Friday One Sheet: Raindrops, After The Storm

Is this design simple, or eyecatching or both? A movie poster viewed through a wet window, the droplets generally distorting the man and the child. It should be said, that unabashedly, I do love Hirokazu Kore-Eda’s gently marvelous After The Storm. The concrete of the apartment complex forms much of the negative space, has been toned warm by the designer here. In fact the whole poster has a warm tone, which is somewhat at odds with what you think of with damp, wet weather, but is very much in sync with the tone of the film.

Not pictured in the poster is the wonderful Kirin Kiki, who is the boys grandmother. But then again, is she the one looking out the window?

Furthermore, while this feels more like a festival poster than a full release poster, I find the placement of the title (and Cannes laurel) to be highly satisfying in the centre, and much lower (or higher) than is typical of key art. It is a thousand-fold improvement over this lazy mess.

Lastly, while it may be a cliche, I cannot get enough of cherry blossoms in Japanese cinema. See also Sweet Bean, co-incidentally, also starring Kirin.

Cannes 2016 Lineup! It’s chock-a-block!

It appears to be a great year for international cinema, if the line-up for Cannes is any indication. New films from Nicolas Winding Refn, Woody Allen, Jeff Nichols, Park Chan-Wook, Steven Spielberg, Andrea Arnold, Ken Loach, Pedro Almodovar, Olivier Assayas, Hirokazu Kore-Eda, Shane Black, Jim Jarmusch, Paul Verhoeven, The Dardennes Brothers, and young canuck, Xavier Dolan. And that is just getting started.

Woody Allen’s star-dense Cafe Society will kick off the festival on May 11th with the following films playing in competition.

“Toni Erdmann” (Maren Ade)
“Julieta” (Pedro Almodovar)
“American Honey” (Andrea Arnold)
“Personal Shopper” (Olivier Assayas)
“The Unknown Girl” (Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardennes)
“It’s Only The End Of The World” (Xavier Dolan)
“Slack Bay” (Bruno Dumont)
“Paterson” (Jim Jarmusch)
“Staying Vertical” (Alain Guiraudie)
“Aquarius” (Kleber Mendonça Filho)
“Mal De Pierres” (Nicole Garcia)
“I, Daniel Blake” (Ken Loach)
“Ma’ Rosa” (Brillante Mendoza)
“Bacalaureat” (Cristian Mungiu)
“Loving” (Jeff Nichols)
“The Handmaiden” (Park Chan-Wook)
“The Last Face” (Sean Penn)
“Sierra Nevada” (Cristi Puiu)
“Elle” (Paul Verhoeven)
“The Neon Demon” (Nicholas Winding Refn)

The rest of the line-up (those out-of-competition for the Golden Palm) are tucked under the seat.

Would you like to know more…?

TIFF 2015 Review: Our Little Sister

I want to bundle this movie up and hug it. Tightly. For a long time.

That was my first thought after seeing Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Our Little Sister (also known as Umimachi Diary or “Diary Of A Seaside Town”) due to its joy, charm and humanity. I simply wanted to extend my experience with it and let all of its wonder continue to wash over me.

Don’t take that as indication that the film is slight or sickly sweet though. It’s neither. The emotions, reactions and behaviours are all very real and relatable (regardless of your cultural background) and the story of 3 sisters discovering they have a 14 year-old half-sister gets to core aspects of family – what we share, how we relate to each other and how we make assumptions about our family members. The film drifts in and out of gentle melodrama at times with musical cues denoting the prevalent emotion of the scene, but none of these moments felt forced or constructed purposely to tell the viewer what to feel. Kore-eda’s style is always there to support the story and characters. And what wonderful characters…

The three sisters (ranging from early 20s to early 30s) all live together in the old family home and have different personalities and approaches to life. Though they all fit certain templates – eldest is the maternal responsible one, middle child has bad taste in men and drinks to excess, youngest is a bit goofy – they each have fully-fleshed out characteristics that make them endearing, interesting and a bit frustrating. Kind of like everyone’s own family…Though their Dad is on his third wife by the time they attend (with little emotion) his funeral, their half-sister Suzu was actually the daughter of his second wife (who had passed away previously). This clues the older siblings into realizing that she won’t get any attention or love at all in her remaining non-blood family. Even though they have just met her, Sachi impulsively invites Suzu to live with them and the household brightens considerably with the teenager’s arrival. They share the house with their Great Aunt and the mid-section of the film is chock full of wonderful family dynamics scenes – ranging from cute to passive aggressive. Behind all of this is the spectre of the mother (Dad’s first wife) of the three adult sisters, how she fits into their lives and what might transpire when a larger family gathering will take place.

I will readily admit that I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Kore-eda fanboy, so my biases are clear. I adore pretty much everything I’ve seen by him because he builds characters with whom you not only want to spend time, but also desire to discover more fully and who stay with you long afterwards. In the case of Our Little Sister, the screenplay was actually adapted from a manga by the original author Akimi Yoshida so I can’t give full credit to Kore-eda. But his ability to extract wonderfully natural performances from his actors continues here and makes the film feel “lived in”. Especially when it clearly revels in the small details of family life and traditions as the story winds its way through all the seasons of a full year. You can almost taste the plum wine they make from the fruits of their property’s trees and its oh-so-sweet. Not saccharine, but sweet.

Review: Like Father, Like Son

Like Father, Like Son
The complexities of each individual family unit are boundless. Both child and parent interact in unique ways, forging memories and developing routines. We make plans. We make promises. We form unshakable bonds. But the ties that bind run deeper than blood, and often stand strongest on ethereal and sometimes inexplicable levels. It’s because of such connections that we have no doubt as to who our family is. Whether the family you’re born into, or that which you make for yourself, there’s an undeniable gravitational pull. In rare cases, mistakes have been made. Children swapped, and taken home with the wrong parent. Sometimes errors are caught. Others go unnoticed. Such is the premise for Hirokazu Kore-eda’s latest venture into the family unit, Like Father, Like Son.

Ryoto Nonomiya (Masaharu Fukuyama) is a wealthy, successful Tokyo architect. He spends most of his time at work, in order to provide for his wife, Midori (Machiko Ono), and their six-year-old son, Keita (Keita Ninomiya). Their life seems perfect: a wonderful career, a beautiful condo, piano lessons, tutoring, and a future to plan. Their plans for Keita are derailed when the maternity hospital where he was born contacts the parents, informing them of a grave error. At birth, Keita was mistakenly swapped with another infant born that same day. The son they have is not their own. Due to traditional values, and presumably legal matters, Midori and Ryoto must meet with Keita’s birth parents in order to discuss a trade.

The other parents, Yudai (Rirî Furankî) and Yukari Saiki (Yôko Maki), live a modest life. Yudai runs an electronics shop, while Yukari works at a fast food restaurant. Ryusei (Shôgen Hwang) is the Nonomiya’s birth son, one of the Saiki’s three children. A rambunctious boy, energetic and eager to play, he seems a stark contrast to Keita, a surprisingly disciplined and poised 6-year-old.

The hospital’s lawyer urges the parents to make their decision to exchange the children quickly, with entrance to elementary school looming. “They’re not pets,” replies Yudai in amused disbelief. The decision is a difficult one, made increasingly complicated by tradition and pride. Would you like to know more…?

THE MASSIVE ROWTHREE TIFF13 SUMMARY

Welcome to our sixth annual Toronto International Film Festival Mega-Sized wrap-up post. Getting several Row Three contributors and friends to provide over 100 capsule reviews and a quick identifier tag for [BEST], [LOVED], [LIKED], [DISLIKED], [DISAPPOINTED], [BAFFLED], [WALKED OUT], [HATED] and [WORST]. Collectively we – Kurt Halfyard, Matt Brown, Matt Price, Ryan McNeil, Bob Turnbull, Mike Rot and Ariel Fisher – saw a tonne of stuff and hopefully this list can act as a ‘rough guide’ for films that are coming down the pike, to a cinema near you or perhaps one of the many streaming VOD avenues or even one of those increasingly antiquated shiny discs in the next 12 months.

THE SHORT VERSION:

Personal BEST: UNDER THE SKIN [Kurt], LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON [Mike Rot], WHY DON’T YOU PLAY IN HELL [Matt B.], STARRED UP [Bob], THE HUSBAND [Ariel], 12 YEARS A SLAVE [Ryan], and SUNSHINE ON LEITH [Matt P.].

Personal WORST: BLOOD TIES [Kurt], PARKLAND [Mike Rot], MOEBIUS [Matt B.], THE FAKE [Bob], WORDS & PICTURES [Ariel], CINEMANOVELS [Ryan], and REAL [Matt P.].

Consensus Picks: ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE, GRAVITY, 12 YEARS A SLAVE, R100, iNUMBER NUMBER, JOE, BLUE RUIN and MYSTERY ROAD.

The ‘MASSIVE’ version is tucked under the seat. Grab a cup of tea or coffee.

Would you like to know more…?

TIFF Review: Like Father, Like Son

TIFF13LikeFatherLikeSon

If you know any 6 year olds, you know that responding “It doesn’t matter” when they ask “Why?” is pretty pointless. Regardless of any context, the comeback is bound to be circular in nature. So it says a lot about the parental experience of Ryota (one of the fathers in Hirokazu Kore-eda’s latest film Like Father, Like Son) when he does just such a thing. After learning that his 6 year-old son was switched at birth, he, his wife and the other two parents decide to try exchanging the boys for a few weekends to judge whether they should make the swap permanent. When little Ryusei (his weekend guest) pesters him with a barrage of questions, you’d think Ryota would have had enough experience to properly handle them. The fact that he doesn’t is how Kore-eda enters into his exploration of what it means to be a father.

In the director’s honest Q&A following the screening, he admits that he based the rarely-home and work-focused Ryota on himself. As he realized that he had missed some crucial moments in his own daughter’s life, he began to work out the details of this affecting story of these two families. Ryota is a man driven by success, status and money. He feels that if one cannot be the best at something, well, why bother even doing it. To reinforce this point with his son Keita, Ryota sends him to cram school solely in order to pass an interview for private school. Though diligently following the rules of the household, Keita never quite measures up to Ryota’s expectations, so when he and his wife learn of what happened six years ago, he mutters “Now it all makes sense…”. It’s almost a relief to him to hear that Keita isn’t his true flesh and blood. If there was any doubt that Ryota has a warped view of fatherhood, it’s dispelled in that moment. The movie doesn’t necessarily brand him as a terrible person though – after all, he’s surrounded by male role models (his father, his boss, the strongly patriarchal society) that believe in the preservation of status roles and the importance of respect while also discouraging emotion and kindness. Ryota’s own father even counsels him to quickly make the exchange of the boys and then never to see that other family again.

Would you like to know more…?

First TIFF Titles Announced. Lots of Depth in here.

New films from Jonathan Glazer, Jean-Marc Vallée, Alphonso Cuaron, Richard Ayoade, Kelly Reichardt, Jim Jarmusch, Roger Mitchell, Bertrand Tavernier, Lukas Moodysson, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Don McKellar, Hirokazu Kore-Eda and Sylvain Chomet! The 2013 edition of the Toronto International Film Festival just dropped its first big wave of titles, and if you are local to Toronto or take film festival oriented vacations, and know the names of film directors from around the world, then you are probably already counting the days until the big festival of festivals begins. The big list below is the usual style of lead-off TIFF press release featuring high profile filmmakers in the Galas and Special Presentations programmes. The smaller titles of world cinema, genre films, and more experimental stuff will come in future waves, but take a close gander down below and see just how deep the line-up is already:

All Is By My Side (UK), dir John Ridley
Attila Marcel (France), dir Sylvain Chomet
Bad Words (US) dir Jason Bateman
Belle (UK), dirs Amma Asante
Adele: Chapters 1 & 2 (France), Abdellatif Kechiche
Burning Bush (Czech Republic), dir Agnieszka Holland
Can A Song Save Your Life? (US), dir John Carney
Cannibal (Spain-Romania-Russia-France), dir Manuel Martín Cuenca
Dallas Buyers Club (US), dir Jean-Marc Vallée
Devil’s Knot (US), dir Atom Egoyan
The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby: Him and Her (US), dir Ned Benson
Dom Hemingway (UK), dir Richard Shepard
Don Jon (US), dir Joseph Gordon-Levitt
The Double (UK), dir Richard Ayoade
Exit Marrakech (Germany), dir Caroline Link
Felony (Australia), dir Matthew Savvily
For Those Who Can Tell No Tales (Bosnia and Herzegovina) dir Jasmila Žbanić
Gloria (Chile-Spain), dir Sebastián Lelio, Chile/Spain
Going Away (France), dir Nicole Garcia
Gravity (US-UK), dir Alfonso Cuarón,
The Great Beauty (Italy), dir Paolo Sorrentino,
Half Of A (Nigeria-UK), dir Ivi Bandele
Hateship Loveship (US), dir Liza Johnson
L’intrepido (Italy), dir Gianni Amelio
Ida (Poland), dir Pawel Pawlikowski
The Invisible Woman (UK), dir Ralph Fiennes
Joe (US), dir David Gordon Green
Labor Day (US), dir Jason Reitman
Like Father, Like Son (Japan) dir Hirokazu Kore-Eda
Man Of Tai Chi (US-China), dir Keanu Reeves
Mary, Queen Of Scots (France-Switzerland), dir Thomas Imbach
Mystery Road (Australia), dir Ivan Sen
Night Moves (US), dir Kelly Reichardt
Omar (Palestine), dir Hany Abu-Assad
One Chance (US), dir David Frankel
Only Lovers Left Alive (US), dir Jim Jarmusch
The Past (France-Italy), dir Asghar Farhadi
Philomena (UK), dir Stephen Frears
Pioneer (Norway), dir Erik Skjoldbjærg
Quai d’Orsay (France), dir Bertrand Tavernier
REAL (Japan), dir Kiyoshi Kurasawa
Starred Up (UK), dir David Mackenzie
Those Happy Years (Italy), dir Daniele Luchetti
Tracks (UK, Australia), dir John Curran
Under The Skin (US-UK), dir Jonathan Glazer
Violette (France/Belgium), dir Martin Provost
Visitors (US) dir Godfrey Reggio
Walesa. Man Of Hope (Poland), dir Andrzej Wajda
We Are The Best! (Sweden), dir Lukas Moodysson
Le Weekend (UK), dir Roger Michell
You Are Here (US), dir Matthew Weiner
Young and Beautiful (France-Belgium), dir Francois Ozon
The Art Of The Steal (Canada) dir Jonathan Sobol
August: Osage County (US), dir John Wells
Cold Eyes (South Korea), dirs Cho Ui-seok and Kim Byung-seo
The Grand Seduction (Canada), dir Don McKellar
Kill Your Darlings (US), dir John Krokidas
The Love Punch (France), dir Joel Hopkins
The Lunchbox (India-France-Germany), dir Ritesh Batra
The Railway Man (Australia-UK), dir Jonathan Teplitzky
The Right Kind Of Wrong (Canada) dir Jeremiah Chechik
Rush (UK-Germany), dir Ron Howard
Shuddh Desi Romance (India), dir Maneesh Sharma
Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon (US), dir Mike Myers