REVIEW: Oh Lucy! [2018]

“Meow. Meow. Smooch.” I saw Atsuko Hirayanagi‘s short film Oh Lucy! back in 2014 and thought it to be a bona fide charmer. It told the story of a lonely woman named Setsuko who does her niece a favor by recouping the cost of English classes the cash-strapped girl had decided quit. The American teacher […]

REVIEW: アンチポルノ [Anchiporuno] [Antiporno] [2017]

“Go on without me” Escape while you’re young because the longer you wait the more trapped you become. In this way we’re all lizards encased in glass bottles—a motif that runs throughout Sion Sono‘sアンチポルノ [Anchiporuno] [Antiporno], the director’s entry into Nikkatsu’s “Roman Porno” reboot forty years after giving birth to the genre. It’s during adolescence […]

REVIEW: この世界の片隅に [Kono sekai no katasumi ni] [In This Corner of the World] [2016]

“Was I always daydreaming?” It’s starts as a cutely surreal slice of life in 1930s Japan as Suzu (Non) and her flights of fancy take the spotlight. The young girl loves to draw and daydream—the latter often leaving her with time lost in a place unknown. At one point she even finds herself with a […]

FANTASIA17 REVIEW: 帝一の國 [Teiichi no kuni] [Teiichi: Battle of Supreme High] [2017]

“Could any man dream for more?” We are defined by moments, decisions made by us or for us by another. For Teiichi Akaba (Masaki Suda) it was always the choice between love of the piano (his mother’s passion) and a desire to please his father (Kôtarô Yoshida‘s Josuke Akaba) by following a path towards political […]

FANTASIA17 REVIEW: Junk Head [2017]

“And you call yourself God” After finding acclaim with stop-motion animated short Junk Head 1 in 2014, writer/director/animator Takahide Hori decided to expand its science fiction-infused world to feature length. The result is a two-hour adventure following one man’s descent through a subterranean infrastructure built by clones entitled simply Junk Head. It takes place centuries […]

REVIEW: 攻殻機動隊 [Kôkaku Kidôtai] [Ghost in the Shell] [1995]

“What we see now is like a dim image in a mirror” Hype is a tough concept to combat. To tout a film like攻殻機動隊 [Kôkaku Kidôtai] [Ghost in the Shell] as one of the best animes ever created is to set-up expectations that cannot help but falter under the weight. Yet here I am—having watched […]

REVIEW: 君の名は。 [Kimi no na wa.] [Your Name.] [2016]

“That day when the stars came falling” I had no idea what to expect upon sitting down to 君の名は。[Kimi no na wa.] [Your Name.] and the first few minutes definitely had my head spinning. We’re ushered in via the voiceover narration of two high schoolers we’ve yet to properly meet in Mitsuha (Mone Kamishiraishi) and […]

REVIEW: 百日紅 [Sarusuberi: Miss Hokusai] [Miss Hokusai] [2015]

“That nutty old man is my father” Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai‘s “Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji” series is one of my favorite works of art with “The Great Wave off Kanagawa” being its unforgettable cornerstone. Even so, I never thought to myself, “Why hasn’t anyone made a movie about his life?” If you’ve seen one […]

REVIEW: 残菊物語 [Zangiku monogatari] [The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum] [1939]

“Wait for me” Writer/director Kenji Mizoguchi‘s Meiji period-set film about a struggling Kabuki actor and his devoted wife, 残菊物語 [Zangiku monogatari] [The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum], is a heartbreaking display of love’s power to endure no matter the external forces trying to extinguish it. For Kikunosuke Onoue (Shôtarô Hanayagi), the adoptive child of master […]

FANTASIA16 REVIEW: テラフォーマーズ [Tera Fōmāzu] [Terra Formars] [2016]

“Johj!” It’s the tail end of the twenty-first century and Earth has nearly overstayed its welcome with dwindling resources and over-population. Scientists believe they can release the CO2 pockets underneath Mars’ surface and move the Red Planet from -50 degrees Celsius into a human-friendly temperature and atmosphere. So mankind sends rockets of moss and cockroaches […]

REVIEW: バケモノの子 [Bakemono no ko] [The Boy and the Beast] [2015]

“Find the meaning on your own” Two worlds collide once young Kyuta (Shôta Sometani) and warrior Kumatetsu (Kôji Yakusho) meet in Mamoru Hosoda‘s バケモノの子 [Bakemono no ko] [The Boy and the Beast]. The former was recently orphaned after his mother’s death (she had divorced his father years ago and her family refuses to get in […]