films seen
average score
Alive and kicking



2023 / 120m - Japan
Drama, Thriller
Village poster

Rural Japan is struggling. Village would make an excellent double bill with Follow the Light, though Fujii's take is quite a bit darker. It's the tale of a small village trying to keep itself afloat by relying on a big recycling plant that towers over the town. The mix of traditional Japanese culture (Noh), dark thriller elements, and hefty drama is balanced remarkably well. The performances are strong, the styling is meticulous and the finale is impressive. A strong Japanese film, though not one to color outside the lines too much.

A Family

Yakuza to Kazoku: The Family
2020 / 136m - Japan
A Family poster

Japan loves a good crime story, it's one of the genres that's had prominent representation since forever. A Family is a nice update of the typical Yakuza story, with some more contemporary visuals, a younger set of actors, but a very familiar and expected plot. If you like a good Yakuza flick, this is an easy recommend.

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Kenji's live comes crashing down when his dad dies of a drug overdose. His life feels aimless, and he ends up joining a Yakuza gang. There he meets Hiroshi Shibasaki, the clan's boss. Shibasaki reaches out to Kenji and a father-son bond develops between the two, with Kenji slowly rising through the ranks.

I certainly don't mind a good Yakuza film, but A Family is a bit long for my taste, especially since it doesn't really stand out stylistically. It offers a typical crime plot, some nicely shot scenes, solid performances and a minimum of action, but it's nothing I hadn't seen before. Prime filler in other words.

Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 Sustainable War

Kôkaku kidôtai SAC_2045 Jizoku Kanô Sensô
2021 / 119m - Japan
Sci-fi, Thriller - Animation
Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 Sustainable War poster

I used to be a huge Ghost in the Shell fan, but an onslaught of subpar series have taken their toll on the good name of the franchise. I'm not bothering with series material anymore, but whenever they release a recap film I just can't seem to help myself. And so I watched Sustainable War, a new low point in the franchise.

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After Section 9 was disbanded, Kusanagi and some familiars formed a gang of mercenaries. On one of their missions, they come into contact with a formidable enemy who seems able to predict all their every move. Apparently they're dealing with a posthuman, an evolved form of humankind.

The animation feels cheap, the art style even cheaper. The hardcore sci-fi elements have all but gone from this incarnation, what remains are predictable action scenes and Tachikoma comedy interludes. Not even the soundtrack stands out. It's all just very bland and uninspired, nothing like the manga and films that started off this franchise.