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This was an interesting watch, as it contained three short films within it. What's notable about this film are the three directors involved, as each one presents his own unique view of the urban metropolis of Tokyo. To tell the truth, I really watched this for Michel Gondry, the director who's responsible for  "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," but I actually ended up enjoying all three films. Each story is depicted in a surreal, bizarre manner. It's probably best to watch the trailer to get a good idea of what the film is like..



Synopsis-
Interior Design- Hiroko and Akira, a young couple, go to Tokyo to take advantage of all it has to offer. The city presents all kinds of different problems, forcing the couple to overstay their welcome at a friend's house. Akira seems to be successful in finding his niche in the city, but Hiroko, unable to cope with the new challenges of Tokyo, starts to feel like a useless burden. She starts to questions who she is.. and then one morning, she starts to transform...

Opinion- I like this part, maybe because I could easily relate to some of the things Hiroko feels. She doesn't really have any practical skills to make money with, and she's unable to find comfort or support in those around her. This causes her to feel alienated, resulting in a transformation that eventually makes her feel useful. An interesting example of how a metropolis can change people. This also portrayed Tokyo in the most realistic manner, at it showed the characters running around, trying to find apartments, jobs, and parking spaces.

Merde - A strange man (who we learn is named Merde) pops out of the sewer and creates chaos in the city. He runs around licking schoolgirls, knocking people over, and stealing money and eating it. No one knows where he comes from, and he quickly disappears back into the sewers as fast as he appears. One day, he does something so maniacal that it forces him to be hunted down. This results in city-wide chaos, as everyone either starts to hate, love, or worship him.

Opinion - What a crazy film. This really is all about anarchy. Merde is a force of chaos, and it's only made worse by the frenzy the media has whipped up. I'm not really sure what the point of this movie was, to tell the truth. I think it's meant to show how chaotic a city can get, especially when a force such as Merde is introduced. It got everyone involved, even those who had nothing to do with it. It's sort of reminiscent of the OJ Simpson trials in Los Angeles... People easily get caught up in the chaos, due to the media... or perhaps due to the social settings of what a city really is.

Shaking Tokyo-  A hikikomori orders pizza one day. As the pizza is being delivered, an earthquake happens, causing the delivery girl to pass out. This forces the man to make his first human contact in 10 years. He manages to wake her up, but as a result, falls in love with her. The delivery girl then promptly leaves, giving him one last look as she drives away on her motorbike.  The man wants to meet with her again, but realizes he has to step outside into the city to do that.

Opinion- This is probably the most "Japanese" of the three films, because of its take on the hikikomori which is unique to Japan. It's interesting how an earthquake can 'move' people to do the things they do. Maybe it takes a powerful force such as that to make people realize things? I was surprised by what the man encountered when he stepped outside his door for the first time. It was an interesting vision of what Japan could turn into.

Overall, I liked "Tokyo!"  It can easily be watched by people who know nothing about Japanese culture. The quirkiness of Japan is mixed in with the bizarre ideas of the different directors, and it turns into a surreal portrait of what Tokyo is. I guess that's why this film feels artsy at its heart. 

I also realize that there are very few movies that I dislike. Most of the things I watch I usually consider as good. I usually avoid watching things that I don't think I would like... (like Transformers 2).
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I randomly picked a new movie to watch today called "Adrift in Tokyo," and I found myself surprised. The actor, Joe Odagiri, who played Ginko in "Mushi-shi" which I had watched yesterday, was also starring in the movie I had picked today. Coincidence? Maybe... maybe not. In this movie, he plays a lazy college student named Fumiya who's knee-deep in debt. One night, he's visited by a loan shark named Fukuhara, who threatens him to pay up. Realizing that the lazy college kid has no way to do this, Fukuhara makes him a strange deal... to accompany him on a walking tour around Tokyo. With no choice, Fumiya accepts the offer, and so begins their adventure.

It's hard to talk about this movie without giving away all the good stuff. Basically, this is a movie about two guys who travel around and encounter strange and often silly situations. Over the course of the movie, they come to learn about the other person's past, and eventually form a bond with each other. The main draw of the movie comes from learning about the two characters, and seeing what new thing will pop up in front of them. Their journey is very aimless, but it's filled with many lighthearted moments. In spite of this, the movie doesn't feel too saccharine, and it even sort of makes fun of itself (or at least Fumiya) for being touching.  This is a movie that tries to help us see the joys of both the big and little things in life.

Also, like I've seen in many Japanese movies, there's a taste of loneliness within the characters. Abandoned as a child by his family, Fumiya has lived his life without knowing certain things such as what it's like going to a zoo or riding a roller coaster. Fukuhara, on the other hand, suffers from marital problems with his wife, which leaves him longing for better times. Like I said before though, the movie is lighthearted, and it never dwells upon these things too heavily... and it also sort of resolves these issues.

I have to say that out of all the movies I've watched so far, "Adrift in Tokyo" is my favorite one. The laid-back, traveling style is something I really enjoyed. As a child, it was my dream to just wander around and have random adventures, and watching this movie felt like I was living a guilty pleasure of mine. It reminds me a lot of another movie called "Kikujiro," which I also really liked. They're both quirky movies, but I think "Adrift in Tokyo" has a more balanced pace to it. It never strays too far from the end goal of the film.










Today...
We started to furnish our new house with portraits and paintings, and it's starting to feel more like home than just another house now. On the opposite end, my old house feels cold and barren without the things that used to adorn its walls.
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Continuing with my movie watching bonanza... I watched the film "Mushi-shi" today.  The film is based after the award-winning anime/manga series of the same name, so the stories that are covered in the film are very similar.to those found there. 

It's hard for me to write about "Mushi-shi," because I don't really know where to start. I went into movie already having watched the anime, so I understood all the terminology fairly easily. I'm not sure how others would react to it. I'm pretty sure that some newcomers who watch the movie would be lost from the start.

The movie covers the story of Ginko, the young man with silver/gray hair.  As a mushi-shi, he acts like a wandering doctor, helping those who are afflicted by the strange creatures known as mushi. As I was watching the film, I couldn't help but make comparisons to the anime. The anime was episodic in nature, so each story was contained within itself. In the movie, the different stories merge together, mostly surrounding the plight of Ginko and his dealings with the mushi Tokiyami (Eternal Darkness). This was the main difference between the anime and film, as the film continues the story that was only shortly covered in the anime.

The anime was very atmospheric and mysterious, with each story having a slight sense of melancholy. The movie was lacking that melancholic atmosphere, as it had a stronger pull as a supernatural detective story set in ancient Japan. There's a slight horror factor too... as some of the scenes would have been really creepy if taken in a suspenseful-horror context.  The pacing is a little slow, so anyone who's not interested in this kind of thing would probably have no business watching it. There are a few intense parts, but overall, the story takes its time in developing.

It was kinda cool to see the things from the series reenacted in real life. The stories were slightly altered though... As an example, the solution for curing the girl with the horns differed, and it left me surprised (not in a bad way). The slight changes are worth seeing for any fan who enjoyed the series.

Overall, I think the film, "Mushi-shi," does a good job covering the premise of the story. It's not over-the-top like other anime-turned-movie types, and stands fairly well as its own film. Even if you don't like anime, this is still a film to consider watching. This also might be a film I'd consider showing to those who are interested in supernatural elements that aren't all about suspense or horror. For people who don't want to watch the anime or read the manga, this is a good alternative into the world of mushi-shi.










Today...
Yes! We were able to move the refrigerator today. It wasn't as heavy as I thought it was... it was just extremely bulky. I was almost scared it wouldn't fit through the doors. My dad also worked on the roofing while I tried to fix the bathroom sinks. With all the renovations we're doing, we might as well have made a new house from scratch. >_<  But yes, we're about 70% done with everything. Sigh, I still feel really homesick for my old house. It still feels like 'home' to me.

I don't know why I've been watching these movies lately. I guess it helps the monotony of the slow process of moving. Hm... 
*adds some pictures to 'Rec' entry...*
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Watched a Japanese film called "Life Can Be So Wonderful," consisting of five short stories, each dealing with the themes of loneliness and melancholy. It actually feels more like a moving poem, as the dialogue is introspective, contemplative, and poetically written. The camerawork is stylishly poetic and somber, while the music builds upon this atmosphere. Overall, it feels classy.. like going to a jazz club and listening to the blues all night while drinking wine or scotch.

The stories vary, from one being about a "barfly," who lives each day just to drink, dreaming of the one day he can have his own private bath in his own house... to the story of a young woman who has lived her life with her mother, but never really knowing much about her.  Each story deals with a yearning for something more in life, whether it's meaning or freedom or something else. This may sound ironic to the title, but it's really not.  The stories are never too depressing or overwhelming, as they deal with scenarios in day-to-day life. In the end, each story has a small lingering sense of hope, if you choose to see it. The film is very subdued, but I think it succeeds in conveying its message.

This is a niche film, so it won't appeal to everyone. It's meant for a certain mature audience (there's also nudity in it, but it's done tastefully). I would recommend this to those who like the quieter, gentler things in life.  It requires a little focus to get involved, and it did lose my attention in the beginning for a minute. However, I stuck with it, and I found it to be really beautiful. It's not something I'd likely watch again for some time, but it's probably something I'd pull out one cold autumn evening when the time is right.










Moving continues..
Two more days passed by. We spent more time renovating our new house instead of moving our things. More drilling, replacing pipes, screwing screws... *dies*  It's also becoming alarmingly apparent how much smaller our new house is. Room space has essentially been cut in half, and we're forced to pile things on top of each other as we try to get everything organized. We still have about a month before they completely shut us out of our old house, so there's still some time left to fix everything. Not much else is going on besides that. At night, I just try to relax and rest up for the next day....
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My dad felt sick today, so we decided to take it easy with the moving. Instead, we went to Ikea where I was able to pick up a few things for my room.

I did watch the Spanish horror movie, "Rec." I have to say that it was actually pretty cool. It didn't seem too over-the-top, and it still managed to keep a really disturbing feel to it. The tension slowly climbs as the movie progresses, until it all goes to hell in the last final moments. It seemed a little predictable to me, or maybe it's because I'm a little used to horror movies now? The story follows a female reporter named Angela, and her cameraman as they spend a night covering the night shift of firemen. They tag along on one of the routine emergency calls to investigate a building. Soon they're caught up in a frenzy of panic, as the building is sealed off by authorities because of a viral outbreak inside. Anyone infected immediately turns really aggressive and just wants to bite people... *cough zombies cough.*  We see everything through the video camera's perspective, and this makes the movie feel incredibly claustrophobic and intense. It's disturbing how the video camera zooms into the really gruesome scenes and doesn't turn away at all. Part of me was thinking.. "Argh, what are you doing? Turn around and RUN!" but I think that's what made the movie fun for me.



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