Review on JFF 2014 films: Legend of Sanctuary, Rent-a-Cat, Wind Rises, Initial D Legend 1: Awakening

Fumi Nikaido Mourning Recipe cute japanese chick

Japanese Film Festival 2014 Malaysia movie reviews

Japanese Foundation KL didn’t put me in the loop for this year’s Japanese Film Festival (JFF) Malaysia but Golden Screen Cinemas (GSC) were very kind to help get me the details and took the trouble to pass me a few complimentary passes to catch some of the films. It’s going to be over soon in Klang Valley, but for those in Penang, Sabah and Sarawak, be ready ’cause JFF 2014 will be making its stop there soon!

Desperately wanted to catch Mourning Recipe and The Snow White Murder Case but the schedule for those films were a bit off for me, and the tickets sold out shockingly quick. Guess I missed out on the cute chick (Fumi Nikaido) in the photo above. Anyway, I’ve already published a full review on Initial D Legend 1: Awakening, and now here’s my quick review on the other three JFF ’14-featured movies I’ve managed to catch;

Rent-a-Cat (Rentaneko – 2012)

rent-a-cat rentaneko 2012 movie posterRated: P13
Genre: Comedy drama
Running Time: 110 minutes
Director-screenwriter: Ogigami Naoko
Cast: Ichikawa Mikako

Synopsis: An odd woman named Sayoko rents cats to the lonesome. Renters include an old woman who lost her husband and her cat, a middle-aged man who moved away from his family for work, a receptionist who questions her existence and a man who has a connection with Sayoko.

Review: Cat lovers might never get bored watching this film as the amount of screen time the “nekos” (cats) have is almost as much as the protagonist’s. Plotwise, it’s a little slow but delightfully unconventional, far from being a rom-com, thankfully. Through light humour and peculiar approach, the film portrays different types of loneliness effectively, and at the end of it, I didn’t even know whether I should feel sad for the female character’s situation or just laugh at it. Animals can only fill the holes of certain lonely hearts indeed.

Second opinion: My girlfriend, a hardcore cat person, had only one word to say, “LOVEEEEE.”

Rating: 3.5 / 5

The Wind Rises (2013)

Wind Rises movie poster malaysia gscRated: P13
Genre: Animation, historical drama
Running Time: 126 minutes
Director-screenwriter: Hayao Miyazaki
Cast: Hideaki Anno, Miori Takimoto, Hidetoshi Nishijima, Masahiko Nishimura

Synopsis: A fictionalised biography of Jiro Horikoshi, designer of the Mitsubishi A5M and its successor, the Mitsubishi A6M Zero. Both were converted for use as fighter planes by the Empire of Japan during WWII.

Review: If the Oscars wasn’t American, Frozen probably wouldn’t have won the 2013 Best Animated Feature. Studio Ghibli might have stopped its operations not long after this was released, but no one should deny that Ghibli never disappoints. Screw the criticisms from the anti-smoking parties and pacifists, The Wind Rises is an enjoyable soulful high art left by the genius Hayao Miyazaki before his retirement. Lyrical, educative, layered, honest and heartfelt, even though its romance part is a bit forced. Ironically, Miyazaki’s masterpieces are mostly out-of-this-world fantasies, but through this one, he depicted “airplane dreams” in a more down-to-Earth fashion.

Second opinion: My girlfriend, who was watching it for the second time in just months, still felt that the film’s very heartwarming.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

Saint Seiya: Legend of Sanctuary (2014)

Saint Seiya 2014 movie Legend of Sanctuary poster GSC malaysia
Rated: P13
Genre: 3D anime, action fantasy
Running Time: 93 minutes
Director: Keiichi Sato
Screenwriter: Suzuki Tomohiro
Cast: Kaito Ishikawa, Ayaka Sasaki, Kenshō Ono, Kenji Akabane, Nobuhiko Okamoto, Kenji Nojima

Synopsis: Five young warriors known as Saints wage war against the Sanctuary in an effort to protect Saori Kido, a reincarnation of the goddess Athena.

Review: It’s probably unfair for this animated film to be judged by someone who’s never a fan of the manga series but watching it as a completely clueless fool, it was exceptionally boring for me. This computer animated reboot/tribute’s graphics are like video game cutscenes with little appeal (it’s like watching a bunch of K-pop posers in animated form fighting each other in shining armour, and the chicks aren’t even sexy), there’s practically zero character development and the story must’ve been greatly shortened. However, if you’re a longtime fan, you might enjoy revisiting Athena’s Sanctuary with the reintroduction of the 12 Zodiac Saints doing nothing but blasting their abilities at each other.

Second opinion: My girlfriend said, “Very sien lah, just keep fighting like that macam no story one.” Basically she felt the same as I did.

Rating: 1 / 5

Initial D Legend 1: Awakening (2014)

Rated: P13
Genre: Anime, street racing
Running Time: 62 minutes
Director: Masamitsu Hidaka
Screenwriter: Mayori Sekijima
Cast: Mamoru Miyano, Daisuke Ono, Hiroaki Hirata, Maaya Uchida

Synopsis: High school student Takumi Fujiwara is a gas station attendant by day and a delivery boy for his father’s tofu shop by night. But little does he know his precise driving skills and his father’s modified Toyota Sprinter AE86 Trueno will soon pit him against Gunma prefecture’s best racing groups.

Full review is availableClick here to go to the post.

Read more about JFF Malaysia 2014 here.

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