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  • Portrait of the Wind

    Portrait of the Wind

    ★★★½

    One of those quiet and introspective films that thrive on its sorrowful mood rather than the actual story taking place. Moving at a nonchalant pace, there is plenty of time to relish the beautiful shots of grass blowing in the wind or clouds drifting through the sky. As nature passes by, there is a wonderful sense of calm in the midst of suffering. With a melancholic piano-based score as well, the film's atmosphere is remarkably absorbing as it taps into…

  • Farewell, Kuro

    Farewell, Kuro

    ★★★

    Although it sometimes relies too much on the overly familiar sentimentality one expects from this type of story, this is a surprisingly restrained film that still manages to tap into the right emotions at the right time. Instead of just dwelling on the dog herself, Farewell Kuro is just as concerned with the surrounding characters as they experience love, loss, and new beginnings over the span of 10 years. Satoshi Tsumabuki and Ayumi Ito are particularly good per usual as…

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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…