Archive for » September, 2008 «

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Man, this is one serious movie.  And I never expected it when I bought this DVD.  I thought it’s a light and fluffy about friends bonding together and pursuing their dreams.

Yes, it is a story about 4 friends, all aspiring artists and have dreams of succeeding in their craft.  The four are  Eisuke (the manga artist), Ryuzo (the novelist), Shoichi (the singer/songwriter), and Kei (the oil painter).  This group believes that if only they can really focus on their art without worrying about other aspects of life (i.e. money, food, rent), they’ll achieve their goal and gain the freedom in “doing what you please, as you please”.  Thus, starts their summer journey where they learn the facts of life.

What made this movie special is the message it wants to impart is so real and true.  I may be a cynic speaking but, although you may have dreams of what you want your life to be, life may have different plans for you.  You may want to live life doing what you want and not take day jobs, but reality is, you’d have to eat, pay rent.. survive.

The movie is actually not a deep drama where you cry.  It doesn’t have any complex themes.  It’s like a subdued narration of life.   So somehow, it makes you think about your own life story after watching it.

Acting-wise, again, the characters are played by all 5 of the arashi members.  Eisuke is played by Ninomiya.  He’s starting to get my attention with his acting.  He’s good at portraying Eisuke, the idealistic manga artist, with a dying mother and 3 tag-alongs to care for.  Sakurai Sho’s delivery is a vast improvement from the Yamada Taro series and he’s actually quite believable as a bum novelist.  Actually, the other two are quite good as well (Ohno – the painter, Aiba – the singer).  Jun Matsumoto is more of just an extra in the movie, and I found his delivery more on the over-eager side (or it could be, that was how the character is supposed to be).  Overall, I’m quite impressed.

The atmosphere set by the film is also something to take notice of.  Some may find it dull, with the lack of flashy scenes and complicated sets, but it blends well with the story.  It’s a simple, quiet film.  And in it’s silence, it somehow makes the sadness of story resonate more.

This movie is also a goldmine of quotable quotes.  I’d have to jot a few of them down here.

“freedom is doing what you please, as you please” – Kei.  Straight for the mouth of the naive, I would say. =)

“starving is part of being an artist.  It adds to the experience.” – Ryuzo.  Words of a bum.

“no point in being lonely together.  Isn’t it easier to be lonely alone?” – Tokei.  Hmm.. Come to think of it, yes, she’s got a point there.

“how ironic that our season of doing what we please has caused us to abandon just that.” – Kei.  That reflection is kinda bittersweet.  The end of the summer is like a coming of age to them.  Reality has set in.

“In the face of my life, all I can do is panic
such is my useless and pathetic youth
Now, what we acquire along with our first wrinkle, is our trust in life
this consent and this smile, which says,
‘Friend, I know all about you.’
Looking back we will learn,
Life never deceives man. Life… has never deceived man” – Kei, quoting a French poet, Ryuzo.  It’s quite deep.  No matter how many times I read these lines, I come up with new reflection on it.  Yep, life has never deceived man.


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I’ve just finished this Japanese drama starring two of the Arashi members – Nino and Sho.

Hmmm.. actually, it’s been in my to-be-watched pile for a long time now, but I haven’t gotten around to watching it.  It’s not that the premise doesn’t sound interesting but  somehow, I didn’t want to watch it coz it means after that, no more new arashi for me to watch.  Hehehe.. yeah.. skewed logic.

We’ll.. I love it!  It’s a super feel good movie that has lots of heart.  It’s a comedy that somehow brings tears to your eyes at the end of every episode.  It’s neither tears of sadness nor laughter.  It’ s just so touching that you’d end up with moist eyes after each eppie.

Plot summary:  The story is about the life of Yamada Taro.  He’s a scholarship student in one private high school.  He’s intelligent, nice and good-looking.  He seems perfect and is a heartthrob in his school but none of his follower knows that he’s actually extremely poor.

I can’t exactly pinpoint what I liked about this drama but I really like Yamada’s (Nino)  character. We see him as a very loving son and brother to his 6 siblings.  We see his everyday struggle to care and provide for his family.  I actually didn’t want to call it a “struggle” ‘coz he never seems to mind or notice his hardships.  I think he doesn’t mind as long as at the end of the day, his brothers and sisters are happy.  I know, I know.. in real life.. no such person..  but, this is a drama.  We watch it to escape reality =)

You’d think that when watching Yamada take part-time works, not eat, do housework, etc, you’d hate his family for putting his through hardships.  But no, his little brothers and sisters are just as adorable.  They know how much effort their big brother is doing and they love him just as much as he loves them.  They are like the non-irritating Brady Bunch family.

Other points to love:

-  I love that their family have their own commandments they live by.  No borrowing of money, ‘coz they can’t pay it back (hee..)  I’d have to get that list sometime.  It’s something we all should follow.

-  Yamada, though very poor doesn’t seem to feel anything lacking in his life.  As long as his family is happy, that is enough.

-  He’s not ashamed of being poor.  Typical drama is at school, they pretend to be rich and so on.  For Yamada, everybody just assumed that he is rich.  And when he’s situation is about to get exposed, his close friend correctly deduced that Yamada really wouldn’t mind.  He doesn’t even know he has a secret.

-  I also like that there are no evil plots or bad guys in this story.  I guess his daily life is complicated enough and adding villains on top of that would have been an overkill for the story.

-  Although his mother is incompetent and his father is a useless bum, I couldn’t really bring myself hate them.  I don’t know, don’t want to over-analyze.

-  The friendship between Taro and Mimura Takuya is something to love as well.

I guess one major factor why I loved this story so much is because of how Ninomiya Kazunari portrayed Yamada Taro.  It seems to suit him so well.   Sho Sakurai’s on the other hand is.. hmmm.. it seems too “acted” in a way.  But still, it’s Sho.. so I can’t really say anything bad about him, good or bad acting, he’s still the adorable chipmunk for me.  =)

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