Quick Takes #9

September 17, 2013

Yukuharu (2012)

Jason Gray’s directorial debut, shot in Tokyo with a Japanese cast. Two elementary school students with a crush on each other share the walk home and discover they know each others’ secrets.

The 13 minute short film is very “Japanese” in its colourful and effective visual style contrasting spring (cherry blossom) and fall. The young cast is quite good and the film holds the attention well. Ultimately, however, the film is not quite as successful as it could be. Gray uses music and visual effects a bit too obviously to underline moods, and the storyline becomes predictable towards the end.

Nevertheless, it’s a pleasing small film for the most part. Hopefully Gray will get an opportunity to direct more and improve his delivery.

River (2012)

A teenage brother and sister live together but hardly say a word to each other. He doesn’t even know her phone number. Then, one day he finds her bag at the riverside and begins to suspect something she never told anyone has happened to her.

An interesting psychological short film (23 min) by the potential future promise Ikuro Tomeda. The director combines quiet youth drama and slight mystery, with the emphasis firmly on the former. Above all, the film is a portrayal of alienation and lack of communication between two people. Captivatingly directed, Tomeda cuts the dialogue to the minimum. Cinematography would benefit from better quality digital video, though.

Transferring (Tenkousei, 2012)

Beautifully filmed short film follows two alienated high school girls who become friends. The 20 minute film is a Shunji Iwai / Jun Ichikawa esque addition to the distinctly Japanese sub-genre of high school films focusing on friendship between girls. Director Junichi Kanai handles the material as skilfully and delicately as the genre’s masters.

Although shot digitally, the film looks great with its slightly greenish hue. The two girls are well portrayed by Riko Masuda and Aoi Morikawa (who also starred in this year’s not-so-good Schoolgirl Complex movie adaptation).

Director Kanai was awarded as the best director at the 2012 Sapporo International Short Film Festival for this film, and only a few weeks later again received a special price at Pusan International Film Festival. His feature length debut, Yurusenai, aitai (2013) hits Japanese theatres later this year. A director to keep an eye on.

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