Archive for the ‘Japan’ Category

The Red Turtle – **(*)

Posted: February 10, 2017 in 2016, Animation, Belgium, Drama, Japan, XX1/2

Wouldn’t it be cool is this movie won the Oscar for best animation movie? Everyone expected Finding Dory to be a contender, but this artsy, non commercial French/Belgian/Japanese co-production took the place of the animation blockbuster of the year.

Finding Dory it is NOT. It’s a beautiful animated tale of a man who strands on a deserted island, can’t leave because a giant turtle keeps breaking the rafts he builds. Until that turtle comes ashore and he takes his revenge. But the revenge changes his life on the island.

You don’t need to know more. Don’t watch the trailer either.

It looks like a moving European (Franco-Belge) comic book. The drawings are exceptional. The use of color and light and shadows and details is astonishing. The movement itself isn’t as stiff as you’d imagine from a hand-drawn animation movie. It’s actually quite smooth. It’s not annoying at all. But the story isn’t all that much.A lot of things happen to keep the movie going, but it’s not as poetic or deep as you might expect.

It’s looking at incredibly well animated shots of life on a deserted island with sunsets that you’ll never forget. And without the end credits it’s only 75 minutes long.

A Japanese woman abandons her four children to go live with a man somewhere far away. She comes back from time to time, but very irregularly. They all live in a small apartment and the oldest boy, who is twelve, is in charge. He did get some cash from his mother, but when she stays away for months in a row he runs out of money. He doesn’t want to report it to the police or the social service, because a similar situation in the past placed all kids with other families. He may just be a kid, but he does feel responsible for keeping his family together. They don’t go to school and he’s the only one who can leave the apartment. He tries to create a social life outside of his duties, but it’s hard.

This is not a fictional story, but based on true events taking place in the end of the eighties. The reality was much worse than what you get to see in this mainstream version. It’s still sad and depressing, but you do feel like a lot is not being told. Japanese culture is different from ours, but there are too many moments where the story just doesn’t make sense. That doesn’t really damage the movie. It’s the length of the scenes that almost kills it. In his new movie, Like Father Like Son, director Kore-eda tells a lot with simple shots. Here he just tells the same over and over again. If the movie had been cut short with an hour, it would have been better.


the trailer with the American voice over is TERRIBLE.

Like Father, Like Son tells the story of a wealthy Japanese professional who discovers that the child he has been raising for the past six years isn’t his own. Suddenly ‘all makes sense’ to him, as he doesn’t find the same traits in his son as in himself. The kid, called Keita, is an adorable boy who tries his very best to please his mother and father, but who’s not a ‘winner’ or ‘fighter’ and in the eyes of his father rather ‘weak’. The wife/mother feel extremely guilty for never having noticed that she was taking care of someone else’s child. Their seemingly perfect life has gotten a huge blow. The hospital advisers set up a meeting between them and the other family, who are quite the opposite. Less educated, less wealthy, less serious. When it is suggested that they should swap the kids as soon as possible, they also react shocked, but in a very relaxed (Japanese?) way. It is a shitty situation, but what can they do?

It’s an interesting premise. I’m not quite sure if real people would react in a same way to this situation, but maybe they would in Japan, where the movie takes place. Who knows. In the end, it doesn’t matter.  Director Hirokazu Koreeda didn’t intend to film a documentary, he made a very moving and visually beautiful drama with great performances throughout and with some funny moments as well. It’s very well-edited. The soundtrack helps create an intimate atmosphere as well. And it tells the story with images rather than with endless dialogue. It’s a very accessible movie for a cinematic audience worldwide.


Posted: May 25, 2012 in 2008, Brasil, Canada, Drama, Japan

Sometimes I should better believe film critics. This IS a bad movie. It’s really one of the worst movies I’ve ever started to watch. Halfway in the movie I started to fastforward, than rewind again and then give up entirely.

Based on a novel by some Portuguese writer, the movie deals about several people becoming blind and getting locked up in a quarantined area as the blindness is contagious. The infected people start to set up their own rules, with the ‘leader’ of ward three acting like a dictator. That’s where I lost any interest I may had. The story is too silly for words.

I tried and failed to finish a movie by Meireilles and with Julianne Moore!