I have shared my opinions about some of the recent Western films but it has been a while since my exploration of foreign films were publicised.
Tada, kimi wo aishiteru (Heavenly Forest)
In the Japanese movie Tada, kimi wo aishiteru (aka ‘Heavenly Forest‘), we are introduced to Makoto (Hiroshi Tamaki). He is a shy photographer who is a loner, partly because of an embarassing skin condition and finds it difficult to share confidences with others until he meets Shizuru (Aoi Miyazaki). She befriends him just before their university orientation after he takes a snapshot of her trying in vain to get cars to stop at a crossing. Their budding friendship allows Makoto to tutor Shizuru in the art of photography in a special location – the ‘heavenly forest’ of this title.
It is clear that although Shizuru is very small for her age and has odd quirks, she genuinely cares for Makoto. He on the other hand is infatuated with Miyuki (Meisa Kuroki) who has a rather disturbing obsession with weddings. Finally realising her feelings are unlikely to be requited, Shizuru makes friends with Miyuki herself. Prior to graduation, Shizuru requests a special birthday kiss from Makoto. He agrees only because she says it is for the purpose of a photography competition. When he makes no acknowledgement of having feelings for her after the kiss they share in the forest, Shizuru disappears completely from his life.
It is only when she is missing that Makoto realises the big impact she had on his life and takes it on to search for her. Except he does not know that Shizuru has kept her own secret from him throughout their friendship, although she discovered his. Then he hears from Miyuki there is an opportunity to see Shizuru once again. The meeting turns out to be completely different affair from what he expected.
This film tells us not to take what you get for granted because you might only realise what you had after you lose it, promotes the beauty of the natural world through the stunning still photography and even the haunting music is captivating because this story is deeply engaging with a universal theme.
Time Traveller: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
You might know of the animated title of the same name which won several awards that was directed by Mamoru Hosada. This live-action Time Traveller: Girl Who Leapt Through Time movie contains similar themes but uses a different plot. The 2010 film stars Akari (Riisa Naka) – the same actress who voiced the protagonist of the animation – as the daughter of Professor Kasuko, who is given a mission to deliver a message to Kazuo Fukamachi (Kanji Ishimaru) in the year 1972 when a bus accident makes it impossible for her mother to fulfill a promise. The time travelling is possible because Akari’s mother develops a formula that enables her to return to and from the past.
Unfortunately Akari mixes up the dates and ends up in 1974, two years later from the actual date, where she meets Ryota (Akinobu Nakao), a budding filmmaker. His friend, the cameraman Gotetsu (Munetaka Aoki), has a deep connection to Akari but this realisation does not strike her until she returns to the present. Meanwhile Ryota and Akari share a sweet but sort of awkward chemistry which is obvious through the significance of the movie reel she is able to take to her present. Most of her time in 1974 is focused on her search for the elusive Kazuo. Even her own mother whom she meets is unable to help her. Ryota gives her help with her search by accompanying her to put an ad in a newspaper that requests Kazuo to meet with her. After she delivers her message, she remains in 1974 because she wants to prevent an accident but she is kept from altering the course of history by Kazuo himself.
So when Akari is forced to return back from the past, it’s a bittersweet pill to swallow given what could have blossomed. This too is one of those movies that depict images captured on film can leave a legacy. Both emotional and powerful in its climax, this is not one to discount in its effect.
Toy Story 3 is Pixar’s latest instalment of the story that introduced us to Woody (Tom Hanks) and Buzz (Tim Allen). With Andy having turned seventeen and being ready to go to college, the toys finally decide it is unlikely he will ever be play with them again and find the prospect of being donated to Sunnyside Daycare where children will play with them far more appealing than being relegated to the cosy but lonely attic.
Woody tries to discourage them from pursuing this course of action but their misguided anger at Andy for a simple accident of circumstance gets in the way and leads to unfortunate consequences when they place their trust in welcoming teddy bear, Lotso (Ned Beatty), who happens to be hiding his true colours.
Luckily for the toys, they find some unexpected allies who help them to defeat the villainous bear with the help of Woody who returns to rescue his friends and finally end up finding a suitable home at Bonnie’s (Emily Hahn) where they are treated with love.
The dialogue between Ken (Michael Keaton) and Barbie (Jody Benson), Molly’s rejected toy, who hit it off on meeting are a highlight and will have you in stitches while Buzz in his Spanish mode makes for an interesting romantic development between him and Jessie (Joan Cusack) so humour is ever present and allows for some light-heartedness.
Toy Story 3 is the most perilous adventure the toys have been on to date as it is at its most dramatic and darkest and the final climactic moment makes for one very sentimental scene leading you to wonder how toys that once belonged to us and were treasured so lovingly, then got dispatched and promptly forgotten. It is far more likely you’ll see the adults get touched at the heartstrings way more than the children.
With Toy Story 3, Pixar takes the audience on a journey back to their childhood and powerfully reminds them of what it was like back when they were innocent, free and dared to dream to infinity and beyond.