Category: Film Review


The saddest thing is to say ‘See you tomorrow’, but you will never see her again.

Today’s review is on the 2016 Japanese Romantic Drama film ‘My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday’ (2016), it is a film based on a novel with the same name.

Brief Plot:
On February 15, 20-year-old Takatoshi Minamiyama, a visual arts undergraduate and satirist in Kyoto, falls in love at first sight with Emi Fukuju while boarding a train for college. After awkwardly introducing each other, the two promise to meet again in the following days. With the help of his friend, Shoichi Ueyama, Takatoshi asks for a date with Emi, at the end of which he confesses his love for her…. and then the story focuses on the relationship between Takatoshi and Emi.

Maybe the plot of the film is similar to many other romantic comedies, but the element of ‘Time and Space’ makes this film outstanding.

The film can roughly be divided into two parts: the part from Takatoshi’s point of view, and the part from Emi’s point of view. The former takes majority of the time, and it does not have much to say but a few mysteries. It concentrates on building our understanding of the relationship between Takatoshi and Emi. However, a few mysteries are portrayed: why is Emi always crying when she should feel the happiest? How does Emi know the secret recipe of Takatoshi’s family? Why is Emi always crying when she has the first time of many things with Takatoshi (such as kissing and holding hands)? Well, the reason is that, the future of Takatoshi, means the past of Emi. So the first time for Takatoshi to hold hands with Emi, is the last time for Emi. The timeline of the two people are completely opposite with each other. And all these are explained in the second part, from Emi’s point of view.

Normally, a Romantic drama specialises in the process in which the man and woman go through together. The element of ‘Time Limit’ makes the film a lot more touching than it is supposed to be. Even Takatoshi and Emi have spent very sweet time together, they can unfortunately make it forever.

In general, it is a good film that I would recommend, even though the timeline can be a little bit confusing. However, I am sure if you really get into the film, you will figure it out anyway!

 

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Today’s review is on Woody Allen’s ‘Match Point’ (2005). If you have watched ‘Midnight in Paris’ before, you are probably not new to Woody Allen. He has been a great director, and I must say I enjoy most of his work.

The film begins with the protagonist Chris Wilton, a recently retired tennis professional, is hired as a tennis coach at a post club in London. One day, he meets up a wealthy lad as a pupil, Tom Hewett, and their friendship grows. Tom introduces his sister, Chloe, to Chris, and the two begin dating. However, Chris seems to like Tom’s fiancee, Nola. Then the story mainly deals with the relationships between Chris, Nola, and Chloe.

There are two notable themes in the film that I would like to describe. The first is social class. Chris and Nola come from similar social background, and that is the main reason why, in my opinion, that they have mutual love. When Chris is introduced by Tom to his rich family, Chris tries to act like the posh class; while Nola doesn’t quite care about how she acts in front of Tom’s family, focusing on pursuing her dream. The two marriages in the film have nothing to do with Nola. Chris is ‘bought’ by Chloe’s dad to the rich family, so that he can climb up to his greasy post. When meeting Nola after the marriage, Chris appears to have got used to the life in upper class, and he takes the role of the previous Tom, taking Nola as a sex partner, asking her to abort the baby when she is found pregnant. Also, at the end of the film, after committing the crime, Chris manages to escapes from being arrested, by putting the responsibilities to the drug addict, who belongs to the lowest social class…. and it is mainly due to the careless investigation by the police.

The second theme I think is significant is ‘Crime and Punishment’. Can a murderer completely get away from what he does? In the monologue scene, Chris says that he is not scared about getting arrested, he would even be pleased about being arrested for what he does because it would show justice. At the last scene, when his family is celebrating, he looks out from the window, realising that he cannot psychologically get away from what he does. Compared Chris’s circumstances to a tennis/ table-tennis match, Chris wins from the police, but loses himself.

Generally, this film has a smooth plot, with some good depth. If you like Woody Allen’s style, I would recommend this film to you. If you have never heard of Woody Allen but you like crime films with a bit of depth, this would be a good film for you.

 

This review is about a 46-minute short film by Makoto Shinkai, ‘Garden of Words’ (2013).

As in any other Shinkai’s work, ‘Garden of Words’ is very beautiful in terms of its graphic, and its script.

‘Garden of Words’ is considered a romance and a drama, about the encounter between the 15-year-old student who aspires to be a shoemaker, Takao Akizuki, and Yukari Yukino, a 27-year-old woman who skips work most time, enjoying beer and chocolate. The plot develops as they continue to meet up in the Garden during every rainy morning.

Unlike his previous work, ‘Garden of Words’ is rather light, it doesn’t spend too much time on the setting, and leaves more time for the development of characters. This can be seen as improvement of Makoto Shinkai. So this short film probably provides Shinkai a valuable experience for him to produce his most famous work up to date, ‘Your Name’ (2016).

The plot in this film is very, very simple and common, just like some other romances. But the feelings of the two main characters are finely portrayed. In a short 46-minute film, audience can expect to feel more than they can feel from many more lengthy films. It perfectly describes ‘love can hurt people, but can also give hope to people’. I also like the ending: if Takao gets on with Yukari, the consequence may not be good due to the pressure from other people and the fact that Takao would not be able to pursue his dream; but if Takao pursues Yukari again when he has become a shoemaker (his dream), that would be a different story. So this film, in my opinion, is quite positive.
Rain comes too quick, for them to meet;
Yet leaves too soon, for them to leave.

Today’s review is on the film I have watched many times, ‘Sex Drive’ (2008). This film is definitely a chill watch, and I would recommend to teenagers. At the time, there weren’t a lot of teen comedies, so ‘Sex Drive’ was definitely one to stand out.

The story is pretty basic, an 18-year-old virgin Ian hopes to get laid for the first time, so he tries to get know to girls online, and he finally meets a sexy girl (Ms. Tasty) online one day. In order to get laid, Ian arranges a meeting with the girl, and the meeting is quite far away. So, Ian asks his friends Lance and Felicia to go with him, driving his brother’s 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge. Then, they are on their journey!

The film itself is full of dirty jokes, which are normally the features of teen comedies. Nothing much to comment on this film, but i would say it is quite a funny film. If you like films of American style, I think you will probably like it.

Fireworks are beautiful, not only because they twinkle in the sky, but also because they carry the hopes and dreams of ours.

The review today is on an anime film, ‘Fireworks, Should We Watch It From The Bottom Or The Side’ (2017). Because the name is so long, it will just be referred as ‘Fireworks’ in this review.

Briefly, the story is about the girl Nazuna wanting to leave her home as she felt unhappy in the family. She then gets two boys in her school to have a swimming race: whoever wins, who gets the chance to leave with her. (What a weird start!) Our protagonist Norimichi, due to some accident, loses the race. On the way home, he keeps saying to himself ‘IF I had won the race, what could have happened?’… After that, (and of course something happens), the film goes to a series of the ‘IF’- worlds according to what Norimichi thinks.

Before I comment on this film, I must say ‘Fireworks’ and ‘Your Name’ (Kimi No Na Wa) have absolutely no relations to each other! Some marketing/ advertisement teams used ‘Your Name’ to promote ‘Fireworks’ to try to boost its popularity, it is just like using McDonald’s to promote some sort of sushi bar. That is just wrong! So I must say, you should not go watch ‘Fireworks’ JUST because you like ‘Your Name’, the two films have nothing much in common! I saw some comments online saying “After watching ‘Your Name’, I think ‘Fireworks’ is a down-grade”… To this, I must say, you don’t expect to find Big Mac in a Sushi Bar, right? The two films, are DIFFERENT, made by DIFFERENT PEOPLE! Don’t get fooled by the marketing team!

‘IF’ is a magic word, making us regret about what we could have done. I am sure everyone has experiences of saying ‘If I have done this….. then things would have turned out right…’ This is exactly the main idea of the film. Norimichi, the protagonist of the film, at one point, tries to get into the ‘IF’ worlds to ‘make everything right’ for him and Nazuna. Also, from this bit of the film, we could see that Nazuna doesn’t actually want to leave home. She just wants to have the last day of her childhood before her life get affected by her new family. That is why she sings her mum’s favourite song in the train, and tells Norimichi that she wants to be a singer. She hopes for freedom so much! At the end of the film, Norimichi apparently knows that he cannot always ‘hides’ in the ‘IF’ worlds, he has to go back to the reality one day. But before that, he at least spends some good time with Nazuna in his ‘IF’ world, or what we call imaginary world.

Well, the film actually has quite a confusing plot, with a lot of different ‘IF’ worlds, confusing the audience. When Norimichi enters a ‘IF’ world, it is easy to get confused that he gets back to the past, but the shapes of fireworks should tell you that it is just an imaginary world of his. But you really have to pay attention to the film to know what is happening as it is kinda an artistic piece of work.

Not much spoiler, but the ending is another controversy itself. The open ending allows people to have different thoughts. Some people think Norimichi drowns the death after Nazuna in his ‘imaginary’ world disappears (because she is just imaginary); some claim that Norimichi has always just been in Nazuna’s imaginary world (well this is getting more confusing), this is possible because some people in school claim that fireworks are flat (which is not true, thus being in an imaginary world), and Nazuna asks Norimichi ‘When we meet next time, which world would we be in?’, which kinda suggests that she has been to many imaginary worlds too. But I think that Norimichi learns that it is useless to hide in the ‘IF’ worlds, and that it is way more useful to actually go for what he wants. So, he goes to chase his dream!

This might be a very confusing review, but the film itself is pretty confusing itself. You probably have to watch it to understand it! I would especially recommend it to those who like to think about the plots or to read novels because this film requires some interpretations.

Loneliness is probably not a new thing to everyone. I believe everyone has experienced loneliness under different circumstances, especially during the Valentine’s Day (sigh)….

Today’s review is on Makoto Shinkai’s ‘5 Centimeters Per Second’ (2007). If you have heard about or seen the film ‘Your Name’, you probably have heard about Makoto Shinkai. As a Shinkai fan, I think ‘5 Centimeters Per Second’ is one of the most important work of his, as the film provides crucial experiences for him to create his later works, such as ‘The Garden of Words’ and ‘Your Name’.

The film itself is composed of 3 acts, and is set in Japan from the 90s to the present days (2007), with each act centered on a boy named Takaki. Briefly, the story is about Takaki and a girl named Akari. Takaki and Akari, due to similar family background and common interests, kinda get together during their childhood. However, reality checks in, that they get separated geographically as they have to move houses. They then decide to exchange letters as that is the only way they can communicate (when mobile phones are not common). After being separated by reality for many years, Takaki and Akari have already stopped their communication with each other at some point. Akari becomes someone’s wife; while Takaki still dwells on chasing the ‘shadow’ of Akari’. It is a shadow indeed, as Akari is not the Akari he knew before after time. But the ‘Akari’ in his heart is just irreplaceable. So it is like chasing a fairy.

Comments about this ‘5 Centimeters Per Second’ are pretty polarised: some people think the film is rather descriptive than progressive (not much plot); but some others think that the atmosphere Shinkai created in this film is effective to bring the audiences into the story.

I agree that the plot in the film is rather simple, and the film is very viewers-unfriendly. The excessive use of monologue makes the film much more descriptive than progressive. When the viewers don’t get enough information from a film, they get bored easily. However, I still like this film a lot.

Whether you like the film depends on how much you feel in it, Shinkai leaves space for you to fill your experiences in the film. Different people will interpret the ending differently. Some people would think that the smile of Takaki implies that he has finally given up chasing the ‘Akari’ in his mind, and the girl at the other end of the railway is just his imagination; while some people think that the smile is comprised of helplessness and bitterness, but not a smile of giving up. This is exactly the value of ‘5 Centimeters Per Second’, leaving spaces for audience’s imagination.

Although this film has so many problems regarding the progression of the plot and the excessive use of monologue, I would still recommend this film to everyone. Most other films aims at delivering ideas and messages to the audience; while this film requires you to fill your own experiences in it to get whatever you can get from it.  Well, hope you will enjoy the film!

P.S. the name ‘5 Centimeters Per Second’ refers to the falling speed of Sakura (a kind of flowers living on the trees)

 

“One doesn’t have to experience death, to understand the preciousness of life’

This is the sentence that popped up to my mind after watching the film ‘Colorful’ (2010), an animated film, but also one of the deepest films I have ever encountered. The story is set from the protagonist’s point of view: the ‘I’ in the film is a dejected soul, who got a chance to go through life although he didn’t want it. He was placed in the body of a 14-year-old boy named Makoto Kobayashi, who committed suicide before the dejected soul entered his body. No spoiler here, but this setting is pretty interesting.

As a film about suicide, ‘Colourful’ portrays precisely how and what makes people suicide (problems from schools, and family mostly), and ultimately brings out the theme that ‘humans are not just comprised of a single colour, but with so many different ones, whether they are bright or dull’. Compared to the school problems, I would think the family problems in the film are relatively more worth mentioning.

Makoto’s family is comprised of problems: the dad rarely goes back home for dinner; the mum is caught ‘cheating’; the brother only cares about himself…. However, after the suicide of Makoto (eventually not dying as his body is then occupied by the soul), there are observable changes in the family: the dad comes back for dinner everyday; the mum cooks all the meals and becomes a full time housewife. They seem to realise that family is a crucial to a person’s mental health. Family, friends, and everyone we encounter in our lives, make us who we are, giving us the colours of our lives. A person’s existence is not ONLY related to himself, but also the people around him.

To conclude, ‘Colourful’ is quite an outstanding piece of work in my opinion. In a 2-hour period, I felt like I had attended a lesson about life. Sometimes, life can be tough, but we should never forget that there are always people supporting us, and those challenges are what make our lives colourful. “One doesn’t have to experience death, to understand the preciousness of life”, I did not jot this down right after the film. But I will always remember it.

Before starting my new job, I have quite some free time, and I decided to watch an anime series. Having seen ‘Anohana’ and ‘The Anthem of the Heart’ directed by Tatsuyuki Nagai, I chose ‘Toradora’ (Tiger X Dragon) to be my company during my boring time as i know this director will not let me down.

By looking at the title (Tiger X Dragon), I thought it would be an action series. It was not until I started watching that I started to realise it was kinda a school-life anime about youth and growth. This anime, despite the slow and a-bit-too-normal start, hooked me up since the middle of it. I literally stayed up till 5am just to finish the whole series from the middle! It is a good anime with a strong after-taste, like a good slice of cheese! I used not to like anime about school-life because it’s usually terrible, but ‘The Anthem of the Heart’, ‘Your Lie in April’, and Toradora’ successfully denied my perception.

Toradora is a Japanese light novel series by Yuyuko Takemiya, with illustrations by Yasu. The series includes ten novels released between March 10, 2006 and March 10, 2009, and the anime comes out in 2008. Toradora is simply an anime with a simple love story, the plot can be predicted using your knee: about a gangstar-looking guy (Ryuji) having a crush on an all-time-happy girl; and another tiny and furious girl (Taiga) having a crush on the vice-president of the student association. Something happened, then Ryuji and Taiga begin to help each other to pursue who they like.

Not to include too many spoilers, Toradora has a very simple plot, but it includes all the element of a good anime, or even a TV series. To me, the best feature of Toradora is the developments of each main character. There are many anime films or series with good plots but they often try to put too many things in it and end up ignoring the importance of a deep development of the plot, characters, and the feelings. Toradora, on the other hand, under the direction of Tatsuyuki Nagai, has a smooth development of all the main characters, thus leaving the audience a memorable impression. The connection between each character is also portrayed perfectly, especially the uncluear relationship between Taiga and Ryuji. (You will see what I mean when you watch it) Well, youth is about uncertainty, when it comes to human connections and life goals. The anime portrays the uncertainty of every character perfectly: Ryuji is uncertain whether he likes Taiga, or the all-time-happy girl; Taiga also isn’t sure whether Ryuji is of any importance in her life. The plot keeps going around the theme of uncertainty.

The other interesting thing about the anime is that, you are presented with the first layer of personality of a character (e.g. Taiga being rude and careless), and then through different events, you notice the other side of his/ her personality. Ryuji is the same, he looks useless, but when it comes to the things that matter, he has got a strong determination to make things right.

Well, maybe people would say that ‘Toradora’ is a terrible anime because many things in the anime is about uncertainty. But well, life is full of uncertainty anyway, right? If you want some easy-watching, or chill anime which  can maybe make you think, I’d definitely recommend ‘Toradora’! 🙂

 

I thought I would do the review of ‘Fireworks: should we see it from the bottom or the side’ first, but then I would need to watch the film again before I can write it, and because it was only in the UK for one day, I have not had a chance to watch it again. So, SAO II is the one I would write about today.

Having had the experience of SAO, I wouldn’t have had any expectation for SAO II, I would only take it as a light animation to watch while I’m bored. Yes, this is the case for more than half of SAO II (the GGO part). GGO gives me the joy of figuring out who ‘Death Gun’ is, but that part does not quite leave any trace in my heart. It is not too special although most people tend to like this part.

The ‘Mother’s Rosario’ part, at least to me, is unexpectedly impressive. It touches the theme of friendship, family, and death with enough depth. Yuki’s hard-fought life; Asuna’s conversation with her mother; when all the members of the Sleeping Knights knew they were gonna die one by one; when Yuki tried to leave Asuna because she knew about her inevitable decease…. Yes there were onions in the series, and they taught me that family is a place where you should always get support from (yes, that is the case for me, gladly 🙂 ), and that no matter how life treats you, you should always give you best to fight for everything you want, and leave good memories, life is not about death, but about communicating with other people. Therefore, I really like the ideas (or messages) portrayed in the Mother’s Rosario part. It is really good and I would recommend it to everyone.

Having been a fan of A1-Picture (an animation studio) since ‘Your Lie in April’ and ‘Anohana’, I have decided to watch its said-to-be Masterpiece Sword Art Online with my friend. First of all, this is a horrendous story, with the two main characters being dragged into an online game, and this online game is a special one in which people actually die when they die in game.

Well, hopefully not much spoiler, here are my comments:

First of all, although the anime successfully got me engaged with the plot, the flow of the anime can be said problematic: the plot of SAO is like broken glasses, most episodes are not quite connected with each other. If you watch the first few episodes, you will probably recognise Kirito as the main character (not that difficult), but most of the other characters just appear for just one or two episodes and then they just disappear. Even Asuna didn’t quite appear as the other main character in the first 9 episodes.

Also, the atmosphere portrayed in SAO is horrendous. If it is a game of survival, I believe most players will come together (better together) to finish the game in order to get back to life. So they fight, fight and fight. And suddenly, you get the newly-wed life of Asuna and Kirito. When I try to adapt my mood to watch their peaceful lake-life, they went back to fight in just one episode. This jump is slightly too quick, and the atmosphere in SAO changes quick as traffic lights.

The ending of SAO (the first online game) is definitely a rushed-up. The boss on level 75 firstly appeared to be quite brutal, but then it got beaten fairly easily (within minutes), and it makes me feel like something is missing in the battle, and that they could have put more into it. When they finish killing that level-75 boss, normal viewers like me would probably look forward to the bosses on higher levels. But then, Kayaba suddenly appear and offer to fight so that Kirito can have a chance to win…. I was so speechless. And wow, it was a nice scene when Asuna tries to save Kirito, but she should have been paralysed, right? So how does she do that? And, Kirito is supposed to have died when fighting Kayaba, but he is like half-dead, and kills Kayaba? How does he do that? There are more question marks left on my head and my mind is like a pretzel. So, take a football match as an example, if Team A is leading 5-0 against Team B, and suddenly make an offer to Team B saying ‘if you score a goal, you win the whole match.’, I think everyone will wonder why? This is exactly like SAO.

So, second part of SAO Season one, the ALO game, so, what is the point of ALO? Is it a part just for Kirito to save Asuna? Is it a part for Kirito’s sister to appear as a character? To be honest, I think it is a less exciting part than the first game (first half season), this is not even an online game which can determine your life and death. Most importantly, this part of the season has nothing much to do with the first half (lacking continuity). If I say to my friends ‘Kirito is the main character and he tries to save Asuna’, then everyone of my friends can literally start watching from Episode 15 and not feeling missing anything.

There are several quotes in the anime such as ‘There is no meaningful difference between a real and a virtual world’ which appear to be quite ridiculous, but they probably mean it in the anime. If the plot can be more detailed, maybe those quotes will appear to be less ridiculous.

To conclude, SAO is quite an alright anime to watch, as it can actually get you engaged with the plot. But if you get too engaged you will find too many loopholes and stuff. It is good, but it shouldn’t be crowned as a Masterpiece. I don’t know if it is the fault of A-1 Pictures, but this is definitely not the best A-1 Pictures anime I’ve seen.

 

P.S. I didn’t even realise the girl with blue hair at the end was Asuna. Well apparently I am not the only one who didn’t know! This is an example of one of the weakness of the anime!