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  • Cats Don't Come When You Call

    Cats Don't Come When You Call

    ★★★

    The first half of this film is pretty much just an excuse to show cute cats being really cute. As a cat lover, I don't really have a problem with that. For anyone who doesn't dig cats that much, watching the protagonist warm up to these rambunctious kittens over a number of playful scenes will probably get very tiresome. However, the film does eventually take a more introspective approach as the main character examines his place in the world and…

  • 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…

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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…

  • Gyeongju

    Gyeongju

    ★★★★

    Such a gentle film in its beautiful serenity. None of the characters really do much except walk around and drink tea, but their experience with each other leaves a tender impression as the day comes to an end. I'm not sure if the story warrants such a long running time (there are some minor subplots that end up nowhere), but Gyeongju still leaves you with a lingering feeling of warmth as these individuals go about their lives with a renewed peace of mind. With the gorgeous scenery and its welcoming stillness, it's hard not to be absorbed in the film's comforting tranquility.