2019 TIFF Movie Review: A GIRL MISSING (Japan/France 2019)

A Girl Missing Poster
Ichiko is a care-giver and a nurse. She provide home-care to the Oishos’ elderly woman and is almost considered part of the family as she visits and performs her tasks routinely. What is … See full summary »


Kôji Fukada

A nurse, Ichiko (Mariko Tsutsui) goes to a hair salon and asks for a particular Kazumichi Yoneda (Sosuke Ikematsu) to cut her hair, while introducing herself using a different name.  He asks her if it is her first time and she says that he had never cut her hair before.  

The explanation she tells him later on in the film is ‘revenge’  an act thought out similar to Lina Wertmuller’s 1972 excellent satire THE SEDUCTION OF MIMI.  But this film has none of the wit or bite of Wertmuller’s film.  

Instead of being suspenseful and mysterious, Fukada only bores and confuses with its dual time-line story.  It takes a while before the audience can figure out what is really going on.  The story and message is how an incident in the past – a child kidnapping can affect ones future.  But isn’t this not the case for most incidents? 

 Ichiko also has a romance and an engagement with a doctor but this is one relationship that is the most unaffectionate in any film I have seen this year.  Apparently director Kukada has his heart missing in the making of this film.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FzaXgx2tVuY


TIFF 2018 Review: KILLING (Japan 2018) ***

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2018. Go to TIFF 2018 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

Killing Poster
Set during the tumultuous mid-19th century Edo period of Japan Killing is the story of a masterless samurai or ronin named Ikematsu Sosuke. As the prevalent peace and tranquility are sure … See full summary »


Shin’ya Tsukamoto


Shin’ya Tsukamoto (screenplay)

KILLING is a samurai action flick set in the era when samurais were roaming the land seeking for Masters to serve and to pay them for fighting (for them).  Samurais were still highly respected and many men wanted to become one.  Killing tells this familiar story but with more drama and authenticity. 

 The film looks like Akira Kurosawa’s RASHOMON where a large part of the action takes place within a forest with the sun shining through the trees  Director Mokunoshin Tsuzuki (Sosuke Ikematsu) is one such samurai, a warrior without a war to fight. Impoverished by the long-lasting peace of mid-19th-century Japan, he makes a living by helping farmers in a small village.  Life in the countryside flows uneventfully, between farming chores and playful daily sparring with Ichisuke (Ryusei Maeda), the hot-blooded farmer’s son who dreams of one day becoming a valiant samurai played by director Tsukamoto himself.  But the peaceful surface of the days belies hidden passions, an unspoken attraction for Ichisuke’s sister Yu (Yu Aoi), a looming sense of danger, and many doubts.  

The swords fights are edited too fast for one to really discern what is going on, but the excitement is still present.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=Ev53MlEVIIU


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Shoplifters Poster

A family of small-time crooks take in a child they find on the street.


Hirokazu Koreeda


Hirokazu Kore-ed’s (his masterpiece AFTER LIFE and last year’s THE THIRD MURDER) latest film won him the Palm d’Or at Cannes this year and is a real gem of a movie.

It tells the story of a poor family barely etching out a decent living in the outskirts of Tokyo.  The family is comprised of a couple, a grandmother and  2 children.  The film contains two twists – story turns (not revealed in this review) that occur after the son, Shota is injured while jumping off a highway overpass in order to escape being caught from shoplifting.  This he does to save his little sister.  

What is revealed is unexpected that teaches the audience what an ideal family should be.  Kore-ed’s actors need not act – his camera does.  From, close-ups, long shots, a character’s glance, the turn of a face, Kore-ed knows exactly how to capture a moment or create an effect.  The result is a superior movie from a clear Master of a medium who is not only a great story-teller (telling a story with a clear timely message) but a superb filmmaker.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rwcb5ki1f-4

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