Blog Archives

Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie (2012)

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One of the questions that apparently many Japanese are asked – at least if you go by the awesome pre-recorded Q&A session that ran before the Gold Coast Film Festival’s screening of Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie and featured the voice actors for both Naruto (Junko Takeuchi) and Kakashi (Kazuhiko Inoue) – is why do foreigners like anime?

It’s an interesting question, in fact. Why do we like anime (well, those of us who are fans at least)? The … (read more)

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Unforgiven (2013)

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It’s nice to see some turn about being fair play in Lee Sang Il’s Japanese remake of Clint Eastwood’s 1992 cowboy eulogy, The Unforgiven, and in some historical sense it is in fact satisfyingly apt. The samurai period film and the American western have a long history of inter-relatedness, both thematically and as a matter of record. In 1954, inspired by the early films of American western directors like Howard Hawks and John Ford, Akira Kurosawa made what is … (read more)

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The Wind Rises (2013)

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The Wind Rises

The Wind Rises is Hayao Miyazaki’s first return to the director’s chair in five years (since Ponyo) and — if his statements in interviews are taken at face value — his final feature film in a career spanning six decades in Japanese animation. If that is indeed the case, it is in many ways a fitting swansong: it’s a layered, nuanced film that tells a story that is definitively Japanese yet universal, rooted in history yet filled with flights … (read more)

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Harlock: Space Pirate (2013)

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Harlock: Space Pirate

The Nordic premiere of Harlock: Space Pirate at the last Stockholm International Film Festival packed a full house. This futuristic, intergalactic pirate caper, set around the turn of the 3rd millennium, finds the infamous and (thought-to-be) immortal Captain Harlock (Shun Oguri) commandeering the mysterious spaceship Arcadia, the last of its kind and powered by dark matter — a self-generating energy based substance that comes in pretty handy in spaceship battle damage predicaments.

Earth has been declared a sanctuary in this … (read more)

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Space Dandy (2014)

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Space Dandy opens with a diatribe about boobs.

I know. Classy, right? Well, I guess there’s no arguing that boobs get your attention. Just the word is kind of distracting. Boobs. You’re distracted, right? I’m using them to distract you from realising this review isn’t nearly as loftily intellectual as I’d like it to be, and Shinichiro Watanabe is possibly using them to distract you from noticing that Space Dandy isn’t nearly as instantly fantastic as his other shows were.… (read more)

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Like Father, Like Son (2013)

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Kore-eda is in my very humble opinion the most sensitive and humane filmmaker working in Japan today. His body of work is relatively small, but each film has been the product of a quiet and unassuming story-telling genius that rather than exploits people’s ugliness imbues them with the possibility of hope and redemption. He plumbs emotional depths in a way that exposes the human soul as achingly beautiful; his insight is both gentle and unflinching, and his deft, minimalist handling … (read more)

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Why Don’t You Play in Hell (2013)

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Sion Sono’s Why Don’t You Play in Hell is, I think, a little like modern art – staring at it, you’re pretty sure you’re missing the point. Not that Sono’s work has necessarily been thematically deep to date, but it’s hard to look at a film about a filmmaker making a film without trying to read into it a little industry commenatary. The problem is, if you are, it’s difficult to work out what the hell Sono is trying to … (read more)

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Tokyo Family (2013)

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When Gus Van Sant remade Alfred Hitchcock’s slasher masterpiece Psycho in 1998, I have to admit to a certain level of bemusement. Why, when the original film was perfect in both pitch and execution, would anyone anywhere feel the need to remake it almost shot for shot? It seemed like an exercise in redundancy and in the end I walked away from that film with the only opinion that made sense to me — Van Sant was such a Hitchcock … (read more)

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