Reviews by Country
Studio Ghibli’s latest animated feature, When Marnie Was There, is released in cinemas across Australia on the 14th of May, 2015. See cinema websites for screening details.
Animator and director Hiromasa Yonebayashi came to prominence in 2010 when he directed Arrietty for Studio Ghibli, becoming (at 37) the youngest director of a Ghibli feature film. He’s worked with Ghibli for a lot longer though: Wikipedia lists him as an animator on Princess Mononoke in 1997 and a host of … (read more)
Snow on the Blades is a contemplative, elegant drama set at the end of Japan’s feudal era, spanning the decline of the Tokugawa shogunate in the 1860s and the dawning of the Meiji period thereafter.
The story follows one Shimura Kingo (Kiichi Nakai), a young man whose family are samurai in service to Ii Naosuke, chief minister to the Shogun. A master swordsman, he has recently married and has been elevated to the position of chief bodyguard to the minister, … (read more)
Art thief adventure series Lupin III and frenetic cult director Ryuhei Kitamura (Godzilla: Final Wars, Versus) seems like it could be a match made in heaven. Kitamura is known for his energetic, reality defying, somewhat gaggy but exceedingly enjoyable action movies, and Lupin is known for his energetic, law-enforcement defying, seemingly impossible but somehow charming art heists. The combination in this 2014 live action movie makes for a moderately fun crime thriller that is never too serious … (read more)
I’ll be upfront with you; I’m not going to review Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno and Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends separately. Considering how close together their theatrical releases in Japan were, it could be argued they’re just one film with about a month long intermission (if you’re old enough to remember those). Also considering the cliff-hanger Kyoto Inferno ends on Empire Strikes Back style I’d also run a much bigger risk of spoiling far too many things if I … (read more)
Although the theme for the Sunrise/Shochiku multimedia project Short Peace was apparently “Japan” it seems to me that the ‘peace’ part of the title is far more telling, because in one way or another each short in this 4-film anthology is about conflict. Not only that, but unless I’m reading far too much into it, there is something to be learned from each of these battles.
The first cab off the rank after the energetically ethereal opening title sequence is … (read more)
I’ll admit, I decided to go to see the sequel to the surprisingly entertaining Thermae Romae with some trepidation. Basically I’m not a fan of comedies in general, so that I enjoyed the first film made a few of my friends check to make sure I was still the same person. I’m seriously considering not telling them that I enjoyed the sequel almost as much.
Although, perhaps that was a no-brainer. There’s no surprises in this follow up — it’s … (read more)
One of the joys of the Japanese Film Festival every year for me is discovering the unexpected gem. Film festivals are of course great for those films that you’ve heard about and been dying to see that will likely never make it to your local cinema, but I always make a point of picking a few random films as well — films that I’ve heard nothing about; often films that I don’t even bother to read the synopsis for. Without … (read more)
We’ve probably had this conversation before — the pros and cons of the Live Action Film. When they’re done well, they enhance the source and become another aspect of effective cross-stream marketing that people are happy to pay to see. They win new fans and invigorate the existing ones. But let’s not kid ourselves thinking that any company sinks millions of dollars (or yen in this case) into a film better known in anime or manga out of their sense … (read more)