Hero


Director: Masayuki Suzuki
Drama, Japan, 2007
Cast: Takuya Kimura, Takako Matsu, Hiroshi Abe, Haruka Ayase, Takuzo Kadono, Teruyuki Kagawa, Masanobu Katsumura, Ittoku Kishibe, Kiyoshi Kodama

Story:
This is a popular Japanese TV drama turned movie.
Takuya Kimura played an unconventional prosecutor with strong determination to seek nothing but the truth, and he will get to the bottom of it no matter how hard it is. He has no fear for whoever he is up against, be it big politicians or high-power lawyer. As a result he has an unusually strong inspiring effect on people that he works with and even the criminal that he is prosecuting. People around him will find the extra energy to achieve the goal of seeking the truth. Even the opposing lawyer respects him greatly.

In this movie, he takes over from his colleague, a reckless murder case of what started as a harmless incident of two strangers running into each other. The case become complicated when the defendant is also the sole witness of an alibi of a high-power politician on a corruption charge. Suddenly Kimura finds himself up against the best defending lawyer in town on this murder case. He also has a very bad history with this politician. If Kimura doesn't win his case, it will mean the politician will get away on the corruption case.

My review:
I enjoyed watching this film very much as I have also watched the TV-series before. The determination of the prosecution team to convict the bad guy and give him the punishment that he deserves is quite touching. Splendid performance by Takuya Kimura.

Shall we kiss? Un baiser s'il vous pla?t

Romantic comedy, France 2007
Director: Emmanuel Mouret

Virginie Ledoyen ... Judith
Emmanuel Mouret ... Nicolas
Julie Gayet ... ?milie

Micha?l Cohen ... Gabriel
Fr?d?rique Bel ... Caline
Stefano Accorsi ... Claudio

Story: Emilie was out of her home town and met a stranger Gabriel who gave her a lift. They ended up spending the day together and had dinner together, just when they were going to part and say goodbye for the night, Gabriel tried to kiss her and she resisted. She then tried to explain to Gabriel how something that happened to her friends made her very hesitant in kissing him. She told him the story of her friends - it was about Nicolas and Judith who started off as just very good friends and how a bizarre request of Nicolas has set them onto a dangerous emotional/physical journey, it has something to do with a certain kiss between them ...

My review:
We were given free tickets of this movie at the premier of the Hong Kong international film festival in March 2008. Tickets were provided by French Tourism board to French alumni association of Hong Kong. The director/leading actor Emmanuel Mouret was there too.

A nice and wonderful comedy that makes fun of friendship, love, husband, wife, lovers, kisses and sex. Sounds like all the good ingredients for a romantic comedy. There were no shortage of funny situation and carefully crafted script

The Professor and His Beloved Equation

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The Professor and His Beloved Equation (buy from Amazon)

Drama, Japan, 2006
Actors/Actresses
Akira Terao ... Professor
Eri Fukatsu ... Kyoko
Takanari Saito ... Root - young
Hidetaka Yoshioka ... Root
Ruriko Asaoka ... Professor's sister-in-law

This movie is about mathematics, I quite like this nice movie about a mathematics professor who had an accident and he cannot remember anything longer than 80 minutes. His way of communicating with people is always related to mathematics. The story starts when the professor is having a new maid helping his house work. The new maid has a 10-year old son, and the professor called the boy "Square root" because it is a nice "operator" that is genorous and kind to all numbers. The three of them spend a lot of time together even though the professor will always repeat himself because he cannot remember new things. The kid learned a lot from the professor and when he grows up and become a mathematics teacher himself, he tells his student about the story of the professor and how he learned about perfect numbers (like 6, 28), prime numbers (like 2,3, 5, 7), natural number (e), imaginery number (i) and pi etc. What I really like is the friendly couple numbers (220 and 284), these are called amicable numbers, such a nice story.

I would recommend this nice little story to anyone who was once or still is smitten by mathematics. I certainly enjoyed this movie.

Jules and Jim

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Jules and Jim - Criterion Collection (buy from Amazon)

Drama, French, 1962
Director: Fran?ois Truffaut

Jeanne Moreau ... Catherine
Oskar Werner ... Jules (as Oscar Werner)
Henri Serre ... Jim

Story:
A love-triangle that involves 2 best friends Jules and Jim with a very impulsive (when it comes to love) girl Catherine. Catherine eventually marries Jules but never really settles, after the war, Catherine starts loving Jim, but Jim and Jules remain good friends. It gets more complicated as Catherine and Jim also have other lovers. Eventually this drives to the ultimate destruction.

My Review:
A French classic love story, a woman who is so generous in love and is always in need of love, someone who always act on her impulse, regardless of how she will affect or hurt others. 2 men who maintain their friendship while having a relationship with the same woman, encouraging her and fueling her impulsive behaviour, because both men were afraid of losing her.

This is an interesting movie as it would deem very liberal even by today's Asian standard. It was sad to see that it has led to a rather abrupt and tragic ending.

Love and Honour - Bushi no ichibun

Drama, Japanese 2006
Director: Y?ji YamadaDirector: Nobuhiro Doi

My rating: 3
Key actors/actresses:
Takuya Kimura ... Shinnojo Mimura
Rei Dan ... Kayo Mimura
Mitsugoro Bando ... Toya Shimada

Story:
Shinnojo Mimura is a low ranking samurai whose job is to taste/test the food prepared for the Lord for poison. During one tasting, the ill-prepared seafood become poisonous and as a result, Mimura becomes blind. Life becomes very hard for the blind samurai and his wife Kayo was cheated by the chief of staff who pretends that he would help Mimura to secure his stipend despite his blindness. When Mimura found out about this, he decided he should defend his own name by challenging the chief of staff who is a well trained swordsman.

My review:
This is the last of the samurai trilogy by the great director Yoji Yamada, the other two films being The Hidden Blade and the Twilight Samurai. Yamada likes to portray samurai as a down to earth person who has many real things to worry about in life and the fact that they have a family and problems of their own just like everyone else. This is very different from most other films where the samurai somehow has unlimited money, meals are always cooked for, ends are always met and so they do extraordinary things.

Though all 3 samurai movies are well made (just as you would expect from Yamada), it is getting a bit plain watching the same ideas again. Nonetheless, this is still a good movie to watch and especially, we don't get to see Takuya Kimura acting in an ancient setting.

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The Hidden Blade (buy from Amazon)

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The Twilight Samurai (buy from Amazon)

Nada Sou Sou - Tears for You


Type, Country, Year: Romance, Drama, Japan, 2006

Director: Nobuhiro Doi

My rating: 4
Key actors/actresses:
Satoshi Tsumabuki ... Yotaro Shingaki
Masami Nagasawa ... Kaoru Shingaki
Kumiko Aso ... Keiko Inamine

Story:
In Okinawa, when Yotaro was a little boy, he promised his dying mother to take care of his young step-sister Kaoru, Karou's father was a singer in a band, he married Yotaro's mother and soon left them and Kaoru behind.

Life was tough for Yotaro and Kaoru after Yotaro's mother died. Kaoru went to live with Yotaro's grandma in another city. A few years later, Yotaro has become a young man who wanted to open his small restaurant and Kaoru is moving back to live with Yotaro and continues her secondary education. Unfortunately, Yotaro has been cheated by someone, he lost all his saving and is deep in debt, which completely shattered his dream of opening his restaurant. Karou stands by her brother and try to give him all her support.

Brother and sister only in name but with no blood tie and living under the same roof, their love and emotion for each other is also the strongest force pulling them apart, sacrificing oneself to help the other is too much to bear for the other party. Soon, Karou is going to University and decides to move out to live on her own, how would things evolve between them?

My review:
I can't really say I like the ending much, but the plot from the beginning up till the ending is pretty good. Satoshi and Masami play their roles very well. It is a pretty touching stories. "Tears for you" broke box office record in Japan in 2006.

Sinking of Japan - Nihon chinbotsu

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Sinking of Japan (Standard Edition) DVD (buy from Amazon)

Type, Country, Year: Fantasy, Adventures, Japan, 2006

Director: Shinji Higuchi

My rating: 3
Key actors/actresses:
Tsuyoshi Kusanagi ... Toshio Onodera
Kou Shibasaki ... Reiko Abe
Etsushi Toyokawa ... Yusuke Tadokoro
Mao Daichi ... Saori Takamori

Story:
Volcanoes are erupting, earth is shaking, Japan is sinking. What can the government do?

My review:
Interesting plot, an idea that has been hanging at the back of the mind of many Japanese. Long overdue earthquake, Fuji volcanoes eruption. Sinking country.

The question of staying or leaving, survival, and love.

Dororo

DororoType, Country, Year: Action / Fantasy, Japan, 2007

Director: Akihiko Shiota

My rating: 3

Key actors/actresses:
Satoshi Tsumabuki ... Hyakkimaru
Kou Shibasaki ... Dororo

Story:
Hyakkimaru is a young man who has 48 body parts missing since he was born, because his father Kagemitsu Daigo made a deal with 48 demons, the demons take the body parts and materialize on earth and Kagemitsu gets to win his war and tries to conquer the whole of Japan. When Hyakkimaru was born, his parents were horrified and throw him to the river, he was raised by a wizard who made fake body parts for him. When he grows up, he wants to kill these demons to reclaim his body parts. Along the adventure he met a thief, Dororo.

My review:
I have always like Japanese fantasy movies, this one is pretty interesting. It is based on a comic book by the Japanese master Osamu Tezuka in the late 1960s.

Touch - Cartoon 1984-1985

TouchTouch

Type: Cartoon Drama, Japan 1984-1985

My rating: 5
Key characters:
Minami Asakura, Tatsuya Uesugi, Kazuya Uesugi

Story:
Based on the comic book by Mitsuru Adachi. Kazuya (younger) and Tatsuya (elder) are twin brothers, Minami is the girl next door, the three of them were born in the same year and grew up together. Both brothers love Minami. She has a wish which becomes the common goal of the twin brothers that is to go to Koshien Stadium to play baseball. To do so, they must represent their high school and win the regional competition. Tatsuya doesn't want to compete with his brother and thus he quits baseball, Kazuya is a great talented baseball player and has led the school team to the regional final, soon Minami's dream will be realised by Kazuya but she is clear on who she loves - she loves Tatsuya the kind-hearted elder brother who supposed to be inferior to the younger twin only because he always let the younger brother to win. Kazuya is also a kind-hearted younger brother who always wishes the best thing for his brother and Minami. On the day of the final game, something happened and Kazuya did not turn up... Tatsuya has to step up and work hard to make minami's dream come true...

My review:
Touch is one of my all time favourite cartoon. I have always loved this comic by Mitsuru Adachi, this TV cartoon has become a classic. Kazuya and Tatsuya are good and loving brothers, Minami is the kind of girl every boy dreams about. Mitsuru has created many touching and clever plots in the story with many other interesting characters surrounding Kazuya, Tatsuya and Minami, including Harada, a friend who always say something wise despite his big, rough and scary look, Nitta the star player of the rival baseball team.

Howl's Moving Castle (Hauru no ugoku shiro)

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Howl's Moving Castle (buy from Amazon)

Type, Country, Year: Cartoon drama, Japan, 2004

Director: Hayao Miyazaki, Rick Dempsey (English version)

My rating: 4
Key actors/actresses:

Story:
A young lady was cursed by a witch and was turned into an old woman. Her hope of breaking the spell rests on a young wizard called Howl (Hauru) who lives in a home in the format of a moving castle. Together they fought the bad guys and developed an deep relationship that would save them both

My review:
Very interesting cartoon movie and very creative. You wouldn't expect anything less from the cartoon master Hayao Miyazaki!

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