Well it’s that time of year again, cinefiles! The 16th Japanese Film Festival in on again in Sydney and Melbourne and I hope that you have managed to catch some of the great films on offer this year. I have only managed to see two so far but with a week to go, you and I have plenty of opportunities to get down to your local moving pictures house and get your anime, J-Pop, tear jerker, J-crime, high school girly movie groove on and see some cracking stories brought to the big screen. Its not too late and the pricing is reasonable so here is the Sydney and Melbourne listings for you.
The below are not meant to be complete film reviews. I will leave that to another time but are merely a quick précis as well as my thoughts on the films
1. Bunny Drop
Daikichi, a 27 year old bachelor, artfully played by Matsuyama Kenichi (Death Note) returns for his grandfather’s funeral to find that the old man had fathered a daughter, Rin, now six, and beautifully acted by Ashida Mana (Mother). The opening scenes, that include his arrival, the funeral and him deciding that he will look after the child after the more responsible adults make abundant excuses are heart-warming. A standard ‘biting off more than he can chew’ movie, it confirms from the get go why I would rather spend my money watching something that comes from somewhere other than Hollywood. Although the fantasy scenes which find Daikichi dancing with a women in a magazine left me cold, the scenes with Yukari, played by Karina (single word name), lent a more rendered and deeper nuance to the film, particularly in the second half. The school concert near the finale was beautifully done and confirmed Ashida Mana as a little gem. 7 ½/10
Another cracking movie. Toru (Muira Tomokazu) has been an efficient, stoic and unemotional train driver for over forty years and when he is due for retirement in a month’s time, is looking forward to spending some time relaxing and travelling with his wife, Sawako, played with dignity by Yo Kimiko. She has other plans and wants to live her life now by working at a Palliative Care hospital and outpatients clinic. Showing us the undercurrents that swirl within that a marriage of that Japanese generation, we see a man who is finally relieved of the duty he took on himself many years ago and now wants to see the world with the love of his life, and a woman, who has been living a typical sacrificial life of a Japanese housewife and who now sees her chance to do more. Their love for each other is not strong enough a bulwark against his stubbornness and her determination and the movie concentrates on their lives apart as well as his gradual understanding. The two favourite scenes for me were his last day of duty, bringing tears to my eyes, and the quiet scene of him rediscovering his hobby from his youth. Impeccable film! 9/10
I am unable to review this movie as technical difficulties managed to stop it showing at the cinema. The Japanese Film Festival have announced that it will be shown again on Wednesday 21st November at 6.00pm. A review will follow at that time.