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Koe no katachi (2016)
A worthy attempt at dealing with bullying and disability in the classroom
This is the first film that I've seen by Naoko Yamada and while in some ways I'm impressed in others I think it was gallant failure.
Starting with the good, like most modern Japanese anime it looks great and at times simply stunning. The voice actors do a great job and at over two hours it's great value for money. It might also be worth mentioning at the screening I went to the cinema was about half full, which is a good turn out for a sub-titled animated feature.
Unfortunately it's not a film that I particularly want to watch again and there a number of reasons for that. While I'm aware that it's based on a manga, it feels too long and I'm sorry to say depressing. Most of the characters are people that you wouldn't want to spend much time with and there is maybe only one scene that could be called funny. Also just because it's long doesn't mean that all the conflicts are going to be resolved.
Don't get me wrong if you're an anime fan you're probably going to like this, but I can't see it appealing to a wider audience.
A moving and thought provoking romance outside ordinary reality
I saw this film on holiday in Bangkok recently and it was so much better than I thought it was going to be. I didn't have too much trouble working out the 'twist', truth is the title is a spoiler anyway. But that didn't stop the enjoyment, in fact it made you think more about the situation the two lead characters were in and the consequences that would mean to them.
In fact my only regret is that this won't get seen by a wider audience, or perhaps worse still it will get remade into a version much worse than this one. For now all I can say is see it, it will make you realize how much more complicated life could be.
Kono sekai no katasumi ni (2016)
A view of war from the eyes of a civilian
This is by no means the first animated film from Japan about life in that country during the Second World War. Isao Takahata's Grave of the Fireflies came out in 1988, and while there are similarities, there are also many differences.
The lead character is called Suzu and we follow her life in and around Kure and Hiroshima before, during and after Japan's involvement in the Second World War. While there is no mention of the attack on Pearl Harbour, America's attacks on mainland Japan are shown in graphic detail. The hardship and suffering of the civilian population is the main focus of the film and punches are definitely not pulled.
All in all a great animated film, personally I'm going to try to watch more films directed by Sunao Katabuchi.
The 7.39 (2014)
The loneliness of the medium distance commuter
The 7.39 is the latest screenplay to hit the (TV) screens from the pen of David (One day) Nicholls comes across as an update or homage to Brief Encounter. The 1945 original is rightly considered a classic, written by Noel Coward and directed by David Lean it's very much a film of it's time.
This was shown recently over two nights on BBC1 and follows a similar pattern with the two leads being tempted into cheating on their partners. David Morrissey is well cast as the middle management office worker married to Olivia Coleman with two teenage children. Sheridan Smith is equally effective as a personal trainer recently engaged to Sean Maguire who clearly works out.
Knowing David Nicholls this won't be a "and they all lived happily ever after" ending and it isn't. But the journey is what this film is all about and it's quite a ride, with highs and lows along the way as the miss-matched pair get to know each other better.
There is not much humour or nudity in the film but it's definitely an adult film with consequences for actions taken, it also works as a story much better than the film adaptation of One day did.
Overall 8/10 highly recommended.
The Host (2013)
A worthy adaptation
Andrew Niccol has managed the the difficult task of condensing Stephenie Meyer's lengthy (and it has to be said, at times tedious) novel into a fine movie. He's kept in all the important plot points and left out a lot of back story, mostly about the Souls and the other planets they have settled on.
The cast has been well chosen, particularly Saoirse Ronan in the lead role as Wanda/Melanie and Diane Kruger as the Seeker. The guys tend to be more two-dimensional eye candy with the exception of William Hurt as Jeb who fills the role admirably.
I thought the chrome plated vehicles that the seekers use and the Soul's spaceport where nice touches. I was less impressed with the survivors cave, it was nothing like it was described in the book. Far too luxurious for survivors hiding out from an invading force in my opinion.
Overall I recommend it highly, but make sure that you read the book to fill in the missing gaps.