ANNOUNCEMENTS

20 MOVIES in 1 month challenge: 17/20

Next reviews: 30+ Single on Sale, Okja, Bloody Monday S1, Heroine Shikkaku, The Beauty inside, Terra Formars, Ayashii Kanojo, Secret Message, Vancouver's Asahi, Onmyuji ~The Yin Yang master~, Onmyouji II, Hajimari no uta, Dive to the future, The professor and his beloved equation, The Commitment, Maison Ikkouku 1,2; Very ordinary couple; Rurouni kenshin ~Kyoto inferno~, Attack on titan 1,2; I have to but new shoes; Blackboard 1,3; Beyond the memories; Gangnam blues;

Currently watching: Bloody Monday S2, Karei naru spy, Brilliant Legacy

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Friday, March 30, 2012

Ima, ai ni yukimasu (2004)


Also known as: Be with you /I am coming to see you now
Country: Japan
Format: movie
Genre: family, romance, life&death
Cast: Takeuchi Yuko, Nakamura Shido, Akashi Takei, Asari Yusuke, Hiraoka Yuta, Karen Miyama, Chihiro Otsuka, Ichikawa Mikako,
Synopsis: After death of beloved wife Mio, Takumi and 6 year old son Yuji are left alone. Takumi thinks that his weak heatlh made Mio unhappy and Yuji believes that his birth caused mother's impaired health. Mio had left a book to Yuji, where she leaves to "The Archive Star" but comes back in rainy season. A year after Mio's death on the start of rainy season Takumi and Yuji find a woman in the forest, who does not remember anything about her life, but looks exactly like Mio. She goes with Takumi and Yuji to home, she tries to re-live her memories with Takumi speaking about their love story. At the same time, Yuji finds the time capsule he had hid with Mio before her death. Rainy season is close to end, but the mysteries are still in the air.
Rating: 5/5
Firstly, it was one of the most beautiful love (family) stories I have seen. 
At first I didn't like Takumi at all, because of his "I'm weak~" character, but later as the story unfolded I fell in love with him. He was loving father and I think that it might have been a horrible shock to end his high school dream like it did. There is a saying "to bite more than one can chew", which is accurate with this movie and Takumi's character. He was useless in many things, but I loved that he actually had the courage and will to ask woman out. Takumi's role was played by Asari Yusuke and Nakamura Shido - they look so alike that at first I did not see a difference at all, because they both acted great and also the same way with same expressions.
It must be scary for a woman to wake up one moment and have a son and husband that she does not remember. Maybe it was a little bit weird that she accepted things so quickly, but at the same time she explains everything troughout the story. At the same time it would be great to feel everything for the first time again even though all this has happened before. She brings many turning points into the story and in the end they show her side of their love-story. I loooove when they do so, because every story has two sides (that does not mean that feelings are mutual). I liked Takeuchi Yuko in this role - she gave the  soft and cosy home-feeling to the movie and she was very feminine. Ah! It was interesting that Mio also showed a side that actually when you die, you want your lover to be happy, but the knowing he/she would love somebody else after you, is painful. It was different from other love-stories when people say "fall in love again, get married and get children after I am gone" (just remembered that American "A walk to remember" end with not falling for anyone anymore). The change between high school and university was enormous! Look what a big city may do to you! She turned from shy mouse to beautiful swan - know it is literally impossible, but she was not a ugly duckling.
Little Yuji was very matter-to-fact. He believed in Mio's comeback so much that it happened - never give up on your hopes, because sometimes wishes can be bigger than the reality and may still come true. Those things he is always hanging upside down are sunshine-dolls, which bring rain while being upside down. They do not express his views and thoughts much, but in the end he and his actions made me cry the most.
"Ima ai ni yukimasu" teaches that true love can over come from anything and you cannot turn the fate around (even though Mio thinks about it a lot). Fate has its own complicated routes in life, but true love will last for eternity. The soundtracks are amazing and technically great.  Theme song is "Hana" by Orange Range.
This is definitely must-watch movie, because it is interesting and heart-warming and I would not call it that much chick-flick (maybe a little). It is considered to be one of the best Japanese love-movies and for the side-fact Takeuchi Yuko and Nakamura Shido got married after meeting each other in this movie - well, they divorced pretty soon too - maybe the overwhelming affect of the movie went away.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

KIDS (2008)


Coutry: Japan
Format: movie
Genre: friends, life&death, supernatural
Cast: Koike Teppei, Tamaki Hiroshi, Kuriyama Chiaki, Izumiya Shigeru,
Synopsis: Asato moves into a little rural city to visit his mother. He meets Takeo, who finds out Asato's supernatural power to transfer somebody else's pain and wounds to himself. There is also one friendly cafe-girl Shiho, who starts hanging out with them. But each of them have their own dark past, which continues to haunt them.
Rating: 2
I watched the trailer and I wanted to see it sooo badly, but.. a disappointment.
To start with Asato. Actually there is nothing wrong with his character. It was really promising, but something was wrong. He was too otherworldly and the most usual line from him was "Eh?!" Koike Teppei looks like junior high kid, but in movie he was attending evening high school. I did not like the kissing-scene at all! It is so going down as one of the worst kissing scenes (I have to make it someday now).  Asato was very emotional.
Takeo  did not think much, was rough, said anything he wanted no matter to who and in what situation. He thought that revenge and violence is the right answer to everything. I enjoyed Tamaki Hiroshi in this role, because he was very masculine and pulled his role off.
Last character was Shiho. She ended up to be a bit bitch (so some Takeo's words were true) Her scar was horrible. I do not understand how there can be such people as her former classmates, but at the same time her lack of friends and personality did not match at all. The lack of courage was not shown at all.
But what actually ruined the movie were next points. The sound of the movie was incredibly BORING and wrong. They used slow music even at places it did not suit at all and there were approximately 3-4 songs used. It made the whole movie lingering. In addition, they used music way too much and too loud. There was not much action or deeper meaning in the story and in the end they were totally exaggerating with the chain traffic accident. The slow motion in this scene was more than unnecessary. Real chain traffic accident can be seen in "Code Blue"
I hope that the original novel by Otsuichi is better than the movie, because it was ruined by technical issues and you cannot write a novel with that compacted action as it was in the movie. The main idea of it has so much potential to become something great - kind of wanting a new version of it =D

At the same time, most of watchers have loved it and said it was amazing - well, decide yourself!

Friday, March 9, 2012

My darling is a foreigner (2010)


Also known as:  Is he turning Japanese?
Country: Japan
Genre: romance, international,
Format: movie
Cast: Inoue Mao, Johathan Sherr, Kuninaka Ryoko, Toda Naho, Kunimura Jun, Otake Shinobu, Kawaoka Daijiro, Dante Carver, Irie Masato, Bando Takumi, Patrick Harlan,
Synopsis: Saori, an aspiring manga artist, meets Tony, a man, who has arrived Japan after falling  in love with the Japanese kanji. As the couple gets closer and closer, more questions start to arise: can their love survive their cultural differences? Can others around them acknowledge them as a couple?
Rating: 4/5
I liked that it is the perfect movie for people who are worried about their so-called intercultural (future) marriage.
Saori is a Japanese woman who tries to become a mangaka. She is in love with Tony, but she does not speak much English, which puts her into many unpleasant situations. At first I found Inoue Mao's pronunciation horrible, but later it was bearable! She makes a great question "Boyfriend or just a friend - that is the question.." - just agree, we all have thought about it! She is kind of occupied with her work and crazy-thought-that-he-might-leave-her-when-she-shows-out-unpleasant-mode, but actually she is pushing Tony far away by being shut up.
Tony on the other hand is naive and sometimes childish. He is very sensitive and does not get jokes easily. I enjoyed Tony usage of Japanese phrases and he had a great Japanese pronunciation. Also he asks many "weird" questions - most Japanese even do not think about them, but they actually are quite common for foreigners =D As he was foreigner then all this acknowledging by family is easier, I find that it is for most of people who does not come from very traditional country background, but the more important is for them to be accept by their lover's family. That's why Tony wanted to stick with "known" Japanese rules. and most Japanese want their families to give their permission for marriage and stuff.
I loved that the movie showed in the end that their problems were not because they are from two different countries, but they had all "normal and usual" relationship problems, which all people have. By the way, they must have had much money, because buying this house and garden in Japan is more than expensive.
Even though, parents were kind of annoying at first, in the end they were normal. I think it is with most parents - they say one thing, but act other way and then expect us to follow by their words, even when their words might ruin our happiness xD okey, that was a bit beyond the reality, but still. All prejudges can be killed by getting to know the person.
I most liked that they had put in documentary interviews with people from the street, who are also in intercultural marriages. I was annoyed by the fact that they all were Japanese woman X foreigner man couples, because there are also otherway couples - I mean Japanese man X foreigner woman, which I hope will be my future, because I will not stay on this small cold country forever. In addition, Saori's imaginary animations were cool.
I  thought it would be a little bit funnier, but at times it was rather boring. I know, it is based on true story of Soari and Tony, who are said to be still happily married =D Wish them happily ever after and hopefully I will have that great future too xD


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Lunch queen (2002)


Country: Japan
Genre: food, romance, comedy
Format: drama, 12 episodes
Cast:Takeuchi Yuko, Eguchi Yosuke, Tsumabuki Satoshi, Yamashita Tomohisa, Yamada Takiyuki, Wakabayashi Go, Tsutsumi Shinichi, Ito Masaki, Takubo Issei, Eita, Morita Go, Umemiya Masako, Osugi Ren, Kiritani Kenta, Suzuki Emi,
Synopsis: Natsumi is a woman who finds comfort in lunch, that's why she is willing to do anything for the sake of great meal. One day a man named Nabeshima Kenichiro askes her to pretend to be his fiancee, in order to him to have a reason to go home. Kenichiro is the oldest son of "Kitchen Macaroni" owner, beside Father there are also 3 younger brothers - Yujiro, Junsaburo, Koshiro and live-in apprentice cook Minoru. Natsumi falls in love with restaurant's omurice and its famous demiglauce sauce and decides to stay there forever, even though "her fiance" Kenichiro has stolen family's money and ran away. But a woman living with 5 single healthy men does not bring anything but trouble..
Rating: 4/5
People who like food should always watch it with full stomach - too appetising.

Natsumi is cool, she does what she wants. Give her a food and she is okey with everything. Natsumi has a difficult past on her shoulders, which still haunts her time to time. Natsumi does speak about her past to others and tells failing lies, but in some way they all believe her. She tries to give her best and seeks for positive side of world. She teaches others that there must be some fun in life no matter how old you are and there must be passion for the things you love. She is someone who loosens the strings in the family. Takeuchi Yuko was great in this role. At moments she a little bit reminded Ueno Juri, next time Ueto Aya  - so her acting was a little jumpy.
Kenichiro is actually total side-character, but as he was the one who brought Natsumi to home then he deserves to be mentioned. He is silly, awkward and shy. Even though, he is the oldest, he has the least life-experience - he has failed in life more than once, but he always gets things other way, not really understanding the right reasons. He seems to be bastard for his actions to family, but deep in side he loves them and they love him - it is just complicated. Beside, there is the saying that the first one still goes behind the fence.
The second son Yujiro is much more grown-up than Ken-ni. He has given up on many things in his life in sake of the restaurant. He does not think much and makes his own rules which everyone must follow. But every man has his own love in this world too - so there is Hidemi, his painfully in bad marriage very beautiful friend. Yu-ni never says things what he thinks - he is having a difficult time acknowledging his true feelings so he hides them behind visible lies. He is helpless when he sees woman's tears and guess what.. he is the one (and may be only one) who sees Natsumi crying.
My friend told me that "Lunch queen" might get very cliched and boring, but I think that only cliched thing about it was the third son Junzaburo. He fell hopelessly in love with Natsumi since the first day. He is same old as Natsumi, but he looks much younger and childish. He is a big cry-baby, pathetic and in the end pessimistic. He does not think his actions and saying through, so he many times says meaningless cliche things and then he gets angry or aggrieved. At the same time, his useless trying is so funny that you cannot stop laughing.
The youngest son was Koshiro, acted by Yamashita Tomohisa. Being the youngest does not mean that he is mentally youngest. In many scenes he teaches Jun-ni and Yu-ni about women and how to deal with them. They even say it in drama that Koshiro is the most famous with women - and you can see it too as he never goes on a date with one girl.. there is always at least two girls. He is like family's love-doctor, while he himself takes baaaad advantage of it with teasing others - especially Jun-ni, who is really slow. But on the other side, Koshiro is the only one who does not help out in restaurant, which makes him useless in kitchen. After one serious turn-up in drama plot, he is having the hardest time to find himself. Others have their cooking, while he "must" get ready for university. By the way, he stays at school for the whole day, which makes his brothers worry, but he is a very fast learner. Everyone are afraid of that when Koshiro starts working at kitchen, he might become better than they are.
And then there is the wise father,the head-chef of "Kitchen Macaroni". I think he has the least screen time and text in all, but he has that amazing aura, which makes him respectful. He is ready to put down his job and give the restaurant to his sons. That makes him more think about his life and the past. He tries to spend father-son time with his sons, especially with Koshiro, because others got more his attention while being little. Koshiro was very little when Mom died and Father was always busy with restaurant. These scenes are very heartwarming, because you can see how much he cares for all his sons and "daughter-in-law" Natsumi.
From side-characters Minoru, the live-in cookboy, is almost great friend with Koshiro. I did not understand if he is the same old or not (seemed few years older, but dunno).  At restaurant and in the city he keeps low and silent profile, actually he was from the same neighbourhood as Natsumi, so he knows the truth about her. In Chiba, his hometown, he is known for his fighting skills and is honored by many smaller dudes. He is very funny character who has the most morality in the house. He also has a crush on Tomato.
Sadly, Tomato or Toma-chan as they call her, has had a huuuuuge crush on Junzaburo for ages. Toma-chan works at nearby vegetable/fruit shop, where "Kitchen Macaroni" buys their ingredients. There is also one character from Natsumi's past - Shuji. The bad boy who brought only bad to Natsumi, but you cannot choose who you love. He is not that big bastard as you might think, because even he has feelings and humane wishes. He is too aggressive, but I think he really loved Natsumi.
I think that is it about characters. It is funny and you do not know what happens next as the actions begins since the first episode and Natsumi never shows out her "love-interest". "Kitchen Macaroni" seems to be very cozy and comfortable place, but the drama also shows that lunch-time in Tokyo is one insane time.
One small thing more, It seemed like it is a reunion of "Long Love Letter, because at least 6 actors are the same - Yamashita Tomohisa, Yamada Takiyuki, Tsumabuki Satochi, Suzuki Emi, Takaki Maiko, Osugi Ren  to mention. Want the reason? Both dramas are mainly made by Omori Mika and Mizuta Narihide with only half year difference.
Nothing else to say than enjoy watching while eating!