I hope everyone’s had a good weekend. I’ve been eating cherries like my life depended on it (got like 2 kg at the Farmers’ market yesterday, plus redcurrants, jostaberries and a whole lot of other goodies), spotted a Korean actor on the Tube (which I only took because after four hours of sleep two hours of bike commute to/from work felt too dangerous), enjoyed lovely coffee at a local café (yeah, I’m plugging my newish Tumblr account today) and I’m heading out Vietnamese food with a friend later (too lazy to cook and really want some tofu ♥).
Anyone get to see「風立ちぬ」(Kaze Tachinu/The Wind Rises)?
Trailers: I’m going for diversity today, at least in terms of countries, with films from Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea and the US.
- 「あの空をおぼえてる」(Ano sora wo oboeteru/Wenny Has Wings, Japan, 2008)
Dir. by Togashi Shin.
My starting point for Ano sora wo oboeteru was Takenouchi Yutaka, who always compels me with his heartfelt performances, even in half-baked tales. In this particular film he plays a photo studio owner, who lives happily with his wife, daughter and son, until tragedy strikes one day. Both children are hit by a car, but only the boy survives, shattering their happy normality forever. Depending on the exact twists and turns in the script, this sort of film can be profoundly moving or irritatingly saccharine but I’m going to trust a) that Takenouchi will deliver as always and b) that Togashi has created something worth watching, for he has done a number of films that caught my interest – see TW #26 for「天使の卵」(Tenshi no Tamago/Angel’s Egg, Japan, 2006) and TW #83 for「おしん」(Oshin/Oshin, Japan, 2013).
Note: I’m terribly pleased with myself that I can understand the entire Japanese title. Yes, there’s only one kanji, but it’s still so satisfying. The literal translation, by the way, is ‘I remember this sky’ (空 = kanji for sky).
- 「花とアリス」(Hana to Arisu/Hana and Alice, Japan, 2004)
Dir. by Iwai Shunji.
Hana to Arisu is directed by Iwai Shunji, whose films – from「リリイ・シュシュのすべて」(Riri Shushu no subete/All about Lily Chou-Chou, 2001) to「四月物語 」(Shigatsu Monogatar/April Story, 1998i) to 「ラブ・レター」(Rabu retā/Love Letter, 1995) I have featured on Trailer Weeklies before. I don’t actually know too much about this particular film, except that it sounds terribly familiar: it always seems to be mentioned somewhere. Perhaps because of its director, perhaps because of its cast – Aoi Yu and Suzuki Anne. It’s a sort of coming-of-age film about teenage friendship and love triangles, with a dash of amnesia and lies thrown in – not the most intriguing key words, but in the hands of Iwai and with Aoi and Suzuki as leads, I think there’s no need to lower our expectations.
- 카페 느와르 (Kape Neuwareu/Cafe Noir, South Korea, 2009)
Dir. by Jeong Seong-Il.
Here’s a monster film: It’s 198 minutes long. Yes, that’s three hours and eighteen minutes. It’s also the directorial debut of a well-known Korean critic, Jeong Seong-il, who explores “the mysterious meaning of life, death, realization and most of all, love” (quote) in a film that combines the stories of Goethe’s Die Leiden des jungen Werther (The Sorrows of Young Werther) and Dostoevsky’s Белые ночи (Belye nochi/White Nights). A film of such length is always a risk, which the director well knew, but Kape Neuwareu screened at the Venice Film Festival and generally garnered positive reviews – so it sounds like worth trying. Plus, I’m loving the music and the black & white cinematography of the trailer already.
- 「風切羽」(Kazakiriba/Remiges, Japan, 2013)
Dir. by Ozawa Masato.
Kazakiriba popped up in a conversation between friends on Twitter this week, with the director, Ozawa Masato (@masatooza), eventually joining in. Because the exchange involved people from the industry, I’ve now got my hopes high that we will get to see Kazakiriba in the UK sooner rather than later. The film certainly sounds like right up my alley: Sayako’s childhood has been marred by abuse from her mother and neglect from her father. She ends up in foster care, but finds little solace there. When she escapes, she meets Kenta, a soul equally lost.
- The Boxtrolls (USA, 2013)
Dir. by Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi.
I don’t watch much Western animation, but I like the trailer for this one – if only because it could stand alone as an ad for family diversity. Not sure if I will watch the film, but I do like the message that comes with it.
- 《高舉・愛》 (Gāojǔ‧ài/Love Lifting, Hong Kong, 2012)
Dir. by Herman Yau Lai-To
Although I don’t equally appreciate all of Herman Yau’s films (he has plenty of horror and action thrillers in his filmography), ever since listening to him at a Q&A at the 2012 East Winds Film Festival, I have a lot of respect for this director. He is a clearly very intelligent and socially conscious man, who will tackle sensitive topics others shy away from. In Gāojǔ‧ài, a female weightlifter, Li Li, is forced to retire after she develops diabetes. She marries and has a child, but still dreams of the life she left behind – in particular her Olympic ambitions. Reviews suggest that while the film is perhaps not the most memorable one of Yau’s oeuvre, it is still enjoyable. The comment that it “is not a manufactured zero-to-hero tale that will get audiences everywhere cheering in the aisles” (quote) is a praise, not a criticism, in my book.
- I’m very pleased about the casting announcement for Nakamura Yoshihiro’s intriguing sounding「白ゆき姫殺人事件」(Shiro Yuki Hime Satsujin Jiken/Murder of Snow White, Japan, 2014): Ayano Gou and Inoue Mao will star. I’m delighted that Ayano is finally becoming a leading man (he is headlining a few projects this and next year) and that, after her superb performance in「八日目の蝉」 (Youkame no Semi/Rebirth, 2011), Inoue is taking on yet another role that will challenge us to see her as someone other than Makino – as much fun as「花より男子」(Hana Yori Dango/Boys over Flowers, 2005-2008) was, it is the sort of cult project that can condemn an actor to a single character forever.