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Recently in foreign director Category

Guuzen ni mo Saiaku na Shonen
[Suddenly the Worst of Youth]

Genre: Urban Youth Existentialism

review in one breath

Director Gu Suyeon, himself a Korean-born Japanese citizen, explores the difficulties and near-hopelessness of being raised ethnically different within Japan. Guuzen ni mo Saiaku na Shonen follows Kaneshiro Hidenori (Ichihara Hayato) who, though raised his entire life within Tokyo, nevertheless carries the distinction of being Korean. The stress upon Kaneshiro's parents to "fit into" Japanese culture was tremendous throughout Kaneshiro's childhood, eventually resulting in their divorce. This has left Kaneshiro, now a high school student, to live an unsupervised life, which soon leads to a rather chaotic and hapless lifestyle.



TOKYO!

TOKYO!

Genre: Tokyo-scape Triptych of Self-Realization

review in one breath

TOKYO! is an anthology of three short films by directors Michel Gondry (France), Leos Carax (France) and Joon-ho Bong (Korea), each of whom offers an imaginative and transnatural/supernatural glimpse into the Tokyo Megapolis. In the same fashion the internationally released collections of Three (2002) and Three Extreme (2004) consist of similarly-themed triptychs by well-known (Asian) directors, TOKYO! takes things two steps further. First, this anthology deals solely with Japan. Each short film's setting is in Tokyo, the primary language is Japanese, and the cast of each features predominantly Japanese actors, many of whom J-Film fans will recognize. Second, two of the three directors are Western (French). TOKYO! is currently being screened in the 2008 International Film Festival, but I assume it will soon be more widely released.



KAOJIKARA
[Strength of Faces]

Genre: Metaphorical Exploration into Cultural Alienation

review in one breath

A young japanese woman's decision to live abroad takes a terrifying turn for the worse when she wakes up within a world filled with hostile people whose faces are transformed beyond recognition. Issues of cultural alienation and the simultaneous loss and preservation of identity are explored in this short international film. This is an small independent, almost underground production which nevertheless carries a very clear and effective visual message. You can see this film (legally!) in its entirety online, and I encourage you to do so.



Tekkonkinkreet
[Tekkon Kinkreet]

Genre: Yakuza-infused Orphan Youth Angst

review in one breath

In the last remaining vestige of an otherwise over-modernized metropolis, two orphaned children have learned to live both freely and violently amongst rival gang intrusion, yakuza activity, and the good-natured help from some similarly-minded, decade-weary citizens. This tale, seen through their own eyes, is wholly about the survival and destruction of these two orphaned youths, not only in terms of their physical safety but also their mental landscape. Childhood dreams and hopes struggle headlong with the reality of urban decay, vicious crime, and the crippling sense of loss.



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