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Recently seen movies #85

September 15, 2008

Doki-Doki (Japan / USA, 2003) – 4/5

American film student Chris Eska’s brilliant debut, shot in Tokyo. The film follows a girl who takes the same train every morning, usually with the exact same people although none of them know each other and never talk to each other. She stars taking notes and paying attention to little things that these people do in the train. Slightly hampering openining, with some use of music and voice over that doesn’t work as well as it should, but the film gets better and better every minute. Eska shot it on digital video, in black and white, edited on home computer, and with a $5000 budget (including plane tickets and crew’s housing). And it’s one of the best and most beautiful films – both visually and storywise – that I’ve seen recently. Three version of the film exist; short uplifting (approx 30 min), short bittersweet, and long version. The difference between the short versions is a slight edit in the final scene that makes it more uplifting, while the long version plays for additional 15 minutes and them brings the story to a completely different kind of ending. I have not seen the short uplifting version, but the other two are both terrific.

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This World of Ours (Japan, 2007) – 2,5/5

Ryo Nakajima’s debut feature borrows from the ’new digital jp wave’ and throws in a more violent focus and blown out contrasts. It’s a decently strong experince with several good scenes and some visually impressive shots, but also has a lot of student film style angst visible. Occasionally the use of classical music and handheld cinematography feel more intentionally artistic than appropriate. The central characters are high schoolers who party, rape and blame the society for their anxiety. One of the characters is named after the director as a reference to his own past. Before turning into a filmmaker Nakajima used to isolate himself from the surrounding society. He started working on the screenplay at the age of 19. The 4 year therapy session was finished in 2007, titled ’This World of Ours’, and has been playing in film festivals to mostly favourable response.

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Kimi no yubisaki (Japan, 2006) – 3/5

Real life friends Maki Horikita and Meisa Kuroki star in a 17 minute short film by Tokyo.Sora director Hiroshi Ishikawa. It’s more of an idol product for the two leads – who also releases a photobook together – than an Ishikawa movie, but it does have very nice locations and some beautiful music. The director’s attempt to bring more liveliness into the image by keeping the camera in constant slight move is a bit distracting, though. After viewing the film it would be advisable to watch the 3 minute short version which actually works better, at least after seeing the story first in long form.

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