High Heels Revolution! (Hai Hîru kakumei!) (2016)

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Image via japanesefilmfestival.net

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It was the topic that drew me to this documentary. Kaoru grew up in Japan, assigned a boy at birth but always feeling like a girl. As an adult, and now called Natsuki, she narrates her early life at school and the challenges of admitting, and being accepted for, who she really is. Interspersed with reenacted drama, this is an engaging story that teaches us about gender identity and expression in Japan, and leaves us pondering about gender roles in relationships.  Continue reading

Ancien and the Magic Tablet

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Image via japanesefilmfestival.net

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It was a feelgood Sunday for me at the Japanese Film Festival with two charmers – My Uncle and this animation that also showed at MIFF this year. Aimed at kids, it is a two-layered story about Kokone (voiced by Mitsuki Takahata), whose father Momo (Yôsuke Eguchi) repairs cars, and Princess Ancien, whose magic tablet allows her to give life to objects in the beleaguered kingdom of Heartland. Continue reading

This Beautiful Fantastic (2016)

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Image via imdb.com

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This slightly oddball, feel good film is formulaic in many ways but with idiosyncratic styling that lends it an off-kilter, other-worldliness. Beginning with a fairy tale realism, we see Bella Brown (Jessica Brown Findlay) abandoned as a baby in a park. Watched over by ducks until she is found, she grows up without a family and with a fear and loathing of nature.  Continue reading

The Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017)

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Faced with a choice of only three films that I could see and none of them ones that I would particularly choose (the kind of first world problem you have when your car is being serviced in a country town), I took the advice of the guy selling tickets at the cinema. He warned me off American Made (“It’s crap) and Dunkirk (“It’s boring) so The Hitman’s Bodyguard won the prize. Skimming reviews on IMDb, I expected an illogical but diverting shallow crime caper with two charismatic male leads and a few token women as love interests. And that’s exactly what I got. Continue reading