Posts Tagged ‘Jun Miho’

SOLANIN [SORANIN | ソラニン]

2010/09/18

http://solanin-movie.jp/

JAPAN 2010  Directed by: Miki Takahiro Manga by: Asano Inio Written by: Izumi Takahashi Produced by: Keiko Imamura, Osamu Kubota, Masaro Toyoshima  Cinematography by: Ryuto Kondo Editing by: Soichi Ueno  Music by: Asian Kung-Fu Generation  Cast: Aoi Miyazaki, Kengo Kora, Kenta Kiritani, Yoichi Kondo, Ayumi Ito, Arata, Kento Nagayama, Sayuri Iwata, Jun Miho, Kazuo Zaitsu

SOLANIN, based on the popular manga by Asano Inio, tells the story of Meiko who lives with her boyfriend Taneda in a small apartment at Tama river. They met in college six years ago, but today they both still have no clue what to do with their lives. Meiko works in an office, while Taneda is a freelance illustrator and part-time guitarist in a rock band called Roche that also features Meiko’s best friend Kato. Problems arise when both decide to quit their jobs, while Taneda can’t decide if and how to continue with the band.

When they finally complete their demo CD and get in touch with a major record company, things don’t go exactly as expected, causing Taneda to disappear and Roche going on an indefinite hiatus. Everyone’s life is in serious disarray, until Meiko discovers a song written by Taneda called “Solanin”; the band decides to carry on with Meiko replacing Taneda, giving their career another shot despite the surrounding uncertainty.

Music ain’t a rational thing, and hardly ever are “music films” too rational either. Expecting SOLANIN to impress with a complex story, flawless writing, sharp logic or an explanation why the sun rises in the East would be naïve. SOLANIN is a film about the troubles of youth and growing up, the difficulties finding your place in society, and the ultimate task for any of us: making somewhat sense of life.

Consequently, SOLANIN is a dystopian description of how Japan’s youth timidly makes their way into the world, how they respond to the challenges of growing up and what’s on their minds when dealing with the future. SOLANIN may not be about how they actively pursue their goals (for that they’d need goals in their lives in the first place), but it wonderfully depicts how Meiko et al. indefatigably are, without necessarily going anywhere.

Existing consumes most of their energy, and what’s left is used up defending their dreams. Their struggle undeniably has an irresistible charm, and is loaded with emotions we are all too familiar with. SOLANIN captures the monochromatic moods of growing up, and consequently it relates to the audience in unspoken ways, making it a beautiful experience rather than a film following the textbook.

Sometimes it all comes down to the question if you feel it. Ultimately, this will draw the line that divides the audience and decide if you’ll fall in love with SOLANIN, or not.

J.


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YURIKO NO AROMA [YURIKO’S AROMA | ユリ子のアロマ]

2010/08/17

http://www.yurikonoaroma.com/

JAPAN 2010  Directed by: Kota Yoshida Written by: Kota Yoshida Produced by: Takashi Hirota  Cinematography by: Akitoshi Minami  Cast: Noriko Eguchi, Shota Sometani, Saori Hara, Jun Miho, Noriko Kijima, Shige Kasai

YURIKO’S AROMA seems exemplary to me for illustrating the opportunities and limitations of independent cinema. As much as it can take liberties the mainstream has to refrain from as it targets a mass audience, it also has difficulties at times getting out of its self-made niche. This is not to say that independent films want to get out of their niche, but as much as they feel happy within their own comfort zone (which again lies outside the comfort zone of the mainstream) they also often tend to be too much in love with their subject and never look beyond to see if it is of any relevance to the world out there.

YURIKO’S AROMA tells the story of an aroma therapist who gets caught in an affair triangle: one of her female clients is seriously hitting on her every time she comes for treatment, while at the same time she is being attracted to a young student because his head smells so incredibly good. Like a pollen seeking bee Yuriko follows the scent of Tetsuya and eventually ends up giving him a handjob in a run down building. But that is only the beginning of a difficult process of finding out what this relationship is all about.

We have seen all sorts of weird things coming out of Japan, so in case you are used to edgy films like VISITOR Q don’t worry too much, YURIKO’S AROMA is relatively harmless. Then again, maybe that’s one of its problems: it’s not breaking taboos consequently enough to stir our thoughts while at the same time Yoshida seems to believe that he has reinvented the wheel with this unsettling love story. Maybe it’s just me but I do not enjoy seeing teenagers jerked off by an older woman. Yuriko’s motivations, her issues, her hopes and fears never adequately reflect in her behavior or succeed in making the story any meaningful.

You don’t necessarily need transgressions to create impact, a movie simply has to relate to the world no matter how small or niche it is. It is difficult to clearly identify YURIKO’s theme, as much as it is hard to identify with any of the characters. They all seem to be coming from a different planet, what they are doing just doesn’t concern us (if it would you’d probably have serious issues). I wish I could say there’s a hidden meaning embedded in the movie, but I am afraid this is not the case.

YURIKO’S AROMA is self-centered and spending all of its time on odd people, odd situations and odd actions. It shuts the audience out, never involves. Everything is what it seems to be, making YURIKO’S AROMA a documentation of a dreary existence run by poor judgment and based on even poorer values.

J.


MADE IN JAPAN: A CROWD OF THREE [KENTA TO JUN TO KAYO-CHAN NO KUNI | ケンタとジュンとカヨちゃんの国]

2010/06/05

http://www.kjk-movie.jp/

A CROWD OF THREE tells the story about two men, Kenta and Jun, who grew up together and now are fed up with their McJobs. They decide to take a break and drive up north to visit Kenta’s brother who is in prison.

The coming-of-age drama is written and directed by Tatsushi Omori. Starring Shota Matsuda, Kengo Kora, Sakura Ando, Hirofumi arai, Akira Emoto, Kaoru Kobayashi, Tasuku Emoto, Yoriko Douguchi, Mikako Tabe, Jun Miho and Masashi Yamamoto. Out in June.

J.