Archive for the Romantic Category

Nana Review

Posted in 4.5 Stars, Drama, Foreign, Review, Romantic on August 26, 2009 by russellsreviews

Nana is a live action adaptation of a popular manga, anime series of the same name. I have never seen or read any of it, and the little knowledge I have of Nana was really only what I remembered from when my fiance talked about it. Its a foreign romantic story, yes, so if you have low tolerance on character drama or “love stories” this could mean to some people will automatically write Nana off, but to these people I say grow up, and try to expand your horizons a little. Now thats out of the way on to the movie.

Nana is ironic story of two girls from very different worlds, but with the same name and some deeper things very much in common, meet by chance on a train. Some time later when one Nana decides to look for an apartment in Tokyo to be closer to her boyfriend she once again bumps into the other Nana looking at the very same apartment. Recalling how well they got along at that chance meeting on the train and how they both are need of a room mate they decide to move in together. Although the two girls couldn’t look or act more opposite, they find similarities in their lives, grow closer, and become a much needed support in crisis. They help improve each other and make them see that their love life needs a second look.

All of this might sound too girly, but the movie never crosses that line so even the average guy should like this film. The problems of both girls look very real and well done that you care and feel their ups and downs. All of the emotions have real weight to them. Not only this, but the outcome you can never be sure about. It’s been a long time since I have seen a romantic movie were you don’t have a check list of what happens next and how they all end up.

On top of the great love stories, you have a great message about humanity in general. Both Nana’s are totally different, yet the same. They both have insecurities, passions, and desires. Through the bridge of music they find something to build a friendship on. If people could be nice to each other and try to find things to relate to life would be much easier. You can’t judge a person by looks or how they act alone. Look deeper at that person that you might have thought was weird or different to you could end up being a better friend to you than the ones you have now.

I can’t say how well Nana adapted the source material to film, but as movie it accomplishes a lot. The acting, the direction, and emotions are top grade. Nana is another movie in a long line that mainstream Hollywood should check out on how to make simply good drama. So should you.



The Girl Who Leapt Through Time Review

Posted in 4 Stars, Anime, Drama, Foreign, New Movie, Review, Romantic on July 1, 2009 by russellsreviews

Anime is very misunderstood art. It often gets labeled as cartoons or for kids and gets overlooked by many people. Anime also gets pigeon holed as just fast, cool, weird mindless entertainment. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Japanese animation is every which way and can be anything only limited to the imagination of the artists. Anime is also free from the restrains of American thinking of what can or cannot be in animation. The art pushes the boundaries of thoughts and explore worlds or emotions that can never be achieved in live action in any country. It can be action, fantasy, family, or even romantic. The Girl who leapt through time is the latter.

Don’t be fooled by the sci-fi name this is very much a love story. Makoto is a regular clumsy girl high school girl who just likes hanging out with her friends. One day after school she some how gains the ability to literally leap backwards in time. The farther she leaps, the farther she can travel back. She uses her new power to help friends, but also to make sure she never makes a stupid mistake again with very funny results. Things get complicated for her however when she discovers that both of her life long friends actually have a crush on her. She doesn’t want to ruin their great friendship so she keeps on leaping back to just simply avoid the questions and changes, but she finds that no matter how many times she goes back she just can’t change fate or love.

How and why she gets to time travel does require some disbelief, but it really adds an extra dynamic to the love story and gives everything unique emotions and a interesting plot twist. The only flaw really is how the movie ends. Its good and emotional, but without giving to much away its also a little heartbreaking and confusing.

Even though the movie is new it looks more out dated compared to most anime standards of today but the hand drawn approach works and gives the characters more realistic emotions than if it was done the other way.

The ending does keep The Girl Who Leapt Through Time to be a true breakout hit, but the movie is still a rewarding experience. Even with the ending, like Studio Chibli films, this a good movie to show your girlfriend who might not be that into Anime as a starting point, but also a good one to show people who have a boxed mind when it comes to Anime.


The Reader Review

Posted in 2.5 Stars, Drama, Review, Romantic on June 17, 2009 by russellsreviews

The Reader is a tough review. It’s trying to be thought provoking and mature and everything indie film lovers crave. No doubt many critics and viewers will be swallowed up by the drama, but the reality is The Reader is incoherent and never really established any idea long enough to really understand the point of the film.

In the 1940’s Germany, one day when a boy is walking home from school he falls very ill and is helped by a tram conductor Hanna Schmitz. Once he recovers he decides to return to Hanna’s place and thank her. When the boy, Micheal, gets caught looking at Hanna undress runs away flustered. Part curiosity and part wanting to apologize, Micheal visits Hanna again, only this time being pushed away Hanna Seduces him. They fall in love and Micheal lovingly reads to her everday, but its clear this relationship won’t last. See Hannah is in her 30’s and Micheal is 15. Not only does this cause obvious problems, but its hard to really get caught up in the couple when its so wrong for them to be together in the first place.

When Hanna leaves Micheal the movie jumps ahead in the 60’s and now Micheal is in college and studying law. One of the trails he is studying is a case where many former women Nazi prison guards, one of which is Hanna, are being tried for their crimes during the holocaust. Then during this middle part of the film The Reader shifts from a dramatic love story into a court room drama. The film goes into deeper territory here and really shows the hypocrisy and huge guilt leftover from the German people. The trial has the more interesting scenes of the movie, but they abruptly end and switches back focusing on Hanna and Micheal’s sad relationship which makes one wonder why the trial was even necessary.

The real crutch of the film is bad character motivations and reactions. One night Micheal surprises Hanna at work in the last tram car, but Hanna doesn’t seem amused. When they meet back at home Hanna yells and criticizes him not because he showed up, but because he went to the back car instead of the car she was in. The Reader is filled with weird reactions like this. The worst of these is the tag line of the movie,”How far would you go to protect a secret.” Well, Danna’s secret is she can’t read. She joins the Nazi party because she can’t read. Every life choice she makes is because she is trying to hide the fact she can’t read. She even could have gotten a not guilty verdict in the trial if she just, guess what, admit she can’t read. This is totally irrational. At the end of the film, only after she has been serving the rest of her life in prison, then she gets the great idea to try learn how to read. Why she didn’t try to learn before the end of her life only adds to the insanity of her decision.

The Reader is a good movie, but its filled with these illogical decisions that just bogs the film down and takes you out of the experience. There is a lot of subtle emotions present, but character motivations are lost on the viewer in most cases. I’m sure the book that the film is based of fills in the gaps, but unless your just in a mood for something depressing you can skip the movie.