Archive for October, 2010

The 2nd and concluding part of the Nodame Cantabile movie double bill. Chiaki is asked to do a piano concerto with Rui Son which makes Nodame lonely and depressed however much of a brave face she shows around Chiaki. In her mind, she thinks Rui will take Chiaki away from her. With Nodame at her lowest and most vulnerable, the flamboyant conductor Stressman breezes in and having listened to Nodame playing a piece on her piano decides to whisk her away to Prague where she debuts with him doing a Chopin piece. She’s a huge success but Nodame still isn’t happy and hints that she could quit music and become a kindergarten teacher. She also starts to drift away from Chiaki. Can Nodame and Chiaki overcome their differences and find a way to get back together again?

A fantastic conclusion to the whole Nodame Cantabile saga. Some old faces return for a small cameo and the storyline ends on a very satisfying note. But is it really the end? I still feel there’s another story to be told about Nodame and Chiaki so watch this space. Given the huge popularity of the franchise, I wouldn’t be surprised to see another installment appearing in the next couple of years. Highly recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 out of 5

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This movie centers around two murderers – the cool but methodical serial psycho Yasunaga and Chinatsu, his sweet but sullen younger sidekick who is plagued with her own self-destructive desires and over whom Yasunaga has an inexplicably strong hold. After stabbing their way through a couple of high school girls with a pair of scissors, they soon find that someone has already got to their next potential victim, 16-year-old Yukiko, and done the job for them. Finding themselves called as witnesses to the crime, they embark on a series of double bluffs and deceits with police investigator Isone and his deskbound superior Horinouchi involving feeding information to a gutter press journalist out to do some muck-raking and toying with an innocent bystander seemingly unconnected with the victim, all the while trying to pinpoint the identity of the older man Yukiko was spotted with just before the murder.

This is an interesting and somewhat bizarre psychological film about a killer, a copycat killer, and the police trying to find both killers. Though starting out fairly straightforward, the film has many twists and turns and it keeps viewers on their toes. The story is quite good throughout, and the music is surprisingly unnerving and minimal. The atmosphere is pretty great. Also, you gotta love the fact that a movie from 2004 looks like it was filmed in the 80’s. Performances are good for most of the characters. It does its problems though as it’s a bit inconsistent in tone. At times, it tries hard to be as serious as possible and it usually works. However, whatever bleakness the movie conveys is immediately broken by a bit too much campy humour from the stupid, bumbling police officers; specifically to blame is the lead police officer who just acts completely ridiculous throughout the whole thing. The pacing could have been better as it’s a bit too long. This movie really could have been something special but it was missing something. It’s still worth checking out though.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 out of 5

I can’t find a trailer unfortunately.

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Saori (Mao Inoue) is a manga artist. She meets language geek Tony (Jonathan Sherr), who lives in Japan after falling in love with the language. As the couple become closer, Saori is inundated with strange questions about the language from Tony. Are these weird questions a trait of his foreign background? Or is it because of his linguist preoccupation? The majority of Saori’s family seems fine about the couple except that is for her father who is very much against Tony seeing his daughter.  Can their relationship survive?

This was just a below-average movie in the end and is based on the real lives of the author Saori Oguri and her white husband Tony Laszlo. It’s supposed to take a light-hearted look at cross-cultural relationships, namely Japanese women and foreign men. You’d think that this would provide opportunities for some great humour but it doesn’t and the plot mechanics are sloppy. Numerous instances in the story made me stratch my head. Tony is fluent in Japanese so it makes sense that he’s been living in the country for a while yet you’d think he’d understand Japanese humour or their culture but he’s clueless about some things. Also why would anybody take a date to a party full of foreigners and then ignore her – what an idiot! His friends are also shown to be shallow and enjoy taking pot-shots at Japanese women. I’m taking that it’s supposed to be funny in showing stereotypical foreigners. There are other examples as well of poor execution in this movie. As for the acting, I’m afraid this isn’t one of Mao Inoue’s best performances which is a shame as I really liked her in Hana Yori Dango. The only good thing she does is look cute. Jonathan Sherr as Tony is so bland – the guy can’t act to save his life.  I just can’t feel the chemistry between Saori and Tony at all. Overall this movie was a big disappointment for me.

Sadako’s Rating: 2 out of 5

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Yui (aka Sukeban Deka III) is working for the Juvenile Security Bureau, a sort of a youth police outfit whose task is to bring delinquents to justice. However, their heavy handed tactics where they seem to enjoy punishing the kids disappoints Yui and she quits. She heads for Kyushu hoping to have a quiet life with her relatives but it isn’t long before 2 of her old Sukeban Deka colleagues Yuki and Yama call on her for help. The leader of the Juvenile Security Bureau is trying to take over the system and kills one of Yui’s ex-colleague and imprisons her old boss. Even Yuki and Yama are captured. Yui teams up with a gang of young outcasts to destroy the JSB who intend to detonate a bomb at a music concert.

A fun and campy feature and still just as OTT as the first movie. The budget has been ramped up for the movie with more explosions but less hand to hand combat which is disappointing. The plot is more or less recycled from the previous flick. I do like the lead character – she’s quite cute and brings plenty of energy to the role. In the first movie we saw a helicopter downed by a yo-yo, in this one a small light aircraft is bought down by our heroine!! If the idea of seeing a tough schoolgirl taking on a bunch of teenage baddies and saving the day is your idea of fun, there’s plenty to enjoy in this movie. You might need to brush up on the TV series for more backstory and background to the Sukeban Deka characters. I found it enjoyable despite the ridiculousness of the story.

I can’t find a trailer for the movie but here’s one for the first movie

Sadako’s Rating: 3 out of 5

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Jackie Chan plays orphan Ah Lung, a student in a martial arts school, along with his brother.  Trouble ensues when the brother is bribed by a rival school to fake an injury and join their team in their lion dance competition, leaving Lung to take his place, and subsequently lose.  The brother is released from the school, and Lung must try to find him, but a series of mishaps, the worst of which includes Lung being mistaken for a criminal, prevents the reunion.

This is the first movie that Jackie wrote and directed. This movie has it’s fans but for me I just found it well……boring! There is just a dull feeling throughout that has nothing to do with the comedy or anything. The plot isn’t that great and it drags a bit in the middle and there isn’t the usual quota of physical comedy and crazy stunts you’d expect from a Jackie Chan movie. Even the lengthy fight at the end didn’t do anything for me. The fan fight plus the one with the benches were entertaining though. Jackie was still learning his trade in the movie business at this time and it shows. There are other great movies that Jackie did pre-Police Story like the Drunken Master double bill which I think fans will enjoy better than this hokum. Overall it’s only average.

Sadako’s Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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Creepy Hide And Seek (2009)

Teenagers are going missing after playing a sinister online game of hide and seek. Each participant plays the game alone in their homes or apartments, but communicate with each other via computer and/or cell phone text messaging. Each character performs a pre-game ritual to call forth a ghost, then hides from it to experience the thrill of having a ghost rummage through their residence. If the ritual is not performed in a very precise manner, the person is murdered when the ghost finds them. A school teacher whose colleague and pupils have disappeared after playing the game starts investigating and unwillingly becomes involved in the game which is somehow inexplicably linked to an incident from her childhood.

A very well made and suitably atmospheric ghost movie. It’s got a good deliberate pace about it with an ominous mood throughout. Some really good jump scares  such as showing a ghostly girl figure in the background. It’s proof how good this movie is that the Japanese ghost genre is far from dead. Sure, it’s lifted some ideas from other J-horror movies but don’t let that put you off. Those with a short attention span will find the slow pace at times to be boring but if you have the patience for a good storyline that takes it’s time to unfold you’re sure to enjoy it. The ending has a nice twist to it. There’s no resolution to the mystery at the climax – the game simply moves on to more victims.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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A G-8 summit is set for Rome the day after Christmas; the Italian and Japanese governments will announce an aid package for the Balkans. Kondura arrives from Tokyo to improve security at the embassy, making waves with his direct manner. A Japanese tourist who’s a single mother reports that her young daughter has been kidnapped. Posing as the woman’s husband, Kondura takes the lead with the kidnappers, who want money and no cops. However, the law requires that Kondura notify local authorities, who blunder a bit. Various exchanges go awry; then the kidnappers send the mother and Kondura to the Amalfi coast on what appears to be a wild goose chase. Why the delay? What’s going on?

A great political thriller, however this movie concerned itself more in showing beautiful shots of Italy and highlighting the dangers of pickpocketing in Rome rather than focusing on the plot at times! The first half was pretty good with the kidnapping scenario but then it switched gear in the 2nd half to be about a bunch of terrorists who want to tell the world the truth about an incident in a small republic which killed their families. The things that happen during the 2nd half are pretty far fetched and shows the Italian police and intelligence agencies as idiots. That said I did find it a bit exciting. Yuda Oji is OK as the Japanese security expert Kondura but I was disappointed in Erika Toda’s role. She wasn’t as involved as I wanted her to be considering she’s one of my favorite Japanese TV idols. There’s even an appearance by Sarah Brightman who sings Time To Say Goodbye.  As this was a movie by Fuji TV to celebrate their 50th anniversary, no expense has been spared in the production values – looks like they spent a lot of money getting everybody to Italy and employing Sarah Brightman too. On the whole it’s a relatively entertaining investigative thriller running around Rome much like what Angels and Demons did.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 out of 5

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