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2020 / 119m - Japan
Sakura poster

An odd little drama. The first half is very sweet, gentle, and heartwarming, but underneath that layer of happiness lurks a darkness that isn't so much evil or malignant, but still has a very severe impact on the characters involved. The second half hits pretty hard, also due to the contrast with the first part, well-played by director Yazaki. Other than that, you get a Japanese drama that is pretty much by the numbers, sporting polished cinematography, a pleasant score, and excellent performances. The interesting twist is what makes Sakura stand out, well worth watching for fans of the genre.

Still Life of Memories

Sutiru Raifu Obu Memorizu
2018 / 107m - Japan
Still Life of Memories poster

I've seen quite a few Japanese dramas, but this one was quite peculiar. It's a surprisingly demure film, certainly considering its premise. It's also probably a bit too artsy for its own good, but after a somewhat rough start, director Yazaki manages to create something quite beautiful and magical.

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Haruma is a photographer who specializes in black and white photography. One day Rei visits one of Haruma's exhibitions. She's quite taken with his work and commissions a photoshoot. Haruma somewhat reluctantly agrees and finds himself conflicted when he is asked to photograph Rei's genitalia.

The story about an artist becoming infatuated and somewhat overwhelmed by a new and rather taboo subject certainly isn't new, but Yazaki's particular blend of cold and warm drama is quite unique. The performances are strong, there are some memorable moments and some pretty emotional scenes. Not everything works, the beginning is a little too tough for its own good, but stick with it, and you might discover a very worthwhile drama.

The Place Where the Sun Sits

Taiyo no Suwaru Basho
2014 / 102m - Japan
The Place Where the Sun Sits poster

Sweet Little Lies

Suîto Ritoru Raizu
2010 / 117m - Japan
Sweet Little Lies poster

Strawberry Shortcakes

2006 / 127m - Japan
Strawberry Shortcakes poster