All About Lily Chou Chou (2001) is a beautiful coming of age story about the hardships and enlightening moments that come along with being a teenager; confused as you’re trying to find yourself under peer pressure. We follow the lives of two boys who find refuge in listening to Lily Chou Chou and posting on an online forum dedicated to her music. At times the movie is very dark and depressing. They experience humility as they are bullied relentlessly, to the point where as they grow older they themselves begin to torment their peers. Even so, the film creates a balance between the negative themes through showcasing friendship; having sleep overs, having philosophical discussion and even taking a trip to Okinawa. This is where the film becomes something special and unique, switching between observing through a third point of view to a first person point of view via handheld cameras they take with them on their trip. This change of perspectives continues to be present throughout the film.
This movie has a ton of depth, which makes it hard for me to give it justice through a review. At a lengthy run time of two and a half hours, it can be a tough film to watch but it is one hundred percent worth it. Personally, I relate the film to Sympathy For Mr Vengeance as it’s hard to take sides with anyone in particular. The scene where Hoshino and Yuichi go to the Lily Chou Chou concert stood out to me as something so depressing, you feel angry, sad, betrayed. It’s a roller coaster of emotions that is executed beautifully, and that’s what I really value in film; the director’s ability to turn something so heartbreaking and dark into something relatable and profound.
At times, the film may be slow or hard to follow. It’s a movie that demands attention or you will not be able to experience what it has to offer. If you do commit to watching it and withstand some or the slower scenes and it’s run time, it is very rewarding. Otherwise you may find yourself needing a repeated viewing. Either way, this film is one you may want to watch two or three times to really dig deep to find and appreciate an artistic and rewarding plot that holds a lot of depth.
Highly recommended, but you may want to do some research rather than jumping into it right away. Due to the film’s depth it can become confusing or hard to follow.
Wow, as I’m watching the opening monologue of this film, I can’t help but feel affirmation, as this monologue describes completely, down to the details, of how I’ve been feeling about modern society and the state of the majority of mankind. I find myself rewinding to listening again and again. This is all complemented by this guy (Eita, pretty interesting role for him) going through his daily routine in his cabin in the frosty woods.
"[They] reshape their behavior to suit the needs of the system"
"The best pash is to abandon this stench filled society"
What starts so profound and honorable quickly turns to show the harsh reality of not only seclusion but a man who is haunted, His true reasons for leaving society are unraveled through surreal moments of truth disguised as terror. Is what he doing the right thing? Sending “messages” in the form of mail bombs, which to be honest is reminiscent of the unibomber.., All the while followed by visions of ghosts and an ever present creature watching his every move.A deep yet very close trail of death in the family follows as he and brothers’ ghosts challenge him philosophically, each with their own way of thinking, creating a dysfunctional relationship with the dead. The movie keeps getting more and more surreal; I can’t help but feel that there are metaphors all over the place. His family ties, while mysterious and terribly depressing, seem to remain present in his life in the real world as he is taunted to join the rest of them in the afterlife. He wants to end society through his means which consist of existing outside of the system but is unwilling to end his own life. How can one possibly exist when they are the only thing left in the world.
I don’t typically review movies as I’m watching them but this one had me feeling compelled to write my thoughts as I watched. I can see how this movie might come off as sort of silly. possibly put on par with a movie such as “The Descent” while at the same time I feel it could easily find praise on the level of something like “Strange Circus”
The movie is contained and mostly takes place inside of his cabin or in the forest close by. I particularly enjoyed the scene where we see a creature and the audio turns into a series of high pitched glitchy sounds, which are somewhat unpleasant to the ears but are effective to set the mood. The soundtrack was also really great and sometimes creates an odd juxtaposition; I enjoyed it. Another movie it kind of reminds me of is “A Tale of Two Sisters.” It’s hard for me to tell if the depth of this movie would last upon repeated viewing but for a first watch I really like it. I think I will have to rewatch it in the future so maybe I’ll get the DVD… A lot of movies are coming to mind now that it’s coming to it’s end; no need to mention them now though.
I recommend this one to those looking for something a little different yet also familiar. The monologues are fantastic as well as the conversations between the brothers… Just watch it yourself if I’m not making sense. Like I said, I don’t usually write impressions or reviews as I’m watching. I might have to edit this a bit later. Cool movie, give it a watch. :)
Last quick note: very surreal watching Eita go from Summer Time Machine Blues to a film like this. weird.
Over the years we have seen many anthology films come and go out of the east. Rampo Noir, 3 Extremes, Unholy Women, the list goes on. Americans are not unfamiliar with this style of movie going themselves with classics such as Tales From the Crypt, The Twilight Zone movie, and one of my personal favorites, Heavy Metal. Now, by chance, I’ve come across a recent short film collection out of South Korea thanks to Netflix. Reading the short summaries of each film I started the film right away. I don’t want to get too deep into who wrote and directed what, what actors were in what, or even what each segment is called, so I’m just gonna write down my impressions from each.
The first segment was a cut & dry zombie scenario. Very tired, very generic; aside from it’s humorous undertones this is the portion to skip (if you were to pick one). Entertaining enough, the build up took too long and the pay off was lacking. A lot. Let’s just be harsh and say this part was shitty and a waste of time. At least compared to the rest of the film.
The second short left me in amazement. Another would-be tired subject of AI developing human qualities is executed brilliantly through magnificent and thought provoking writing and beautiful acting; it’s no wonder they used shots from this sequence as the poster’s image. Using religion as the backbone theme of this segment, we are given a few new spins on an old formula found in similar films such as Blade Runner. And with an even more peculiar twist ending briefly teased at the very last moment of this section, I can’t help but hope for a feature length spin off, a la “Dumplings,” as there is so much fodder to be expanded on. I don’t want to give away too much but for me this was just an amazing piece of story telling through film.
The third segment, unique, imaginative fun and funny, finds a nice balance of suspense and comedy, ending with a scene particularly refreshing, reminiscent of the famous scene from “Contact” if you can believe that.
So with all this said, the obvious choice to shoot for is the middle segment. With it’s great script and food for thought, I’d love to see it further developed. When you’re watching these anthology movies there are bound to be at least one (if you’re lucky) story that’s not that great. The one here is at least entertaining enough to grab your attention for the rest of the film. I recommend this one and if you’re strapped for time, skip the first portion. It’s on Netflix now, I think they must have just added it recently. If you’re looking for something to watch check this out, and if you’re not, watch the middle story anyways because it rocks.
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Oldboy (2003) is a movie I don’t need to review. A lot of people will say this is the quintessential east asian film; it’s acciesble yet deep plot has landed in a type of cult status in American culture along with other ‘starter’ movies like Audition or Ichi the Killer.
I rewatched this the other day and the climax still gets my adrenaline flowing.
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The Bird People In China (1998), directed by Takashi Miike, is some kind of combination of drama, comedy and adventure. You would have never guessed it to be a work of Miike’s and honestly I thought it was made much longer ago than ‘98, with it’s lowly saturated color palette and an environment and cast that look like they’re from an 80’s movie. The execution of the film itself is one that I find reminiscent of his older works, but that doesn’t necessarily stop this movie from finding a way to capture your attention and maybe even play on your emotions a bit.
The film starts with a narrative spoken by a Japanese business man on a trip to China to scout a vein of jade located in the rural mountaintops. He’s surprised to find an unexpected travel companion in the form of a yakuza who’s been sent to make sure his family is repaid a loan made out to our business man’s company. This situation leads to a sort of ‘odd couple’ scenario; the business man’s quiet and serious demeanor is matched by the yakuza’s obnoxious and comedic personality. Their journey takes them through towns, country roads, rivers and eventually they reach a mountain top village where the jade is said to be located (but this isn’t before we get an interesting scene involving the men eating mushrooms as they stop for rest.)
What they find in the village is a curious culture made up of old superstitions around one man’s ability to fly, which instantly captures the attention of the yakuza. As time spent in the village goes on, they become more familiar with each other and the villagers alike and soon the yakuza is seen having more of a fun and carefree time than the business man. The plot begins to touch on themes of a modern, budding civilization and it’s positive and negative affects on an old world village and whether superstitions and stories could possibly be something more than just that. It’s intriguing; this combined with the film’s great visuals, all taking place in a gorgeously vast rural and undeveloped area, starts to grow on you. Like the main characters, you don’t want to leave.
I’m reminded of other films where characters find peace in foreign locations such as Miike’s “Rainy Dog” or Beat Takeshi’s “Sonantine.” While I wont say this movie is the greatest drama or most funny comedy, it has it’s charms. But with Audition only a year away, it’s hard to find this one underneath the shadow of other great Miike films. This one’s good and ultimately leaves you with a nice feeling and sense of closure but it’s a little long. I recommend it for serious Miike fans or those seeking a light slice of life.
you can also find my review on japancinema.net
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i think this was from one of koji shiraishi’s recent films.. which was not a good movie.. i think
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