected by: Satoshi Kon, Sh­­ogo Furuya
Produced by: Masao Maruyama, Masao Takiyama, Shinichi Kobayashi, Taro Maki
Written by: Satoshi Kon, Keiko Nobumoto (screenplay); Satoshi Kon (story)
Edited by: Takeshi Seyama
Cinematography by: Katsutoshi Sugai
Music by: Keiichi Suzuki, Moonriders
Starring: Aya Okamoto, Toru Emori, Yoshiaki Umegaki, Satomi Korogi, Shozo Iizuka, Seizo Kato, Hiroyama Ishimaru, Ryuji Saikachi, Yusaku Yara, Kyoko Terase, Mamiko Noto, Rikiya Koyoama
Year: 2003

 

It’s funny how so many Christmas movies are about rich, good-looking people celebrating this time of giving together and learning life lessons and/or finding love together. You would think that more movies would focus on those who are most in need, right? I think the problem is that somewhere in the movie making system, someone thinks that nobody wants to watch a story that might potentially depress them during a time of year when a lot of people actually are struggling and suffering, and so instead we get tripe like The Family Stone, wherein a rich awful family emotionally tortures a rich career woman who is dating their golden boy son in the confines of their ideal home, and somehow we’re supposed to grow to like these snobs. (I thought of reviewing the film this year, but I gave out so many negative reviews, I couldn’t possibly bring myself to subject you and me to that, so let this be a little teaser, perhaps, for next year.) Read more…

REVIEW: From Up on Poppy Hill (コクリコ坂から)

November 13, 2013 1 comment
From Up on Poppy HillDirected by: Goro Miyazaki
Produced by: Toshio Suzuki
Written by: Hayao Miyazaki, Keiko Niwa (screenplay)
Edited by: Takeshi Seyama
Cinematography by: Atsuhi Okui
Music by: Satoshi Takebe
Starring: Masami Nagasawa, Sarah Bolger, Junichi Okada, Anton Yelchin, Keiko Takeshita, Christina Hendricks, Jun Fubuki, Jamie Lee Curtis, Yuriko Ishida, Gillian Anderson, Takashi Naito, Bruce Dern, Shunsuke Kazama, Charlie Saxton, Teruyuki Kagawa, Beau Bridges, Rumi HIiragi, Aubrey Plaza, Emily Osment, Goro Miyazaki, Ronan Farrow, Ron Howard
Based on the manga by Tetsuro Sayama and Chiziru Takahasi
Year: 2011 (Japan), 2013 (US)

 

A friend of mine pointed out soon after he read this review that it’s important that I specify that I watched the English dub — not due to the dub’s inherent inferiority (it is very good), but due to a stylistic choice in the English dub’s voice casting of a character during a pivotal dream sequence. I will not spoil it here, but after having this brought to light, I feel it is necessary that I point this out. I actually really like the thematic depth the English dub adds, whereas he did not. Either way, my rating stands.

I’m normally an admirer of his reviews, but I must say that it’s a shame that Roger Ebert regarded From Up on Poppy Hill as a disappointment, especially as he was such a notable fan of Studio Ghibli’s, and this would, sadly, be the last film of theirs that he would ever review. While it may not reach the same sort of visual spectacle of the studio’s more fantastic and popular films – Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind among the studio’s most notable – From Up on Poppy Hill is no less a visual masterpiece and is one of the more touching, quieter films that have come out of the studio. It may not go on to be their most memorable or most favorited film among the studio’s throngs of fans, but as director Goro Miyazaki’s second film after the disappointing Tales from Earthsea, which actually was more like what you would expect from an anime studio, to criticize this dramatically superior but more intimate film for being something that it never aspired to be in the first place feels like doing the film a disservice. Read more…

Review: “Macross II: The Movie” (“超時空要塞マクロスII -LOVERS AGAIN-“)

August 3, 2013 6 comments
Macross IIDirected by: Ken’ichi Yatagai
Produced by: Shinichi Iguchi, Hiroaki Inoue, Hiroshi Kakoi, Hirotake Kanda, Keiji Kusano, Minoru Takanashi
Written by: Sukehiro Tomita
Art Direction by: Hidenori Nakahata
Cinematography by: Kazuhiro Konishi
Music by: Shirô Sagisu
Starring: Tsutomu Takayama, Hiroko Kasahara, Yumi Tôma, Yoshisada Sakaguchi, Bin Shimada, Yukio Satō, Ryūzaburō Ōtomo, Takeshi Kusao, Yoshisada Sakaguchi, Tōru Furuya, Ryōtarō Okiayu, Takeshi Watabe, Aya Hara
Year: 1993

 

This is honestly the first non-Studio Ghibli, non-video-game-related anime movie I’ve ever really sat down to watch with the intention of actually watching the thing all the way through to the end. My friend who had suggested K-PAX a while ago had originally suggested the original Macross movie (actually a TV program edited into a movie which is more accurately named The Super Dimension Fortress Macross, but… well, we’ll just stick to Macross for this review), but, upon browsing Netflix, it looked like all they carried was the series version that spanned 8 discs – and there was no way I was going to watch all that. Hence, the coaxing of his left field suggestion of K-PAX. But, lucky for me, my friend had figured out that, yes, there is actually a Macross movie I could review, and he just so happened to own it: Macross II: The Movie (a.k.a.: The Super Dimension Fortress Macross II: Lovers Again, though, again, we’ll just shorten it to Macross II). Read more…

Review: “Battle Royale” (バトル・ロワイアル)

September 18, 2012 1 comment
Directed by: Kinji Fukasaku
Produced by: Masao Sato, Masumi Okada, Teruo Kamaya, Tetsu Kayama
Written by: Kenta Fukasaku (screenplay)
Cinematography by: Katsumi Yanagishima
Music by: Masamichi Amano
Starring: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Aki Maeda, Taro Yamamoto, Masanobu Ando, Kou Shibasaki, Chiaki Kuriyama, Takeshi Kitano
Based on the novel Battle Royale (バトル・ロワイアル) by Koushun Takami
Year: 2000

 

Director Kinji Fukasaku once said that he took on the duties of directing this adaptation of Koushun Takami’s novel thanks in large part to his experiences as a 15-year-old, working in one of Japan’s munitions factories during World War II. When he realized that the government had been lying to them about war, he grew to distrust adults, a resentment that apparently had carried on well into his own adulthood. Though I haven’t read the original novel, it’s easy to see why he was so drawn into the project, given his history. Battle Royale seems to take the stance that teenagers need not necessarily always listen to their elders and should always question their reasons for putting them through the systems that they set in the way as they head into adulthood. In this case, the system is represented through the titular 3-day, all out battle to the death between teenagers selected at random by the government in a post-millennial attempt to curtail the rise in youth crimes and once again regain the respect the younger generation no longer holds toward their elders. Read more…

Review: “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”

September 1, 2012 Leave a comment
Directed by: David Gelb
Produced by: Kevin Iwashina, Tom Pellegrini
Cinematography by: David Gelb
Music by: Jeff Foxworth, The Ontic, Rye Randa
Featuring: Jiro Ono, Yoshikazu Ono, Takashi Ono, Masuhiro Yamamoto, Hachiro Mizutani
Year: 2011

 

It’s not uncommon these days for the only recognition a restaurateur or chef gains is for their notoriety. We get reality shows like Cake Boss and Kitchen Nightmares which, regardless of the actual talents involved in the productions, mostly focus on spectacle and shouting. Ask almost anyone who Gordon Ramsay is, and, if they’re actually able to connect the name to the person, they’re more likely to talk about how much of a foul-mouthed hard ass he is more than they are the actual skills that he possesses — which is a shame because Gordon Ramsay is undoubtedly a very skilled, very talented man who just so happens to have a rather… uptight reputation. That’s why when I came across this instructional video of Ramsay demonstrating his technique for making scrambled eggs, laughing and even showing a sensitive side by talking about serving breakfast in bed to the misses, I was honestly taken aback! How come we, as a society, care more about the screaming and loud personalities than we do about the actual person on screen and the skills they possess? Read more…

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