Monday, July 30, 2012

Boys on the run eps 1+2

Boys on the run feels like Moteki light with a lot more fanservice. Weak indecisive dude getting bullied and making stupid decisions who will grow a pair only at the very end. For me, the most enjoyable thing is Minami Akina. Not the first time I've seen her but I think I'm in love. :) Thanks to Izydata for the recommendation! If you get a bleeding nose for Minami Akira, its a must watch. Otherwise it is a watchable Moteki light.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Jmovie review: University of Laughs/Warai no daigaku

 There's only one screencap because this is how the movie looks like most of the time. :)

Utter freaking genius. I've been watching a lot of Mitani Koki stuff this year with Furuhata Ninzaburo, Minna no Ie, A Ghost of a Chance looking for something that could come close to Radio no Jikan and Warai no daigaku is it. Big thanks to Captain Banana for recommending it!

There are two types of comedies; first is the one that tries to throw 100 jokes against the wall and hopes that at least 50 of them stick.You know the ones where the best jokes are in the trailer and the movie feels like its wasting time in between jokes. You're satisfied if it can makes you laugh out loud at least 5 times and that's all you remember of the movie.

The second is where the plot itself is the joke and the movie is not concerned with manufacturing 1 laugh every five minutes. It is concerned with executing the plot well. One such movie that comes to mind is Bowfinger which is about a bunch of misfits trying to make a movie starring a movie star without him realising that he is in it. Warai no daigaku is another such a movie where the the plot is a stage comedy writer Tsubaski (Inagaki Goro) trying to get his script approved by the stern and unsmiling government censor Sakisaka (Yakusho Koji)

I did not laugh out loud once during the movie but I was smiling all the way through because it was just that funny. The joke is the censor Sakisaka who keeps heaping unreasonable requests on Tsubaki and everytime Tsubaki makes the changes, somehow the script turns out even funnier than before.

Warai no Daigaku just oozes comedy from the banter between the Sakisaka and Tsubaki and the ways Tsubaki turns the requests into more gags for the script. It is a movie where the characters become real. After all, it is basically a movie about two men in a room with a script and it actually started out as a play. Plus there is of course the political subtext about government censorship.

Inagaki Goro actually does a good job as Tsubaki. Everytime I've seen him in doramas, he is always so wooden and in Warai no daigaku he looks like a real actor. Yakusho Koji is his usual awesome self. Is this better than Radio no Jikan? I don't think so, though its been years since I last saw Radio no Jikan and would need to rewatch it to be sure but it doesn't change the fact that Warai no daigaku very, very good.

Warai no daigaku made me smile throughout the movie made me feel for the characters and appreciate how polished the script was. If you've seen Kisaragi, its very similar where despite the fact the whole movie is set in one room, you are hanging on every word. Truly magnificent movie and I hope to see something of this level again from Mitani Koki.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Higashino Keigo Mysteries ep 1-3

Higashino Keigo is apparently a famous mystery writer and he is the guy who wrote Yogisha X no Kenshin (Suspect X). Each episode is a stand alone mystery starring big names with Nakai Kiichi's mystery at the beginning of each episode. The first three episodes so far are well done, very watchable but somehow nothing really stood out for me.

I guess its because I'm comparing it to Furuhata Ninzaburo which I rate as must watch. The stories are pretty much about the twist and less about the criminal trying to hide the crime. My reaction to episode 1 was, 'her whole plan hinged on that one small clue?'. Episode 2's twist was pretty good except they didn't need to drive all the way. Episode 3 was interesting character-wise but it was over pretty quick.

The best thing for me in Suspect X wasn't the twist but the character and acting and there's not enough time in one hour to develop any characters well. Can't complain. Higashino Keigo Mysteries is what it is: very watchable short stories.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Jmovie review: Himizu

Set against the backdrop of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, Himizu is a story of despair. Sumida's mom runs a boat rental business and he is neighbours with a bunch of people who were left homeless from the tsunami. His dream is to take over the business and live a regular life although his teacher gives him the everyone is special and should dare to dream speech.

Sumida is stalked by this mysterious girl Chazawa who writes all of Sumida's quotes and posts them all over her room. In this post tsunami, apocalyptic like backdrop, Sumida's mother leaves him for another man and his father comes around beating him up for money and telling Sumida that Sumida would have been better of dead.

I love the bleak nature of Himizu. Apparently it was shot at real locations and its provides a perfect metaphor for the story. Its the story of how Sumida's life is fucked because of his parents. How even his dream of living a normal life is impossible because his parents are stuffed up. Its a metaphor for the earthquake and its a metaphor for Japanese society.

You've got your usual beautiful Sion Sono scenes of poetry reading set to classical music, disturbed characters and ugly violence. However, the movie just feels all over the place. The narrative which should have stuck to mostly Sumida and Chazawa feels disjointed because the director wants to say something to Japan and I get what he is saying which is not to give up in the face of despair but I'm not feeling it.

I'm disappointed but I can't hate the movie. I have a feeling I might like Himizu more with a second viewing when I'm not concerned with the movie as a whole and enjoy all the little moments. Actually after thinking about it, I would say Himizu is more a story of hope. A story of hope in the face of absolute and certain despair. Only for Sono Sion fans.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Magma eps 2-4

The good news is I am glad I did not give episode 1 a must watch although it was a very promising episode. The bad news is that me not giving episode 1 a must watch because all that promise was not realised. Magma is a dorama with no fucking direction and is so all over the place.

Nagami Taeko (Ono Machiko) is the main character but she doesn't do anything for 4 episodes. All she does is talk and talk and talk. Taeko's character arc is so fake and contrived including the sick kid giving her his large picture so she can cry over it.

Second problem is what they hell are they researching actually? Looking for hot dry rock? What are they monitoring for? Shouldn't there be research on how best to maximise energy generation from hot dry rock? What's the difference between hot dry rock and regular geothermal energy? All we get from 4 episodes are people saying they need to continue researching. The only interesting story is the revenge plotline which is very simple. I don't know about the novel it was based on but I'm pretty sure it could not have been from Taeko's point of view.

Can't be stuffed elaborating on my criticisms of Magma. Its been such a string of disappointing WOWOW doramas. Everything is good in Magma except the script and its such a bad one. Exciting music cannot make the viewer feel excited when nothing is going on. I would have been satisfied if Magma were half as good as Hagetaka.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Iki mo dekinai natsu eps 1+2

I am so sick of Takei Emi because she's been in so many doramas the past 2 years. Its not because her acting is that bad but she hasn't shown me anything that makes me go wow. I don't see any screen presence nor any really good acting ability to justify her push. When I first saw Ueno Juri in Swing Girls it was very obvious that she had something special. Takei Emi doesn't suck but she's getting a much bigger push than she deserves.

That said, I'm watching Iki Mo Dekinai Natsu because it is about a subject matter that interests me, that is the whole family register thing in Japan. Firstly, Takei Emi's character Rei was born without a birth certificate. I question why it wasn't possible for her stepfather to be put as the father on her birth certificate or even Rei not to have a father on the birth certificate. I'm guessing its because it a public record thing and anyone can access it.

How can anyone married to such a hot wife be so despondent? I guess we'll find out.

Probably something to do with her being a hot widow. Hhhmm.

Back to family register, because Rei never had a birth certificate, she was never entered into her mom's family registry and cannot get an identity card. In order words, she has no identity documents and doesn't legally exist. Marriage certificates are public documents in Australia but I don't think it is for birth certificates. Without being in a family registry, Rei is unable to become a full time employee, get a passport or rent a mansion.

After watching Cleopatra, those huge eyes look enchanced to me.

Good news is that Rei will able to get added to her mother's family register but in order to do so, she'll have to be put on her father's family register and then moved to her mom's. I'm still querying why her mom can't say her deceased stepdad is the father put her there instead of her biological father. Are they going to request a DNA test?

Hot hafu chick but I just find the bakery scenes too fake.

I like the revelation of why the mom never got Rei a birth certificate or put her in the family register in the first place. Pretty good reason Eguchi Yosuke's saying that only Rei's name will appear in her father's family register is definitely not safe in this world where you can look up anyone's information on the internet with just a name. I'm impressed that the ward office has a night shift. With Japanese working long hours, it would seem impossible for a lot of people to go during normal business hours. It would be pretty good job since one can't get that many customers at night.

Fuji TV have surrounded Takei Emi with great actors in Eguchi Yosuke and Kimura Yoshino. Direction wise, its your super ultra bright lighting generic looking dorama. I would have avoided Iki mo dekinai natsu if not for the subject matter but right now, I'm finding it watchable.