films seen
average score
Alive and kicking



2019 / 75m - Japan
Cry poster

Hirobumi Watanabe's latest film. Watanabe has been making a name for himself lately, though this is only the first film I've seen from him. His films aren't that easy to come by, not too surprising probably as this is hardcore film festival material. Casual film watchers be warned.

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Cry doesn't have much in the way of a narrative. It follows the daily routines of a guy who works in a pig pen, and that's all there is to it really. There's a purposefully grating soundtrack, no dialogue and no dramatic events. If that sounds dull, better stay away from this one as that's literally all you'll be getting.

The stark black and white cinematography is a definite plus though and the soundtrack combined with the repetitiveness of the imagery does make for an interesting watch. It's a bit long for my taste, also a little too documentary-like, but if you love yourself some experimental/off-kilter cinema then it's definitely worth a shot.

And the Mud Ship Sails Away...

Soshite Dorobune wa Yuku
2013 / 88m - Japan
And the Mud Ship Sails Away... poster

A quirky Japanese slacker comedy with strong indie touches. The Foolish Piggies have had a pretty good decade, though it's tricky to get to their films in the West. While this wasn't entirely my type of film, there's enough quirkiness and oddness present to leave me with a pleasant feeling, and the incentive to watch the rest of their films.

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Takashi is a deadbeat. He lives with his grandmother in a small house, tries to get by on his benefits every month, and just roams around town to kill time. Nobody really pushes him to do better, until his half-sister turns up out of the blue. She wants to connect with Takashi, which finally forces him to make an effort.

The black and white cinematography is decent, but feels a bit lazy. The soundtrack is a bit more notable, but not exactly subtle or well-integrated. Shibukawa is a perfect lead though, and the film gets progressively weirder, venturing into territory I didn't quite expect early on. Good fun, with the potential to be quite a bit better still.

Techno Brothers

Tekuno Burazâzu
2023 / 97m - Japan
Music, Comedy
Techno Brothers poster

Hirobumi Watanabe is a bit of a cult director. His previous films were pretty interesting, though not exactly great. Techno Brothers is a big step down, though I will say a personal hang-up prevented me from liking the film more. It's just that for a 2023 film called Techno Brothers, I find it unacceptable to come out with a Kraftwerk-inspired synth-group comedy. Either get with the times or change the title of the film.

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Three brothers are in a synth band, their manager tries to get them gigs but nobody in Japan seems to be into their style of music. She won't back down and keeps pushing for work, the brothers don't utter a word and simply follow her wherever she goes. With each attempt, the manager becomes more desperate.

The music is horrendous, the indie look isn't effective in hiding the lack of budget, and while some of the jokes are nice, too many of them are predictable and lazy. Japan is really bad at music-based films, even the indie ones can't save face. Maybe if they'd tried it with some actual techno ...