All posts tagged: Japan Film Festival

La La La at Rock Bottom – Review

Pain hits us all in different ways. Sometimes it aches slowly over time accumulating as the days go by. Sometimes it hits us with all the force of a baseball bat to the head. Sometimes it hits you without you ever noticing, eating you alive from the inside. When you’re at rock bottom, pain is always a companion. What you do with that pain is what defines you. La La La at Rock Bottom has been on my mind for weeks now since I initially saw it. I just couldn’t put my feelings on this film into words because it all felt so very real. These characters, the lives they lead and the journeys that they take are all a genuine and sincere representation of a side of Japan that is all too often forgotten about it Japanese cinema – the underclass heroes who toil away and suffer under the weight of the world all the while never losing grasp of the glimmer of hope that guides them on in life. Pooch as portrayed by …

Library Wars: The Last Mission – Review

Ask certain people and they’ll tell you that war is a necessary element of existence. Laurell K. Hamilton in her novel Incubus Dreams writes: “They say there is no light without dark, no good without evil, no male without female, no right without wrong. That nothing can exist if it’s direct opposite does not also exist“. This, in and of itself, is an interesting theory, but when used in reference to war as a whole, well…it just becomes even more intriguing. Let’s say that, for the sake of this review, war is indeed a necessity. That maybe without it, the world could truly never be at peace; the direct opposite. Than what is worth fighting for? Some fight for love, others fight for what they believe is justice. Countries battle over land, oil, religious beliefs, and everything in between, but has a modern war ever been fought over…books? Library Wars: The Last Mission is the second in two films based on the Light Novels of the same name. These Light Novels, caused by overwhelming popularity, …

The Case of Hana & Alice – Review

The Case of Hana & Alice is the kind of film that instantly gains cult appeal because of how convincingly it captures the essence and experience of teenage life at that point in time. Some of the most nostalgic and timeless television series and films are able to stand the test of time not because of how relatable they were to viewers at the time of release, but also how convincingly they serve as a time capsule of sorts, something that is representative of that era. There’s nothing like watching the ordinary lives of young people as they make their transition through difficult and troubling changes that come with growing up. The self indulgent nature of young people can be a blessing sometimes, because of how the small community they live in is pretty much the full extent of the universe in their minds. Which is why their seemingly inconsequential lives and moments turn out to be such compelling adventures and experiences. I suppose the magic of teenage years isn’t so much about the ordinary …

Miss Hokusai – Review

Miss Hokusai is based on the life and times of an artist who went by Tetsuzo Hokusai during the twilight of the Edo era in Japan. The film is set during the 18th century, right before Japan transitioned into the Meiji era. Miss Hokusai doesn’t quite deliver a biographical account of the eccentric artist, but rather places the spotlight on his daughter O-Ei, hence the title of the film. Tetsuzo was particularly known for his erotic illustrations, and this aspect often comes up during the course of the film in amusing ways. However, for the film to focus on the daughter as the protagonist, instead of the famed artist himself, might seem a little strange at first, but that’s exactly what draws the viewer in. History may remember Tesuko more, but this film champions the unsung hero that is his daughter. If Tetsuzo had a rock and anchor that allowed him to accomplish the things he needed, then his daughter O-Ei was surely it. Obviously, the film takes several creative liberties with the historical source material, but it’s all done …

Takayama Travelogue featuring the Sunset of a Lifetime

SnapThirty’s Luke Halliday recorded his journey over a span of two weeks time as he traveled from East to West of Japan. His trip begins in current capital city Tokyo and his final destination is the former capital of Kyoto. This is his Journey to the West… of Japan. Welcome one and all to my Journey to the West (Of Japan), a video series which will cover my travels across Japan from East to West. After a a trip of on the Bullet Train and a stop over at Nagoya, we finally arrive in the quaint mountain town of Takayama. We decide to explore this gorgeous town as the sunsets and wander about in the twilight of the night. Check out all of these adventures and more in the episodes below: #19 Exploring Takayama By Sunset #20 Takayama At Night, Japan’s Unbridled Trust For more videos of Japan journeys check out our Youtube Playlist for more as it releases. -30-

Bullet Train, Yokai Watch Snacks and Nagoya Travelogue

SnapThirty’s Luke Halliday recorded his journey over a span of two weeks time as he traveled from East to West of Japan. His trip begins in current capital city Tokyo and his final destination is the former capital of Kyoto. This is his Journey to the West… of Japan. Welcome one and all to my Journey to the West (Of Japan), a video series which will cover my travels across Japan from East to West. Luke and Suz are heading out of Tokyo on a bullet train but not before reflecting on the wonderful city of tokyo, catching some Japanese TV and taste testing some Yokai Watch snacks. On the stop over to Takayama, the duo have lunch at Soup Stock and check out a Japanese French Bakery. It is a wild ride on the bullet train to Takayama. Check out all of these adventures and more in the episodes below: #17 Tokyo Reflections, Japanese TV and the Bullet Train BONUS: Yokai Watch Snacks, Sweet to Eat #18 Nagoya, Soup Stock and a Japanese French Bakery …

The Japan Film Festival is Done And Dusted For Another Year, Here’s How It Went

Another year, another film festival. Though the way that read is drab, the Japan Film Festival hosted by The Japan Foundation Australia has been everything but drab with a massive line-up of critically acclaimed movies straight from the land of the rising sun. 2014’s festival featured a total of sixty seven films, each of which met wonderful feedback by Australian audiences and fans of Japanese pop culture. The Japan Film Festival has only gotten bigger and bigger with each year and there’s no end to its growth in sight which is great for people like us here at SnapThirty who simply cannot get enough of Japanese cinema. Held over 93 days, it attracted a total attendance of 33,000, a 32% increase year on year. The Festival travelled to 16 cities, 17 venues with 67 films screened over 312 sessions. – The Japan Foundation At the end of the festival each year, The Japan Foundation pools all the votes from all over the country regarding the audiences favorite films from the line-up and although all of them are held …

‘The Light Shines Only There’ Review

There are dozens of intriguing films on this year’s Japanese Film Festival line-up but none more quietly captivating than The Light Shines Only There, a film that explores the complicated emotional networks that defines a troubled lower-class family and the aimless depressive that becomes entangled within it. The film moves quietly along pondering many questions on the nature of life, love, death, loss, sex, violence and all of the messy stuff that lies between. So what light shines at the end of suffering? The Light Shines Only There follows Tatsuo, a heavily depressed and unemployed slacker coasting by through life on his savings, slowly widdling it all away at a pachinko parlour. One day while drowning his sorrows in pachinko, Tatsuo meets teen delinquent Takuji, befriending him and ultimately finding himself wrapped up in the struggles affecting Takuji’s family. Tatsuo strikes up a connection with Takuji’s sister Chinatsu, another depressive who has been broken and beaten down by the world around her. Being forced to sell her body at the local brothel and serve as …

The Snow White Murder Case Review

Ah, social media. The ever growing online behemoth that allows the people of the world to stay in touch with one another. A conglomerate of fact, fiction, opinion and every asinine thought that drifts through the minds of countless individuals. But the world takes to it with gusto, because humans are by nature social creatures, ones who band together when beneficial. But what happens when the collective focuses their efforts? What happens when suppositions clash? What happens when the truth is lost in the noise? Welcome to the present, a world where Twitter is a near inescapable facet of life. Even if you opt to not take part in  it, you will inevitably hear about it from others. Even television pushes the social media app, utilising it in order to boost audience involvement. This is all well and good for fiction, but the news is another story. When millions of people all weigh in on something they have only a passing knowledge of, accusations fly and facts are lost in a storm of words. Thus we …

Tokyo Refugees Review

Life is tough. In between college and all the partying with friends, there’s barely enough time in the day to get some rest. Though, if you’re smart, you’ll split the difference and sleep through class. Genius. But sometimes life has other plans, sometimes it plays out far beyond your control and decides to give you one hell of a wakeup call. Reality. It kinda sucks sometimes. One day you’re an overconfident, arrogant college student coasting through life and the next you’re locked out of your own apartment. At least that’s the case for Osamu Tokieda. It started like any other day, lazy, reluctant and full of all the enthusiasm expected of a college attendee, not student, “attendee”. But, as is the sad truth sometimes, Osamu’s reliance on others changed his life for the worse. A lack of tuition payments naturally led to an expulsion, which led to a confused and considerably irked Osamu discovering that cash flow is crucial. Sounds obvious enough, but when a parent hands out money like it’s going out of fashion, there children …

Short Peace – Film Review

The very first time I laid eyes upon “Short Peace” was a while ago when I walked into a local video game distributor and its interesting front cover caught my eye. Red and white, like the Japanese flag, this cover featured striking but muddled imagery that forces those looking to take one big step forward just to be able to see exactly what the picture features. I picked it up, I gave the synopsis a read and became somewhat confused by it but it stayed on my mind for quite some time. A video game that’s also a movie which is made up of four mini-movies each telling a wildly different story but each showing a piece of Japanese history and future, fictional or otherwise, that are connected simply by the country they were developed in. Thinking back on it…it’s a little less confusing now that I’ve actually watched the movie. It’s now 2014 and that means the Japan Foundation are spearheading another fantastic Japanese Film Festival with a line up that is just as …

Japan Film Festival 2014 – National Program Announced

It’s that time of year! An exciting time of year where we, the general public, finally become privy to the film list that will feature at this year’s ‘Japanese Film Festival’ held by none other than Australia’s own ‘Japan Foundation’. In past years this film festival has proven to simply be one of the very best and is actually the biggest Japanese film festival outside of the great country itself. That’s quite a description for something homegrown like this and the people behind the scenes could not be more proud. This year’s ‘JFF’ will kick off in Adelaide on the 10th of October with the musical comedy ‘Lady Maiko’ which tells the tale of a young  girl with big dreams of one day becoming a Geisha. Though she’s from the countryside and doesn’t quite posses the proper finesse of a Geisha, she has a great chance at fulfilling her dream thanks to one Professor Kyono, a linguistics specialist and her only way of becoming a proper lady. The festival will run all the way up …

Rebirth Review

Life is by no means a simple endeavour. Rife with unforeseeable complications and seemingly insurmountable odds, it is no wonder that people develop their own unique methods to cope. However, should one’s attempt to clutch normalcy become a detriment to others, just how far can the ideals of compassion and understanding be stretched? Rebirth tests this within all of us. Forcing us to bear witness to the positives of an inconceivably negative act. Nonomiya Kiwako has by no means lived what would be considered an ordinary life. Having been intimately involved with a married man, she was convinced by her lover to abort the child that had resulted, in hopes of having another at a more opportune time. However, the procedure left Kiwako unable to conceive, shattering her dreams of a family. Compounded by the fact that her love had returned to father a child with his wife, her sadness is understandable, regardless of the ethics of her actions. Gripped by her melancholy, Kiwako visits the house of her love, only to discover that they had …

Key of Life Review

Sometimes life doesn’t play out quite the way you thought it would. Dreams will only take you so far, especially if you lack the resolve to follow through with them. Unfortunately this is something that Takeshi Sakurai knows all too well. Down on his luck and planning to end it all, he happens upon a coupon for a bathhouse and decides to venture out of his apartment. But surely this one simple outing will not be a memorable one…right? Wrong. Whilst storing his “possessions” into a locker, Sakurai notices that a particularly well dressed individual has also decided to visit the bathhouse, placing his noticeably full wallet in a locker near his own. As if the universe itself was mocking him. However, this chance encounter becomes a turning point in both the lives of Sakurai and said individual (henceforth known as Kondo). After an unfortunate accident involving a bar of soap, Kondo is rendered unconscious after a truly spectacular fall. It is during the ensuing commotion that Sakurai decides to perform a little “locker key switcheroo” …

“When The Last Sword Is Drawn” Review

What exactly does a good Samurai fight for? His master? His land? His country, even? I’m sure there’s plenty of reasons for men to take up arms against each other but none more pure than that of Yoshimura Konichiro, a masterful Samurai from a small town who travels inland to join the powerful ranks of the Shinsengumi. The true protagonist of ‘When The Last Sword Is Drawn’, Yoshimura is a man of honour though he comes across as a money-hungry freeloader. That couldn’t be further from the truth, Yoshimura is a family man who has taken up a job as part of the Shinsengumi simply to feed his family. What he does is for love and I truly think that’s what makes HIM a legendary Samurai warrior. Told in a series of flashbacks, ‘When The Last Sword Is Drawn’ follows Yoshimura as he joins the special police force and eventually takes place in a large-scale battle which unfortunately leads to his death. A fellow Shinsengumi member, a man called Saito Hajime, many years after the …

“Confessions” Review

The saying goes; ‘no parent should ever outlive their child’ and for Junior high school teacher Yuko Moriguchi, this was a reality that she must now live in for the rest of her days. Being a single parent in the modern world of teaching, her husband stricken by HIV/AIDS, Mrs. Moriguchi was in constant state of battle. Doing her best to care for her daughter while also continuing to be the outstanding civil servant she has worked so hard to become. Manami, her daughter, was lucky to have been born into a family with a strong matriarch like Yuko Moriguchi. Through tough times and hardship, Yuko stood tall in the hopes that she could raise her daughter in much the same way a ‘regular’ family could. It was hard for the dedicated teacher, having to bring Manami to parent-teacher interviews and late-night work sessions. Manami was a happy young girl thanks to Yuko’s dedication. Because of his disease, Manami’s father was unable to be near her and spent his life with her at a distance. …