films seen
average score
Alive and kicking


Call Me Chihiro

2023 / 131m - Japan
Call Me Chihiro poster

A pleasant and wholesome Japanese drama. If you're looking for feel-good with a little tinge of drama then this is a pretty ideal film, but having seen so many Japanese dramas already, the film lacks a few standout elements that help to set it apart from its peers, which left me wanting.

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Chihiro works in a local bento shop, a job she took on after being a successful sex worker. She is an honest and cheerful person that looks out for the people around her, but the love she gives doesn't help to fill the loneliness she feels inside. Even so, she enjoys the connections she makes with others.

The performances are strong and Chihiro's character is lovely, but the rest of the film feels a little too laid-back. The cinematography is polished but predictable, so is the score and 130 minutes is a tad long for a film that offers no real surprises. It's a solid drama that doesn't disappoint, but it lacks something extra.

Bread, Bus and the Second First Love

Pan to Bus to Nidome no Hatsukoi
2017 / 110m - Japan
Bread, Bus and the Second First Love poster

An agreeable little romance. At first, it looked as if this was going to be a rather cheesy pop vehicle, but it quickly transpires that there's more to the characters and that the film has more to offer than just another tale of unrequited love. Bread, Bus and the Second First Love has some depth to it, but you have to be a little patient to get to it.

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Fumi works in a bakery and is single. She doesn't have any real prospects and has declined marriage proposals before, not really feeling that certainty of being able to spend an entire life with someone. When she reconnects with Tamotsu, an old high school flame, that seems to change, but Tamotsu is still in love with his ex-wife.

Performances are solid, the soft-voiced nature of the film is typical for the genre and the cinematography looks clean and polished. The characters are a little edgier (even though they don't really look it) than usually the case in these types of films, but that's what makes Bread, Bus stand out from the pack. It won't convert people to Japanese romance/drama cinema, but it's nice that it offers fans a little twist.

Sad Tea

Saddo Tî
2013 / 120m - Japan
Drama, Comedy
Sad Tea poster

A quirky Japanese indie drama. It took me a little while to warm up to Sad Tea, but that's because it plays with a subtle balance that needs a bit of time to surface. About halfway through I had a handle on the peculiar mix of drama, romance, and comedy. From there on out it's a fun build-up to a worthwhile finale.

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Several friends are struggling to commit to their romantic relationships. A former idol wants to visit a lifelong fan, even though she's about the marry. A writer has two girlfriends but loves neither of them, and a young boy dumps his girlfriend when he falls in love with the girl that sold him her birthday present.

The film is quite slow and leans heavily on familiar drama elements, but there are a couple of coincidences and little twists that betray a darker sense of humor. The finale is really on point in that regard. Solid performances, fun characters, and simple but pleasant styling make this a nice discovery. It's not the most remarkable film, but it does have its own signature.