Amazing and delightful -- a touching and lovely film from Ja
Nathan Andersen | Florida | 08/09/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Harunos are not your typical family. The father is a hypnotist, whose method is to enable people to dream alternate worlds; the mother aspires to draw anime; the grandfather is also an artist, who takes great delight in his unconventional ways; the daughter is troubled by a giant version of herself who follows her around and stares unhappily at what she does; the son, perhaps the most ordinary, is a shy but intelligent boy who has fallen in love. The film is gorgeous, full of visual surprises and laugh out loud moments. I had no idea what a nice surprise was waiting for me when I rented this on a whim; I will definitely buy this dvd since it is one that could definitely live up to repeat viewings and I can't wait to introduce it to other friends and lovers of cinema. I can't believe I'd never heard of this beautiful and charming film about family and love and obsession and work and friendship and above all, imagination. It may seem slow, since its aim is not so much to move through the paces of a story as to capture a set of lives whose worries and obsessions are vividly brought to life in their imaginations, but it is never boring. A delightful surprise, that brings the visual wonder of the best Japanese animation to the live action story of an eccentric but appealing family. Definitely one to see for anyone who like to be surprised when they watch movies."
A well made cup of tea
hot4hypatia | 29.48 N , 98.51 W | 12/17/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I bought this movie on a whim and I was very pleasantly surprised. The story and characters are quirky yet endearing on many levels - the grandfather in particular is priceless. It is a modern tale of an artistic family living in a suburb of Tokyo - very pastoral scenery, but very urban neuroses. It is an artistic rendering of everyday situations that make you want to laugh and cry. It is also a kaleidoscope of Yakuza thugs, hypnosis therapy, artistic integrity, letting go of a relationship, mixing music in a studio, surviving your in-laws, and more! It is all done with a light touch the neither judges nor tries to reduce to some trite formula.
If you enjoy art films and different cultures, this is a must see."
Morgan V. Holt | Tucson, AZ USA | 12/20/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"...all I will add is that this movie begs you to watch it over and over again. It is an absolute charmer, the type of which cannot be found in (modern) American movies. Which is a terrible shame.
Daniel J. Hamlow | Narita, Japan | 09/20/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In comparison to his rough and tumble indie-feeling gangster flick, Samehada Otoko to Momoji Onna, despite having little or no plot, Ishii Katsuhito's Ocha No Aji is a more serene offering, with humour that alternates between subtle, visual, and wacky, drama, and quirky visuals. He introduces us to the Harunos, a family of five living in a nice house in the Tochigi Prefecture countryside.
The parents seem normal enough, anime artist mother Yoshiko trying to make a comeback, while her husband Nobuo is a hypnotist. The cute six-year old Sachiko is plagued by a giant double of herself that appears from time to time. Sometimes it is seen as a head popping out of the ground; other times, it gazes at her, lying on the playground looking in the classroom. One wonders if it symbolizes her fears.
The oldest child Hajime is a first year high school student who has a fear of women due to two incidents and the moving away of a classmate he wanted to confess his love to.
However, he is given a new lease on hope with the appearance of Suzuishi Aoi, a transfer student from Tokyo. His adolescent hormones are recharged, to the point that he bikes like a demon all the way back home instead of parking it near the train station like he normally does. Though low-key and shy, Hajime's my favourite character. It's simply heart-warming to see his joy when he finds a way to get closer to Aoi, by joining the go club, and when he waves at Aoi in the soaking rain--after swiftly tossing his umbrella before the bus door closes.
To say the grandpa is eccentric is like saying Bill Gates is rich. An old man with a funny face and a quiff of white hair standing up, he uses a tuning fork to make sure he is in tune, makes funny martial arts like poses as well as impromptu songs, and at one point, does a duet with Yoshiko's brother Ikki, an anime artist with a pudding bowl haircut, wearing cheesy Vegas style suits and singing a song titled "Yamayo!"--"Oh Mountain," the song's only lyric. Anything he does easily prompts a laugh.
Veteran actor Asano Tadanobu plays Uncle Ayano, a sound mixer who has come to the countryside to relax, but also to come to some closure with an ex-girlfriend. He tells his nephew and niece about his first outdoor sh^t in the forest as a kid, which somehow led to the ghost of a scary-looking yakuza to haunt him. Upon hearing how Ayano's doing a backflip led to the vanishing of the ghost, Sachiko thinks maybe that's the way to get rid of her double. There is a perfectly rational explanation for Ayano's story, which adds to the hilarity element. More hilarious is his reaction to the "Yamayo" song. The look on his disgusted face is like, "My god, this is so effed up," and he later says of Grandpa and Ikki, "They look like perverted aliens from another planet."
The appearance of Sachiko's double, the train coming out of Hajime's forehead, and two otakus who ride the train wearing ridiculously bulky costumes are just a few visual wonders in this film. If Suzuishi Aoi is familiar, that's because it's Anna Tsuchiya, who played the biker Ichigo in Shimotsuma Story--a.k.a. the inappropriately titled Kamikaze Girls. She's quieter in this film, with more of a natural beauty. Supporting roles include Anno Hideaki, best known for directing the Neon Genesis Evangelion anime.
Trivia: the station where Hajime and his father get off is Terauchi Station on the Moka Line. That is five stops from where I live! The place where Ishii shot his movie is Motegi City, whose station is the terminus of the Moka Line. Yet the train used is not the Moka train, but something specially designed for the movie. And the narrator of the film also has a role, as Mr. Haruno's patient at his clinic, and she's quite funny.
Maybe the rich refreshing flavour of green tea one savours is why this odd but pleasant film is titled such, because it sure refreshed me!