I got to see two movies at the Japanese Film Festival this year. I enjoyed both and gave them both an 'excellent' rating (as part of the festival, you can give each movie a rating). I would have liked to see a few more, but there was only so much time in the day!
Her Sketchbook (sekai wa kyo kara kimi no mono)
A lovely story about a young woman who has withdrawn from the world, only working in a factory because she doesn't have to talk to anyone. When she loses her job, her father finds her work as a tester for video games.
A beautiful story, and also an interesting insight into the hikikomori in Japan, a phenomenon I had never heard of before, but something quite widespread in Japan, when young people gradually withdraw from society and don't interact with the outside world.
The movie manages to be both tender and humorous.
Dear Etranger (osanago warera ni umare, which literally means 'a young child was born to us', so I really don't know where they got the English title from!!)
Life is not easy when you have a daughter from a first marriage, your wife has two daughters from her first marriage (one of which is young and doesn't realise that you're not her real dad, and the other is a teenager, full of angst and anger, mostly targeted at you), and your wife tells you she is pregnant, more or less at the same time as you're told by your boss that your job is not secure and you will be transferred from being a middle manager to working on the factory floor. But this man, Manoko Tanaka, loves his family, and keeps on giving his best, no matter how far he is pushed. A beautiful story, showing that Japanese men can express their love for their family and don't spend all their time at work. He's not perfect mind you. He does occasionally lose his temper, and he doesn't tell his wife about his demotion for a few months, continuing to go to work in his suit as if nothing happened! An interesting look at real life for many restructured families!