films seen
6
average score
2.50*
nationality
Japan - 54 years old
status
Alive and kicking
more info

Solid pieces

Survival Family

by Shinobu Yaguchi
Also known as
Sabaibaru Famirî
Specifics
2016 / 117m - Japan
Genre
Adventure, Comedy
More info:
rating
3.5*/5.0*
Survival Family poster

Amusing and light-hearted adventure that follows a family's attempt to survive a long-lasting power outage. With no electricity, society quickly collapses, though Japan seems to take on the looming apocalypse relatively dignified. Nothing truly exceptional, but the trip though the country is quite quirky and entertaining.

Wood Job!

by Shinobu Yaguchi
Also known as
Wood Job!: Kamusari Nânâ Nichijô
Specifics
2014 / 116m - Japan
Genre
Drama
More info:
rating
3.5*/5.0*
Wood Job! poster

A very pleasant little drama. A bit predictable maybe, as it doesn't take long to figure out where Yaguchi is heading with this one, but the road there is well worth taking. I may have been a little weary at first, Yaguchi's earlier films never really appealed to me, but it seems that he's come a long way since then.

A city boy takes a leap of chance and goes off on a one-year course to become a lumberjack. He isn't really cut out for the job and when he ends up lodging with some boorish mountain folk, it doesn't look like he'll be sitting out his training. But, as is always the case in these films, people slowly learn to respect each other etc etc.

It's one of those films that would never work in real life for me, but is still invigorating to experience on film. The amazing setting has a big part in that, the overall solid performances of the cast only add to that. The direction is nice, but nothing too out of the ordinary. If you can appreciate films like Breathe In, Breathe Out or Only Yesterday, this is a fine recommend.

The inoffensive

Dance with Me

by Shinobu Yaguchi
Also known as
Dansu Wizu Mî
Specifics
2019 / 103m - Japan
Genre
Comedy, Musical
More info:
rating
3.0*/5.0*
Dance with Me poster

Yaguchi's latest is a musical comedy, not exactly a genre mix that's very popular in Japan (or contemporary cinema in general really). Dance with Me's premise is certainly amusing enough, but Yaguchi doesn't really commit enough to the musical bits, which makes it feel a little half-arsed. And musicals really need to be big and extravagant to work.

Suzuki hates musicals, but when she goes to see a magician she gets hypnotized by accident, forcing her to sing and dance every time she hears music. This really messes up her chances to land a job at a prestigious firm, so Suzuki is forced to go back to the magician to undo the hypnosis. Sadly, he's already packed his bags, seeking out his next gig.

The comedy is expected but daft enough and the first couple of musical bits are fine, the latter ones aren't quite as bold and rely on simplistic dance routines (the hip-hop one), sometimes not even that (the street performances). It's a shame, as Yaguchi nails the tone of the film, he just needed some skilled musical choreographers. Still works as a basic comedy though.

Swing Girls

by Shinobu Yaguchi
Also known as
Suwingu Gâruzu
Specifics
2004 / 105m - Japan
Genre
Drama, Comedy, Music
More info:
rating
3.0*/5.0*
Swing Girls poster

Swing Girls is a very typical Japanese school club dramedy. They're a bit like Hollywood sport films (underdogs rising above themselves and succeeding at something others didn't think possible), but with some Japanese rural appeal added to the mix. Not my favorite niche, but this wasn't too bad.

The brass band of the school is detrimental to the success of their baseball team, but when they don't get their lunches on time all the girls quit the band. The group responsible for the fluke decides to have a go at it and though they have no experience playing musical instruments, dedication and a little help from their teachers go a long way.

The film is a pretty predictable and doesn't stray from the genre conventions. But the performances are solid, the tone is light enough and there are a few notable scenes. Swing Girls offers very mellow and charming entertainment and doesn't drag things out unnecessarily, but has aces up its sleeve to rise above its peers.

Big nopes

Waterboys

by Shinobu Yaguchi
Specifics
2001 / 91m - Japan
Genre
Comedy, Sport
More info:
rating
1.0*/5.0*
Waterboys poster

Adrenaline Drive

by Shinobu Yaguchi
Also known as
Adorenarin Doraibu
Specifics
1999 / 112m - Japan
Genre
Comedy
More info:
rating
1.0*/5.0*
Adrenaline Drive poster