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89 reviews in total 
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Radio Love (2012)
I will listen to the radio sometimes, 30 March 2015

I enjoyed it. This is a story of a real radio DJ, Yokoyama Yuji, in Hiroshima, who acts as himself. This means, his radio program is actually done as you see in this film. So, who first put together such a film, himself or someone around him? Anyhow, in his program, the DJ talks like a machine gun and replies to e-mails from the listeners. The DJ calls himself as "genius Yokoyama", but he recognizes that radio is losing listeners year after year by TV and the internet. The plot is somehow strange. In the beginning I felt the film childish. But after seeing it, I enjoyed and felt refreshing. Well sometimes I will listen to the radio.

This movie requires longer time to assimilate it, 25 September 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Lutheran church is the national religion in Finland. As a Lutheran, I was interested in this movie, which is set at a church in Finland. I think the main theme of the movie is the concept of love in Corinthian I chapter 13, which the pastor recites in preparation of a wedding ceremony: If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. *snip* And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. The ending is surprising and moving. Brightness and darkness of light, rain and cloud, are effectively used in the impressive cinematography, typical in North European movies. The high rate in IMDb is no question.

However, when I saw the movie, I couldn't simply be moved to tears. There are many questions in this movie, and I couldn't help thinking about them. In fact, it makes you think too much. Let me take an example from the 'storyline' on IMDb: Father Jacob spends his days answering the letters of the needy. Indeed, letters come every day. But Father Jacob does not look like a famous pastor known over the country. His church is almost forgotten by the villagers. How come many letters come to the pastor from over the country asking his advice and prayer?

There are many other points that made me think about. But I can't write here to avoid spoilers. Anyhow, although the run time is short, this movie requires longer time to assimilate it.

6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
They believe future beyond harsh school-commuting, 2 August 2014

I am surprised that I am the first person to post a review on this astonishing, great film.

This is a documentary film of 4 groups of children, who bet on a belief that their future will be developed by "studying". So do their parents, who send their children with earnest encouragement and prayer.

In the beginning, a boy digs a hole on sandy place. He digs by his both hands, earnestly, until some water seep. As I was thinking, "Oh yes, children like to do this with sand…", he dips water by a plastic ladle and washes his school uniform in a bucket. Furthermore, he fills two plastic bottles too, which he and his younger sister bring to the school.

Their school-commuting route is middle of nowhere in savanna in Kenya. Every day, they go to and from the school for 15km, 2 hours. Sometimes, they climb to a higher place to find a safe way to avoid dangerous elephants. They walk on quickly, through the grasses or bush. The audiences may feel, "Is the school still far away? When will they arrive?"

There are other 3 groups of such adventurous journeys. According to the official web site, the director Plisson made a list of places of hash school going from the world, having cooperation of international organizations like UNESCO. From the list, he selected the 4 children groups, who have strong belief that education will open their future.

All those children love their school, friends, and they study really hard. It is because of their such belief that I feel I am taught and encouraged by them, rather than feeling pity.

Thank you for such a wonderful documentary, 31 July 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is an amazing documentary film. Especially, I recommend this to teenagers.

The locale is a tiny elementary school in a small village in the mountains of Niigata prefecture, where the snow piles up to 3 meters in winter. In 1987, the school did not have any new children. Instead, the principal made three calves enter the school. Three children of the third degree were assigned to take care of each calf. But the calves are not the pets. The teachers constantly told the children that the calves would be sold at the weight of 400 kilo gram next year.

The children had great year with the calves. Playing with the carves was a great fun. They earnestly took care of the calves. But sometimes calves had a diarrhea. So, a girl made up her mind to 'become a doctor of cows when I grow up'.

Being a livestock doctor became her dream, and this dream had not changed as she grew up. After graduation of a junior high-school in the village, she entered a high-school in a city faraway, where she had to lodge, to head for college. The competition for the university she hoped to enter, the department of animal medicine, Iwate University, is very high. Only one in 13.5 applicants is admitted. At the high-school, she realized her study performance was far below the level required to pass the entrance exam. She decided never to watch TV for three years at high-school, and everyday devoted only to study.

After 3 years, she passed the exam. Then after 6 years studying animal medicine at the university, she won the national license of a livestock doctor. She returned to her home town to be a doctor at the only livestock clinic in the town. Now, she is recognized as a reliable doctor by the dairy farmers in the community.

This documentary film shows her life from 9 to 35 years old - from when the dream was born till when the dream became true. The still picture of a girl holding the calf's neck, closing her eyes, is very beautiful. So is the face of the girl singing with tears on the day they shipped out the cows. You can clearly see her shadow of the third grade girl on the face of the livestock doctor. Therefore you can tell that the woman had lived pursuing the same dream since she was a girl. It is no wonder because the girl and the doctor are exactly the same person. But, if it is a drama, the same person never acts both roles. As few documentary films can cover such a long years without knowing the ending. Therefore, this film is a wonder.

The title can be "The other parents" or "The other self" too, 13 January 2014

Baby switching error at hospital is the same motif with "Like Father, Like Son", but these movies have completely different viewpoints. In case of "Like Father, Like Son", as the wrongly switched children are still very young, the story is told from the parents viewpoint. The key question asked in the movie is: what makes the parent-child relationship true, under the biological relationship is denied. On the other hand, in case of "The Other Son", the wrongly switched children are already 18 years old, intelligent, tough-to-fudge youths. Furthermore, one is a Jew and the other is a Palestinian. Therefore, in this movie the story is told from both of parents' and children's viewpoints, more on the children's viewpoint. Thus, the title of the movie can be "The other parents" or "The other self" too.

In general, in the movies where a family faces an extraordinary problem, fathers are less reliable than mothers. In this movie too, the first reaction of the two fathers is to deny the fact. They try to think as if nothing happened. Mothers, however, immediately face the issue, share empathy with the other. Well, I am a man, but I have to agree with this development. The plot is simple. Both parents do not have complicated private background. Still, this is a heart-moving one. The most impressing scene for me was that Joshua suddenly sings at the dinner. Is it a Palestinian song?

Women are enviable, 1 December 2013

A bus with 7 elderly women runs through the woods. They are comfortably singing together in the bus. What kind of group of the 7 women is, and where they are going to are not explained. The movie title says they are strangers, though the bus does not look a route bus. Anyhow, as the bus has an engine trouble, 8 women - the elderly women and a young driver – have to stay an abandoned house they found in the woods for several days. According to the brochure attached to my DVD, all women but the driver do not have acting experience. Although the situation is a fiction, every woman acts by her real name. The old day pictures of each woman may be her real ones. Therefore, this movie tries to show how the 7 elderly women behave in a fictional situation to wait for a rescue at an abandoned house in the woods. They soon eat up the foods they had. From the day 2, they only eat frogs, raspberries and fish. Yet they are quite alive and happy. They are left out of mobile phone network, but they enjoy bird watching, drawing, replacing a wig by a scarf, chatting about past life. The most impressing woman for me is Catherine, a nun. She wears as an ordinary woman. She could be a sacred music teacher. She challenges all day to fix the bus. Then she catches frogs to eat. In spite of rheumatism, she never staggers at the situation, and she does her best for the people, still she never forgets smiling. Anyhow, if they were men, it would be much less interesting story. I envy women.

Third Star (2010)
2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Story of youth, 1 December 2013

Benedict Cumberbatch. His name is unique, so is his face, which perfectly suits a young man with terminal cancer. On his 29th birthday, this man (James) starts on a journey with his 3 friends to Barafundle Bay, West Wales. All characters are introduced in the beginning, and the plot is simple. Therefore it is easy to follow the story. You can easily spot Barafundle Bay on the Google Map. It is a quiet and beautiful beach open between cliffs. It is a part of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, very long cliff of lime rock. After dropping off their van, they walk top of the cliff several days, carrying the terminal cancer patient on a cart. According to the Google Map, it seems cars can reach only 2 kilometers away from the bay. They deliberately made a wild journey plan. They could be high-school mates. They are candid each other and reckless to do wild things, burning a tent, dropping important items. During the journey with James, who is fighting with death fear and strong pain, gradually the problems each one has are revealed. Personally, recently I often see movies about the people facing death. But this one is the story of youth.

6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
A movie that will be seen for long, 9 September 2013

This movie portrays the life of a tailor and his family from their boy's viewpoint. The locale is Kobe, Japan before, under and after the WW2. The husband and wife are protestant Christians, minority in Japanese society even today.

The father looks confident as a tailor, always having positive view of life. The mother has strong sense of mission as a Christian, sometimes excessively strong faith. For the boy, having such mother sometimes makes his daily life difficult, but thanks to his father who even takes him to his foreign clients, the boy learns a lot in life.

As the nation goes towards militarism and fascism, tribulations come to the Christian home. As people see Christians close to foreigners and thus suspect them of spying. The father's attitude for each issue is reassuring. From his attitude after the war, we can see it is not only his faith but also his pride as a professional tailor that support him.

As a movie that portrays Japan around the war, and as a movie that portrays a family, I think Shonen H will be seen for long. Since the plot is written from the child's viewpoint, it has simple plot structure, without any side stories. Therefore everyone may have own sentiment.

As for acting performance, the boy and the girl act very well. When the girl is sent for evacuation, getting on the train, she is nearly crying. The boy quirks his face to make her laugh, and the girl's face becomes half smiling and half crying. Her face is unforgettable.

3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
People helping each other, 7 May 2013

The first impression was pretty much hopeless. I wondered why they made a movie with such a desperate plot.

But recalling each scene in the movie, everyone in the movie was so kind. The movie starts with a scene that an old woman and her grandson walk middle of nowhere in the desert of Iraq. They are Kurdish. They were severely persecuted under Saddam Hussein ruling. Three weeks after the Hussein regime fell, they started the travel from Kurdistan, northern Iraq, to Nasiriya, southern Iraq, where the woman believes her son is confined in the jail. The distance between Kurdistan and Nasiriya is about 700 km according to the Google map. The first truck driver ignored the boy's exclamation to stop, but he was an exception. All other people who encounter the old woman and the boy are very kind, despite many of them can not understand her Kurdish.

Through the TV and newspapers, our image of Iraq is chaos and hate. Deadly suicide bombings are daily events. Government is still in turmoil. And the conflicts between Arabians and Kurdish, or Sunni and Shi'ah do not end. In this movie, however, people sympathize, help and forgive each other. What does the title "Son of Babylon" mean? Babylon is the name when the country was in the highest glory. The dream of the woman and her grandson to see the hanging garden of Babylon did not come true. But this movie may be telling us to see the hanging garden covered by green leaves, beyond the desperate reality, by helping each other.

3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
At the Be-Kind-to-Animals Center, 28 March 2013

If you have a dog, you must not miss the movies of dogs. So don't I. This is by far the most empathizing and moving dog movies I've ever seen. Though I seldom tear on movies, I could not help tearing with it.

In Japan, abandoned or stray dogs are gathered to a public facility run by a city, and those animals not claimed within a week are killed. In many cities, such facility is ironically called a "Be-Kind-to-Animals Center".

I live in Kumamoto City. Kumamoto is famous for taking many measures aiming "zero killing". According to the manager of the Be-Kind-to- Animals Center of Kumamoto city, one day a young staff said "I joined the Be-Kind-to-Animals Center because I loved animals. Why my job here is to kill them instead?" This question triggered the manager to change the strategy to zero-killing.

The lead character Kanzaki Shoji (Sakai Masato) has been suffering the same struggle. He could not tell his daughter the detail of her father's job, particularly what he has to do when nobody claims a dog. Sakai Masato has distinct personality. In this movie, his distinct countenance expresses complicated struggle of a man who is in dilemma between his job and his love to his children and dogs.

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