Trailer Weekly, the first in a long while. Especially for all you loyal readers (you know who you are ) who missed this feature. Enjoy.
- 「シミラー バット ディファレント」(Shimira Batto Difarento/Similar But Different, Japan, 2013)
Dir. by Sometani Shota.
Yes, that’s Sometani Shota as a director, in his first project behind the camera. That in itself isn’t why I’m interested in the film because from my point of view he could remain – at 21 years of age – exclusively in front of the camera for quite a while longer and it would keep me happy enough. But Sometani being Sometani (i.e. a workaholic, seemingly always with another project lined up, something totally unpredictable yet again) has decided to try his hand at directing. He also scripted the film and is acting in it too. It’s an indie of course. The story (“A man and a woman share the same time and same space. One day in the morning, they go their separate ways. The woman meets her old friend, but she looks annoyed. The man also meets his old friend again, but his thoughts are somewhere else.” – Asianwiki synopsis) sounds like it could result in something interesting, certainly in the hands of a Japanese filmmaker. It’s not a full-length feature at 25 minutes, but it ticks all my boxes.
- 「WOOD JOB！（ウッジョブ） 神去なあなあ日常」(Wood Job! Kamusari Nana Nichijo/Wood Job!, Japan, 2014)
Dir. by Yaguchi Shinobu.
On the topic of Sometani, here is another one of his projects, this time a in-front-of-the-camera one: a comedy, in which a high-school student (Sometani) ends up in the remote town of Kamusari to train as a woodsman. It’s definitely not the job of his dreams, nor the sort of place he ever imagined to find himself in. His boss, Iida Yoki (Ito Hideaki), is creepy, but there is also a local girl that inspires him.
- 「ぼっちゃん」 (Botchan/Bozo, Japan, 2013)
Dir. by Omori Tatsushi.
This one seems like a bit of bleakie: Kaji Tomoyuki is a loner. He works in a factory, where meets Tanaka. Tanaka is a loner just as much as him, but the two become each other’s first friend – at least until Tomoyuki gets fired and, feeling betrayed in life and love and otherwise, is pushed to the edge. Might get dark.
- 「サッドティー」(Saddo Ti/Sad Tea, Japan, 2013)
Dir. by Imaizumi Rikiya.
Saddo Ti popped upon Third Window Films Top 10 films of 2013 countdown this week, with the description of “Woody Allen style quirky comedy from the ENBU Workshop”. It’s about all sorts of romantic entanglements between a range of characters (a filmmaker, an ex-idol, a fan).
- 單車上路 (Dan Che Shang Lu/The Road in the Air, Taiwan, 2006)
Dir. by Isaac Lee.
Taiwanese TV dramas tend to be rather awful. I find I struggle with them a whole lot more than with Japanese or Korean ones, where one can at least find something good occasionally. But recently I started watching SETTV’s 我的自由年代 (Wǒ de zìyóu niándài/In a Good Way, Taiwan, 2013), which has been so amazingly awesome that it’s hard to believe. It’s a coming-of-age story with a college setting, back in the Taiwan of the mid-1990s. The characters actually feel like real people. The pace of the story is good and realistic. There are no evil, scheming second leads in sight so far, indeed, it looks like the leading lady and the second female character might end up as best buddies, without stabbing each other in the back and fakely forgiving each other (believe me, that’s incredibly rare in TW dramas). Of course, we are only five episodes in so it might yet fall apart, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Why I’m mentioning all this? Well, because watching an enjoyable TV drama of course gets you interested in the actors and all their previous work, particularly if the actors have screen-burning chemistry the way Lego Lee and Kirsten Ren do. While Ren hasn’t starred in any film yet, Lee had a lead role in 單車上路 (Dan Che Shang Lu/The Road in the Air) a few years back. The reviews seem to be middling for what’s said to be Taiwan’s first road movie (on bicycles), but I still want to watch it for the sake of seeing where Lee started off as an actor.
- 練習曲 (Liànxí Qǔ/Island Etude, Taiwan, 2006)
Dir. by En Chen.
It seems that whenever 單車上路 (Dan Che Shang Lu/The Road in the Air) is mentioned, so is 練習曲 (Liànxí Qǔ/Island Etude). It came out a little later in the same year and was also a Taiwan-set road movie: a college student with a hearing handicap travels around the island on his bike, having a range of special encounters with the people of Formosa. Liànxí Qǔ seems to be just a little bit bigger and better, receiving red carpet treatment and even being Taiwan’s submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar (it did not get nominated). I don’t expect it to be outstanding, but certainly worth watching, if only to be reminded how beautiful Taiwan is.