First one I caught was Detroit Metal City (DMC). The big surprise here is that the main star, Kenichi Matsuyama, is the same guy who acted as L in the DeathNote movies! The two roles are so different. L is this cool and quiet character while Negishi in DMC is a kooky nerdy goody two shoes cum heavy metal star. I really had a hard time trying to imagine that this is the same guy who acted as L. DMC is quite interesting and hilarious at times. But ultimately, it's Kenichi who steals the show. The sad thing is this movie was rated as NC16 simply coz there's plenty mention of the word F$%k. One of the songs has a chorus which basically repeats the F-word ad-infinitum. Other than that, it's a really likeable movie.
Departures is a really beautiful movie. I really like how the movie allowed us to see a glimpse of how the departed are treated with such dignity in the Japanese culture. Although the Japanese are often seen as a ritualistic society, these are some of the most beautiful rituals which I wish that we had in Singapore. I was also quite impressed that the director refrained himself from being overly melodramatic when it comes to depicting the death of loved ones. Instead, each funeral scene is done with much control and depth which makes this movie so believable. The star, Kazuko Yoshiyoko, is excellent as the guy trying to come to terms with his job. But I thought the actress playing his wife was also very good. Ryoko Hirosue had only a few lines but her presence in every scene she was in was magic. From being a supportive wife, to rejecting her husband becoz of his job, to her acceptance/understanding of his desire to stay in the job, Ryoko really played the part well.
Both movies are really very good. I heartily recommend them both.
I'm looking forward to two more which are coming in early April - The Handsome Suit and Gu Gu the Cat. Let the Japanese magic continue!