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  • Tokyo Rendezvous

    Tokyo Rendezvous

    ★★★

    Pretty chill film about people trying to figure out their lives in a dilapidated apartment. At first, the film seems destined to take a lighthearted approach to the slice-of-life genre in the vein of those such as Naoko Ogigami. While still maintaining a relaxed vibe, Tokyo Rendezvous also ends up as a deeply introspective affair in which the characters undergo existential crises to varying degrees of intensity. Their modest surroundings also play a significant role in determining the proper course…

  • Tokyo Refugees

    Tokyo Refugees

    ★★½

    This would've been more compelling as an in-depth examination of Japan's "net-cafe refugees" and how they interact with society. Throughout the first 1/3 of Tokyo Refugees, the narrative's direction seemed to be taking this course as the main character, Osamu, must quickly adapt to a life of homelessness. There is a sense of brutal frankness that permeates through the earlier part of the story even if its realism may feel improbable at times. If the focus stayed on the initial…

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  • All About Lily Chou-Chou

    All About Lily Chou-Chou

    ★★★★★

    The mesmerizing music and stunning visuals make All About Lily Chou-Chou one of the most powerful viewing experiences in all its unbridled melancholy. This sentiment is only intensified upon repeat viewings once you become more immersed in the story's unconventional structure. There are sequences where one cannot help but feel deeply involved in the characters' emotional turmoil as they confront the unbelievably cruel world that surrounds them.

    At first, Iwai's narrative can feel too aimless and meandering (hence why a…

  • Bound for the Fields, the Mountains, and the Seacoast

    Bound for the Fields, the Mountains, and the Seacoast

    ★★★★½

    This is a statement that bears endless repeating: it's really a terrible shame that Ôbayashi is so underrepresented outside of Japan barring the modest popularity of House. As a result, it's so easy to just write him off as a director who only focuses on wackiness. His wackiness is undeniable, yet there is also an intense sincerity in his films that should not go ignored. Regardless of the subject matter, he always manages to extract so much warmth out of…