Our Huff and Puff Journey

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OUR-HUFF-AND-PUFF-JOURNEY-01This film was likened to Wonderful World End (MIFF 2015), a surprisingly poignant Japanese exploration of identity in contemporary Japan, and I can see it has some similarities. Our Huff and Puff Journey follows four school girls, obsessed with pop band Creep, who set off on their push bikes to get to their concert in Tokyo. Full of obsessive enthusiasm, they don’t seem daunted by the 1000km journey from Fukuoka and only vaguely aware of the repercussions once their parents find out and they have to come home. Continue reading

After the Storm

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AFTER-THE-STORM-1I was a little tired watching this pleasing Japanese drama. I think if it had been an 11am session and had a coffee in hand I would have engaged with it a lot more. As it was, it reminded me a little of a few others I have seen so far – What’s in the Darkness, The Demons, Harmonium – quiet, observational studies of family life where not a lot happens but we get to understand a little about cultural expectations of parenting, what has led the main characters to the situation they are now in. Continue reading

Madly

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MADLY-01Madly is six short films, each by a different director and based in a different country. They all explore some aspect of love and are stylistically and emotionally diverse. It’s hard to choose a single rating for six such different films and I struggle with the episodic nature of anthologies of short films; no sooner have you engaged with the story than you have to leave. They are all interesting, the first three – from India, Australia and the US (though directed by a Chilean Sebastián Silva) – are my favourites. Continue reading

Harmonium

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HARMONIUM-1I’m not really sure what this film was trying to say and it took just a bit too long to not say it. Toshio and Akié are a married couple with a young daughter, Hotaru. One day a neat, quiet man, Yasaka, arrives and Toshio gives him work and invites him to stay in their house. Toshio’s demeanour and offhand furtiveness show that there is more to this connection than meets the eye and his generosity is not necessarily being done through friendship. Continue reading

Journey to the Shore

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Oh Lordy. I should have left half way through this Japanese film. I’d just seen a really delightful Japanese film, Wonderful World End, and this one started well. We see a women, Mizuki, drifting in and out of her day. She teaches piano, lives alone. Then a man appears in her apartment and we soon realise he is her dead husband Yusuke, who drowned himself three years before. She’s not surprised to see him and when they begin a journey together, others can see and talk to him too. I liked this quirk of the film and I wondered whether it says something about Japanese culture and how they view death. Continue reading

Wonderful World End

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What a kooky and delightful film. I knew it would be different. The synopsis said it was about a 17-year-old Gothic-Lolita cosplaying model who twitcasts for her fans. This one is part of the Next Gen program, I’ve seen a few – Being 14, My Skinny Sister, Gayby Baby, Me Romantic Romani – not by design so much as being interested in adolescence and female identity. I have had a glimpse of life for teens in France, Sweden, Australia, Italy and now Japan. The thread that has run through just about all of them is that adolescence is hard and parents don’t listen. Continue reading