Sunday, November 13, 2011

"Yokai Ningen Bem" - 妖怪人間ベム

4 Potatoes

There are not many good Japanese TV dramas this season.
So far one of my a few favorites is "Yokai Ningen Bem" (2011) - 「妖怪人間ベム」. It is based on the Japanese animation by the same title which was aired on TV in Japan from 1968-1969. I remember the partial story, I am not sure if I watched the re-run or saw or heard about the story...

Yokai Ningen Bem - Animation
This live-action version is played by Kazuya Kamenashi (Bem), Anne Watanabe (Bela) - the daughter of actor Ken Watanabe, and Fuku Suzuki (Bero).

By remembering the animation, this is a perfect casting! Fuku Suzuki is a great child actor while all of Japan is obsessed about another child actress who I think is not the great, not natural...

Anyway, I am looking forward to watch it every week and I am very curious to see how it will end. As for the original animation, I read it somewhere, they will die at the end. But initially it ended that way because they were creating the sequel which never had a chance to air on TV.

Well we will see...

Official Site & Trailers:

USA: It is Available on Pandora.TV

Saturday, November 12, 2011

"Café de Flore" my AFI Fav.

4 Potatoes

Here is my favorite of all at the AFI Fest this year, though I couldn't see as many films as I wished to see, I am glad to see something very powerful.

"Café de Flore" (2011) by Jean-Marc Vallée, starring Vanessa Paradis, is a film which focuses on two different events at the two different periods of times which somewhat relates to one another.

Unfortunately I missed the first 10 minutes due to the festival schedule change. But it was okay at the end, as it was a slow start. I read at the festival guide that this film was sort of after-the-fact film to the director's 2005 film "C.R.A.Z.Y." (2005). I see that. But this film stands by itself. It was very intense toward the end and the two stories from the two separate periods merged well together. I really loved how the story turned out.

Also Vanessa Paradis was amazing in this film, she was a good actress in the past, but she  now became a great actress. I hope she will receive a nomination for the Oscar 2012.

Highly Recommended.

Official Site & Trailer:

Synopsis (FR): Il n’est pas facile de dire adieu à ceux qu’on aime; pour y parvenir, il faut parfois toute une vie - ou deux.
Entre le Paris des années 1960 et le Montréal d’aujourd’hui se déploie une vaste histoire d’amour aux accents épiques, à la fois sombre et lumineuse, troublante et malgré tout pleine d’espoir. Film teinté de fantastique, baigné d’une lumière parfois presque surnaturelle, Café de Flore raconte les destins croisés de Jacqueline une jeune Parisienne mère d’un enfant unique, d’Antoine un DJ montréalais ainsi que des femmes qui l’entourent. Ce qui les relie : l’amour, troublant, maladroit, imparfait et inachevé... humain.

Synopsis (ENG): Healing a broken heart isn't easy. Sometimes it takes a lifetime...or two. 
Cafe de Flore is a love story about people separated by time and place but connected in profound and mysterious ways. Atmospheric, fantastical, tragic and hopeful, the film chronicles the parallel fates of Jacqueline, a young mother with a disabled son in 1960s Paris, and Antoine, a recently-divorced, successful DJ in present day Montreal. What binds the two stories together is love - euphoric, obsessive, tragic, youthful, timeless love. Antoine, early 40s, seems to have it all: a thriving career, two beautiful daughters, partner Rose, with whom he is passionately in love. However, nothing is perfect and Antoine's ex-wife Carole remains devastated by their recent separation. Heartbroken, her sense of self has been shattered and her hold on reality has been gradually slipping away. Her dreams are haunted by two recurrent figures - Jacqueline, a young woman, and Laurent, her Down Syndrome - afflicted son - but the reason for their visits to her subconscious, and their meaning continue to elude her. We find Jacqueline and Laurent in 1960s Paris. Abandoned by her husband, Jacqueline sacrifices everything to care for her son. From the moment Laurent is born she promises herself to give him a "normal" life full of happiness. For years she fulfills that promise, joining herself at the hip to her son and watching over his every waking moment. One day at school Laurent befriends Véronique, another Down Syndrome child, forever changing things between mother and son. Carole, meanwhile, is still attempting to unravel the mystery of Jacqueline and Laurent. She sees them not only in her dreams but in her waking life too. Tormented by hallucinations, Carole attempts to suppress them with medication and illicit drugs before seeking out the help of a spiritual guide who leads her to believe that Jacqueline and Laurent are previous incarnations of her and Antoine who are attempting to send her a warning. When she senses Jacqueline and Laurents story could end tragically, Carole realizes she will have to choose a different path. In that moment, she has to decide whether the agony of heartbreak is too much to bear or if she can let go of her pain and move on with her life. The title "Cafe de Flore" refers not to the famous Boulevard St-Germain café, but to a musical theme running through the film that connects the characters in 1960s Paris to those in present-day Montreal. Blending smooth electro beats with the retro sounds of big band strings and horns, the music sets the tone for a story about love in its many forms. - Jean-Marc Vallée (IMDb)

USA: Release Date Unknown

Sunday, November 6, 2011

"Pina" 3D - Wim Wenders' latest

4 Potatoes

Last night Wim Wender introduced us the completely "new way" to enjoy 3D.
His latest film "Pina" (2011) a documentary/performing art film about the choreographer
Pina Bausch.

This could be the totally new way of enjoying stage/theater production also. It makes you feel like you are sitting on the front raw of the theater watching the performing art. So real.
Wim Wenders said "...3D was the only way to film dance...". He was so right.

Wim Wenders & Pina
Not only this documentary stunned me by the new discovery, it is also perfect in quality: location choices, music, editing and length of film.

Highly recommended.

Official Site & Trailer:

More about Pina Bausch:

USA: In Theater December 23rd, 2011

Germany's Official Submission for the Oscar 2012: Foreign Language Film

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Luc Besson "The Lady"

3.5 Potatoes

Luc Besson's latest film "The Lady" (2011) was finally premiered at
the AFI Fest 2011 tonight. I waited for this movie to be released for a long time, not only the subject was fascinating, but he hasn't directed a live-action movie in a long time!

Actually I remember reading some interview about 5 years ago (I am sorry I can't quote it because I don't remember where I read it...), him saying he will retire from directing after "Angel A" (2006) and focus on producing... Well he did "the Arthur and the Invisibles" (2006-2010) series after that but they were not live-action.

Anyway, sadly I could only give 3.5 Potatoes.
First of all, I think he lost his touch for creating his style... He was at the festival in person and he said "This is the most important film of my life". But I disagreed as an audience.
YES the subject was very important to speak about, but Aung San Suu Kyi's life and achievement can't be explained in 2 hours, unless it is well edited.
And it starts very slow and get intense in the middle and it sucks you in. Knowing what she really went through, it was very heart breaking and tearful.
But the reality hits you and makes you wonder how convincing Michelle Yeoh's Burmese was... (She acted in 2 languages: UK English and Burmese).

At the end, it wasn't just perfect...

And one last thing, Luc Besson's usual soundtrack composer Eric Serra, you weren't at your best either.

Synopsis: The story of pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi and the academic and writer Michael Aris; a true story of love set against political turmoil. (IMDb)

USA: In Theater December 2, 2011
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