Welcome to my last post of the year.
2014 has been a good year for me and those I know personally and so as 2015 approaches I am relieved. I have made more friends and attended more film festivals. My personal and work life are stable and I am relatively happy although I am plagued by bouts of uncertainty – the lyrics in the OP for Ping Pong: The Animation which I placed above sum up some of what I feel most days. I watched a heck of a lot of films and I’m still writing reviews for them and I have enjoyed my time doing so. I have kept my previous year’s resolution to improve my Japanese and practice a lot more but there are some I missed out on. So, my last set of resolutions were:
- In 2014, I will formulate a solid plan in aid of going to Japan either at the end of the year or in 2015,
- In 2014, I will continue to speak and write in Japanese every day and practice my conversation and comprehension skills with friends,
- In 2014, I will review more films and continue to write in different styles,
- In 2014, I will actually have a Hideo Nakata/Takashi Shimizu season and a Takashi Ishii season,
- In 2014, I will try not to bore you.
Crash and burn!
Well this is another year when I failed to make any plans for Japan, a running joke amongst friends and family. A combination of cowardice and indecision are to blame. It’s easier to stay in the UK and watch films. Of course, the weight of expectation is too much to resist so I’ll get moving on the issue next year.
I didn’t get to do my Nakata/Shimizu/Ishii seasons despite having some of the reviews completed (I’m also sitting on a lot of manga reviews). I really need to speed up my reviews and get back to doing two a week. On the flipside, the quality of my reviews has improved. The posts I write are longer and a lot more involved and I take time to explain my feelings and create a more personal take on what I watch. Furthermore, I comb through them checking for mistakes even after publishing them.
I did write many reviews this year but my favourites (by favourite, I mean those I found to be the most enjoyable while writing AND reading them and do a good job at being reviews and not glorified plot synopses) are these:
My film of 2013. I saw it at the Raindance Film Festival and was blown away but I had to wait until the home DVD release three months to fully articulate my thoughts. I think having time to let my thoughts breath and expand helped the review. It restores faith in Japanese films!
A wonderful film based on history that fascinates me (Britain’s colonial period) with a great central performance from Gugu Mbatha-Raw.
This film came at me like a bolt out of the blue and one scene made me cry like a sissy. Every time I remember that scene it still gets to me. I chose this one as my last review of 2014.
The World of Kanako is a beast of a film. People either roll with it and see exactly what makes it great or they get overwhelmed and rolled over and then miss how its brilliance. That sounds arrogant, I apologise. The film is technically complicated and yet it is executed with a style and flair that seems effortless. It has so much to say about the modern age and all of the perils of life and despite its darkness it is hugely enjoyable. It has great performances from my favourite actor, Koji Yakusho, and Satoshi Tsumabuki who is fab as a dandyish cop. Great cinema!
I worked on this one for a long time because there were so many interesting things to write about and I recognised parts of myself in Gou Ayano’s character.
I saw this with my ma and sis and we all laughed at this black comedy. I so wanted to be the titular character, a cool, handsome and deadly maniac. I am just a nutcase in real life, not cool or handsome ;_;
Another film I saw with my ma and sis, only this time I was made uncomfortable by how similar my lifestyle is to main protagonist Lou Bloom’s… Jake Gyllenhaal is a great actor and I was swept up by his performance!
This was three quarters of a fantastic film and filled with so many characters I cared about.
I wrote previews about the film for a couple of years but only got the chance to review it back in April. It was a delightful film with a singular protagonist which made reviewing it easy.
I saw this one in 2013 but reviewed it in January. I love the film and enjoyed making Gifs out of it. The review has proven to be quite popular.
aaaaand possibly Ping Pong: The Animation
Quite honestly, in a weak year for anime this stood out as a titan. I think this will be one of those anime people name-check when talking about Masaaki Yuasa and anime in general, much like Tatami Galaxy.
That’s a diverse list!!!
I’ll leave it up to you to decide if I did a good job or not (just humour me and pretend to care).
On the positive side, I can confirm that I didn’t bore people because I got a lot of great feedback for some of my reviews! I have been asked for guest posts and reviews on other sites as well, so that’s cool. I also got to interview and speak with a lot more directors and I also had my photo taken with them! I should put the pictures up on the blog but I’m weird…
So I met Tetsuya Nakashima (The World of Kanako) who was totally cool, intelligent and generous with his time and spoke with me for longer than expected!, Yosuke Fujita (Fuku-chan of Fukufuku Flats), who I also spoke with and told him of my admiration for Fine Totally Fine, which is a film that basically describes my life. He signed my Raindance programme and drew a cool doodle. I met Akira Nagai (Judge!) who I managed to make laugh when I asked if he was an otaku and we spoke in Japanese. I also met Hirobumi Watanabe and his brother Yuji Watanabe who worked on And the Mud Ship Sails Away and they were totally cool and nice!
Now we come to the most important bit:
My resolutions for 2015
- I will stop being a coward and get this Japan trip underway,
- I will continue to speak and write in Japanese every day and practice my conversation and comprehension skills with friends,
- I will review more films and continue to write in different styles,
- I will investigate the Japanese indie film scene much more,
- I will update this blog’s reviews, pages, and post more images,
- I will try not to bore you (because I really do appreciate those who visit my blog).
I want 2015 to be the year when I find out more about the real side of Japanese films and investigate different ways films are made and an actress I have singled out as one to watch (in a non-stalkerish way!!!).
I would like to thank everyone who has visited my blog and commented on it and I hope you continue to come back and share your opinions and film experiences with me.
Goodbye, 2014, goodbye. I have had a lot of happy memories this year and I hope to make more next year.
Happy New Year!