The good stuff
Uchida delivered this amazing genre bender that may leave the uninitiated a little stunned, but should be required viewing for everyone with a soft spot for Japanese genre cinema.
Uchida's latest is a film about a trans woman, who takes care of her niece, a promising ballet dancer. I've been keeping track of Uchida for a while now, and he's a pretty interesting director, but it's probably no surprise that one of his more conventional films to date won him his first big prize.
Ichika's mother isn't quite ready to take care of her daughter, so Nagisa steps in. Nagisa is transitioning to become a woman and is a bit conflicted about taking on extra responsibilities, but ultimately she wants to be there for Ichika. Taking care of a teen turns out to be quite a chore.
Midnight Swan is a nice film, but apart from its lead character it isn't all that remarkable. The drama is a bit grittier compared to more commercial films, that's about it. Proper cinematography, solid performances and a decent score make for a pleasant film, though the final half hour did get a bit too sentimental and predictable for my taste. A good film, but not really worth the accolades.
Another solid Uchida film. While few of his films are true masterpieces, Uchida almost always comes with some kind of refreshing angle. The story in Double Mints is intriguing, the acting is solid and so is the cinematography. It's a good film that had no problems holding my attention, but it stopped short of being great.
Simple story about a boy falling for the wrong girl, but sprinkled with Uchida's unique brand of weirdness. It's a fun, vibrant and amusing film, full of quirky characters and strange twists. The drama is quite gritty, but the tone is light-hearted and uplifting.
An early drama by Eiji Uchida. Uchida is no doubt an interesting director, but also someone who would need awhile to rise above his low budget roots. Topless has its charm and the potential is clear for all to see, at the same time it could've use a little extra polish to better bring out the core drama.
Natsuko is a free-spirited girl who lives with her friend Koji. Natsuko is openly gay and doesn't really mind what the world thinks of that, but not everybody finds it so easy to deal with. Her girlfriend breaks up with Natsuko to go and live with a guy, meanwhile she helps out a young girl looking for her mom.
The performances are decent and the drama is nice enough, but Uchida leans a little too much on the LGBT angle. It's simply not as revolutionary as he seems to think it is. The cinematography is rather plain too and the film's structure lacks a little coherence. It's definitely a worthwhile watch, just not a stand-out film.