Review: 「そこのみにて光輝く」(Soko nomi nite Hikari Kagayaku/The Light Shines Only There)

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Year: 2014
Language: Japanese
Director: Oh Mipo
Adaptation from:
Novel of the same title by Sato Yasushi
Screenplay: Takada Ryo
Cinematography: Kondo Ryuto
Soundscore: Tanako Takuto
Cast: Ayano Gou, Ikewaki Chizuru, Suda Masaki, Takahashi Kazuya, Hino Shohei, Isayama Hiroko, Tamura Taijiro.
Runtime: 120 min
Distribution: Open Sesame (Tokyo)
Film’s official website: Hikarikagayaku (日本語)
Trailer: A trailer is available, but I’m not linking it here on purpose. I think it’s best to go completely blind into this film – the trailer contains some tiny, spoilerish bits. If you do insist, it’s below the Image Gallery at the end of the post. You might prefer to read this review post-film too.
Special thanks to Raindance for providing me with a screener for this film. The European premiere of Soko nomi nite Hikari Kagayaku, which was recently chosen as Japan’s submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, will be at the Raindance Film Festival on September 29, 2014. A second screening will take place on September 30. Tickets can be booked here.
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Soko nomi nite Hikari Kagayaku is the sort of film I would like to write two reviews for: one for the people that have seen it and one for those who haven’t. It is the sort of film about which there is, afterwards, much to discuss, but which it is best to go into blind because not knowing is, at least in a first viewing, much of its power. Continue reading “Review: 「そこのみにて光輝く」(Soko nomi nite Hikari Kagayaku/The Light Shines Only There)”

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
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)”

Review: 「体温」(Taion/Body Temperature)

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Year: 2011
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Director: Ogoata Takaomi
Screenplay: Okata Takaomi
Cinematography: Horinouchi Takashi
Soundscore: Tanaka Makoto
Cast: Ishizaki Chavetaro, Sakuragi Rin
Runtime: 72 min
Distribution: N/A
Film’s official website:

Special thanks to Raindance, which showed the film at its festival in 2011, for providing me with a screener for Taion. A slightly shorter version of this review was published in GIGAN.
Is there a difference between a human and a sex doll? None, it seems, at least in the eyes of Rintaro, the central character in Taion, Ogata Takaomi’s second feature film.
Rintaro (Ishizaki Chavetaro), a young man perhaps in his early to mid-twenties, is a bit of a sad case. Having fallen into the cracks of society, he is not quite a hikikomori (a social recluse, as they are known in Japan) as he does venture out into the outside world and also holds a job, though to call him otaku (someone obsessed with a particular interest) would not be amiss, for Rintaro’s life revolves exclusively around an uncannily human-like doll by the name of Ibuki (played initially by Sakuragi Rin and replaced in later parts of the film by an actual doll). Continue reading “Review: 「体温」(Taion/Body Temperature)”

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”

Review:「放課後ミッドナイターズ」 (Hōkago Middonaitāzu/After School Midnighters)

Year: 2012
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Director: Takekiyo Hitoshi
Animation Studio: 
Screenplay: Takekiyo Hitoshi, Komori Yōichi
CGI Direction: Tanaka Kenichiro
Soundscore: Kitazato Reiji
Runtime: 95 min
Trailer: on YouTube
Film’s official website: After School Midnighters
Preview of a festival screener courtesy of the Raindance Film Festival, which will be showing Hōkago Middonaitāzu on October 5 and 7, 2012. The film will also screen at Scotland Loves Anime on October 13 (Glasgow) and October 19 (Edinburgh).
At the elite St. Claire’s Elementary School it’s day 1 of term, with a whole lot of new students entering through the gates for the first time ever. Among them are Mako, Mi and Mu, three little girls who wander through the vast corridors of the school – though “wander” may not so aptly describe their doings. Continue reading “Review:「放課後ミッドナイターズ」 (Hōkago Middonaitāzu/After School Midnighters)”