Posts Tagged ‘ 2-Star Films ’

Review: Rise Up (Nakajima, 2009)

Japanese Title: ライズアップ

Director: Nakajima Ryo (This World Of Ours)

Info Links: AsianMediaWiki, IMDb, Trailer

Rating: ★★

Watch the trailer and you’ve seen the movie.  Enjoy, then read my review.

Nakajima Ryo, who burst onto the scene with the original and refreshing This World of Ours (2007), which was immensely popular on the film festival circuit, is a promising young director that I assumed would be bold with his filmmaking.  Being a fan of his freshman feature, I naturally was quick to pick up his sophomore effort.  Rise Up disappoints in almost every way possible.  While This World of Ours was fresh, original, and powerful, Rise Up is a complete departure, resulting in a film that is overly cliche and suffers from the pitfalls of mainstream conformity.  I predicted the entire movie within the first 10 minutes and the film turned into a comedy for me as every prediction came true.

Wataru (Hayashi Kento) is standing at the top of a huge hill, enjoying the beautiful scenery before jumping off and paragliding down as his friend, Hiroya (Taiga), films him.  Before touching down, a girl, Rui (Yamashita Rio), walks in Wataru’s path, causing him to crash land in an unexpected way.  Hiroya is angry and continuously yells at Rui, but Wataru quickly realizes that she is blind and accepts the situation. Continue reading

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Quick Review: Undo (Iwai Shunji, 1994)

Rating: ★★½

In short: Giving off a low budget, film school feel, Undo is a dark, strange, and unique short film.  While containing some quite beautiful shots, Undo is mostly unpleasant to watch and the dialogue is a bit awkward.  For Iwai fans, Undo is a nice glimpse into his experimental side, but is far from his best film.

Undo is about a young couple, Yukio (Toyokawa Etsushi) and Moemi (Yamaguchi Tomoko) living in a small apartment (which just doesn’t seem normal).  The beginning of the film is fairly normal; Yukio brings home turtles as pets because they cannot have dogs or cats, Moemi has her braces removed, they take their turtles for walks (yes, there is a bit of animal cruelty in this film).  The situation at the apartment becomes strange when Moemi starts tying and knotting things up, books, apples, the turtles, everything.  She is diagnosed with Obsessive Knot-Tying Syndrome and only becomes worse.  The film descends into madness as Yukio has to deal with the increasingly worsening Moemi.  Various odd scenes follow.

Filmed much like Picnic (1996) and Swallowtail Butterfly (1996), Undo is mostly dark and shadowy, with grainy, fuzzy, and washed out colors.  Specific shots are stunning, and music is minimal and ineffective.  Acting is good–the girl is particularly interesting as she plays a strange woman who becomes obsessed with knotting things up.  Overall, the characters (all 3) were not normal and struck me as odd.  Specific shots were puzzling, as was the direction of the film; why some things happened, I don’t know.  Undo is a disturbing film that seeks to show love in a very unconventional way.  I probably won’t view it again, but watch it if you are interested in experimental film making or a fan of Iwai Shunji.