Love Collage (2003) – Movie Review

Love Collage

Following my Netflix recommended movies, I watched “Love Collage”, a 2003 movie starring Ryoko Hirosue and Makoto Seigawa. It started off great, and I was getting into it especially because it was kind of about photography, and I enjoyed the scenes where Hirosue’s character, Shizuru, would run around Tokyo snapping photos. It looked like this movie would turn out to be one of my favorites, but it all took a severe nose-dive when the plot moved from Tokyo to New York.

One phenomenon with Japanese dorama is that any gaijin actors used are usually not very good. The main thing they have to do is just look foreign, and any other acting skills they might have are at best lacking, and at worst, truly awful. That’s usually not a problem since they are often only a small part of the scene or plot. Well, half of “Love Collage” takes place in New York City and not only are the American actors terrible, but the storyline itself gets too weird and unbelievable. It went from quirky and charming, to cheesy and campy. There is one shootout which is so over-the-top and just plain stupid, I was wondering if this was all a big joke. Plus, what is up with all the guns and violence in New York? I mean, the main character gets beat up three times? Are we to think this is realistic?

Finally, after all the plot weirdness settles down it seems like the original director comes back into the picture and tries to end the movie. It’s not terrible ending, but then I just keep scratching my head as to what that whole New York part was all about. That pretty much ruined the whole movie.

My rating: 6/10

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) – Movie Review

Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

I’ve been meaning to write about the absolutely amazing “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” movie by Wes Anderson for a while now. I watched it late at night in bed, which was probably not the best since I was laughing so much and probably woke Mariko up a few times. But it was so hilarious in parts I just couldn’t help it! I grew up watching Jacques Cousteau documentaries, and the film seems like a wonderful and quirky homage to the Cousteau and his crew. The scenery is pretty great, and the acting and comedy are right-on. Billy Murray and Owen Wilson are so good, but I thought the best and funniest acting was by Willem Dafoe. Show-stealer for me! Watch the following trailer to get a feel for the movie:

The soundtrack to this movie was fantastic. Of course the Bowie covers in Portuguese by Seu Jorge were great, but it was also wonderful to hear a classic Devo tune (Mark Mothersbaugh actually did the music for the film). Give the soundtrack a listen below:

My rating: 9/10

Time Traveller: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time / 時をかける少女 (2010) – Movie Review

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Whoa, what a tear-jerker! Time Traveller: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is the third live-action movie to come out of the novel The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, and is actually a sequel to the 1983 movie (I have yet to watch). Which explains why the plot seemed so new to me. I watched the anime a few months ago so when nothing seemed familiar while watching this movie, I was thinking, “Dang, I am really losing my memory!”. Anyways, the story was interesting and the characters were fun, but what was really cool was the 1970s setting. Since my early childhood was during the ’70s, it was pretty neat to see stuff like super-8 film. The acting was really well done and had me on the verge of tears a few times. Yeah, I have a sensitive side too! At any rate, I recommend checking out the movie on Netflix streaming. On a side note, the two main actors, Naka Riisa and Akiyoshi Nakai, have since gotten married and have a baby. Give it a watch!

My rating: 9/10

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Official site

Before Sunrise (1995) – Movie Review

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Why did it take me 18 years to see Before Sunrise?! I was absolutely mesmerized by it. The movie starts with the characters placed in a somewhat normal situation, but it becomes kind of magical, and yet totally believable at the same time. And the plot…well, was there a plot? Not really, but the dialog and acting were so great that they carried the movie. It is basically the story of two people meeting and falling in love over the course of one entire day. Simple, right? But there is something different about it. I think it is that the acting/casting really works, and the dialog is both off-the-wall, yet completely human. Julie Delpy is fantastic and Ethan Hawke impressed me as well.

I think I really connected with the story because my experience of moving to Japan and meeting Mariko was had some similarities to the film: I was living in an unfamiliar but fascinating country, and also became completely head over heels in love with Mariko in that first night after we met, and we are about the same ages as the actors in the movie. As you can tell, it’s a very romantic film, but I can really be a sucker for stories like thise, and who doesn’t like being in love? In the movie, Celine says “But isn’t everything we do in life a way to be loved a little more?”

I’m looking forward to the sequel “Before Sunset” to arrive from Netflix, and then the third movie “Before Midnight” as well! Highly recommended!

Honey and Clover / ハチミツとクローバー (2006) – Movie Review

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I found Honey and Clover (Japanese movie) at the local library and decided to give it a try since I have heard about the manga, but never really knew anything about it. The description on the back seemed to match the kind of movie I would be interested in: A group of art school students’ lives and the relationships that develop between them. While the characters were interesting and the setting of the story kept my attention, the plot itself was so lacking that I found myself wondering why I was watching the movie. I kept waiting for something interesting to happen, but nothing really does. Well, at least nothing that I would make a movie over. The love stories never really develop, the characters don’t grow so much, and I kind of find it difficult to remember how the movie ended, even though I just watched it a few days ago. I’m sure the manga must be good, but the movie just falls flat. Disappointed!