モモへの手紙 – A Letter for Momo
Although Hiroyuki Okiura has been involved in the animating department for some of Japan’s best modern anime (Paprika, Ghost in the Shell 1 & 2, Metropolis), A Letter for Momo will be his directorial debut. The film follows our eleven-year-old protagonist, Momo (Karen Miyama), as she moves from the bustling city life of Tokyo, to the subdued beauty of a remote island, Shio, with her single mother.
Momo’s father has died and left Momo with little besides memories and a hand-written letter. Confused, upset and longing to return to Tokyo, Momo has difficulties adjusting to the country life, especially as strange things are afoot, besides knickknacks disappearing, Momo spies ghostly apparitions and mumbled conversations, which her mother tells her to ignore.
Unknown to Momo and those around her, she has stumbled across a community of odd looking, but gentle-spirited monsters, including the infantile Mame (Cho), the ill-mannered Kawa (Koichi Yamadera) and their bulky leader, Iwa (Toshiyuki Nishide). Going from fear to affection is a long and delicate process, but as Momo learns more about her unique neighbors, she discovers that her new home may have a mysterious tie to the letter she holds so dear.
Spec 〜天〜 – Spec The Movie
Since the success of the 20th Century Boys triology, director Yukihiko Tsutsumi has enjoyed a favorable time in the spotlight. His adaptation of the popular anime series, Beck, was better than most fans anticipated and Spec The Movie promises to be just as enjoyable, as well as a little stranger.
Saya Toma (Erika Toda) has an IQ of 201 and is one of Tokyo Metropolitan Police Force’s top detectives. She is paired with the feisty Takeru Sebumi (Ryo Kase) and together they determine a criminal’s “Spec” and so hunt down their criminal in a science of deduction, Sherlock Holmes style. This time around, a pile of bodies turn up on a cruise ship and the pair are sent in to investigate.
The film also stars Tarantino’s favorite schoolgirl, Chiaki Kuriyama, who plays the cool action-chick with real style, although the illusion is somewhat broken, along with the fourth wall, as references to Kill Bill are dropped into the conversation. The film itself will either be too dramatic for some, or perfectly stylistic to others. The plot takes a back seat, which is for the better as it is a little confusing, but the action and fun more than make up for it.
The best non-Japanese movie this month is not from Hollywood, nor is it in English, it is a Norwegian movie by Andre Ouredal, so be sure that the film is played with your desired subtitles, as otherwise you may struggle to understand what is going on!
Following a band of students, Thomas, Johanna and Kalle, all budding filmmakers hoping to put together a winning documentary, the film goes from realism to absurdity at a flick of a switch. What starts out as an investigation into the strange deaths of wild bears, turns into the hunt for monsters, as the poacher they find, Hans (Otto Jespersen), is not concerned with hunting bears, but ancient trolls.
The premise may seem daft, but the film balances humor, action and a fair dose of fear perfectly. The documentary style it plays through helps you forgive the shaky CGI and only increases the dead-pan jokes that litter the script. It may seem a contradiction in terms, but this monster-hunting flick is a subtle masterpiece and should be tracked down at all costs. And fear not, it doesn’t take itself as seriously as The Blair Witch Project, nor is it as forced or cheesy as Cloverfield, it is just good, honest fun!