Based on the popular manga series “Little Forest” written & illustrated by Igarashi Daisuke, Little Forest: Summer and Autumn is the first installment of the 2-part live-action adaptation written and directed by Mori Junichi. Starring Hashimoto Ai in the title role of Ichiko.

It tells the tale of a young woman who left the big city to settle back in her small hometown Komori, located on a mountain in the Tohoku region. It may be a temporary transfer for Ichiko, as she lives with nature while trying to reflect on certain life events that led to her hometown journey. Continue reading “Little Forest: Summer & Autumn – ‘Ritoru Foresuto Natsu Hen ・ Aki Hen’ [Movie Review]”

Lowlife Love, produced by Adam Torel’s Third Window Films, written and directed by Uchida Eiji, tells the story of an indie filmmaker – Tetsuo (Shibukawa Kiyohiko) – who refuses to compromise his artistic integrity and submit to the commercialization of his craft.

After producing a minor hit a few years back, he struggles with his personal life and career until an upcoming actress, Minami (Okano Maya) and a promising scriptwriter, Ken (Oshinari Shugo) enter the scene. Continue reading “Lowlife Love – ‘Gesu no Ai’ [Movie Review]”

Studio Shochiku employs Murakami Shosuke to handle the live-action adaptation of Hazuki Matcha’s manga Isshukan Friends. Starring Kawaguchi Haruna, Yamazaki Kento, Matsuo Takashi, and Uesugi Shuhei, the movie tells the story of two high school students – Kaori (Haruna) who refuses to accept the offer of friendship from Yuki (Yamazaki), since she suffers from temporary memory loss.

It’s always about forgetting all her newfound friends after a week, and then her memory resets.  Continue reading “One Week Friends – ‘Isshukan Friends’ [Movie Review]”

Written and directed by first-timer Kanai Junichi, under Stardust Pictures, Yurusenai Aitai – ゆるせない、逢いたい (translated into English as ‘Again’) is about the romantic relationship between Hatsumi (Yoshikura Aoi) and Ryutaro (Yagira Yuya) that turned ugly. 

Released in 2013, I’m fortunate to screen this film even after four years because of the cast (the amazing Yagira Yuya!), and the serious theme of the movie. 

Continue reading “Again – ‘Yurusenai Aitai’ [Movie Review]”

Notwithstanding the unusual title, Her Love Boils Bathwater, is an intensely dramatic film, yet subtle in revealing the secrets of the Kono family. Bathwater is as much a family drama as it is a woman’s journey towards death and remembrance.

Nakano Ryota, the film’s director, maybe the future of Japanese cinema. After his first full-length film, Capturing Dad, Ryota offers Her Love Boils Bathwater with an all-star cast led by Miyazawa Rie, Sugisaki Hana, and Odagiri Joe. Continue reading “Her Love Boils Bathwater – ‘Yu o Wakasu Hodo no Atsui Ai’ [Movie Review]”

Tokyo Sunrise, a film about the close friendship between Ren (Taiga) and Kaoru (Kobayashi Ryuju), is subtle and powerful in its depiction of a brotherly love that may be more than what it seems. 

Written and directed by Nakagawa Ryutaro under Tokyo New Cinema, the movie encompasses the slice of life genre due to the mix of certain story elements that makes it part road trip, part romance, and part mystery.  Continue reading “Tokyo Sunrise – ‘Hashire, Zetsubo ni Oitsuka Renai Haya-sa de’ [Movie Review]”

Mukoku, Kumakiri Kazuyoshi’s latest film centers on two disconnected individuals – Kengo (Ayano Go) and Tooru (Murakami Nijiro) who find solace in the martial arts of kendo. 

The older Kengo recently lost his mom while his dad is confined in a nearby hospital. He is an accomplished kendōka (剣道家) who has won numerous medals under the tutelage of his dad. However, he has stopped competing and now works as a security guard. He’s also a heavy drinker who fools around with a girl and seems to have little regard for his well-being. Continue reading “Mukoku – ‘MUKOKU’ [Movie Review]”

Rage (Ikari – 怒り) [Movie Review]

Director Lee Sang-Il returns to crime drama-thriller, in the tradition of the award-winning Villain (Akunin), as he collaborates for the second time with Yoshida Shuichi for the big screen adaptation of the author’s 2014 novel, Rage (Ikari). Observers of the filmmaker remark that Sang-Il is hard to classify since he has done both ‘feel good’ and hard-hitting movies. But the director finds his passion for making films about human greed and propensity to violence and their intimate interactions. Rage tells the story of a young man who murdered a couple, becomes a fugitive and escapes while undergoing plastic surgery.

A year after the gruesome double murder, three new faces appear in three different spots – in downtown Tokyo, a small fishing village in Chiba, and near the US-military installations in Okinawa. Are these young men – in any way – connected to the highly publicized murder? 

Continue reading “Rage (Ikari – 怒り) [Movie Review]”

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