Movie Reviews

A Movie “Saul and Ruby’s Holocaust Survivor Band” 10/24/20

October 24, 2020

Like many survivors of the Holocaust, Saul and Ruby moved to America after the WWII, started families and careers. They grew old, and retired happily in South Florida. For them, retirement could have been the last page in their stories, but Saul decided to start a klezmer band, named the Holocaust Survivor Band, despite of his wife and rabbi’s negative comments. He searched another Holocaust surviver to join him. And he found Ruby! The band’s goal was to perform in Poland where they grew up. They never visited there after moving to the US. They have bittersweet memories in Poland, but more importantly, it is a celebration of life. Saul and Ruby have very direct expression toward their feelings. The movie follows their musical journey starting from the local homes and shopping malls in their neighborhood, then at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, to a dream concert in Poland. It is a very unique and heart-warming story. They are not professional musicians at all. That is not their purpose. It is about the soul searching in life at their age and the power of music.

A Movie “Kingdom” 10/24/20

October 24, 2020

I usually don’t like an action – fantasy movies, but I really enjoyed this one. It is an adaptation of “Kingdom” manga series of the same name which is set during China’s “Warring States” period, and the film is created by Yasuhisa Hara. The film portrays the life of “Li Xin”, a general of Qin, from his childhood as an orphan through his military career during the ancient China. It is a colorful tale and has a great action throughout the movie with a wonderful cast, including Kento Yamazaki, Ryo Yoshizawa, Masami Nagasawa, Kanna Hashimoto. It is an entertainment during the current remote life.

 

A Movie “Canaletto and The Art of Venice at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace” – Exhibition on Screen 12/4/17

August 8, 2020

I enjoy Laemmle’s “Exhibition on Screen” Culture Series! It was shown at Pasadena location. This movie depicts an immersive journey into the life and the art of Venice’s famous view-painter, Giovanni Antonio Canal, better known as Canaletto. No artist better captures the essence and allure of Venice than Canaletto.

The remarkable group of over 200 paintings, drawings and prints at the exhibition offer exceptional insight into the artistry of Canaletto and his contemporaries, and the city “Venice” he became a master at capturing. The film also offers the chance to step inside two official royal residences – Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle – to learn more about the artist, and Joseph Smith, known as Consulate Smith, the man who introduced Canaletto to Britain. The film is not only a wonderful way to see the exhibition, but an opportunity to get closer to Canaletto and Venice that inspired him! $16 for this amazing journey to London and Venice!? I love it!

 

A Movie “Frantz” 7/8/20

July 8, 2020

It is a quiet and inward movie, setting in Germany and France in the post First World War era. “Frantz”, the name of the young German soldier who was killed during trench warfare, depicts an endless mourning period through the eyes of the war’s “lost generation”. Anna (Paula Beer) lost her fiancé, Frantz, and is living with his parents. Adrien (Pierre Niney), French veteran of the war, shows up mysteriously in her town, placing flowers on Frantz’s grave. Adrien’s presence in the German town is met with resistance by the small community still reeling from Germany’s defeat, but Anna gradually gets closer to the handsome and melancholy young French man. They started to share their emotional depth and their friendship started to grow. The story has a twist.

Can they desire for happiness? Guilt, Anger… This black and white film does not speak loud, but touches our heart.

 

 

A Movie “The Farewell” 6/12/20

June 12, 2020

I truly enjoyed watching this movie. It is truthful, yet funny. It is soulful, yet silly. It is very entertaining and soul searching. The movie follows a Chinese family’s journey to search Chinese belief (I share this belief as a Japanese too) and to help the family’s difficulty together.  It happened when they discovered that their beloved Grandmother has only a short life to live. So they set up the grandson’s wedding to have a reason to gather in China because all of families are scattered, living in Japan and USA. Billi (Awkwafina) has a difficulty to keep family’s secret in front of her beloved grandma because the family decided not to tell the truth to the grandma according to Chinese belief. Everyone has difficulty to keep their feeling uplifted in front of the grandma. The grandma is so happy to see everyone and so excited to have a big wedding. First of all, Awkwafina is an amazing actress. You forget this is a movie so she is acting. She is so natural. This movie was a big hit last year. If you have not seen it yet, it is truly recommended! It is actually a perfect movie during our pandemic.

A Movie “Back to Burgundy” May/2020

May 26, 2020

I love French wine countries. The location of this movie is picturesque Burgundy, and actually we can learn the process of wine making. 3 siblings reunite at their family vineyard when their father was terminally ill. The old brother escaped from their family business and 10 years later he came back to see their father passing. As we imagine (!), there will be a lot of conflict and misunderstanding between them. “Wine” keeps them together. It is in French with English subtitle. My hobby is to keep learning French in a very relaxed way (!). If I can catch words here and there I give myself a score!

A Movie “Roman Holiday” May/2020

May 26, 2020

It has been about 2 months since the lockdown. Rome seems so far away in theses days. I don’t know when I can visit Europe.. I thought about this movie! I have watched it before, of course. But I chose to watch it again. I needed something innocent and fun. Audrey Hepburn is just beautiful and cute. She is a legend. I had a great time watching it. I strongly recommend this movie, especially in the current difficult time.

A Movie “La Fée (The Fairy)” 5/11/20

May 11, 2020

I truly loved a movie “Lost in Paris” by Fiona Gordon and Dominique Abel. “The Fairy” was produced by Fiona and Abel too. We need a good laugh under this circumstance. Somehow their wit and humor clicks into my laugh button, for example perfect amount of clumsiness and foolishness.  A hotel clerk (Abel) falls in love with a charming fairy (Gordon). It is not an usual romantic comedy. It is very clever and witty with hidden satire and advocacy. It is in French with English subtitle. Recommended from a Bottom of my Heart!

A Movie “Death in Venice” by Luchino Visconti/Thomas Mann 4/22/20

April 22, 2020

I saw this movie when I was young too. Based on a novel by Thomas Mann, this movie is often known as one of the best movies of Visconti. The story is not complicated. A terrified composer, Gustav Von Aschenbach (Dirk Bogarde), visits Venice to recover from his illness, both mentally and physically. He is lonely. He stays at a nice hotel near a beach, and one day he spotted a beautiful young Polish boy, Tadzio (Björn Andrésen). Tadzio was vacationing with his family. Aschenbach fell in love with Tadzio, and became obsessive. He follows him. He can’t stop thinking of him. Then, he looks at himself, and he can’t accept who he is.. One day he went a beauty parlor and got a make-up and hair dye. It is very sad how he looks.. The ending scene is unforgettable. The movie captures the beauty of Venice and the scenes of vacationers. It is a psychological movie and some scenes are very long without much motions. I may not rate this movie as Visconti’s best film, but the acting is excellent.

A Movie “Emma” 3/2/20

March 2, 2020

What a witty movie it is! Casting is fantastic. Emma is young, handsome, and clever from a rich family. She has everything. She lives in a small (not a lot happening!) town and she controls people’s mind. She thinks she is above everyone and all the boys should be attracted by her. she is so beautiful. It is a great comedy. The story is simple, finding love after misguided matches and romances. I loved the historical costumes. So charming!! If you need a moment to relax and laugh, this is the one!