Movie Review: Downsizing

Rating: 4/10

Genre: Science fiction/Comedy/Drama

Language: English

Starring: Matt Damon, Christoph Waltz, Hong Chau, Kristen Wiig, Udo Kier

While I usually have something to say before moving on to the review, I don’t have much to say for this one. So rather than going on pointlessly just for the sake of it, here is the review:

What is it about?

“Downsizing” is essentially a social commentary of the environmental state of our world today. The premise of the film is that, after a scientist made an incredible breakthrough that enables him to shrink living things, a movement is made to downsize humans in order to save the environment. It is a desperate, highly unconventional move in response to global warming, but it also deeply reflects just how serious the state of the world is in.

Fast forward a couple of years in time, the world’s microcommunity has grown- enough to have an impact on the economy. Houses are being left vacant due to the previous tenants having moved to much tinier accommodations, and businesses aren’t making much money because- let’s face it, tiny people don’t need as much as their larger counterparts.

In the middle of this changing society are Paul (Matt Damon) and Audrey Safranek (Kristen Wiig). Paul and Audrey are a couple with financial issues, and after reuniting with old friends who had gone through the downsizing process, they start considering the possibility of doing it as well. After all, their friends seem happy, and beyond helping to save the environment, they’re also enjoying the good things in life- all thanks to the increase in the value of their money.

Eventually, the couple makes the choice to get themselves downsized as well, but Audrey backs out at the very last minute- leaving Paul devastated, betrayed and, well, tiny. Left in a world where he’s completely separated from his family, the majority of his friends and his wife- what is he to do?

Is it worth a watch?

If your idea of a good time is being bored to death, then yes, it is worth a watch. Although it possesses a pretty promising premise, “Downsizing” largely fails to entertain. The world that is painted in this film is drab and lacks colour, and the characters themselves fail to intrigue. There is very little to find interesting or emotionally compelling about the characters; in fact, one of the few times you’d find yourself emotionally invested is when Paul gets betrayed by Audrey.

The fact that the film tends to drag on unnecessarily doesn’t do it any favours either. I actually found myself looking at my watch quite a few times during the film, wondering when it would end.

So no, I wouldn’t recommend watching this film. Its only shining star is Ngoc Lan (Hong Chau), whose overly blunt nature successfully cracked a couple of laughs from the audience.

Movie Review: Isshuukan Friends

Rating: 8/10

Genre: Romance/Drama

Language: Japanese

Starring: Kawaguchi Haruna, Yamazaki Kento

I actually watched this one a while ago, but I never got round to writing about it until… today (and “today” should be 14 January because this post is scheduled).

Thanks to my growing fondness for Yamazaki Kento, this is another movie of his that I picked up immediately after seeing him on the DVD cover. Because… why not, right. He seems to appear in a lot of good movies too, so all the more reason to check it out. 😀

He’s not one of the most popular Japanese actors today for no reason, amirite.  With that said, on to the rest of the post!

What is it about?

“Isshuukan Friends” or “One Week Friends” if translated to English, is a live action film based on the manga “Isshuukan Friends” by Hazuki Matcha.

It is about a teenage boy named Hase Yuki (Yamazaki Kento) who wants to be close to Fujimiya Kaori (Kawaguchi Haruno) after falling for her during their first (admittedly awkward) encounter. Yet despite all of his attempts to close the distance between them, he gets shut down. One would think that it’s all because of the terrible first impression that he had made with her, but as he eventually finds out, there is more to it than that.

The reason Kaori refuses to be friends with him is because she suffers from a memory impairment; she forgets everything that happened to her by every Monday. Which is already in itself problematic, but her concern runs deeper than that. She feels as though friends would eventually get tired of reintroducing themselves to her over and over again, so why bother?

But being the bright, persistent lad that he is, Yuki isn’t put off by such a prospect. He still wishes to be close to the stoic girl and so devises a creative way of ensuring she wouldn’t forget their newfound friendship.

Is it worth a watch?

If you’re looking for a light film to spend a chill Sunday afternoon with, then yes, “Isshuukan Friends” is worth a watch. Like the majority of anime/manga, the main characters serve as foils to one another; Yuki, who is bright, goofy and optimistic, and Kaori, who is quiet, aloof and pessimistic.

However, in spite of their differences, the pair work well together as a pair- especially with Kento bringing light-heartedness to the screen with ease, a performance that is met with much applause considering the number of cold, serious roles that he has assumed. Really, one cannot help but to be warmed by the sincerity of his character’s persistence. Haruna is not to be forgotten either, as she plays the distant, and emotionally and psychologically fragile Kaori as though it is natural to her.

And the supporting cast? While I would have liked to have seen more of Matsuo Takashi (Kiryu Shogo), the supporting cast as a whole do well in adding more heart to “Isshuukan Friends”. Takashi as the badass, genius friend and Takahashi Haori (Yamagishi Saki) as the kind, caring friend who miraculously does not hold an ounce of maliciousness in her even when the odds aren’t in her favour.

The best part, though? The usual over the top qualities of anime/manga are absent in this live action movie.

All in all, the ideal teenage film to enjoy during the weekend.

Movie Review: Let Me Eat Your Pancreas

Title: Let Me Eat Your Pancreas (Yes, the title is correct. I checked)

Japanese Title: 君の膵臓をたべたい || Kimi no Suizou wo Tabetai

Starring: Kitamura Takumi, Hamabe Minami, Oguri Shun, Kitagawa Keiko, Otomo Karen, Yamoto Yuma, Sakurada Dori, Kamiji Yusuke, Morishita Daichi

Genre: Romance

Rating: 9/10

Holy crap what is that title

If you’ve been on a lookout for a zombie movie, you’re going to be sorely disappointed with this flick from Japan. Because as funky as the title is, Let Me Eat Your Pancreas is anything but a gore fest.

Which is something I would have pinned it down as if not for the fact that I regularly lurk on the Moments page of HelloTalk. I saw people raving about how romantic/beautiful/poignant it is, so really, the thought of it being a horror flick pretty much diminished from my mind.

That doesn’t mean the same applies for everyone else, though. There was a handful of people at the cinema last night who kept staring at the screen, then at their tickets, then at the screen again in utter confusion. Of course, the words “What the heck is this movie about?” and “What movie is this?” followed suit. Like they had expected blood and violence instead of what appeared to be a serene, cherry blossom-blessed scene with young high school leads leading completely normal lives. Where were the guts and gore?

Oh, the pain.

Unfortunately for them, the most morbid thing in Let Me Eat Your Pancreas is the female lead’s joking comments about cannibalism.

So there’s no horror. What is it about then?

Set in Japan, Haruki is a high school teacher at the same school he graduated from. Despite choosing to pursue teaching due to the encouragement of someone special to him, he is laden with doubts. He has always been a loner, so really, what makes him suited to be a teacher? He has to interact with people, and that has never been his thing…

These doubts slowly begin to change when he is requested to sort out the books at the school library, which has to be closed down- for it has reached a state where it has been deemed too run down for use.

It is at this point onwards that his memories of his high school years begin to return to him with burning clarity- and with far greater frequency. Of his days spent with an ex-classmate, whom he had found out was suffering from a terminal pancreatic disease after he picked up her Illness diary at the hospital. Her name was Sakura, and there’s not a day that passes him by where he does not miss her.

What’s your take on it?

If I have to be brutally honest, even though I greatly enjoyed the movie, I wasn’t surprised by the way it turned out. It carries a lot of themes that are commonly found in Japanese stories (novels, dramas, anime, manga, etc…) and most prominently, it bears a strong resemblance to the live-action film, Your Lie in April. You know, the one starring that ball of fluff, Yamazaki Kento? That very one.

This familiarity with Japanese works is probably one of the reasons why I didn’t tear up during the film even though my friend did hahaha.

Still, though. Let Me Eat Your Pancreas is a beautiful movie that is worth watching, and dare I say, it might be a bit better than Your Lie in April? It’s tough to say, because both are brilliant works with talented leads, so I’m going to say that this particular decision of mine is made out of pure taste. Because even though I adore Kento to bits, I prefer the more focused approach that Let Me Eat Your Pancreas has on the leads’ relationship.

So yes. I definitely recommend giving this a watch. Let Me Eat Your Pancreas is hands down the, if not one of the, best romance Asian films I’ve seen to date. In fact, I still have this warm, feel-good feeling that it left me with as soon as the credits rolled last night.

It’s a lovely story about first love and I can’t help but to smile just thinking about it.

Just for fun

The title was shortened to “LET ME EAT YOU” on our movie tickets. My friend and I had a good laugh out of that!

I swear the title is a stroke of brilliance.