Thermae Romae—Hilarity from Rome to Japan

Ancient Roman Lucius, played hilariously by Hiroshi Abe, is transported from an ancient Roman bathhouse to a modern Japanese bath. This completely original concept movie is a must see at TIFF.

A Toronto International Film Festival Highlight 2012
By Brian Newman

What unites ancient Rome and modern Japan? Thermae Romae answers with a cultural anchor, the bathhouse.
Thermae Romae (translates as “Roman Baths”) is one of those wickedly irresistible hits in the indie circuit is worth revisiting now that it’s coming to Toronto International Film Festival 2012 (TIFF).
Perhaps all I need suggest is “watch the trailer” and you’ll find yourself hooked (see below). The concept is hideously gripping, hilariously captivating. Based on a popular manga, the action hero is a bathhouse designer or architect. Yawn. Except, well it’s impossible not to like this hero in both film and comic version, where it sold 5 million copies in multiple editions.

Directed by Hideki Takeuchi, Thermae Romae proves once and for all that original and brilliant concepts come from Japan’s film industry.

In a classic movie from the hit Thermae Romae, an ancient Roman is transported through time to appear naked in front of dozens of Japanese bathers. The fun never stops in this movie, playing in 2012 Toronto International Film Festival.

Sure, it’s a time-travel story, which is making the rounds in Japan and Korea and China—very trendy—but an entirely unique version. Hiroshi Abe, playing the Roman—Lucius bathhouse designer in search of ideas—is transported mysteriously to the future. Where does he land? In a Japanese bathhouse, of course, appearing suddenly amidst dozens of Japanese bathers as a naked Roman god.
The hilarity is non stop as he is astonished by the amazing spectacle of toilets, wicker clothes baskets and mill bottles. When he returns, he might have thought it all a dream, but for a milk bottle he clutches in his hand after his return.
Thermae Romae is a spectacle as well as comedy movie

Thermae Romae is also quite spectacular visually, boosted by great sets, both ancient and modern, thousands of extras and a visionary eye to direction. It’s not perfect, but it’s wonderful.

Although not entirely true to it’s comical roots, diving into occasional intrigue, Thermae Romae is a brilliant movie that makes the most of those obvious contrasts—and, remarkably, similarities—between Ancient Rome and modern Japan. Sure, it may get goofy if you are too literal, but it never tires.
This big budget film, cast with thousands of extras, is a vivid and wonderful film experience, not perfect by any means, but an absolute must see. You won’t forget it.

F&B Indie Film: Agnes Top Five Indies

Move Poster for Moonrise Kingdom Indie Film

Move Poster for Moonrise Kingdom Indie FilmTop Five Indie Films of 2012
By Agnes

Every year, the best, the most creative and the most interesting films are made by indie film makers. Here, in the indie space, committees and teams of focus groups aren’t available to ruin a good story. Here, often the film maker is producer, director and writer—without the added creative interference inherent in big budget conglomerate movie productions. The evidence is clear at every film festival, notably in the coming Toronto Film Festival (TIFF: September 6-16). So, here\are my personal pre-TIFF picks for best five indie movies so far in 2012. I’d love to know if you agree (please comment!)

MoonRise Kingdom
This is a must see movie, directed by Wes Anderson, casted by Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman and Kara Hayward.
The movie follows 12 year olds , Sam and Suzy, who run away into the wilderness in the 1960’s. Sam is a young boy but behaves more of a man—mature beyond his years, no matter what the crisis.
Layer in to the story, the parents stories, as Suzy’s mum cheats on his daddy—played by Bruce Willis. If you liked any of Wes Wanderson films, this is definitely a fun and worthwhile film to watch.

Sleepless Night
This is a French thriller directed by Frederic Jardin. It is a 98 minute movie that take place in a crowded nightclub, and in a serene blue city. Against a situation of cops arresting a young boy for possession, a hidden camera reveals the darker aspects of the night for dancers, karaoke singers, cooks and bartenders. In all the confusion, Sisler, one of the police, does everything possible to save the boy. It is a must see thriller that will keep you glued to the action .

The Kid with a Bike Analysis
This is a drama directed by Jean Pierre Dardenne—a short, sharp, and a contemporary tale. It follows the adventures of a kid who desperately looks for his daddy—who had abandoned him to social services. The boy is only 11 years, and is never gives up in his quest to find his daddy and—together with other kids in the neighbourhood–the hunt is on. Definitely worth watching.

Sound of My Voice
This is a movie about two people, Peter and Lorna, as they try to make a documentary. Rather daringly, they choose as a subject, a secret cult that, headed by a mysterious woman. To really get into their story, they become cult cult members.
The movie requires you to concentrate and follow closely, but, though a serious watch, it’s very much worth the effort.

Ruby Sparks
The movie is directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. It was inspired by Henry Koster’s 1959 Harvey. It is an interesting literal story focused on Ruby Sparks.

If you love the indie’s–where creativity truly is found–you’ll enjoy these five for 2012. And don’t miss the action at this year’s Toronto Film Festival!

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