Ryo Kase

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Restless Review


Excellent
Van Sant returns to his earthy-airy style for this story of a young man coming to terms with the concept of mortality. It's effortlessly honest, with edgy humour balancing the dark themes. Although it's also diluted by commercial sensibilities.

After his parents are killed in a car crash, the thoughtful young Enoch (Hopper) becomes obsessed with death, attending random funerals and chatting to Hiroshi (Kase), the ghost of a young kamikaze pilot. The at one memorial service, Enoch is rumbled by Annabel (Wasikowska), who pursues a friendship with him. As they become closer, Enoch learns that the sparky Annabel has a fatal illness, which means he can no longer put off dealing with the fact that death is actually part of life.

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Restless Trailer


Enoch is a quiet teenage boy with an unusual hobby: he likes to attend funerals. Not just the funerals of relatives but funerals of people he's never met. While attending one funeral, he sees a mysterious girl about his age. 

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Tokyo! Review


OK
Tokyo! is a curious conundrum. The movie is a triptych of short films about the titular metropolis made by Michel Gondry, Leos Carax, and Joon-ho Bong, three non-Japanese filmmakers. Each tries to offer up personalized impressions of the Japanese capital, and that alone would suggest a worthwhile cinematic experience. But the films themselves lack the intimacy with Tokyo's cultural nuances that we crave from a piece like this, trafficking instead in stereotypes and platitudes.

For its easy charm and humor, Michel Gondry's "Interior Design" comes off best. Gondry's story follows a young couple -- Hiroko and Akira (Ayako Fujitani and Ryo Kase) -- who have just moved to Tokyo, struggling to find an apartment, jobs, and generally to start their new lives. Akira's an aspiring filmmaker-artist, hence a bit of a space case, while his girlfriend Hiroko is smart but directionless. While getting started in Tokyo, they bunk up with a friend in her absurdly tiny apartment. Gradually, Hiroko pulls away from Akira and, in a Gondry-esque bit of transmogrification, she suddenly has the ability to shift from human to chair form and back. As a chair, she becomes part of the furnishings in a stranger's home, and feels herself an object of value, something she lacked as a human being. Gondry pokes fun at Tokyo's housing crisis: The living spaces are hilariously cramped, hardly more than glorified closets. With the low-key bantering of its characters, the quotidian details of Tokyo street life, its movie-within-a-movie device, the human-chair magic trick, and the overall theme of life-as-reverie, this is a Gondry project through and through. And, though not illuminating on the subject of its city, it's still a cute, clever take on Tokyo to keep us amused.

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Letters from Iwo Jima Review


Good
In his landmark book of military history The Face of Battle, John Keegan did something extraordinarily rare for his field when describing a battle -- he didn't just tell us how many forces fought in what manner at a certain time, he told us what it was like for those soldiers. Keegan knew it wasn't just important to know how British archers defeated the French knights at Agincourt, but also that prior to the epic battle the British had been waiting for their better-armed and horse-mounted enemy, on foot, in several inches of deep mud, freezing from the cold and aching with hunger from a lack of food. Clint Eastwood's Letters from Iwo Jima has just such a similarly humane touch about it. As a chronicler of one of the most monumental battles in modern history, Eastwood not only has the scope of vision to show how, on a grand scale, the battle progressed for the defenders in strictly military terms, but also the little details about the Japanese soldiers themselves: They wrote anxious letters home, many feared the battle itself was meaningless, they fought while suffering from dysentery. It's this compassion which raises the film far above some of its shortcomings.

Eastwood made cinematic history by being the first director of his stature (or any stature, really) to make two feature films about the same battle, each one about a different side in the fight. Flags of Our Fathers, which came out a few months ago, was about the American soldiers in the Iwo Jima invasion force involved in the raising of the flag which was captured in the iconic photograph. It was a skillfully made, if sometimes dramatically stagnant, piece about the dehumanization of wartime propaganda. In Letters, which tells the battle story from the Japanese perspective, Eastwood also deals with the same issues -- there are almost as many Japanese soldiers who are fiercely patriotic as those who are embittered by years of cynical manipulation -- but he achieves a greater effect by making us more privy to these men's inner lives.

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