Categories
Art Documentary Exhibitions Features Live Action Movies

Tokyo Stories

Director – David Bickerstaff – 2023 – UK – Cert. 15 – 90m

*****

Japan generally and Tokyo specifically are viewed through that city’s art and photography – out in UK, Irish and worldwide cinemas on Tuesday, May 23rd

The refreshing thing about this latest entry in producer Phil Grabsky’s excellent Exhibition On Screen series is that it breaks the mould. Like Vermeer The Greatest Exhibition (David Bickerstaff, 2023), it is centred around a particular art exhibition, in this instance 2022’s Tokyo: Art + Photography show at Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum. That event sought to give a perspective on the country of Japan generally and the city of Tokyo specifically through its art, both historical and contemporary. The Ashmolean is well-placed to do this, given that it already houses a wide-ranging, historical Japanese collection. Sadly, it means that if this film whets your appetite and makes you want to visit the exhibition, you can’t then do so because it’s been and gone. In a way, though, that’s not so dissimilar from the Vermeer exhibition, which had sold out before the documentary about it appeared.

While the film is swift to acknowledge areas of Japanese culture as diverse as manga (one of the first shots of Tokyo features a giant image of manga and anime favourites Dirty Pair) and traditional Japanese music (a stringed and a woodwind instrument are shown being played by musicians without any explanation or even naming of the instruments), such elements remain largely in the background.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Movies

Blind Willow,
Sleeping Woman
(Saules Aveugles,
Femme Endormie)

Director – Pierre Földes – 2022 – France, Canada, Luxembourg, The Netherlands – Cert. 15 – 100m

*****

Three characters experience the aftermath of the 2011 Tokyo earthquake in a story based on six Haruki Murakami short stories – animated feature is out to rent on BFI Player and Curzon Home Cinema from Friday, May 5th

This is an animated feature based on six Haruki Murakami short stories which comes not, as you might expect, from Japan, but rather from one of the few other countries that can reasonably be said to have an animation industry: France. Writer-director Pierre Földes, whose father Peter is an award-winning animator, further confounds expectations by making a film of six Murakami short stories… [Read the full review at All The Anime…]

Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman is out to rent on BFI Player and Curzon Home Cinema from Friday, May 5th.

It was out in cinemas in the UK on Friday, March 31st.

Trailer:

Categories
Animation Features Movies

Suzume
(Suzume
No Tojimari,
すずめの戸締まり,
lit. Suzume’s
Locking Up)

Director – Makoto Shinkai – 2022 – Japan – Cert. PG – 122m

***1/2

Aided by a man turned into a mobile, talking, three-legged chair, a schoolgirl must prevent giant, freak weather ‘worms’ from devastating Japan with earthquakes – anime feature is out in UK and Irish cinemas on Friday, April 14th

Prompted by a question from a man she meets on a road in her hometown, 17-year-old schoolgirl Suzume visits an abandoned hot springs facility in which is situated a door in a free standing door frame. She opens it only to find she can’t enter. Shortly after this, in school, she notices smoke in a gigantic, red and black worm-like form rising from the hot springs facility.

At the same time, everyone around her receives earthquake warnings on their smartphones, but no-one else can see the rising form. She goes back to the facility to find the man she met trying to close the door and cut off the incoming smoke, something she helps him to do. They do not close the door in time to prevent the red and black form falling onto the land and an earthquake resulting. The man locks the door using a key on his person.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Movies

The House
Of The Lost
On The Cape
(Misaki
No Mayoiga,
岬のマヨイガ)

Director – Shinya Kawatsura – 2021 – Japan – 100m

*****

Two children separated from their respective parents are taken in by an old woman in a benevolent, magical house with a malevolent monster nearby – plays in the Annecy Animation Festival 2022 which is taking place in a 100% on-site edition this year right now in the Official Competition section

A younger girl and an older girl find themselves at Kitsunezaki (Fox Cape) Bus Station that’s been wrecked in the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. An old lady appears and takes them under her wing. They walk through forests, then up a hill, until eventually they arrive at a huge bungalow with a thatched roof which is to be the girls’ home. Kiwa, the old lady, claims to be their granny.

There’s something odd about the house, though. The older girl Yui accidentally makes a hole when she puts a finger through a paper wall. Later, the hole has mysteriously vanished. Then there are the drinks which appear out of nowhere when Yui says she’d like such and such a drink. At night, outside, strange turtle spirits (kappa) gather.

The younger girl Hiyori never speaks. This appears to be the result of some sort of trauma.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Fukushima 50
(フクシマ50)

Director – Setsuro Wakamatsu – 2020 – Japan – Cert. 12 – 122m

****

Historically-based, disaster movie cum drama in which workers struggle to limit the considerable damage to a nuclear power plant hit by an earthquake then a tsunami – on VoD from Monday, March 8th

March 11th, 2011. A powerful earthquake followed by a tsunami hit Japan. Situated near the epicentre of the earthquake on the coast where the tsunami hits is a nuclear power plant. The resultant nuclear disaster threatens to decimate Japan. Coming in at slightly over 9.0, it remains the most powerful earthquake the country has ever experienced.

The above is history. The title Fukushima 50 is the name given to from the crew of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant who at considerable cost to their own health stayed at the plant to limit the damage as much as they could and prevent an undoubtedly appalling situation becoming far worse.

To anyone not well-versed in the specific technical minutiae of how a nuclear power plant works (i.e. most of us) much of what happens in the film is bewildering. Not that it really matters, frankly, because if someone looks at a gauge, reads off a number in units of which you’ve never heard and exclaims that they’ve got to get the number down, you have a pretty good idea what’s going on.… Read the rest