It may be because of the Japanese Festival last week but I've been on a weird Japanese-high this past week. I don't normally watch dramas from overseas but gave a little Japanese drama called, "Orange Days" a shot. This came about when one night I realised that "47 Ronin" - a Hollywood version of a famous Japanese story that has been brought to screen numerous time in Japan - releases later this year (albiet in 3D) and I was reminded of just awesome the cast for this film was (Keanu Reeves, Tadanobu Asano, Hiroyuki Sanada, Rinko Kikuchi and Kou Shibasaki).
Then I realised that aside from Kou Shibasaki, I was pretty much very familiar with the other actors. I mean I knew she was Mitsuko in "Battle Royale" but other than that she's not really a huge name as far as I know. So then this lead to me seeing what else she had been in and I found out that she'd been building a steady acting career mostly through Japanese drama television and that's how "Orange Days" came about!
In addition to that, I was also reading "Battle Royale" and was able to finish it this week. Fantastic read! You can't really put it down at all - the book just sucks you in. It was nice having the film as a reference for what the characters could look like and how their situations would play out in my mind but I think the book was better than the film in terms of clarifying WHY the Battle Royale program is implemented as well as providing much more background on a lot of the lesser known characters that get killed off-screen in the film. Also some of the changes from book to film are for the better because there were a few situations in the book that had me raising an eyebrow.
And to top it off I also watched a Japanese film called, "Su-ki-da". Thoughts on that film can be found below. But yeah, that's pretty much my weird Japanese-themed week there. I don't think I did much else during the week aside from going to the cinemas to both work and unwind.
WHAT I'VE BEEN WATCHING
This week I was able to watch (and finish) the Japanese television drama, "Orange Days", Hiroshi Ishikawa's second feature film, "Su-ki-da", the super-powered "Chronicle", and the silent feature that's captured everyone's hearts, "The Artist"! SO AWAY WE GO!
- Quite liked this drama!
- It doesn't quite feel like your typical drama although (and this will make my point rather redundant) it does have a few cliche moments here and there that most Japanese drama enthusiasts would be familiar with.
- I don't claim to be an expert on the matter though as I've only seen a very small handful of Japanese dramas.
- The show centers itself around the friendship/romance between Kai, a student stuck between college and the real world, and Sae, a deaf violinist struggling to cope with her disability.
- Essentially the show is a coming-of-age story that utilises the romance between these two as its driving force.
- And I can definitely feel like I could relate to the characters in the drama, being that I am in the same situation as Kai and his friends.
- The show does get a bit corny at times but I feel like as though that's the staple among dramas in general, not just in Japan but throughout most of Asia.
- But for all its corniness, you just want to cheer for these characters and wish them all the best (despite the fact that they're fictional).
- I'll be honest and say that I yelled at the screen when something would happen between Kai and Sae.
- Disappointingly though, the show rushes towards it's conclusion a little too quickly and ends on an extremely positive high which is completely different to the tone that the first few episodes were trying to convey but nonetheless, it's quite an enjoyable drama.
No trailer but here's the closing credits sequence/song from the drama that captures much of the spirit of the drama.
- This may be an unpopular opinion but I'll say that while I did enjoy "The Artist", I didn't think it was deserving of as much praise as it has gotten.
- The film pretty overrated in my opinion but that doesn't stop the fact that it has the power to delight audiences.
- It looks exactly like a film that "they just don't make any more" but I would prefer a film like "Hugo" over this as far as cinematic nostalgia goes.
- My biggest problem with "The Artist" were the moments where (SPOILER ALERT!) they introduce sound to the film.
- To do this would be to undermine the entire film, I thought.
- I mean the film WANTS to be a silent feature (even providing a 4:3 screen ratio on screen for the film) and yet to introduce sound in a few moments throughout the film is a bit distracting.
- You might think it's clever and a bit self-aware/tongue-in-cheek, but I thought that in doing that, it undermined a lot of the film's aesthetic.
- But never mind that, "The Artist" is still a fairly enjoyable film and is one that is primed for many Oscar wins (if the BAFTAs were of any indication).
- To say that "The Artist" is a triumph is to put it lightly though as it is quite amazing to see that, in this day and age, it's a silent film that is getting all the buzz.
- Maybe people are too quick to proclaim this a masterpiece and want desperately for a film to be similar to the ones they used to make.
- It's always have good to bring in some different perspective and new stories in a popular genre and I think "Chronicle" does a good job of providing a different take on the superhero origins.
- If this film was stripped of it's powers, it'd essentially be a very Columbine-esque situation for Andrew, a kid who has a terrible time at school and at home.
- A lot of the film reminded me of "Akira" which would be more than appropriate what with Andrew's downfall and backlash against everyone.
- My only complaint is the whole "found footage" technique.
- It works on an emotional level in the beginning of the film when the guys are just goofing around with their newfound abilities and paints a very intimate potrait of them but later on loses it's meaning and becomes less personal and more cinematic.
- I'm not a fan of the "found footage" technique yet as often in films they are rather gimmicky but I understand that it's a relatively new technique that's only beginning to find it's footing amongst film makers.
- Very tough film to sit through as most of the time nothing really happens.
- Characters just stare off into the distance and don't do or say anything a lot.
- Ishikawa's a tough director who prefers long and lingering takes on actors to make emotions more emphatic and, in addition to excruciatingly long takes without cuts in between is the lack of action and dialogue.
- The constant cutaways to the sky seemed too pretentious for my taste.
- Moreoften than not, his characters don't say much and let their faces and body language do the talking.
- It works to a degree and to pull it off he'd have to have good actors which, fortunately for him, he did get.
- Aoi Miyazaki impressed the hell out of me in this film - she did so little and yet was able to convey so much with her time on screen.
- The scene where Yu and Yosuke share their first kiss is beautifully directed and you can't keep your eyes off Miyazaki's character in that scene.
- I didn't really enjoy the film all too much which is a shame considering that I liked Tokyo Sora, despite it's flaws.
- I read one review of the film however that made me change my perspective on the film but that doesn't necessarily mean that I like the film because a lot of the time it's very boring.
- Oh and Aoi Miyazaki, once again, finding herself in a film that involves itself with music just like in the last few films I've seen her in.
Not a real trailer but I don't imagine the actual trailer to a good job selling the film because it's a hard sell for a film BUT this comes close enough. I probably like this more than the film even though it doesn't present the adult versions of Yu and Yosuke.
I don't really want to add much else to this post. Couldn't be bothered doing a film news section this week so I'll just leave it here. As always the title from today's post is brought to you by Metric. I had my iTunes on shuffle while I was reading "Battle Royale" and this song came on. I just thought it fit so well with what I was reading at the time. Very cool.