Bomby von Bombsville wrote:
There's a really great buried somewhere in there. Unfortunately it's padded out by uninteresting scenes. Like, if you cut it down to the best 80 or 90 minutes, you could have something really good. At least that's how I've always felt about it.
I don’t know. The only part you could edit out of the film would be Alice’s acting career and the scenes with her mom - although you would have to leave something for extra characterization. Hana’s rakugo scenes are too essential for the film’s main storyline and I don’t think they really inserted anything unnecessary with the main storyline either. In my opinion the main problem with the film is how the story just dies down at the end. The whole love triangle is just sort of forgotten and the main focus ends up being Alice’s ballet scene. It is a fine scene in itself, but as the ultimate climax of the film it just leaves the viewer feeling “so what”. It is a shame since the story builds up so well up until the last 10 minutes or so when it just peters out.
"Wait what but kinda awesome" news of the week: Iwai is directing anime feature film prequel for this.
Yes. Iwai is directing anime film.
It is prequel to this.
Make of this whatever you want, it's pretty crazy anyway. Last time predominantly live action director dabbled in anime features we got Kenya Boy
I am not really sure how a prequel to Hana and Alice would work. If it is even remotely as druggy as Kenya Boy I’m all for it. Too bad I have a feeling that it won’t be anything unusual and given Iwai’s decline after All About Lily Chou-Chou, I’m not expecting it to be that good either. The curious thing about Iwai is that in the 10 years since he directed Hana and Alice he has only made one full feature film (that hasn’t been screened barely anywhere) that is not a documentary, short film or something else he made for NHK.
Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Real
: Kiyoshi Kurosawa has always been interested in the insides of the human mind. Most of his films revolve around the mysterious and dark aspects of human psychology. In Real, he literally explores the insides of the human mind as a man uses experimental medical technology to enter the mind of his wife who has been in coma for a year after a suicide attempt. The more he spends time in her mind, the more both of them begin to lose grip on what is real and what is not (hence the name of the film). There is a trauma behind the dramatic scenario, but I couldn’t help feeling ambivalent about it and the characters. Neither of them feel tangible: I can’t help thinking that the trauma is nothing but a plot device and the characters never appear to be feeling human beings. Nevertheless Kurosawa excels in what he has always been good at: creating haunting imagery. He plays around with cinematography, special effects and places that make the world seem artificial. Some of the images he crafts in Real recall his masterpieces although some of the special effects are just awkward and blurry instead of being menacing. As a result the film itself feels awfully artificial. More like a cold construction than a human mind. It also doesn’t help that the entire film is laden with a way over-the-top soundtrack that ruins the mood right from the get-go. The flat acting performances from the leads are also annoying in key scenes - although that may have something to do with the sluggish script. In the end, Real being like a cold construction is not an entirely bad thing, but it isn’t really much more than a straighforward puzzle for the viewer to solve.
Yong-hi Yang’s Our Homeland
: The more I watch films about Zainichi Koreans in Japan, the more I begin to understand the deep tragedy of the minority. While Yukisada’s Go tackled the questions of nationality, identity and racism, Yong-hi Yang’s Our Homeland focuses on a completely different subject. North Korea has had a tradition of encouraging the Zainichi Korean to have their offspring move to North Korea, leaving behind their families. Our Homeland portrays a man who left Japan when he was 16 as he returns to Japan 25 years later to receive medical treatment for an illness that cannot be cured in North Korea. The story is based on the real life experiences of the director who seems to have put her own thoughts in the man’s little sister who has grown up in Japan. The film opens with the man’s arrival in Japan - the joyful reunion is portrayed with so much subtle tension and deliberation that the atmosphere is almost ghastly. The man remains distant and mysterious to his family and old friends - and to the audience. It takes some time to figure out what sort of feelings are going through his mind as the camera follows him and his family closely as they struggle with the pressure and emotions that have been piling up for 25 years. Furthermore, they are constantly under surveillance and the presence of their homeland is inescapable. Our Homeland is a touching and chilling portrayal of human tragedy under circumstances determined by nations and politices. It is a tragedy that digs deep into the minds and hearts of individuals who are powerless to change their heart-breaking situation.
Ryuichi Hiroki’s Yellow Elephant
: I often wonder when I watch films adapted from novels that I do not know if I’m missing out on something or setting my expectations falsely because I do not know the original story. It is a thought that passed my mind while I was watching Yellow Elephant. In it, a sweet, loving couple are living in the countryside. The wife is something of an odd bird: after having been hospitalized for a long time as a kid, she developed the ability to talk with rain, plants and animals. Although she lives in her own imaginary world she handles her alright even though her novelist husband constantly observes and tends to her needs. At first the film seems as if it is centered around the quirky wife whose mood swings stem from something deeper in her past. The film slows down to her pace, portraying the world as she sees it with mood lighting and very theatrical cinematography. I figured the film is more or less slice of life of her life with a cast of odd people around them: a demented elderly couple and a kid who is surprisingly mature for his age. But the film switches gears during the later half for a portrayal of crisis in their marriage as they are emotionally trapped in their pasts and other people. The film took me by surprise when it moved forward to explore the story’s real meat. Even if I consider that not knowing the story in advance may have distorted my experience I still think the dramatic turn has its iffy moments. While everything is tied up smoothly (even all of the side characters have a purpose) I can’t help thinking the odd domestic violence scene and the emotional pay-off in the climax don’t really fit in with the rest of the film. It is almost as if the film was a compromise between downbeat emotional realism and sweet mainstream romp. Yellow Elephant is at its best when portraying the carefree although moody everyday life. The latter half of the film isn’t exactly bad, but it could have been better.
Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Bright Future
: Kiyoshi Kurosawa is a rare director in that he is very persistent in challenging his audience - even when you are used to his enigmatic style of filmmaking. Bright Future is a film that I was ready to heavily criticize when I had finished watching it, but I was so lost about what the film had actually intended that I ended up reading lots of reviews of the film. Piece by piece, I began to put together Kurosawa’s point and it actually makes a lot of sense. Bright Future follows two anti-social friends who look after a poisonous jellyfish. After one of them murders the family of their boss, the other one is left drifting while struggling to keep the jellyfish alive. It is easy to put down the film as a depiction of Japan’s alienated youth, but Kurosawa does something different with the often explored theme. With an arsenal of bizarre metaphors, plausible doppelgangers and lots of jellyfishes he captures the emotions of the disconnected youth looking for a bright future and their parents’ feelings of responsibility over how the youth have turned out. Oddly enough, the film feels both optimistic and cruelly ironic at the same time - and the combination doesn’t even feel that weird most of the time. Kurosawa takes a break from his usually meticulous style and instead employs grainy digital video, less clinical framing and a much faster pace. Bright Future covered in 90 minutes what many other films would have covered in twice as much time. The film feels like a bullet train rushing to its menacing and inevitable destination - the looming threat of death is always present in the film. It is nevertheless a problem that the film is so damn cryptic. I don’t think rewatching it is going to change my mind that much since the film is so all over the place that the themes remain obscured even when you know what to look for.