Archive for the ‘Movie Impressions’ Category

Two Ghibli Shorts Screened One Night Only at Carnegie Hall

March 31, 2011 Leave a comment

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Fist of Legend, sequel to Donnie Yen’s portrayal.

March 8, 2011 Leave a comment

Before I get into the song aspect, what is the inspiration of this post.. mostly because of the post and trailer that I saw here.

I forgot that Donnie Yen was going to be in a movie sequel of Fist Of Fury… I did see in an interview that he is a sincere fan of Bruce Lee.. just like Stephen Chow is. So here’s several prior initial impressions I have of Fist Of Legend.

  1. I really am not a fan of the period.Give me a contemporary Hong Kong movie piece but definitely post-Manchu Dynasty, and pre-Communist era. I probably won’t see this movie
  2. Action gets really boring.
  3. This is a very nationalistic Chinese message, nothing is wrong with that..just a lot of things I don’t want to think much about.

Fist of Fury is an original movie portrayed by Bruce Lee on Chen Zhen’s struggle for upholding the name of his dojo. This is a movie portrayed by Bruce Li, Jackie Chen and Jet Li, but if you look on the television drama, I can’t help but remember Donnie Yen’s initial potrayal of Chen Zhen in an ATV production. He is actually singing the drama’s theme song. So from what I can gather, Fist of Legend is a sequel of Fist of Fury the ATV television version.

Another random part I think about Fist of Fury is Stephen Chow’s parody of it, in his movie King of Comedy, the Fist of Fury reference comes in around 6:11.

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NYAFF 2010: Third week…

July 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Last week was the last week of 2010’s Japan Cuts… and I was able to catch two more movies.

Villons Wife

Plot -What is the purpose of a marriage? Is it to honor, love, and obey? What happens when there if there is adultery? What then is the worth of a partnership.

Impression -This was a period movie piece, so I was impressed with the acting from the actors in this cast. Granted this is my second opportunity I had to see this movie, I still believe that this is a pretty solid performance from Matsu Takako. She plays a patient, suffering mother/wife splendidly. At times, I thought of different times were, and how valid Takako’s argument was at the end to her husband. What is she to do when she sees her husband obviously cheat on her, and when she has a role to fulfill. I wonder then what would be the reality for this couple, if they were real, as they continue to survive past the movie.

About Her Brother

Plot -There’s always a black sheep in the family, but what happens if something happens, would you shun that black sheep or embrace them?

Impression –  Several surprises, I cried at this movie, and was sad to see it end. I was surprised that Nakai from SMAP had a cameo in this film. This was a slice of life portrayal of how the Japanese families can be quite similar to an American dysfunctional family. It also taps upon death/dying issues, and how a family does cope. It is also rare for me to see divorce mentioned in Japanese movies, so this is a gem of a movie to be enjoyed.

This year, I managed to up, my movie viewing for Japan Cuts, and it is hard to decide which is my top choice. If I had to choose though, it would be a tie between Confessions and King of Thorn. I fully enjoyed my experiences with watching Japanese movies, when normally the chance to see Japanese movies with English subtitles are pretty limited.

NYAFF 2010 – Second Week counting..

July 12, 2010 Leave a comment

This was my second weekend with Japan Cuts, and sad to say that Japan Cuts is about to end soon. Then I would have to wait another year for this to come about. I watched three more movies, this weekend.


Difference between these two trailers, one is the official trailer, and the other is another trailer with feedback from the five main actors with the director.

Plot: How well do people really know one another, even if they are living together in an apartment?

Impression: I saw this movie with special appearances by Isao Yukisada the director and Tatsuya Fujiwara of Death Note, and Battle Royale fame. The movie successfully portrayed the mundane existence of Tokyo youth, and also portrays a darker side to the roommates who live with one another. I wouldn’t mind reading the book that this movie was based from. I recognize a majority of the cast from television dramas, this movie changed my impressions I have made of two actors from their dramas. I was real surprised with who the criminal was in the end. Still I do appreciate some messages that were in this movie, that with emotional dependency, it can often become a monster for an individual. For a person to realize this emotional dependency weakness and mature from it, then that is what growing up should be like.

Crying Out Love, in the Center of the World

Plot: Young love, one lover dies – and years later the surviving lover remembers his deep love, but is coping and to move on to a new relationship.

Impression: I had though that I would cry, during this move, but somehow I couldn’t even shed a tear for this movie – Crying Out Love was a pretty youthful movie, also directed by Isao Yukisada. The director mentions that he feels nostalgic when he re-watches this movie. Similar to Parade, this movie was also talking about youth and was based on a book. There is a television drama of this movie. Shibasaki Kou’s character was made for the movie, but as an interesting tidbit, is that she also sang the theme song for the television series. It was interesting to see how a set was definitely recreated to show the time period of 1986. Then the stunning visual of Australia at the end was quite nice.

King of Thorn

The difference between these two trailers is, one has English and the other is an original Japanese trailer with a clip of the move’s theme song, which I really like.

Plot: Imagine a world when a disease appears and has 100% fatality. There has been a successful cryogenesis facility made, and a select amount of people is chosen to sleep and wait for a cures. Well then, what happens if this sleep is interrupted and monsters appear. Well then what is the solution then?

Impression: This is the only animated feature chosen for Japan Cuts, and it was a highlight of what I have seen this weekend. I am a bit afraid for these type of movies, so for the parts of blood and gore, such as when the people was eaten or killed, I closed my eyes. I am reading the graphic novel at this time, so I knew what I was getting into, but on the print page is different from the screen. What an interesting turnabout series of events though. The movie is quite different from the graphic novel. So definitely read the series for this movie, to get a more filling picture. The entire series in six volumes is available in English from Tokyopop.

NYAFF 2010- My snapshot of Japan Cuts for three movies so far.

July 3, 2010 Leave a comment

From last month to a portion of this month, New York Asian Film Festival 2010 is happening. From my perspective, it is going to be Japan Cuts, which is Japanese movie screenings at Japan Society. Japan Cuts began on July 1, 2010, so there has been non-stop movie viewings at Japan Society now, so far I have seen three movies, and have five more movies to go see. The price for these movies are reasonable, since I am a member, so ticket prices for me are $8 compared to the normal $12 for non-Japan society members.

So far I have seen:

Sawako Decides

Plot– This is a movie about a Japanese office lady who has been in Tokyo for five years, and went through five boyfriends. What happens if she has to go back to her hometown and help her dying father’s factory.

Impressions – I liked this movie, it was a thoughtful one that makes me think about the life of a Japanese woman, how stressed one can be, pessimistic, misunderstood, and beer loving one can also be. This was a underdog succeeding type movie. There were moments in this film that made people around me, laugh out loud… although throwing bones of family members should be a no no. I have seen Mitsushima Hikari last year in Love Exposure, so this movie is a complete different role for her. I also couldn’t recognize Kotaro Shiga, it was first wig seeing him without glasses and with a wig, that I am quite use to from the dramas I have seen of him.. so I did a mental double take.


Plot -Based on a book, this is about a teacher who is also a mother, that talks to her middle school students, about the death and murder of her daughter Manami. That and she knows two students in her class was responsible

Impression – I am absolutely riveted by this film. This was a brilliant movie, that had me thinking wow. Bullying, mother complexes, musical, there are so many layers to this dark, and socially deviant movie. Just when you think there would be a cliche part, the movie twists and turns – making this a very enjoyable movie to watch. This is a complete opposite role for what I normally see Takako Matsu. She definitely plays a grieving, yet vengeful mother to the hilt. This movie definitely impacted my feelings for what a brilliant director Nakashima is. Music is also definitely a strong part of this movie, as was the cinematography was just stunning.

Dear Doctor

Plot -How much reliance should there be on a doctor? Then how about an entire village’s welfare? What happens if the doctor, who everyone in the village loves turns out to be a quack?  Then what?

Impressions – This was a pretty dry, yet mellow slice of life human interest movie, on the questions of doctor or patient privacy. I was watching this movie, and at times I felt the movie was a bit long, but it proves to be a good experience. The doctor who is played by Tsurube Shofukutei won an award for this role. There was the appearance of  many other actors/actresses that I have recognized. I recognized Eita, Sasano Takashi, Yachigusa Kaoru, Matsushige Yutaka, and Kagawa Teruyuki.
Hmm. I will be going to see more movies.. so I will be writing snapshot reviews for those as well.

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Neko Ramen Taisho – cat with a dream to surpass his dad.. .

September 12, 2009 2 comments

graduation copy

All right, the main character of this movie is a puppet, but in a story that reminds me of the father and son interaction in Oshinbo which makes this movie whimsical, cute, and “a shake your head in disbelief” film type. The movie is overly cute, and very Japanese which can make or break it for viewers. While the plot was pure nonsense, the message was something that is what I saw a lot in many works/films, that no matter how superior a person may seem, there is a success somewhere with hard work and passion.

There are also cameos from Tama the Sationa Master Cat in and Karin/Kurin who apparently are famous cats in Japan for cat lovers. The live action actors are actually people who I don’t know much about, but the Taisho’s interest love interest is pretty cute. Oh and here’s another review for the movie.

Here’s a trailer from Youtube.

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NYAF’s Cyborg She aka Boku no Kanojo wa Saibogu

July 13, 2009 3 comments

Okay so the weekend has been pretty packed, this was the last 2009 New York Asian Film Festival movie I went with my sister to watch. The festival ended on July 12 – so  I saw this on July 11.

cyborg she

Prior to the movie, what made me go see it was because Koide Keisuke, who I have not seen since Rookies the dorama. I didn’t realized until after the movie that Ayase Haruka was also in the movie. I am currently watching her in Mr. Brain, so let’s just say what a surprise. Her features are pretty different from Mr. Brain, or it is the hair? I believe though, because she acts as a cyborg might have me not recognizing her.

This is a pretty good movie, it is similar to all the other cyborg movies I have seen – pretty sad with the premises and possibilities. Not sad as a romantic picture though. This movie is the first Japanese film by Korean director Kwak Jae-Young who also directed 2001’s Korean romantic movie My Sassy Girl. That movie I didn’t particularly care for at all.

Cyborg She is about Jiro, a college student who spends his birthday alone, until one night he meets a girl, and this girl disappears to reappear a year later – completely different from the previous year. He finds out that she is a cyborg sent to rescue him, and from there – their relationship grows, and this movie expands. This movie does have time paradoxes like Back to the Future, and as reviews said, pays some homage to Terminator.

Those familiar to Japanese entertainment (doramas and movies) should note that Takenaka Naoto, Kohinata Fumiyo, and Hiromasa Taguchi also made cameos. Well those cameos were memorable for me, although the antics of Jiro’s friend is funny and annoying at the same time.

Here’s a trailer to the movie:

Categories: Movie Impressions

NYAFF’s Love Exposure aka Ai no mukidashi

July 4, 2009 5 comments

Happy 4th of July.. what a languid day. So what did I do yesterday?

love exposure

I went to the showing of Love Exposure at Japan Society, this is a four hour loooong film, that stars Nishijima Takahiro, Hikari Mitsushima, and Sakura Ando among others. There was a special Q&A session afterwards with the director, Shion Sono, plus a party. This is all part of the New York Asian Film Festival.

This is a film about a pure Japanese youth, Yu (Nishijima Takahiro) who strives to make his father/priest Tetsu, (Atsuro Watabe) acknowledge him after his father gets dumped by Saori (Makiko Watanabe). His father in his grief selfishly makes his son pay for his own woes by getting him to confess to any sin that he may commit. Because of wanting to gain approval, Yu begins a road on being a voyeur of female underwear photography shots. Of course this has repercussions, as he attracts the attention of a cult recruiter Koike (Sakura Ando).

The ironic part was that, before Yu’s mother died, she told him to introduce a woman like the Holy Virgin Mary to her when he meets her. His father eventually acknowledges him as a hentai. The climax of the film was when Yu meets the love of his life, Yoko. The rest of the film explores the consequences of him as a hentai, and how would he rescue Yoko from the clutches of a cult.

Lots of blood, sex,  and abuse in this crazy feature film. It was a well paced film, with development for most of the characters. I don’t believe I’ll sit through this movie again, but I would have to say this is a movie to go see at least once in your life.

There’s a Japanese flavor of confronting Roman Catholicism, and while this may offend devout believers, it is quite interesting how a Japanese film maker pokes fun at the organized religion.

In the special Q & A session afterwards, Shion Sono mentioned that he is not a church going person, but if there was a fan club for God, then he would join. The Q & A session was peppered with questions and impressions of the length of the movie and how much Roman Catholicism actually played in this film.

After the Q&A session was over, some points did stood out for me. I didn’t think of these questions to ask, but if there is ever a chance to, definitely these are probably points to think about.

  • Why did the director made the back stories of the two female leads in this film to have such twisted background? It did provide some interesting lesbian scenes, but was there any other reason?
  • By the middle of the movie though, Tetsu’s character became so bland that I thought his character was quite a waste by the end of the film.
  • What was the purpose of the cult’s leader who was portrayed by Usamaru Furuya? Was there a point to the Zero Church?

This is the trailer to the film.

Categories: Movie Impressions
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