Review:「黒い四角」(Kuroi shikaku/The Black Square)

The Black Square
Alternative title (Chinese): 黒四角
Year: 2012
Country: China/Japan
Language: Mandarin, some Japanese
Director: Okuhara Hiroshi
Studio: Black Square Film
Screenplay: Okuhara Hiroshi
Cinematography: Maki Kenji
Soundscore: Sangatsu
Cast: Nakaizumi Hideo, Hong Dan, Xixu Chen, Suzuki Miki
Runtime: 144 min
Distribution: N/a
Film’s official website:  N/a
Trailer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XnvtcEW_MXg
Special thanks to Raindance, which provided me with a preview screener of this film. Kuroi shikaku showed at the 21st Raindance Film Festival on September 28, 2013. I previously featured the film on Trailer Weekly #79/80.
When Japanese film director Okuhara Hiroshi travelled to Bejing in 2008 and visited the Song Zhuang Artist Village he spoke no Chinese. The place – the experience – seemed surreal to him, or, as he explained, “the whole atmosphere felt like science fiction, including the surroundings. I felt I could shoot a Tarkovsky-like movie in this place. […] That’s how it all began.” (quote) Continue reading “Review:「黒い四角」(Kuroi shikaku/The Black Square)”

Mini-Review: 《不能爱》 (Bùnéng ài/Love Me Not)

love-me-not
Year: 2012
Country: 
Hong Kong
Language: Cantonese
Director: Gilitte Leung
Cast: Lee Afa, Cheng Kenneth, Yip Rebecca, Wu Siu, Hitomi Thompson
Runtime: 92 min
Trailer:

Seen at the film’s UK premiere at the 2013 Terracotta Film Festival.
Independent productions are not something you come by every day in the world of Hong Kong cinema of blockbuster action and crime thriller film fame, so every time a new indie does roll around, it seems like something better not missed. Continue reading “Mini-Review: 《不能爱》 (Bùnéng ài/Love Me Not)”

Review: 「ももいろそらを」 (Momoiro Sora wo/About the Pink Sky)

Year: 2011
Country:
Japan
Language: Japanese
Director: Kobayashi Keiichi
Screenplay: Kobayashi Keiichi
Cinematography: Kobayashi Keiichi
Soundscore: No soundscore.
Cast: Ikeda Ai, Koshino Ena, Fujiwara Reiko, Takayama Tsubasa, Togetsuan Hakuysu
Runtime: 117 min
Distribution: Uzumasa
Official webpage: http://www.momoirosora.jp (日本語/English)
Official FB page: https://www.facebook.com/thePinkSky?fref=ts
Twitter: @momoirosorawo

Trailer (subtitled):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1Oo8jIdgG0

Seen at the Raindance Film Festival in London, where Momoira Sora wo had its UK premiere and screened twice.

The heroine of Momoiro Sora wo is called Kawashima Izumi (Ikeda Ai). Izumi has no superpowers – she is not that kind of heroine, but rather an ordinary seventeen year-old girl. Izumi is gutsy and frank. She reacts impulsively – whipping water with a fishing rod a gazillion times in a sudden and extended explosion of frustration – and gives a wide, sheepish smile when she is fibbing, which happens on a regular basis. Although she doesn’t always know what she actually wants, she stays true to herself even if her sense of fairness is a little warped, at least from the point of view of others. Continue reading “Review: 「ももいろそらを」 (Momoiro Sora wo/About the Pink Sky)”

Review: 「愛と誠」 (Ai to Makoto/For Love’s Sake)

Alternative English Title: The Legend of Love and Sincerity
Year: 2012
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Director: Miike Takashi
Adaptation from:
Kajiwara Ikki’s manga「愛と誠」(Ai to Makoto, 1973-1976)
Screenplay: Takuma Takayuki
Cinematography: Kita Nobuyasu
Soundscore: Kobayashi Takeshi
Cast: Tsumabuki Satoshi, Takei Emi, Saito Takumi, Ono Ito, Andō Sakura, Ihara Tsuyoshi, Yo Kimiko
Runtime: 134 min
Film’s official website: aiandmakoto.jp (in Japanese)

Trailer:

Seen at the film’s UK premiere at the 56th London International Film Festival.
Update: The film will have a UK home media release via Third Window Films on June 10, 2013.

Back in the 70s Kajiwara Ikki wrote, in manga form, the story of Ai to Makoto (literally Ai and Makoto, names which also mean ‘love’ and ‘sincerity’), two teenagers on very different rungs of the social ladder whose paths fatefully cross. Angelic Ai inhabits the strata of the upper class, coming from a wealthy family that has sheltered her from all the hardships that exist in life. Makoto, meanwhile, is at the very bottom of the hierarchy: abandoned by his father and mother, he survives as a fist-fighting delinquent in the lowest echelons of Tokyo. It’s probably not the most original of stories – a modern-day Romeo and Juliet tale – but Kajiwara’s manga, which originally ran from 1973 to 1976 in the Weekly Shōnen Magazine (Kodansha), was almost immediately adapted to a dorama (1974) and to three films (1974, 1975 and 1976). More than forty-years on cult-director Miike Takashi (「クローズZERO」/Kurōzu Zero/Crows Zero, 2007; 「十三人の刺客」/Jûsan-nin no shikaku/Thirteen Assassins, 2010) dug the story out again and made it into…. well, that’s the question. Continue reading “Review: 「愛と誠」 (Ai to Makoto/For Love’s Sake)”

Review: This Ain’t California

Year: 2011
Country: Germany
Language: German
Director: Marten Persiel
Screenplay: Marten Persiel, Ira Wedel
Cinematography: Felix Leiberg
Animation: Sasa Zivkovic
Music: Lars Damm, Troy von Balthasar
Runtime: 90 min
Trailer: Trailer 1 and Trailer 2
Film’s official website: This Ain’t California

This Ain’t California had its UK premiere at the Raindance Film Festival (London) on September 27, 2012. Details here. It also screened in German cinemas this summer and has been shown at a number of international film festivals. It will be the closing film at the annual Berlin & Beyond Festival in San Francisco on October 4, 2012.

A few years back the International Baccalaureate (IB) issued a quote for its students the world round to discuss in their Theory of Knowledge examination essays: “History is part myth, part hope and part reality”. Der Spiegel, a German-language weekly from the popular press, missed the lesson, writing the following in its review of This Ain’t California:

Zu rasant, um wahr zu sein: Der preisgekrönte Film “This Ain’t California” über die Skater-Szene in der DDR kommt als Dokumentation daher. Dabei ist vieles erfunden und nachgestellt. (Translation: “Too daring to be true: The award-winning film ‘This Ain’t California’ about the skateboarding scene in the German Democratic Republic pretends to be a documentary. Much however is invented and reproduced.”) (quote source) Continue reading “Review: This Ain’t California”