You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Asano Tadanobu’ tag.

Mizu no onna / Woman of Water

Mizu no onna / Woman of Water (2002)

Boredom or dramatic meditation?

Director: Sugimori Hidenori
Writers: Sugimori Hidenori
Date: 2002

Genre: Drama
Description: Water and fire, girl who owns a bathhouse, arson, symbols, pictures, beauty, love

Cast: UA, Asano Tadanobu

Crew of note: Music by Kanno Yoko

Runtime: 115 mins.
Color: Color
Trivia:

summary
Ryo is the sole-proprietor of a bathhouse in the country. One day she is visited by Yusaku, a man who she shares no past history with. He decides to stay there, and works with Ryo in the bathhouse. Their relationship develops, but this unity of Ryo, the element of water, and Yusaku, the element of fire, cannot last.

review
Remember those moments in elementary and highschool when you woke up late, panicked for 2 seconds, looked out the window to see a world blue from rain, sighed and went back to bed? That incomparable feeling of 9am in bed, in a warm blanket, in a colder world, while the pitterpatts serenade you back to sleep. The feeling I got from this movie is similar, the associated drowziness included.

The world of Mizu no onna is beautiful. Rain, earth tones, rustic settings, old houses, bath tiles, spring water, forests, chopped wood, furnaces… it seems like a place I’d want to live in, or at the very least visit. Yet at the same time, it seems empty, lonely. At the same time feeling right at home and lost in the same world.

It is difficult to talk about this movie, because it is built on imagery and atmosphere. These are two things that the film does excellently, with its depiction of UA’s rain and Asano’s fire. Their contrasting personalities and elements make for an interesting dynamic, one that is mostly subdued and silent.

This subtlety, indirectness, aloofness, abstractness, what have you, of the characters, of the film, of the camera, can just as easily alienate and disconnect the audience as it can draw them in. Eventually, there must be something more than representations and significations to create a lasting impression; a significance beyond impalpable interpretations. Yet because of the assured direction and unity of Hidenori’s vision, it’s obvious that this film has achieved its purpose, that of using pictures as an extension of his two characters. I have to say that Mizu no onna achieves this, and is one of the most innovative “purely visual” films I’ve seen, and yet I found myself uninterested for portions of its length. That is more a warning (for those who need a clear cut story) than criticism though.

conclusion
On long road trips to nowhere, I always find myself stumbling upon the most beautiful places on Earth hidden in the most unassuming locations. I take a lot of pictures, explore, and take in as much as I can before eventually (and inevitably) moving on, sure to remember bits an pieces of the place as some of the most amazing I’ve ever seen. Yet that’s all I remember, bits and pieces. This film is very similar; there are moments of absolute beauty, but it is difficult to remember as a whole. The quality of the pictures and the music is undeniable, but its narrative struggles to compare. But narrative isn’t really the point of this movie; it is about what we see and how see it.

things to take note of
The images of water and fire

best moment
Badminton
The water, the fire

why you should watch this
If you like amazing pictures and amazing music, and can stand the utterly boring plot
A very intriguing visual style in emphasizing water and fire

rating: 7.2

scorecard
Plot: C
Cast: C+
Cinematography: A
Music: B+
Entertainment: C+

similar movies, maybe:
Not a clue

Advertisements

Akarui mirai / Bright Future

Akarui mirai / Bright Future (2003)

SHINY JELLYFISH

Director: Kurosawa Kiyoshi
Writers: Kurosawa Kiyoshi
Date: 2003

Genre: Drama
Description: Jellyfish, acclimation, lost youths, things that don’t work, new liking the old, dreams, death, life, and metaphors. Oh, and twinkly things.

Cast: Odagiri Jô, Asano Tadanobu, Fuji Tatsuya

Crew of note:

Runtime: 115 mins.
Color: Color
Trivia:

summary
Yûji and Mamoru are friends who hang out and pretty much like to do nothing. When Mamoru goes through a series of troubles, he leaves his jellyfish, who they’ve been acclimatizing to fresh water, with Yûji. Alone, disconnected from society, and feeling that typical youthful disillusionment, Yûji tries to search for meaning in his life while taking care of crazy jellyfish.

review
Kurosawa Kiyoshi is best known for his psychological thriller/horror movies Pulse and Cure, but this movie can stand on its own against them. Plus, Jellyfish are certainly more interesting (and more common?) than psychos, monsters, or the paranormal. Also, they’re quite shiny and illuminated.

Although it seems like the jellyfish will be the stars of this movie, it turns out Odagiri’s character gets most of the screen time. I was surprised to find that this is more a film about… a dude. Just another normal dude. I suppose I was too excited about jellyfish.

Despite my initial disappointment, I was quickly convinced of the film’s quality. Perfect shooting style, with high contrast and spaced out whites, alluding to the title and giving the entire movie a dream like quality. Music was great too, a whimsical, dramatic, electronic score that does its best when it acts against the scenes. Still, halfway through, I was looking for jellyfish massacres at the beach, or possibly a giant mutated jellyfish zapping Tokyo with its tentacles. Kurosawa throws a curve ball and instead follows Yûji through his rather mundane and meandering life. Although the movie seems to be rather plotless, or rather, avoids the plot that would have made it more successful and accessible (jellyfish or hot chicks), Kurosawa creates a deceptively simple movie filled with complex metaphors of whatifs, youth, and life with dreams and broken things.

conclusion
Expecting something similar to Kurosawa’s other films, I was delightfully surprised. This one is slow, sparse, meditative, and explores disconnection, relationships, and an obsession with fixing things. Not quite the jellyfishdisaster movie I was hoping for, but certainly something of greater value.

things to take note of
Asano’s cool pants
The father-son relationship between a father and a son. Who aren’t related.
Oooooohhhh.. Shiny! Jellyfish!

best moment
Oh No! JELLYFISH!
On the roof

why you should watch this
Asano Tadanobu and Odagiri Jo are two of the most interesting actors of their generation
Jellyfish
Surprisingly touching film

rating: 8

scorecard
Plot: B
Cast: B
Cinematography: B+
Music: B+
Entertainment: B

similar movies, maybe:
Helpless, directed by Aoyama Shinji, also starring Asano
Tenten / Adrift in Tokyo, directed by Miki Satoshi, also starring Odagiri

Gohatto / Taboo

Gohatto / Taboo (1999)

The least gay cover makes little sense, strangely

Director: Oshima Nagisa
Writers: Shiba Ryotaro, Oshima Nagisa
Date: 1999

Genre: Chambara
Description: Bushido, samurai code of laws, violence, homosexuality between samurai, whodunnit!

Cast: Kitano Takeshi, Asano Tadanobu, Matsuda Ryuhei, Takeda Shinji, Sai Yoichi, Sato Kei, Terajima Susumu

Crew of note: Music by Sakamoto Ryuichi

Runtime: 100 mins.
Color: Color
Trivia: Last film by Oshima

summary
Kano joins the Shinsengumi, a militant group during the end of the Tokugawa Era, and apparently, he’s a hot piece of ass. A couple of dudes start trying to pick him up, and soon, they start getting chopped to bits. Suspicions arise as to the identity of the killer, but nothing is certain. Except that I’d rather go for Asano than Matsuda any day of the week (that’s our little secret).

review
This film is not about homosexuality. Yes, it’s part of the movie, but it isn’t the point. Homosexuality between some samurai was not entirely uncommon during this day, and the characters in this film (Kondo and Hijikata in particular) even poke fun at it. If it is accepted and even openly talked about, how can it possibly be a taboo?

Well, it isn’t, and the English title tries to take advantage of the homosexuality to make it the drawing-factor of this film. A good marketing ploy, sure, but it distorts what the film is truly about. The original title, “Gohatto”, translates to something more akin to “laws” or “code of conduct”, which, by the way, doesn’t include anything about homosexuality. Keep that in mind while watching, and take note of the Shinsengumi’s laws (and bushido in general).

Oshima is never just about sexuality and the physical manifestations of desire. That is only the surface. He delves deeper, focusing on true motives, the source of desire, the nature of desire, and our inner animal. This film is no different; it is Oshima’s work, through and through. In Kano, we have that inner animal, desire unrestrained by inhibition or morality. We watch to understand. But can we?

The film being a tad boring at times, doesn’t help. Those squeamish about homosexual relations will find some parts off putting too. The pictures are beautiful though, especially in the dark, and Sakamoto is brilliant. Yet I was left scratching my head after this one; I knew whodunnit, but that still didn’t seem enough for me to understand everything that had just happened.

conclusion
This is a twisted, twisted movie, both in the execution of its narrative and its themes. It will keep you guessing from the start, and even when things are revealed, it will still leave you baffled. Does anyone really understand desire? What do we desire, really? Did I even understand everything about Kano at all? Hijikata seems like the only dude I’d want to have a beer with by the way.

A caveat: this film might not be as deep and complex as I’d like to think it is. But, it also isn’t just an exploitative homosexuality film.

things to take note of
The Japanese title
That wonderful score by Sakamoto
Pay attention or you won’t understand a damn thing, even when you know what happened
Shots in the dark, where things come alive

best moment
Kitano + sakura tree
Mild jokes about the homosexuality (no it isn’t insensitive)

why you should watch this
This is Oshima’s last movie
Kitano plays a wry, witty, and unique Hijikata Toshizo (usually depicted as grumpy and ruthless)
Whodunnits with samurai are uncommon
Shinsengumi movies are always interesting

rating: 8: a strong movie with a false reputation. It might have more meaning, it might have less. I’m not sure?

scorecard
Plot: B
Cast: B+
Cinematography: B
Music: A
Entertainment: C+

similar movies, maybe:
Dai-bosatsu toge / Sword of Doom (yes, really), directed by Okamoto Kihachi

Eri Eri rema sabakutani / Eli Eli Lema Sabachthani / My God My God Why Hath Thou Forsaken Me?

Eli Eli Lema Sabachthani (2005)

I wonder where he plugged all those things

Director: Aoyama Shinji
Writers: Aoyama Shinji
Date: 2005

Genre: Nothing?
Description: Lemming Syndrome, noise, suicide, life and death, loneliness, music

Cast: Asano Tadanobu, Miyazaki Aoi, Okada Mariko, Nakahara Masaya

Crew of note: Music by Nagashima Hiroyuki, Cinematography by Tamura Masaki

Runtime: 107 mins.
Color: Color
Trivia: Asano plays the f’n guitar, and those are real sounds

summary
Lemming Syndrome! People infected with this mysterious virus suddenly feel the urge to kill themselves, which will eventually mean the end of the world in the most depressing and emptying way possible. But, there’s hope! Two experimental musicians may have a cure: noise music. Does it blast your brain’s senses and knock the virus out? Does the frequency of their aural onslaught resonate and destroy the virus? Or maybe voluntarily listening to their music for extended periods of time should be medically considered suicide. Whatever dudes, they rock!

review
[summary continue] Hana, a girl stricken with Lemming Syndrome, is brought to Mizui and Asuhara in hopes of ridding her of her suicidal tendencies. Stuff happens very, very slowly, and then everyone rocks out. The End.

Okay, it might not be that simple, but that’s already a fairly complete outline, minus possible spoilers. The movie really is quite minimal.. but the pictures are beautiful, and the soundtrack is superb. This is a viruszombieapocalypse movie minus the action, minus the escape, minus the drama, and instead focuses on the implications of a world slowly emptying itself of humanity. Include other favorites of philosophical discourse–suicide, art, beauty, chicks (Miyazaki Aoi <3)–and you get a recipe for.. well, probably a headache. This is a film that requires participation: interpret, contemplate, philosophize. In between bouts of raging air guitar.

conclusion
Many people with stamp this with the “too experimental” hazard, but I disagree. The plot is fairly linear, though very minimal; dialogue is sparse as well. The only thing that may hold back some viewers is the presence of Mizui and Asuhara’s noodling with instruments, but if you can get past that, and perhaps even enjoy it (like Hana, in the end), this can be a joy for your eyes, ears, and mind. It has all the philosophical trappings of the best virus/zombie/apocalypse films, with an emphasis on dis/connection, loneliness, and music. But best of all, it has the most badass concert in all of cinema.

things to take note of
The color (yellow and earth tones)
The importance of the music
The silence in between
Meaning? Symbolism? I bet it’s somewhere

best moment
The concert! m/ m/

why you should watch this
If you like noise or experimental music, this will be bliss
Asano Tadanobu + Miyazaki Aoi
Amazing music, amazing cinematography

rating: 9.25 (or 6 if you can’t stand the noiz)

scorecard
Plot: B
Cast: B
Cinematography: B+
Music: A
Entertainment: B+

similar movies, maybe:
Electric Dragon 80,000 Volts directed by Ishii Sogo, with Asano
Maybe other zombie/virus films, but this really is unique

Hana yori mo naho

Hana yori mo naho (2006)

The only samurai movie with pink flowers on the cover

Director: Koreeda Hirokazu
Writers: Koreeda Hirokazu
Date: 2006

Genre: Jidaigeki, Drama, Comedy
Description: Samurai’s revenge, honor and fidelity, the truth about life, irony of the samurai life, samurai deconstruction, comedy of life, finding a samurai way after war

Cast: Okada Junichi, Miyazawa Rie, Furuta Arata, Kunimura Jun, Nakamura Katsuo, Asano Tadanobu, Harada Yoshio, Kagawa Teruyuki, Tabata Tomoko, Kase Ryo, Terajima Susumu, Ishibashi Renji,

Crew of note:

Runtime: 126 mins.
Color: Color
Trivia:

summary
Soza, a young, honest, and meek samurai spends his days among the impoverished of Edo as he tries to find his father’s murderer to regain his honor, and his lineage. There’s a problem though: Soza sucks with swords, and this becomes obvious quite quickly. As he interacts with the commonfolk around him, and even his father’s murderer, questions about his way of life, and conflicts within his being start to emerge. Will he regain his honor, or … not?

review
Revenge revenge revenge, it’s one of the staples of chambara. But I don’t think anyone really expects this to be a swordfight based on the director, the poster, or anything else anyone could see about the movie. So I guess it isn’t a spoiler to say, there is only one swordfight in the movie, and it isn’t anything to be excited about. And it’s a good thing there aren’t. Unlike Yamada Yoji’s recent trilogy that inevitably resolves itself with the sword, Koreeda is somehow able to create a true samurai film without the necessity for real blood. I suppose you can call it subversion, and it’s only the tip of that iceberg.

[Insert obligatory mention of how great the cast, script, direction, sets, costumes, music, etc. are]

This is a Jidaigeki because it’s set in Edo during the Tokugawa era, but Koreeda approaches his tale with as much insight, wit, humor and grace as his earlier, as his more celebrated works (Daremo shiranai and Maborosi) set in the modern world. In fact, even though the main conflict in the movie is typical of the samurai genre (ninjo vs giri, honor and fidelity, etc), I found myself being able to relate to Soza more than any other protagonist I’ve spent time with (can you really relate that much to Mifune?). I’d like to avoid discussing the word “deconstruction” even though it’s commonly thrown at this film, but I disagree. This is the voice of the samurai whose story isn’t told, whose exploits aren’t as memorable as the Ryonosukes’, the Musashis’, the unnamed Ronins’. But samurai are human too, and Soza perhaps, lives one of the most human lives of them all.

conclusion
Wasn’t my review enough to convince you? Koreeda works his magic. Once you’ve seen enough 50s-70s chambara and Jidaigeki, see this.

things to take note of
The Chushingura tale in the background of the movie (no it’s not a subplot and no it isn’t underdeveloped), and its significance
How the neighborhood feels a lot like the one in Ninjo kami fusen / Humanity and Paper Balloons by Yamanaka Sadao, or maybe that’s just me
Miyazawa Rie is so lovely :,(
Soza’s personality, conflict, and resolution
The subversion and deconstruction people keep talking about

best moment
The finale! Definitely one to remember

why you should watch this
Light, amusing, witty and meaningful
Shows a lot of insight into samurai life and its ironies (and loopholes?)
One of the best Jidaigeki from the 2000s (yes, better than Yamada Yoji’s)
I can’t remember the last time I was amazed at a Jidaigeki’s script

rating: 8.9

scorecard
Plot: A
Cast: B
Cinematography: C+
Music: B+
Entertainment: A

similar movies, maybe:
Tasogare seibei / Twilight Samurai
Bushi no ichibun / Love and Honor
Kiru! / Kill!
Samurai Fiction
Ame agaru / After the Rain

genres

calendar

October 2017
M T W T F S S
« Dec    
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031  

Archives