Jan 24 2015

The Yellow Handkerchief (Review)

The Yellow Handkerchief (Shiawase no Kiiroi Hankachi)
Review by David Cirone

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Starring Ken Takakura as a drifter picked up by a joyriding young couple, The Yellow Handkerchief starts out with just enough tension to keep you hooked on the possible outcomes of what is essentially a loosely-plotted, dialogue-heavy road movie. Will Takakura’s character reveal the reasons for his troubling dreams of a prison escape? Will the young girl (Kaori Mamoi) get in over her head with the puppy-dog-in-heat driver (Tetsuya Takeda) she’s decided to hitchhike with?

Yes, you find out the answers, but nothing goes in a straight line in The Yellow Handkerchief, and moments of character drama are deftly intercut with comedy and occasional silence to let us fully engage and care about each member of the central trio. I was impressed by director Yoji Yamada’s restraint and his use of long, wide shots of the the Japanese countryside that let us decide our own pace of engagement.

The Yellow Handkerchief won the first Best Picture award at the Japan Academy Prize in 1978, and it still holds up nearly 40 years later as a touching, unpredictable drama and a fantastic showcase for Takakura’s magnetic performance.

Jan 17 2015

Rookies – Episode 7 (Review)

ROOKIES
Episode 7

Review by David Cirone

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SUMMARY
Enraged by the sight of Enatsu (Yusuke Kamiji) and his thugs holding a beaten and bloody Hiyama (Yosuke Kawamura), Aniya and his team rush in to defend him, but Hiyama stops the fight before it can begin, reminding his teammates that fighting will end their journey toward Koshien. Instead, he taunts Enatsu that the baseball team is better now that he’s gone, and they’re sure to surpass him in every way.

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Jan 04 2015

Team LA Japan presents Seven Souls in the Skull Castle event party on Jan 11

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Team L.A. Japan presents “2015 New Year’s Kimono Party” featuring a film screening of Seven Souls in the Skull Castle by the writer of Kill La Kill and Gurren Lagan and an after party headlined by L.A.’s J-Pop event producers and DJs Tune in Tokyo.

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Dec 28 2014

Harajuku Denier preview features members of BEE SHUFFLE

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Members of the Japanese-Korean boy band BEE SHUFFLE show off their dramatic skills in the preview video for the upcoming film Harajuku Denier, which co-stars actress/black belt/future Attack on Titan star Rina Takeda.

The film’s interlocking stories take place in Tokyo’s center for high-fashion and culture, Harajuku, revolving around a no-nonsense parking attendant (Takeda). At the film’s preview screening, Takeda showed off her black belt skills from the film in a playful demonstration on stage followed by a special mini-live of the film’s themes song “Maji★iijan” by BEE SHUFFLE.

Harajuku Denier opens May 16, 2015 in Japan.
Website: http://hara-deni.jp

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Dec 12 2014

Like Father, Like Son (Soshite Chichi ni Naru) (Film Review)

Like Father, Like Son (Soshite Chichi ni Naru)
Review by David Cirone

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An early scene in Like Father, Like Son introduces the Ninomiya family at their son’s entrance exam for elementary school. Mother Midori (Machiko Ono) would be just fine with her son Kieta attending a public school, but father Ryota (Masaharu Fukuyama) won’t settle for anything less than the best school for his son. Parents and teachers alike watch the children play together, wonderfully oblivious to the numbers pinned to their chests as their personalities are scored in the distance.

As much as he professes to love his only son, Ryota is keeping score, too, making sure his child measures up to his standards. Daily piano lessons are a must, and young Keita takes baths alone to build up his independence. Ryota’s grooming his son to take on the strict habits of his own life that he believes have brought him success as an engineer, and a prestigious elementary school is the logical and proper next step. A call from the hospital where Keita was born derails Ryota’s plans for perfection, and new blood tests reveal that Keita is not his real son.

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