[Review] PARADE (2010)

I have been looking for this film for ages, ever since I saw Karina promoting it in Himitsu no Arashi-chan. Despite the trailer, I didn’t expect the story to turn out like that. Anyway, to begin this review, let’s start it off with a synopsis.

“Parade” is the story of a strange living situation in a 2LDK apartment (having two bedrooms, a living-dining room, and a kitchen) in suburban Tokyo. There are five residents ranging in age from eighteen to twenty-eight: Ryosuke (Keisuke Koide) a male student with no evidence of any drive; Kotomi (Shihori Kanjiya), an out-of-work aspiring actress who longs for a celebrity boyfriend; Miki (Karina), a heavy-drinking female illustrator; Satoru (Kento Hayashi), a male prostitute with a spectator like attitude toward life; and Naoki (Tatsuya Fujiwara), a salaryman who works for a film distribution company and says strange things in his sleep. The roommates are not in any way romantically involved with one another, but one can see subtle hints of affection and friendship among them. In the end, however, none of them really know each other.

– AsianMediaWiki

The film progressed by narrating the story behind each character, at the same time telling something about the residents’ relationship with each other. The character build-up was amazing. Somehow, within the first five minutes, I already understood what each of their persona is. Maybe because it was a movie, and time is limited to a mere 120 minutes, everything was introduced quickly – something that I appreciated given that a movie’s first impression usually speaks out what the viewers should expect. You get to like each individually, and all through-out the film the lines thrown were “as expected” of the speaker. I didn’t see any line used out of character.

The plot in itself has to be proud. From the beginning, a sub-plot was already introduced, however, the way Director Isao Yukisada snaked it through the story was splendid. The significance of the criminal was all over the place, but the characters seem to disregard it – a worthy way to develop the plot more and convince the viewers to follow more on the characters’ lives rather than an unnamed crook. I also feel that the attack in the film was the best way to tell the story of the characters although it seemed less grabbing to me. My only concern here is that there were a couple of misplaced life snippets. I feel like there were some scenes that were cut-off to shorten the film, but they were forgettable so I guess it was understandable. I’ve only seen a few movies of Yukisada (Closed Note, Crying Out Love, in the Center of the World) but I liked this one way better than the previous two. I’ve noticed that he likes taking time when the characters are fewer, but with a five-main-cast movie, time was of apt importance.

From here, I’d like to digress from a technical critic to something on a more personal level. I’ve liked Fujiwara Tatsuya’s acting since Battle Royale, and adored him in Death Note. I must say that he hasn’t lost his finesse in acting, and he’s one of the few non-idols that I follow-up on, at least in the film and drama industry. Karina has long dropped her beautiful image for the sake of acting more varied roles, and although I can still see a raw sort of acting in this film, I would want to see her in darker roles. Kanjiya Shihori has a spark of her own; she carried herself well in the film, but it was only because there was a stark contrast between Kotomi and Mirai. She could do with a bit more of improvement, seeing that she has a flawless acting chemistry in scenes with Keisuke Koide, who I believe, was very much natural in portraying a dumb college student. It wasn’t my first time watching Kento Hayashi, but his acting didn’t leave much of a good impression on me in A Little Princess. He still has much to improve on since I didn’t find his role much too difficult to handle.

I liked the musical score. It sort of sucked the audience in the world of Parade.

There’s something though that I didn’t really understand. How come the title was PARADE? Was it because, similarly, in a parade, there are various stories behind the floats? Well, it certainly gave off that feeling. This film is a 4 out of 5, and I recommend this a watch on a casual Friday night with friends.






Teaser Trailer: Paradise Kiss Movie

I saw the teaser for Paradise Kiss Live Action Movie, starring Kitagawa Keiko and Osamu Mukai the other day. And I must say that the thing that disappointed me the most was the way they brought Johji to life. Osamu Mukai being casted was fine, I actually got excited, but the way he was physically characterized irked me. I was itching to take that hat off from him and give him the Johji hairstyle from the manga!

Embedding was disabled so check it here: Paradise Kiss Movie Trailer

Now I’m only half-excited compared to when the first news came out.

Letters from Iwo Jima: Taking a look at Nino

I watched Letters from Iwo Jima last week. I thought that I should make a review of the film. But, 1) it’s a war film, I don’t think I can do one for it, and 2) it’s based on history, of which I only know the story from my country’s point of view. If I’m going to write a review for it, I should keep in mind facts more than the emotions in it (although I might write one just because of the exemplary acting of the cast).

Anyway, while I was looking up Nino again online, I stumbled on this article. I thought people might want to read about it, because it gives Nino too much praise. Not that I’m complaining, of course. I learned more about him through this article.

The story is written on this actor’s face
Kazunari Ninomiya, 23, expands an already long resume as the `Iwo Jima’ soldier on whose visage war’s toll is etched.
January 28, 2007|Bruce Wallace, Times Staff Writer


credit: google

Tokyo — KAZUNARI Ninomiya’s face is unblemished, almost fragile, a porcelain slate of innocence onto which director Clint Eastwood projects the emotional toll of war in “Letters From Iwo Jima.” Ninomiya plays Saigo, an apolitical baker conscripted into the doomed defense of the island, fighting not for the generals or the emperor but only to survive and return to his wife and infant daughter. Through his eyes we see battle, its cynicism, fear, the hatreds and pity. An unknown actor to American audiences, his face was perfect for Eastwood’s Everyman.

But in Japan, Ninomiya is a mega-star, a face you can’t avoid. This wisp of a 23-year-old has been in the business since he was 14. Big screen and small. Theater. A singer and dancer in Arashi (Storm), one of Japan’s most popular male idol bands (and the Japanese love their idol bands). Ninomiya does TV commercials. He does radio shows, and he’s a regular presence in Japan’s mass-selling fan magazines. Even his voice is in demand, heard as one of the leading characters in the feature-length anime “Tekkon Kinkreet.” The kid likes to work.

“It’s different from wanting to be a star — I’ve always wanted to create something, I want to share the joy of creation with others,” Ninomiya said between appearances last month for the Tokyo premiere of “Letters,” which remains at the top of the Japanese box office weeks after release. The first screenings had left several young women in the audience in tears, though it was hard to tell whether they were crying over Saigo’s story or from excitement when Ninomiya appeared on stage to take a bow with his costars after the credits.

Cute? Well, yes.


credit: google

CREATIVITY doesn’t usually come high on the list of skills needed to succeed in Japanese pop culture, where cuteness is prized above all. Ninomiya is a product of the artist management company Johnny & Associates, founded in 1963 by California-born Johnny Kitagawa, which has produced the cutest of the cute in the boy idol industry.

With his stable of talent — talento as it is known here — Johnny’s exerts extraordinary power over Japanese entertainment. Kitagawa’s formulaically engineered idol bands, beginning with the Four Leaves in 1968 and continuing today with the omnipresent SMAP and a steady stream of other squeal-inducers like Arashi, don’t just sing. Selected from thousands of auditioning teens, the idols are trained to dance, act and handle themselves on TV as part of Kitagawa’s grooming for stardom. He uses established stars to leverage TV exposure for newcomers, a grip over the celebrity-thirsty networks that is commercially successful but also suggests that Johnny’s is more factory than talent incubator.

Yet many here argue that Ninomiya is different from most of the cookie-cutter cuties of the idol world. He acted before he sang, debuting on stage rather than TV, in a production of “Stand by Me” at age 14. He had the River Phoenix role.

“Nino stood out early,” says Julie Fujishima, a vice president at Johnny’s. “He came to us to become a talento, but it was obvious he had a talent for acting.” Fujishima says Ninomiya’s breakthrough came in a TV drama called “Amagigoe” that aired on New Year’s Day 1998. “He was very special, very good, and it got everyone’s attention.”

More TV dramas followed (TV tends to create bigger stars among Japanese fans than the movies do). And in 1999, Ninomiya became one of the five young stars selected by Johnny’s to join Arashi, a J-pop troupe that made its singing and dancing debut on a cruise ship off Hawaii before it had a record out.

“I always liked singing,” Ninomiya says. “When I was in the car with my family we’d always play music. I liked American bands, and I went to a Bon Jovi concert when they came to Tokyo Dome. Also Backstreet Boys. When I go to concerts by Japanese musicians, I tend to study them. But American musicians entertain me.”

A string of Arashi hits predictably followed, though the relentlessly bland J-pop is not really about the music but about the look. It was Jun Matsumoto, with his ripped abs, who emerged as the band’s biggest heartthrob, its Davy Jones, to use a Monkees analogy.

Arashi members have all cultivated different personalities for their fans, and Ninomiya is known as the “actor” in the group. He made his first movie in 2002, a supporting role in a drama called “Pikanchi, Life Is Hard, but Happy.” He continued to find theater roles, playing the James Dean role of Jim Stark in a two-month run of “Rebel Without a Cause” in 2005.

And this month, he starts a TV series called “Dear Father,” in which he plays an apprentice chef working for a tough Tokyo master. He laughs when asked if he can cook. “No,” he says as he emerges from the set’s kitchen during a break in the shooting, his hands wet from washing dishes. “But the work is fun.”

“There’s a real personality to his acting,” says Rieko Miyamoto, the show’s director. “He can act with his mouth and his eyes.” So Ninomiya was an obvious candidate when Eastwood sent out a casting call to Japanese actors for “Letters From Iwo Jima.” In addition to his talent, the studio calculated that Ninomiya’s J-pop aura might drag a younger crowd to the box office, a tactic that has paid off to some degree, though Warner Bros. exit figures still show that the bulk of the movie’s Japanese audience is in its late 30s to early 50s.

Audition tapes were sent across the Pacific to the late Phyllis Huffman, the casting director who had been a longtime Eastwood collaborator. Johnny’s had another of its stars in mind for the Saigo role and Ninomiya was originally cast as Private Shimizu, the idealistic military policeman sent to Iwo Jima as punishment for showing mercy toward civilians. But Eastwood had not settled on his Saigo, and the director asked Ninomiya to read again for that part.

A personal connection


credit: google

LIKE most young Japanese, Ninomiya had only a sketchy idea about the events at Iwo Jima in early 1945. Unlike most of his contemporaries, he at least knew where the tiny volcanic island is located because he has a map of Japan on the wall of his bathroom at home “and when I sit down, Iwo Jima is right in front of my eyes.”

He went into the role the way Japanese soldiers went to battle: unsure of the fate that awaited them, suppressing their emotions. Japanese directors like to exaggerate emotions, he says, cranking up the tears and the music. “They make movies with greater and greater emotion, and it’s not realistic,” Ninomiya says. “So if you make a movie [like ‘Letters’] that is based on reality, some people will find it uninteresting. They will say I should have cried more in certain scenes.”

Ninomiya shed his tears after the film was in the can. His grandfather had been a soldier sent off to fight Japan’s imperial wars. And he told his grandson about his war: stationed in the occupied Korean peninsula, taken prisoner by Soviet troops, incarcerated in Siberia.

Then the grandson, having played a suffering soldier facing slaughter in a hopeless cause, found himself one night watching another war drama on Japanese TV.

“I couldn’t stop crying,” he says. “I cried, because it was my grandfather’s story.”


I know now that both Nino and I have grandpas that were soldiers in WW2. I basically know how he feels as I also feel the same way whenever my Grandpa will tell stories about the war.

Keiko Kitagawa, Mukai Osamu for Paradise Kiss Movie

I was not exactly a fan of Keiko’s acting but we’ll see about this movie. I love Mukai and he acts pretty decently as a funny/epic!fail guy, so I’m not expecting anything from his George/Joji acting. But it’s ParaKiss, and it’s all the reason why I want to watch!

Some of the supporting cast I’ve seen before. Kato Natsuki should stand out. Can’t wait for this one!

KariPi or PiRina?

credits: AFcredits: AF

Although the news was out for about 3 months already, I thought I’d give out my opinion. I really love both of them!

Ever since I saw Karina as the Onee-san in Koizora, I had always seen her as someone beautiful. And then I saw her in Love shuffle, along with a more refined acting skill as she was one of the lead characters. Now I get all jumpy knowing that she’ll be starring a movie with Yamashita Tomohisa.

KariPi or PiRina? Whatever the pairing name shall be, I’m happy to see both of them acting together again. I just hope Karina gets a decent starring role – I mean, the title is “Ashita no Joe”and it will definitely focus more on Yamashita. I wish it wouldn’t be the second Kurosagi Movie in which Horikita Maki only got like a 5-minute screen time.

Anyway, I’m not hoping for any romantic off-screen story, because I think Yamapi is happy with Kitagawa Keiko. And Karina deserves someone else. Don’t get me wrong, I love Yamapi to bits (just that I think Karina deserves someone better! XD )!

And we can’t always expect onscreen partners to be lovers in real life.

Blabs on Twilight

I know I said I won’t post anything regarding Twilight if I didn’t like it. However, I think I deserve an opinion. And the reason why I said those were so that I don’t get banned for saying foul things.

I don’t think I’ll get banned with the following though, so be it.

I just finished watching Twilight. And for some reasons, the reviews I’ve read before are in one way or another correct. Edward Cullen was created to be the perfect man for any girl. He was created to be this perfect knight in shining armor that’s supposed to fulfill every ordinary girl’s wish. Handsome, smart, skin-glowing in sunlight, and everything nice.

Moving on, I think the film was pretty average. I’ve never read the book so I couldn’t really say anything if it has served the book any justice. I didn’t like the editing of the movie, though. The scenes were cut through and through like some bad-a** pasting of the clips together. When the speed of the vampires was being highlighted, I couldn’t help but get annoyed. Everything else was doubled in speed, and it was weird. There were also so many unnecessary scenes that were included.

Bella’s narration was one of my frustrations. I know she’s bored with her life but she can at least show some other tome in her voice. It can make any non-fan to become anti-fans, no pun intended. And the creation of her character annoys me so much. And I know I wouldn’t want to put myself in her character. She also fell in love too fast with Edward Cullen, and it’s weird that she wasn’t even scared even he was purposely scaring her. And oh, she didn’t know how to at least pretend to save her life. But at least she doesn’t have a squeaky voice, with all the stuttering – so props for that.

Anyway, I think the part that I enjoyed the most – yes, I did enjoy some parts, putting my bias aside – are the parts with Bella’s friends: the group welcoming her; and the times with Edward’s family: when Bella was introduced to them, and the baseball game. Those were pretty fun scenes, and in my opinion, a good pay for the boring narration and annoying character of Bella.

Oh yeah, pepper spray doesn’t work on vampires. And the apple was epic.

I cannot believe I’m going to watch Twilight

Yeap. You read right. In a few hours my download will be finished and I’m going to watch it. While watching I’m going to download New Moon. I’ve been thinking about doing this a few weeks ago, but never really got the will to do it. Today, I decided that the best way to distract myself is to watch it. Maybe I’ll realize that these sorts of distractions don’t work. I still have a number of things to do before it gets dark and I need to finish them or I’d be – well, I don’t even want to think about it.

If I ever get a round to it, I might post a review. But then again, I’m a busy body. If I don’t post a review, it’s probably because I didn’t like it. Haha.

No bashing. If you don’t like what I write, close your window or tab immediately. Before you explode. 🙂