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For once I turned down a last-minute request to cover at work and thought I had a perfect plan for Sunday. Then things didn’t quite go as planned and I am hanging out in the SOAS Postgraduate Common Room (taking a nap, nibbling on sushi & drinking matcha soy milk) instead of being at the cinema to watch 赤い季節 (Akai Kisetsu/A Road Stained Crimson, Japan, 2012 – fingers crossed I’ll manage to see it tomorrow).

Oh well. At least it means I can fit in a couple hours of PhD work. And write the Trailer Weekly, which this week is the result of randomicity – mostly browsing asianwiki.com and arbitrarily clicking on various actors’ profiles.

  • 長い散歩」 (Nagai sanpo/A Long Walk, Japan, 2006) – I have been meaning to include this film in a Trailer Weekly for a while already, but could never find a trailer. It seems to have been added on asianwiki.com recently, which is great! I’m captivated by the first few seconds of the video already. Nagai sanpo is the story of an old man, Yasuda, who is burdened by his past of physically abusing his wife and daughter. Widowed, his daughter long estranged, he moves to the countryside in his lonesome, old days and meets a little girl named Sachi on the porch of the apartment block he lives in. Mistreated by her mother and her mother’s boyfriend, Sachi is wary of humans. Yasuda however reaches out to her to make amends for his past, taking her on a long walk. I really wonder how this film will turn out, because, to be honest, it’s a difficult topic we have got here: while Yasuda might want to make amends, it’s not like the awful things he has done in the past can be undone, nor is it certain that he deserves forgiveness. It will require a skilled director to make it a film that doesn’t lose itself in whitewashing and too easy resolutions/absolutions. I at least want an honest exploration of the issues at hand.
  • 聴こえてる、ふりをしただけ」 (Kikoeteru, Furi wo Sita Dake/Just Pretended to Hear, Japan, 2011) – When checking some information about This Ain’t California (which I reviewed earlier this week) at the website of the Berlinale, I stumbled across this film about another girl called Sachi. This Sachi is a little older and still coming to terms with the death of her mother. Her only keepsake is a necklace with a ring, which makes Sachi feel that her mother remains near her. When she loses the necklace and her father loses himself in a kind of dementia, Sachi’s already damaged world falls apart further.
  • 熊熊爱上你 (Xióngxióng ài shàng nǐ/Bear It, Taiwan) – Okay, this is a weird one. Don’t say I didn’t warn you: it’s about teddybears. Peter is a travel guide that takes said teddies on holidays for his clients. When he gets into a car accident, a trio of bears is lost, which lands him in big trouble. He finds some smaller replicas and tries to convince the owners that the bears have shrunk, but are the still the same ones. It’s an “off-beat Taiwanese comedy full of unique personality” (quote) and all the reviews I have seen are encouragingly positive. The film even won its director, Cheng Fen-fen, the Best Original Film award at the Asian Film Festival in Italy.
  • アヒルと鴨のコインロッカー」 (Ahiru to kamo no koinrokka/The Foreign Duck, the Native Duck and God in a Coin Locker, Japan, 2007) – I noticed this one a few weeks back because of its undeniably awesome title (I wish more film titles were as whacky as this!). Of course the story it tells has to be quirky too: Shiina, a short, nervous, but somehow determined student and great Bob Dylan fan, meets Kawasaki, his tall and essentially polar opposite neighbour, who also declares himself a fan of Dylan. Kawasaki enlists Shiina’s help in a madcap plan (screenshots seem to suggest it involves pistols) to steal a dictionary from another neighbour, a Bhutanese exchange student that Kawasaki’s ex has fallen for. Sounds like we are up for some comic entanglements. Update: Third Window Films will be releasing the film in January 2013.
  • あの夏、いちばん静かな海」 (Ano natsu, ichiban shizukana umi/A Scene at Sea, Japan, 1991) – Directed by Kitano Takeshi. An oldie (well, sort of – someone made fun of me recently for calling a film from the ’80s ‘old’). It is about a hearing-impaired man, who one day finds a broken surfboard. Encouraged by his girlfriend, who is also deaf, he begins to take an interest in surfing. It’s a film about their love for one another and it doesn’t matter where you look on the web, everyone seems to be heaping praise on this film (“masterpiece” is a common descriptor). By the way, the film is available at HMV for £7 (and probably elsewhere too).
  • Maori Boy Genius (New Zealand, 2012) – I tend to be wary of “genius” stories, even more so in documentary form. But this one, hmm, there’s something (even if I would prefer a different title). Synopsis from the Sydney Film Festival: “He’s a charismatic teen who stands six foot five. His first language is Maori, he’s a dancer and traditional storyteller – and he’s also the hope for the future. When he was born, the elders remember seeing a double rainbow. Ngaa Rauuira Pumanawawhiti was destined to be a leader, perhaps even a future prime minister. At age 13, he gained a degree in Maori studies; at 16 he enrols in a summer class at Yale University and heads to the States with his father as chaperone. ‘Ngaa carries the expectations of his people to lead them out of horrific poverty, lack of education, gangs and prisons. His family went into debt just to sponsor the summer school,’ says director Brettkelly. ‘But he’s also a kid who laughs about girlfriends, or simply wants to hang out with his mates.'” (source)

Bonus Bits

Nada! 🙂 Or maybe that should be :-(.