Friday, July 25, 2008

50th movie!

I have now watched over 50 Japanese movies since coming to Japan!

Since it's been a while since my last Movie Madness post, I thought I should honour the occasion with another set of movie synopses. ^_^ Again, the titles are in no particular order, although the numbering is continued from the previous post:

6. Daitenden no Yoru ni (Until the Lights Come Back) - On Christmas Eve, a rogue satellite takes out a power plant in Tokyo and plunges the city into darkness. Inspired by the 2003 blackout in New York City, the film follows several characters through the night, until the lights come back. The six stories of love and friendship are well crafted, thoughtfully paced and nicely intertwined, and the actors do a fine job, but somehow the movie failed to evoke any deep emotions. It was enjoyable enough, but at the end I was left feeling "ho hum" rather than touched.

7. Sukida* - Two high school classmates trapped in the awkward stage between friendship and love are suddenly separated before they can resolve their feelings. Will they be able to finally work things out when they meet 17 years later? Although the story was a tad too melodramatic for my usual tastes, the film was so artfully directed--minimal dialogue with most of the feeling conveyed through subtle but expressive acting--I was easily able to overlook the plot defects. Most importantly, the actors successfully captured and portrayed the insecurities, awkwardness, and bittersweetness of first love.

8. Waterboys* - One of my favourite Japanese movies!! Based on a true story, this is the story of a group of misfits and losers at an all-boys high school who find redemption through sport. An old plot, but the twist? They form a boys synchronized swimming team! Although the plot predictably follows the structure of any other underdog sport story, the movie is nonetheless highly entertaining: the characters are endearing; the jokes/gags are funny; and the grand finale is awesome. Highly recommended!

9. Tennen Kokekko (A Gentle Breeze in the Village)***: Based on a popular manga, Tennen Kokekko is a high school romance set in rural Japan. MIGITA Soyo is the oldest student in her small school--a combined elementary and junior high school with only six students, each in a different grade! She (along with all the other students) is thrilled when a transfer student from Tokyo, OSAWA Hiromi arrives, particularly since he is in the same grade as her.

Although they get off to a rocky start, predictably, a relationship between the two gradually develops. It was a decent film, but I thought the start of the relationship felt really forced. Osawa seems to go from complete indifference--the cool city guy who condescends to join the rural kids because they make such a fuss over him--to aggressive interest in Migita in the blink of an eye. I couldn't help but feel that he only became interested in her because she was convenient--a rather fatal flaw in a love story! Still, I guess it's a testament to the acting and direction (apart from that fatal flaw) of the movie that I would probably consider buying it if the price was right.

10. Koko ni Iru Koto** - AIBA Shino is a young career woman working in the creative marketing division of a Tokyo sales company. Her ambitions are dashed, however, when her affair with one of the company's top managers is discovered by his wife who puts an end to the relationship with a payoff of five hundred thousand yen and a transfer (demotion) to the sales division of the company's Osaka branch. Aiba plans to return to Tokyo as soon as the money runs out and makes every effort to hasten her departure date by living in an expensive hotel and even placing a huge bet on a long shot at a local boat race track but ends up winning enough to keep her in Osaka for a long time. An eccentric but charismatic fellow transferee, MAENO Etsuro takes a (platonic) interest in her and, through a series of jaunts about the city, helps her to learn to appreciate simply being in every moment. Both the comedy and "serious drama" of the story are portrayed with a deftly light touch, making it a thoroughly satisfying experience.

* - I own the movie.
** - I want to buy the movie, but am waiting until I find it on sale at a reasonable price.
*** - I would consider buying the movie if I found it on sale at a good price.

When I'm home in Canada...

It's funny how after one year, I still feel the need to add some sort of qualifier to the noun "home." I mean, my apartment in Japan is "home", but Mississauga is also still "home." I wonder how many years it would take for me to think of Japan as "home" without any qualifiers (not that I want to put it to the test, though!).

Anyway, I'll be back in ONE WEEK!! It feels like a both a long and short time away. Long because there's so much I need to get done before I leave, and short because one week really is no time at all (especially when you're busy).

Compared to my last visit home (Liz & Alan's Excellent Adventure), I've got a lot less already planned for my time in Canada. Aug 2nd I'll need to get to Square One bright and early to get my driver's license renewed (it expired in April!), then Aug 3-7 is WAY camp. Then hopefully on the 9th I'll be meeting up with Jen and Syv. I've got doctor and dentist appointments on Aug 11th (and hopefully I'll be able to get my health card renewed on that day as well). After that, the next thing I've got a date for is the softball tourney on Aug 16th.

Of course there are other things I've got planned but don't have a date for:
- family dinner (with Nathan)
- meeting up with my friend(s) from teacher's college
- BSGE (Best Small Group EVAR!) reunion
- meeting up with a former colleague from Woodlands

Then there the things I'd like to do, but haven't yet arranged:
- dinner with an old family friend
- a trip to the Monster Factory
- checking out a friend's coffee shop, Manic Coffee
- dinner with school friends
- visiting my old workplace (Scotiabank)

Man, now that I'm sending out emails and trying to get dates to meet up with people, it seems like I'm not going to be as free as I thought I'd be. -_-; I don't know if that's a good thing, or a bad thing. I mean, it's good if I have a full schedule because that means I'll have made good use of my time back home. On the other hand, second term is pretty hectic, so it'd be nice to be well rested before going back to work. Ah well, I guess that (getting rest) is what my afternoons will be for.

The hard part about growing up is that people's free time gets limited to nights and weekends. Even though I'll be in Canada from the 1st to the 19th (almost three weeks!), in practical terms, I only have 17 full days (and nights) to work with since I arrive at about 11:30pm on the 1st and fly out early in the afternoon on the 19th. When you consider that five days and four nights will be taken up by WAY camp, that leaves me with only 12 full days and nights to work with. @_@ Hard to believe I was worried that the trip would be too long!

Now that I've started planning, I'm getting excited about coming home!! I can't wait to see everyone!! And to go to church!! (I haven't been since April, but that's a story for another post... ^^;;) And to be able to READ!!! I'm definitely going to be hitting the library on free afternoons!!