Review: ミツバチの羽音と地球の回転 (Mitsu-bachi no Haoto to Chikyū no Kaiten/Ashes to Honey)

Year: 2010
Languages: Japanese, English, Swedish
Director: Kamanaka Hitomi
Genre: Documentary 
Runtime: 115 min
Trailer: Ashes to Honey (subtitled)
Official website:  Ashes to Honey (both in Japanese and English)

Seen at a screening as part of the Zipangu Fest at the ICA.
Note: Ashes to Honey screened as part of Zipangu Fest’s Nuclear Reactions programme. Continue reading “Review: ミツバチの羽音と地球の回転 (Mitsu-bachi no Haoto to Chikyū no Kaiten/Ashes to Honey)”

Review: アブラクサスの祭 (Aburakusasu no matsuri/Abraxas)


Year: 2010
Director: Kato Naoki
Screenplay: Kato Naoki
Cinematography: Kondo Ryuto
Cast: Watanabe Kenji/Suneohair, Tomosaka Rie, Kobayashi Kaoru, Murai Ryouta, Hosshan
Runtime: 113 min
Trailer: on YouTube
Official website:  Aburakusasu (in Japanese)
Seen at a screening as part of the Zipangu Fest at the ICA.
Based on the 2005 novel Aburakusasu no Matsuri (lit. ‘Abraxas Festival’) by Sōkyō Genyū, Abraxas is, in part, a music film and – not surprisingly – opens with music. The music is jarring: viewers watch a band rock away on a stage, in particular its lead singer, Jonen. Long hair hiding his face, he is jamming the guitar in an explosive manner and ends up writhing on the floor. Fast forward some twenty years and we see him again, now a shaven-headed Buddhist monk. But even in midlife Jonen is still very much a troubled soul and struggling with depression.
Continue reading “Review: アブラクサスの祭 (Aburakusasu no matsuri/Abraxas)”

Review: 星を追う子ども (Hoshi o Ou Kodomo/Children Who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below)


Year: 2011
Director: Shinkai Makoto
Screenplay/Story: Shinkai Makoto
Animation and Character Design: Nishimura Takayo
Art Director: Tanji Takumi
Music:
Tenmon
Runtime: 116 min
Trailer: on YouTube (not subtitled) and Teaser Trailer, followed by snippets of other Shinkai films (not subtitled) – watch the latter if you want to get a first sense of Shinkai’s visual feel.
Film’s official website: 星を追う子ども (in Japanese)
Seen at a screening at Vue West as part of the BFI Film Festival.
Hoshi o Ou Kodomo (literally Children Who Chase Stars) is Shinkai Makoto’s most Studio Ghibli-like work. This isn’t exactly praise, because Shinkai’s talent lies in something quite different than what enchants us with Miyazaki and other Studio Ghibli directors. Continue reading “Review: 星を追う子ども (Hoshi o Ou Kodomo/Children Who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below)”

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)”

Review: 管制塔 (Kanseitou/Control Tower)


Year: 2011
Director: Takahiro Miki
Screenplay: Takahiro Miki
Cinematography: Masataka Kato
Cast: Yamazaki Kento, Hashimoto Ai
Runtime: 67 min.
Trailer: at nipponcinema (no subtitles) or on youtube (no subtitles)
Seen at its European Premiere at the 2011 Raindance Film Festival.
In 2008 the band Galileo Galilei from Wakkanai – Japan’s northernmost city on the island of Hokkaido – won the teenage talent festival Senkou Riot. When Director Takahiro Miki heard their first original song live in concert, he decided wanted to make a film based on it – the result being 管制塔 (Kanseitō/Control Tower). Continue reading “Review: 管制塔 (Kanseitou/Control Tower)”