Posts Tagged ‘ Iwai Shunji ’

Review: BANDAGE (Kobayashi, 2010)

Japanese title: バンデージ

Director: Kobayashi Takeshi

Info: IMDb, AsianMediaWiki, Trailer

Rating: ★★★★

Being an Iwai Shunji-produced and co-written film, I was quick to pick up BANDAGE, hoping for something original and enjoyable.  I’m not sure how involved Iwai was with the film (I’m guessing not too much, though there are undoubtedly Iwai inspirations scattered throughout the film), but it mostly delivered on my hopes.

Casting Akanishi Jin as one of the leads was a smart move by director Kobayashi Takeshi.  He brings massive fan support to the movie, not to mention experience in the Japanese music industry.  Playing the lead singer of a rock band, Akanishi undoubtedly draws from personal experience (he’s a very popular member of the Johnny’s boy band KAT-TUN–actually, former member now; he decided to go solo using this film as a base) as he plays the carefree yet troubled character of Natsu.  His band, LANDS, is quickly gaining mass popularity but encounters problems–the band members just don’t completely gel.  A genius musician, Yukiya (Kora Kengo), and a brilliant composer, Arumi (Shibamoto Yuki), form the heart of the band with Natsu supposedly still remaining just because of his indie fan base.  It also helps that he can sing. Continue reading

J-Film Thoughts & Commentary: 1990-2000

Musings, praise, critique, descriptions, commentary…all in a few sentences.


Alright, here is a collection of some of my comments and thoughts on various films between 2000 and 1990.  The films that I have written reviews on elsewhere in my blog are not included here, find links to them in my J-Film Review Database.  This post will be continuously updated.

I have seen a massive amount of contemporary Japanese films, most of which were released post-2000.  Admittedly, I need to watch more classic cinema, and you’ll see more comments and thoughts trickle in as I watch more.  Many of these films here will be highly rated, just because I have chosen to watch good films that were recommended to me.  An entry on films released before 1990 will be posted in the future, as will entries on films released after 2000.  This is primarily a reference post that I will link to in my J-Film Review Database.  Please feel free to recommend any Japanese films released in this time period by commenting below.  Enjoy my opinions! Continue reading

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.

Great Scenes: “Ballet Scene” from Hana and Alice

Hana and Alice (花とアリス) is a comedic teenage romance film written, directed, and edited by Iwai Shunji (he also composed the music himself).  The story revolves around two best friends: Alice, played by Aoi Yu, and Hana, played by Suzuki Anne.  Hana falls in love with a boy, so naturally she stalks him.  One day, he hits his head on a garage door while walking and reading at the same time and obviously Hana is there right behind him.  She decides to pretend like he has amnesia and state that she is his girlfriend.  Alice is soon dragged into the elaborate story as the boy’s ex-girlfriend, but she falls in love with him as well and the story goes from there.  Hana and Alice is not only a comedy, it is very touching as well–particularly when examining the family life of Alice and her relationship with her father.  The film is uniquely filmed in typical Iwai Shunji fashion, employing hand held camera work and intimate angles.  I gave it 4.5/5 stars in my review, and it is definitely a recommended watch.

This scene moved me deeply.  Video after the break. Continue reading