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Animation Features Movies

A Silent Voice (Koe no Katachi, 聲の形)

Director – Naoko Yamada – 2016 – Japan – Cert. 12a – 130m

****

Groundbreaking and innovative Japanese drama about school children, bullying, remorse, isolation and self-loathing – plays in the Anime season April / May 2022 at BFI Southbank

Egged on by Naoka Ueno (voice: Yuki Kaneko) then later shunned by classmates for his bullying of new girl in class Shoko Nishimiya ( Saori Hayami), who happens to be deaf, Shoya Ishida (Miyu Irino) stops interacting with them and withdraws. This is represented onscreen by the extraordinary graphic device of an ‘X’ over the faces of his fellow schoolmates whenever they appear. It’s a very powerful way of expressing his isolation. Five years on, wrecked with guilt about his treatment of Nishimiya, he learns sign language and decides to befriend her and to make amends…

This film may well broaden your idea of what animation is capable. It’s nothing like Disney and equally it’s light years from Japanese SF action fest Akira (Katsuhiro Otomo, 1988) although it likewise started life as a manga and concerns teenagers. These teens, however, are not rebels against the system but simply very ordinary, screwed up kids. If this were British we’d probably have made it as a live action drama, possibly for television… [read more]

Read the full review at DMovies.orgRead the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

KIBA: The Fangs Of Fiction (Damashie No Kiba, 騙し絵の牙)

Director – Daihachi Yoshida – 2020 – Japan – 112m

*****

Forward thinkers take on the conservative old guard within a Japanese publishing corporation – plays UK cinemas in the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2022 between Friday, 4th February and Thursday, 31st March

Megumi Takano (Mayu Matsuoka from One Night, Kazuya Shirashi, 2019; Shoplifters, Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2018; A Silent Voice, Naoko Yamada, 2016; Lesson Of Evil, Takashi Miike, 2012; Love Exposure, Sion Sono, 2008), daughter of local bookstore owner Takano (Shinya Tsukamoto), is as dedicated an editor as you’ll find anywhere in publishing. Alas, she lacks the political savvy needed to survive in its ruthless, corporate, dog-eat-dog world. When the owner of the publishing company Kunpu which employs her dies unexpectedly, she finds herself caught up in the machinations of a large organisation where some employees resist change while others plan to completely reinvent the business model to ensure the company’s survival, possibly at the expense of some of its employees.

Thus it is that new CEO Tamatsu (Koichi Sato from Fukushima 50, Setsuro Wakamatsu, 2020; Sukiaki Western Django, Takashi Miike, 2007; Where The Last Sword Is Drawn, Yojiro Takita, 2002) comes in with plans to restructure the company.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

One Night (Hitoyo, ひとよ)

Director – Kazuya Shiraishi – 2019 – Japan – Cert. N/C 15+ – 123m

****1/2

A woman murders her violent husband after years of his beating up the kids, goes to prison then returns 15 years later to find the siblings in turmoil – played online in the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2021 in the UK

A night of torrential rain proves a defining moment in the lives of the Inamura family which owns and runs a taxi business. Koharu (Yuko Tanaka – Princess Mononoke, 1997) enters, dressed in her usual suit she wears to drive customers around, to announce to her three teenager children, “I’ve just killed your father. Nobody will ever beat you again. You can live however you want. You’re totally free.” Expressing no remorse and convinced she’s done the right thing, she promises to return in fifteen years then disappears to hand herself in to the cops.

Koharu’s designs of freeing her kids from their father’s years of violent abuse don’t quite play out the way she had hoped. Their father would beat them for any suggestion that they’d want to do anything other than work in the family taxi business. The eldest Daiki (Ryohei Suzuki – Our Little Sister, Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2015; Tokyo Tribe, Sion Sono, 2014) is a stutterer whose relationship with wife Fumiko (Megumi) is mired in divorce proceedings as he struggles to hold down a regular job.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Shoplifters (Manbiki Kazoku, 万引き家族)

Director – Hirokazu Kore-eda – 2018 – Japan – Cert. 15 – 121m – Palme d’Or winner

*****

Sleight of hand. A family of small time criminals takes a little girl into their care – now out on VoD

The nuclear family. Dad Osamu (Lily Franky) takes son Shota (Jyo Kairi) shoplifting at a local convenience store. Mum Nobuyo (Ando Sakura), a former sex worker, dispenses advice to her younger sister Aki (Mayu Matsuoka). Grandma (Kirin Kiki) lives with the family making a total of five persons in one small living space.

Father and son spot a little girl (Miyu Sasaki) sitting on the street. She’s hungry, so they take to theirs and give her a meal. Taking her home, it’s clear that neither father nor mother wants the child currently nor ever did. So the family decides to take Yuri in as its newest member.

Shota takes Yuri on a shoplifting trip but it doesn’t go so well… [Read the rest]

Out on Thunderbird Video. Also currently on Amazon Prime, BFI Player and Curzon Home Cinema (all rental). This review originally appeared in DMovies.org.

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