‘A Silent Voice’ Film Review | Bullying is NEVER OK!

Directed by Naoko Yamada, ‘A Silent Voice’ (Japanese: 聲の形 ‘Koe no Katachi’; lit. ‘The Shape of Voice’) is a coming-of-age story about second chances, social stigma and overall, a heart drenching tale of reconstruction and redemption.

A film adaption of Yoshitoki Oima’s manga series of the same name, the story’s protangonist is Shoya Ishida and follows his life as a high schooler on the brink of suicide. He becomes ostracized from his peers and everyone around him after he takes bullying Shoko Nishimiya, a deaf female student, too far in elementary school and rather than admit his mistakes, pushes blame amongst his friends. In doing so, he destroys his social connections and ends up with no friends.

From start to finish, the film provides a realistic view to the plot; no fantasy, no sugar-coating. Shoya’s struggles are all painted out and placed in plain sight. The film does rewind time to when Shoya was in Elementary school to provide context, and does it effectively without dragging on too long and away from the present-day of the film.

The art is colourful, beautiful and intricately detailed and this shows especially in the variety of locations and characters shown in the film. In terms of music, the film provides instrumental BGM to accompany appropriate scenes, but other than that, nothing really stood out in terms of music, which could be a good thing, as to not draw from the story and the focus wouldn’t drift away listening to the music. Although the theme song for the movie “Koi wo Shita no wa” by J-Pop artist aiko (which plays in the credits) is an acoustic song that really suits the mood of the film, sombre yet light and fleeting.

Anyone who is familiar with Japanese Anime or Manga will know the typical cliches; wide variety of eccentric characters, self-narrated inner thoughts, comedic flair and emotion you can’t seem to capture enough in real life. That being said, the plot, the characters and the aforementioned emotions are all put on display in a way that is realistic and engaging, making it easier for people to enjoy, relate to and overall, genuinely feel the emotions surrounding the characters.

For that very reason this film is defintely a must-see! I loved it, and there was points in the film where I wanted to scream, cry and at one point I held my breath and almost turned purple (but I ain’t spoiling that moment so you can all experience that suffering too😅)

Whether you’re accustomed to Japanese Anime, be it series or movie, or not, this film has a plethora of relativity for almost anyone, and with illustrious aesthetics and an even more beautiful story, it would be an absolute crime to pass off. (So says me, the Anime Police!😂)

AND WITH THAT BEING SAID, HERE IS THE TRAILER AND SOME HONOURABLE MENTIONS~ [and a well placed SPOILER ALERT right here]


Honourable Mentions

  • The film never properly shows her but Shoya has a sister who has a daughter with a man of African descent (I assume) who all live in a small flat above his mother’s hair salon. Which makes a total of 5 people living together in the small flat and adds to the diverse collection of characters in the film😄
  • One of Shoya’s friends after a significant event (that would be waaaaay too much of spoiler) says to Shoko “You have to love yourself, even the bad parts” – I thought that was nicely placed in the film.
  • This wouldn’t be obvious to western viewers, but the characters are often feeding Koi fish (Carps), a significant kind of fish in Japan. Koi fish in Japan are a symbollic icon of overcoming adversity, so the fact the characters are always seen jumping into the river and feeding Koi fish is a symbolism of the main characters overcoming their short-comings and working on reconstructing their lives. Koi fish also can signify love *wink wink* They’re also spiritually significant, think Pudge the fish in Lilo and Stich.
  • There is a scene where Shoya and his friend visit a place called “Meow Meow Club” and unfortunately for them it wasn’t the kind of “meWOW” they were hoping for – it was a literal Cat Cafe, which is common in Japan and self explainatory – a cafe where you sit and play with cats😅

Say Something Nice | Review

From the mind of Sam Brooks (Riding in Cars with (Mostly Straight) Boys) comes Say Something Nice which isn’t so much a play, as it is an experience.

In this world you come across a lot of dicks out there, and sometimes you do and say things that makes you one of them- don’t do that.

Say Something Nice will teach us all how to be nice to each other, which isn’t too hard.

Often enough we’re too bogged down in our own lives to really care about the things we do and say, or more likely the things that we don’t do and say.

What we do, as opposed to what we think, defines who we are.

We may think we’re being nice, but unless your actions back this assertion you’re just someone who thinks nice things.

Say Something Nice is rather confronting, but not in a bad way.

You aren’t going to be lectured at by someone wearing robes telling you how to treat each other, save that nonsense for Sundays.

It’s a thought-provoking piece of multimedia theatre that doesn’t just require your participation, but your willingness to think about what ‘nice’ is and whether or not you’ve applied it at all in your actions.

The show is limited to about 20-30 people, which should make for an interesting session.

Here’s some advice: bring an open mind and your best poker-face, I reckon.

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When: 7pm, 7 – 10 March (As part of Auckland Fringe)

Where: Maota Samoa / Samoa House (Level 1, 283 Karangahape Road)

KOHA SHOW but limited to 20/30 people, so book at smokelabours@gmail.com to reserve your spot.

 

Logan Review | The grisly send off we didn’t realise we deserved

Director James Mangold makes very good use of the R-rating Logan is given, there’s ample amount of violence, course language and even a couple of boobies.

However that’s not why the film sets itself apart from all Wolverine related films that have come before. Logan does something  to the audience in the two or so hours it has you for. It proves to you that Logan (Hugh Jackman) deserved this send off as much as we did, because it doesn’t try to pander to or be a product of the first two Wolverine (and 11 other X-men) films.

It’s its own beast, a steady moving dystopian road film that’s less heady escapism and more gritty storytelling that gives Wolverine more character than any other X-men film before it.

Set in 2029 with a worse-for-wear Logan, driving around people in a limo-for-hire to save money not only to (illegally) buy medicine for an ailing 90 year old Charles Xavier- who suffers seizures that causes anyone near him to get mentally rocked- but squirrel away funds to buy a boat for him and the once regal Professor X to live on the high seas like a couple of grumpy mutant pirates.

This, unfortunately, doesn’t come to pass. Not a spoiler, surely you would have guessed that this isn’t where the film’s headed- or it would have been called Logan’s Island.

Enter 11-year-old Laura (Dafne Keen), a dark-eyed orphan dumped into Logan’s life by a Mexican nurse (Elizabeth Rodriguez) from a local clinic.

She’s quiet, broody and her eyes speak of a child who’s seen too much and knows too much of a world that’s been less than kind to her- remind you of anyone?

If you guessed Logan wasn’t going to be the best of babysitters you would have been right, but he’s the one she’s stuck with and I’m making the situation sound much lighter than it is.

Watch the film, decide how off the tone of my review is for yourself.

It’s good, there are LOLS- mostly of the slice of life/every day wry variety that you would experience yourself.

But I give it 4 and a half JAWKWARDLOLS out of five because half of one of the LOLS got stuck in my throat after that final scene.

It’s out now in New Zealand cinemas and just in case you haven’t seen the trailer, or you just want to watch it again, check it out below:

 

Your Name Review | visually stunning, emotionally stimulating

Makoto Shinkai’s (5 Centimeters Per Second, 2007, and The Garden of Words, 2013) latest offering, Your Name, is a stunning piece of animated film.  It takes you on a whimsical YA body-swap adventure that somehow manages to be grounded in reality in spite of the sheer imagination required for such a storyline. Despite pulling on your heartstrings, Your Name doesn’t exactly break it and leaves you satisfied but still wanting more.

Mitsuha and Taki are two total strangers living completely different lives.

But when Mitsuha makes a wish to leave her mountain town for the bustling city of Tokyo, they become connected in a bizarre way- somehow connected to the meteor shower we see at the very beginning of the film.

Mitsuha finds herself in dreams of being a boy living in Tokyo while Taki dreams he is a girl from a rural town he’s never been to.

What does their newfound connection mean? And how will it bring them together?

In its exploration of the line between the beginning and the end, from minute things to the heavier questions of life, the film juxtaposes new and old, the urban sprawl and rural life alongside their male and female counterparts while allowing the audience both healthy doses of laughter and poignant moments of heartache.

It’s almost like being a daydream yourself, however everyone is speaking Japanese and of course it’s animated, not live-action.

The J-Pop soundtrack is lit, drawing you into the film straight away and complimenting the visual brilliance of the landscapes and forces of nature quite brilliantly.

Check it out when you can, it’s great to see on a huge screen I tell ya. Find out where, in NZ, and go see it! The film opens for a limited screening run on Dec 1st.

I’ve heard people compare Shinkai to Hayao Miyazaki, calling him Miyazaki’s heir apparent, but I can’t say the comparison is fair. Shinkai’s work is its own beast, and Your Name has a quality to it that isn’t Miyazaki but that’s a good thing in that we should be allowed quality work that isn’t cut from the same stone, or that follows a similar kind of format.

You’ll be thinking about the film’s plot and trajectory long after the vividness of the the painted cityscapes have faded from the screens, they become etched in your mind along with thoughts of ‘what next’ after that final scene.

Watch the trailer below, beyond the trailer are our honourable mentions RIFE with spoilers so continue at your own risk!

Honourable Mentions:

  • Just one because I’ve talked enough: Taki, you had ONE job just before twilight hit and Mitsuha disappeared. Write your name on her palm but instead he writes “I love you” and as cries and smiles before saying, “Idiot…I can’t remember your name with this…” I’m sitting in the theatre trying not to yell out TAKI YOU HAD ONE JOB. ONE JOB!
  • Huh and who’s have thought it was also a time travelling tale on TOP of the the body-swap?
  • Every time they’d wake up in each other’s bodies and Taki kept getting snapped fondling Mitsuha’s boobs was always a crack up- each time you think… nah he won’t this time, zoink the door opens he’s like: mdvdrif

Three Wise Cousins | Review

So the Three Wise Cousin’s DVD is now out, check out our review of the film and where you can get a copy of it for yourselves or your own wise cousins who’ve yet to see it.

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Film: Three Wise Cousins
Director: Stallone Vaiaoga-Ioasa aka S.Q.S

DVD’s Now Out: Order from MadMan NZ Entertainment!

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As Three Wise Cousins opens up in Hastings, Dunedin, and Palmerston North from today I figured I should write a review about the filmNot because I’m Samoan, or because it’s what everyone’s talking about, but because it’s good. Despite only being shown at a handful of cinemas across New Zealand the self-funded, grassroots, comedy has grossed about US$200,000 in the last two weeks.

And it’s about to head over across the ditch to Australia, with a Samoan premiere also set for the end of February.

The film has an engaging storyline, offers plenty of laughs, the characters are memorable, and there’s a universal message behind it that doesn’t just apply to Samoans or Pacific Islanders.

It follows a young New Zealand-born Samoan Adam (Neil Amituanai) as he heads to the motherland in an attempt to impress his crush Mary…

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children | Film Review

Please note the following review does not contain spoilers. 

“It’s time for you to learn what you can do.”

Another exciting film to hit the screens this year by none other than director Tim Burton. A great mixture of boy meets girl, wry humour, spooky elements, and most importantly the theme of self discovery – because in today’s society, who are you and how do you fit in, if you don’t know yourself.

The clash of fantasy and reality makes the journey of this film mesh so well with the self discovery and hero element. It also has a good blend of dark and light elements, that won’t scare the kids too much. The film is 127 minutes long, but time flies as you are absorbed into the storyline.

The visuals and effects will amaze, however the only downside I felt the film had was the unexplored history of Abe. It’s something the adults will pick up on but kids will wash over. I feel like it would give more of an impact and make the film far more well rounded in its story telling. Also majority of the characters are touched upon, and it makes you question what really is the point of having all of them.

However… Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a great all rounder film, for all to see. Escape the ordinary and check out the trailer below. Oh and stay peculiar people, life is much more fun that way… you’ll see.

Mua O! Macbeth by Black Friars Theatre Company | Review

Something wickedly amazing this way comes.

The Black Friars Theatre Company is founded on the ideal of breaking down preconceptions and stereotypes by retelling classic literature in a way that’s relevant to Pacific communities in South Auckland- and in a wider NZ context.

Comprised of young Pacific talent, they’ve been retelling Shakespearean plays in a Pasifika context for the past 10 years.

Their latest endeavour, a magnificent, dynamic and distinctively Pasifika re-imagining of Macbeth is not only a resounding success but an experience that manages to fuse together various Pacific cultures and classic literature in an impressive hour and a half of enthralling theatre.

Under the direction of Billy Revell and Michelle Johansson, Shakespearean prose and dark magic is blended seemingly with Pacific language, music and dance within a Pan-Pacific Hawaiki.

An innovative re-staging of the traditional Shakespearean classic for Pasifika in Aotearoa set against a backdrop of imagined Hawaiki, musical direction (Siosaia Folau) and choreography (Theresa Sao) is impressive and Viola Johansson’s costumes are amazing to behold.

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While Macbeth and Lady Macbeth actors Lauie Tofia and Denyce Su’a gave wonderful performances, which rendered the audience charmed, it was the three witches played by secondary school students Vitinia-Gabrielle Togiatama, Akinehi Munroe, Irene Folau (winner of the Stand Up, Stand Out vocal solo) who absolutely stole the show.

Although at times it can feel like the 14-strong choir is almost shouting into your ear, the harmonies and raw talent made up for the loudness.

Not many LOLs due to the fact that it was a tragedy, however it was a unique and well-executed production that you’d want to experience at least once.

The LOL is silent.

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