LFF Review:《致我们终将逝去的青春》(Zhì wǒmen zhōng jiāng shìqù de qīngchūn/To Our Youth That Is Fading Away aka So Young)

so young 5
Year: 2013
Language: Mandarin
Director: Vicki Zhao
Multiple involved, including China Film Group
Adaptation from:
2007 novel of the same title by Xin Yiwu
Screenplay: Li Qiang
Cinematography: Li Ran
Soundscore: Dou Peng
Cast: Mark Chao, Han Geng, Yang Zishan, Jiang Shuying
Runtime: 132 minutes
Distribution: China Film Group
Film’s official website: N/a
Seen at the 2013 London Film Festival at a screening with a director’s Q&A. Previously featured in Trailer Weekly #75.

In the opening scene of《致我们终将逝去的青春》(Zhì wǒmen zhōng jiāng shìqù de qīngchūn/To Our Youth That Is Fading Away aka So Young) the heroine, Zheng Wei (Yang Zishan), finds herself in a lush fantasy world, populated by fairy tale creatures both good and bad, only to awaken and find it was all a terrible dream. No more than a few minutes long, this opening reveals much of what is wrong with Zhì wǒmen zhōng jiāng shìqù de qīngchū, for as luxuriantly beautiful that dream world is – the scene must have cost a good chunk of the film’s 30 million yuan (US$5 million) budget – it is also completely irrelevant, for nothing that happens is of any importance for the story that follows. Continue reading “LFF Review:《致我们终将逝去的青春》(Zhì wǒmen zhōng jiāng shìqù de qīngchūn/To Our Youth That Is Fading Away aka So Young)”

Review: 화차 (Hwacha/Helpless)

hwacha 1
Year: 2011
South Korea
Language: Korean
Director:  Byeon Yeong-joo (변영주)
Adaptation from:
Miyube Miyaki’s novel「火車」 (Kasha, 1992, translated into English as All She Was Worth in 1999)
Screenplay:  Byeon Yeong-joo (변영주)
Cinematography: Kim Dong-Young
Soundscore: Kim Hong-jip
Cast: Lee Sun-gyun, Kim Min-hee, Kim Min-jae
Runtime: 117 min
Seen at the film’s UK premiere at the 56th BFI London International Film Festival.
Hwacha is, in essence, a longer, prettier version of CSI Seoul: it is a feature-length film with striking cinematography from the opening shots on but with a story we have been told in some form before, most likely while watching a crime television series. Continue reading “Review: 화차 (Hwacha/Helpless)”

Review: 「夢売るふたり」 (Yume Uru Futari/Dreams for Sale)

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Year: 2012
Language: Japanese
Director: Nishikawa Miwa
Screenplay: Nishikawa Miwa
Cinematography: Yanagishima Katsumi
Soundscore: more rhythm
Cast: Matsu Takako, Abe Sadao, Tanaka Rena, Kimura Tae, Suzuki Sawa, Ando Tamae, Ebara Yuka
Runtime: 137 min


Seen at the film’s UK premiere at the 56th BFI London International Film Festival.

Yume Uru Futari appeared on quite a number of Top 10 Films of 2012 lists. Tom Mes, Catherine Munroe Hotes and Eija Niskanen all counted it among their favourites in a Midnight Eye feature and Jason Grey (Loaded Films) included it as part of the “10% goodness” of cinema of the past year over at Wildgrounds, to name some examples. Continue reading “Review: 「夢売るふたり」 (Yume Uru Futari/Dreams for Sale)”

Review: 「ライク・サムワン・イン・ラブ」 (Raiku Samuwan in Rabu/Like Someone in Love)

like someone in love 4

Year: 2012
Language: Japanese
Director: Abbas Kiarostami
Screenplay: Abbas Kiarostami
Cinematography: Yanagijima Katsumi
Soundscore: Mohamadrez Delpak, Kikuchi Nobuyuki
Cast: Takanashi Rin, Okuno Tadashi, Kase Ryō, Denden
Runtime: 109 min



Seen at the film’s UK premiere at the 56th BFI London International Film Festival. Like Someone in Love will be released in select British cinemas via New Wave Films on June 21, 2013.

Like Someone in Love premiered in Cannes last year, where it sharply divided the critics, leaving some rather disenchanted, if not highly irritated, in particular with its rather abrupt ending. “[T]he curtain comes down with an arbitrary crash” noted Peter Bradshaw, resident film critic for The Guardian, while Mike D’Angelo (A.V. Club) gave it a “WTF” rating, declaring the final scene “a startling, truncated conclusion that seems completely out of proportion with the lazy, anti-urgent meandering that precedes it”, ending with the words “I know there’s something happening here, but I don’t know what it is”. Continue reading “Review: 「ライク・サムワン・イン・ラブ」 (Raiku Samuwan in Rabu/Like Someone in Love)”

Review: 「ももへの手紙」 (Momo e no Tegami/A Letter to Momo)

Year: 2011
Language: Japanese
Director: Okiura Hiroyuki
Animation Studio: Production I.G.
Okiura Hiroyuki
Art Direction: Ohno Hiroshi
Animation Direction: 
Ando Masashi
Soundscore: Kubota Mina
Theme Song: 
ウルワシマホロバ~美しき場所~ (Uruwashimahoroba ~ Utsukushiki Basho ~) by Hara Yūko
Voice Cast: Miyama Karen, Yuka, Nishida Toshiyuki, Cho, Yamadera Kouichi, Ogawa Takeo, Fujii Kota
Runtime: 120 min
Trailer: teaser (subtitled) and full trailer (not subtitled, somewhat spoilerish)
Film’s official website: momo-letter.jp (日本語)
Seen at the BFI’s biennial weekend Showcase for AnimeMomo e no Tegami previously screened at Scotland Loves Anime but has not been released in the UK otherwise. Update 5/6/2013: a Winter 2013 release is planned for UK cinemas via All The Anime.
Momo e no Tegami is the sort of animated film that Disney, Dreamsworks and Co.1 are unlikely to ever make as it is, certainly in its first hour, much more reflective than children-oriented Western animation tends to be. Continue reading “Review: 「ももへの手紙」 (Momo e no Tegami/A Letter to Momo)”

Review: Io sono Li (Li and the Poet)

Year: 2011
Country: Italy/France
 Italian, Chinese
Director: Andrea Segre
Screenplay: Marco Pettenello, Andrea Segre
Cinematography: Luca Bigazzi
Soundscore: François Couturier
Cast: Zhao Tao (赵涛), Rade Sherbedgia, Marco Paolini, Roberto Citran, Guiseppe Battiston
Runtime: 96 min
Trailer: at the film’s official website, plus some film clips
Film’s official website: Io sono Li (some sections only in Italian)
Seen at special screening at the BFI for the 2011 Satyajit Ray Award, which is given annually for “to the director, of any nationality, for their first Feature Film screened at the London Film Festival which best captures the artistry expressed in Ray’s own vision”. The screening was followed by a Q&A with the director.
Please note: Io sono Li does not yet have a UK distributor – a real pity for a film as outstanding as this one. I tried to do my tiny bit to promote it by reviewing Io sono Li on Otherwhere, if you like the sound of the film, please do like the review and/or share it widely, so that we can get a distributor to notice!
Chioggia, a city on the Venetian laguna, is the hometown of Andrea Segre, the film’s director, and representative of a very traditional Italy: of native fishermen that have been making their living off the sea generation after generation. Evenings are typically spent in pubs, where an older Italian Mamma rules the roost and serves the half-rough clientèle. On a visit to one such pub that Segre had known since childhood days, he found a new, completely alien face one day. Instead of one of the Mammas, who have become an institution in their own right in these places over the years, there was a Chinese woman, plainly signalling a change, a change that had been silently unfolding in the country for while already. The story of Shun Li, one of Io sono Li’s protagonists, found its beginning there, as Segre recounts: Continue reading “Review: Io sono Li (Li and the Poet)”

Review: Las Acacias (Las Acacias)

Year: 2011
Director: Pablo Giorgelli
Screenplay: Pablo Giorgelli, Salvador Roselli
Cinematography: Diego Poleri
Cast: Germán de Silva, Hebe Duarte, Nayra Calle Mamani
Runtime: 85 min
Trailer: on YouTube

Out in UK cinemas now – showing at the ICA (London) from Dec 2 to Dec 15, 2011, as well as at the The Tricycle (London) – plus another few cinemas.
Las Acacias, winner of the Sutherland Award at the BFI Film Festival and the Caméra d’Or at Cannes, both awards for the best debut feature, is a Spanish-Argentinian co-production that is highly minimalistic, featuring as much dialogue in an hour and a half as most other films do in ten minutes. Continue reading “Review: Las Acacias (Las Acacias)”

Review: ハラがコレなんで (Hara Ga Kore Nande/Mitsuko Delivers)

Year: 2011
Director: Ishii Yuya
Screenplay: Ishii Yuya
Cinematography: Okimura Yukihiro
Music: Watanabe Takashi
Cast: Naka Riisa, Nakamura Aoi, Ishibashi Ryo, Inagawa Miyoko
Runtime: 109 min
Trailer: at Far East Films (not subtitled)
Film’s official website: Hara Kore (in Japanese)
Seen at the BFI Southbank as part of the 2011 BFI Film Festival.
Release date in Japan: November 5, 2011.
Hara Ga Kore Nande is the latest offering of Ishii Yuya, the director of 川の底からこんにちは (Kawa no soko kara konnichi wa/Sawako Decides). In this somewhat caricature comedy, Mitsuko (Naka Riisa, who voiced Makoto in Toki o Kakeru Shōjo), a young Japanese woman, has returned from California and is currently nine months pregnant, but her parents are not aware of either of these two facts. Mitsuko has been dumped by the father of her unborn child and is seemingly broke (although few details are provided about her exact situation). She follows a cloud in the sky – yes, a cloud in the sky – to the tenement where she lived as a child and moves back in with her old landlady, who was once a forceful woman but is now bedridden due to old age. Continue reading “Review: ハラがコレなんで (Hara Ga Kore Nande/Mitsuko Delivers)”

Review and Q&A: Terri

Thanks to a friend having a spare ticket I got to see the American indie Terri yesterday, which screened at Vue West as part of the 2011 BFI Film Festival. It also included a Q&A with director Azazel Jacobs and one of the producers, Lynette Howell (see below).
Year: 2011
Director: Azazel Jacobs
Screenplay: Patrick de Witt
Cast: Jacob Wysocki, John C. Reilly, Bridger Zadina, Olivia Crocicchia, Creed Bratton.
Runtime: 105 min
Trailer: on YouTube
Film’s official websiteTerri
Continue reading “Review and Q&A: Terri”

Review: 奇跡 (Kiseki/I Wish)

Year: 2011
Director: Koreeda Hirokazu
Screenplay: Koreeda Hirokazu
Cinematography: Yutaka Yamazaki
Cast:  Maeda Koki, Maeda Oshiro, Odagiri Joe, Otsuka Nene, Hashizume Isao, Kiki Kirin
Runtime: 128 mins
Trailer: at nipponcinema (not subtitled)
Film’s official website: 奇跡 (in Japanese)
Seen at a screening at Vue West as part of the 2011 BFI Film Festival.
Kiseki (literally “Miracle”, but titled “I Wish” in English) is a film that belongs to the ‘slice of life’ genre. There is, however, a plot line: it revolves around two boys, Koichi and Ryu (wonderfully played by real life brothers Maeda Koki and Maeda Ohshiro), who have been living in different parts of Japan since their parents’ divorce six months prior. Continue reading “Review: 奇跡 (Kiseki/I Wish)”