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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Japan Nuclear Fall Out Drama., 23 Sep 2013
By 
Tommy Dooley (London, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Land of Hope [DVD] (DVD)
This is the latest from writer and director Sion Sono (`Cold Fish' and `Himizu') and is set in a fictional town but is clearly a polemic on the Fukishima nuclear disaster, which is referenced in the film. Here a family, the Ono's, eek out a healthy living as dairy farmers. Then after the worst earthquake in living history we get the tsunami and their local reactor explodes. The authorities declare a twenty kilometre exclusion zone which cuts across the Ono garden. This means whilst their neighbours are told to leave for their own safety they are at liberty to stay.

The Ono family have to decide what to do and what is best for the future; Mrs Ono is suffering from Alzheimer's and seems to be on a mental loop which involves continually wanting to go home. The loving son does not want to leave but is left with little choice once his stoical patriarch has made his mind up. Their friends who have been forced out have equally hard times once they have been put into the shelter and also face stigmatisation over the fact they may be contaminated with radiation.

This is a film that wears its' heart on its sleeve and that is that nuclear power is a very bad idea. In doing this Sono looks at issues of tradition, the past, the future, Japanese attitudes and parochialism and also the hypocrisy of the nay sayers who are all judgmental after the fact but were quite happy to enjoy the benefits of nuclear electricity when it was `safe', as indeed would most of us be.

It is undoubtedly a good film but I felt was a tad too long at 133 minutes, some scenes could have been rethought. The settings are amazing as is the acting. They must have used actual tsunami sites as there is no way you could have recreated such devastation without a shed load of cash. This is not a feel good film it can be uncomfortable viewing and very sad in places. Sono clearly has a message and he is very inventive in the telling; whilst there are parallels to other `nuclear' based films such as `When the wind blows' this is not about bombs and as such is a lot more human and very original. If you are a fan of world cinema this ought to be on your watchlist.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Facing disaster, 14 Nov 2013
By 
Keris Nine - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Land of Hope [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
As he alluded to in his previous film Himiko, the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in 2011 had a deeply traumatic impact on the nation of Japan, but it also clearly made a big impression on Sion Sono as a filmmaker. Land of Hope deals with the subject a little more directly than Himiko - even if there are some characteristically quirky touches from this director - in order to make the important point that vital lessons haven't been learned and that Japan is in danger of ignoring the very serious risks that the disaster has had upon the nuclear power station at Fukushima. Land of Hope creates a fictional town called Nagashima for this purpose, but the implications of this merging of the towns Nagasaki and Hiroshima are all too apparent.

The focus of Land of Hope is not so much on the immediate impact and devastation caused by the next earthquake however, but the aftermath. Here, mirroring the absurdity of the response to the Fukushima meltdown, the authorities answer here is to set up a hopelessly inadequate "exclusion zone" perimeter that is as useless as it is arbitrary. As one of the people affected here furiously observes, how can one side of a street be dangerous and the other side not? It's not as if the radioactive contamination is going to respect a few barriers and some menacing threats at the perimeter signposts.

It's also a useful division for the director to exploit and he examines how people on both sides of the divide are affected, one couple on the wrong side of the exclusion zone sent to a temporary shelter where they are given no information about their home and relatives, while another young couple in the supposedly "safe" area decide to leave their parents right on the edge of the zone and seek a safer place to start a family. What seems to worry Sion Sono most however is the fear of the people to confront the reality of the situation. The government can't be trusted and give misinformation about the extent of the nuclear leaks, while the public are reluctant to be seen as responding hysterically for fear of spreading further panic.

If it were a mainstream movie, you might think that some of the director's techniques were a little heavy-handed, but this is a Sion Sono film and this is a director who will use whatever means necessary to make an impression, and here he has every reason to do so. "Why aren't you worried?", screams Yoichi to his fellow workers who make fun of his wife's paranoid response to her pregnancy by wearing a heavy-duty radiation suit and sealing up doors and windows. This is one subject that Sono is very serious about, and he makes the point very strongly indeed. The very real threat of ignoring or underestimating the danger is still there to see in the mud ghost-towns of the Japanese coastline, and the director makes powerful use of the images - scored to the Adagio from Mahler's 10th - which are more surreal than anything that can come from the mind of Sion Sono. Well, almost...
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4.0 out of 5 stars Powerful Drama on Post-Fallout Japan, 20 Oct 2013
By 
Rob Simpson "noframeof" (Middlesbrough, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Land of Hope [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
After the emotionally volatile step in the right direction that was Himizu, Sion Sono is slowly maturing as a director. His latest film is an almost science fiction framing of the recent Japanese disaster. Accurate? definitely, but the film plays out like a sci-fi. He chooses one family to show both sides of the nuclear fallout. With the parents who stubbornly cling to their land and their kids who try to live a normal life under the pervasive influence of ever intensifying nuclear fallout. Both of which are effective, with the more powerful of the two feeling like Koreeda Hirokazu channelling Haneke's Amour. Simple, elegant filmmaking from the provocative director then. The only problem is a third storyline involving two people outside the family, which achieves little beyond some more desolate photography and an extended runtime. Still, excellent work from Sono.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Deeply depressing but benefits greatly from repeat viewing, 26 Jan 2014
By 
John Chandler (Melbourne, Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Land of Hope [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
As others have said this is a depressing film. The major roles are played out by people who are either mentally ill or paranoid / suicidal and as is often the case with East Asian films there is an element of over-acting. It is not easy for a western audience to immediately catch the mood. If you watch the film first this will be immediately apparent and much of the deeper elements will be lost. The 70 minute making-of documentary however puts a much wider perspective on things and should absolutely be watched first. Nagashima is a deliberate blend of Nagasaki and Fukushima, both nuclear disaster areas, but in reality this is about Fukushima. Most of us know about Fukushima because of the horrific tsunami but this is deliberately glossed over and barely gets a mention. The issue here is the far deeper worry in Japan about nuclear contamination. Kaeru is a word you will hear often: The Japanese for return, and it is increasingly clear that that is not going to happen in the area close to the plant anytime soon and maybe never. The implications of this on the families depicted in the film and the Japanese people as a whole is what this film is about. The director is from Tokyo and talks about fear even there, far to the south. There has been intense criticism of both the management at the Fukushima plant and the Japanese government and this comes through in this film. It is all deeply depressing as no ray of hope is offered and as we saw in Chernobyl the damage will last for a very long time with no way to forecast the outcome. For western audiences both the doco and even more so the main film would have benefited by some judicious cutting. Both are a bit long and laced with deep Japanese emotional and psychological anguish which is not easy to translate despite very good subtitles. In the doco the subtitles are more complicated as they are dual layer: Japanese explanatory text is subtitled on the upper half of the screen and the commentary at the bottom and not surprisingly they somewhat overlap.
This film is not for the faint hearted and the first time I watched it I did not really get the message; but having watched the doco and then watched the film again it made a lot more sense. Powerful stuff, you need to be in the right mood for this but it is a film that should be widely seen as it has implications for us all.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars simply stunning release with a lot of bonus features., 28 Sep 2013
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This review is from: The Land of Hope [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
this movie is simply awesome becouse its a imported movie about whats happening currently in japan. and how the problem is more or less ignored by japan and the rest of the world as well.

the story about the people in this movie is not simply made up, its real!

Video / Audio quality are like all recent thirdwindow blurays perfect.

the making of / documentary about the movie and fukushima is really interessting as well.
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The Land of Hope [Blu-ray]
The Land of Hope [Blu-ray] by Sion Sono (Blu-ray - 2013)
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