Dearest ‘Anata e’ – Review

On Monday last week, A and I travelled across the harbour to see the movie ‘Dearest’ which was unable to be shown at last years Japanese Film Festival and which was playing at the Dendy Quays cinema as a third attempt. What follows is my review of the movie.

Ken Takakura, an icon of Japanese cinema, plays Eiji Kurashima, a recent widower and elderly prison counsellor. His wife, Yoko, performed compassionately if sparingly by Yuko Tanaka, has left him a card asking that her ashes be scattered in the harbour of her home town. He takes a leave of absence and starts his dutiful pilgrimage. 

Kurashima’s travels take him from his home in the north all the way to Kyushu and along the way he comes across some fellow lost souls including some comical encounters with Beat Takeshi as a retired teacher with another life and Tsuyoshi Kusanagi and Koichi Sato who play two food stall cooks he keeps bumping into and it is these scenes that flesh out the middle part of the film and that give us some emotional flesh to hang on this film’s bones.

The journey provides Eiji with the opportunity to relive some magical moments with his lost love and provides some context about why she asked him to embark on this journey. When he eventually makes it to her home town and comes across a photo of her as a teenager in a shop window, the viewer is left with a perfect example of what separates some foreign cinema from the cookie cutter Hollywood product we get nowadays.

The final third of the movie has Eiji receiving help from mother and daughter (Kimiko Yo and Haruka Ayase) to finally scatter the ashes as well as giving the audience a surprise that I did not see coming. I would not say the cinematography was outstanding but some scenes were beautifully shot and it was well edited. The dialogue was well done but with as with most subtitled films, there is always the possibility that you miss the cultural essence of what the characters are saying and what lies behind their words.

Overall, this film was another winner for me and I look forward to seeing more of Ken Takakura’s films in the future. A national treasure of Japanese cinema, there is a back catalogue of 205 films to catch up on so best I start.


Results of my Two Week Holiday

Well what initially started as a short one week break from work extended to two weeks with Easter rolled in at the end so I will not be returning to work until Tuesday which is a pretty decent 18 days off. 

Thinking back, I had some tasks what I wanted to tick off during this break so I will review them below. 

1. Learn how to embed photos into my blog posts.

Yes, this was achieved. I did some research but also got great advice from my blogging mentor Jeannie. Thanks mate. She has some great travel and eating blogs so please check them out. Also, although I did learn how to spice my blogs up with photos, I now need to find some photos worthy of inclusion.

2. Finish ‘The Ninja’

Done. So now I am trying to finish ‘Sandakan’ by Paul Ham before I get into Book 5 of David Wingrove’s Chung Kuo

3. See ‘Lincoln’, ‘Silver Linings Playbook’, ‘Argo’ and ‘Zero Dark Thirty’

All except SLP. Argo was great, then Lincoln and then the plodding Zero Dark Thirty. Instead of SLP, I caught ‘Dearest’ which was left over from last years Japanese Film Festival. Review to follow.

4. Get Car fixed and chase up travel insurance refund

Done ($580) and done.

5. Write some more blog posts.

Technically, yes but writing posts about writing posts don’t really count.

During our two week break, A and I managed to spend two nights over at the Astral Hotel at Star City Casino here in Sydney. With an upgrade to a two bedroom suite, it was pretty impressive and it was great to spend some time eating some wonderful food as well as doing some shopping. I found a great little shop that sells old maps from 100-200 years ago which I will write about in later posts.

For now, it’s back into the rhythms of home life again

Results from Week One of my Holiday

Well friends,

Its Monday and my week of leave was so relaxing I took another one. (That, and the fact that I only achieved half of my goals.) I managed to see ‘Lincoln’ (8 out of 10) and ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ (7 out of 10) and finish ‘The Ninja’ as well as learn how to embed photos into my blogs. However, I have not seen ‘Argo’ or ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ nor have I managed to write any blog posts except this and the one preceding it which I don’t really count. 

I want to review the two movies I saw as well as write a post on Hawaiian Shirts and my new Canon 60D and I still need to brush up on my Japanese before tomorrow’s class. Tonight, A and I are off to see ‘Dearest’ at the Dendy Quay Cinemas. Regular readers will remember that this is the movie that repeatedly did not work at the Japanese Film Festival late last year so the Japan Foundation is showing it again.

I know this is a quick update but my computer is running slow so I will post again soon.


Day One of My Week Off

It’s Monday here in Sydney and day one of my week off. For those of you who don’t already know, I was meant to be walking around New York as I write this, checking out cool museums and the like. Of course, my wife and I had to cancel our 3 week holiday in America because our little “baby to be” decided to spice up our lives with some complications that prevented us flying. Is this a taste of things to come? Is this little treasure going to send me to the Funny Farm For Stressed Out Fathers Of Teenage Girls?

The weekend has already had its tribulations however. Having driven all over Sydney searching for an appropriate gift for the baby shower of a friend of my wife, “A”, i then proceeded to drive her there. On the way home I had some old guy beep his horn at me and abuse me through his wound down window because I had the hide to slow down at a Give Way sign. What can I say? Sometimes a Give Way sign should be respected. Anyway, things got a whole lot more interesting when we were coming home from me picking A up. You see, while driving in Neutral Bay, in traffic, my brakes failed.

Yep, there are a few moments in life where your concentration narrows and you can hear individual atoms vibrating at their specific frequencies and one of those times is when the car in front of you is looming in your windscreen and your right foot is almost through the firewall into the engine. On with the handbrake, into neutral and scanning the other side of the road (not an option in this case). That beautiful car stopped in time but I was still stuck in traffic. What the hell do I do now?

I put my hazard lights on and drove about 40 km/h until I made it to a side road and called the NRMA road services. By that stage, my brakes had returned about 10% but were still unsafe  so the world’s best mobile mechanic escorted me while I delicately brought the car and A home. And here I am ‘enjoying’ my first day of my break counting the dollars it will cost to get my car fixed while still waiting for a travel insurance refund for my failed trip to the USA. Perspective check: Wife, unborn child and I are safe, warm, fed and housed so I should shut up now.

Anyway, the sun is shining outside, there are books to be read, movies to be caught up on and I need to keep up my study of Japanese. My to do list for this week is:

Learn how to embed photos into my blog posts

Finish Eric Van Lustbader’s “The Ninja” ( I emailed him and got a reply. How good is that?)

See “Lincoln”, “Silver Linings Playbook”, “Argo”, “Zero Dark Thirty” (Ambitious, I know!)

Get car fixed and pursue my travel insurance refund (Looking forward to that)

Write some more blog posts


I will let you know how I go with these at the end of the week.