Boxing films, like all sporting yarns, are often less about the game than the rigorous framework it provides for discipline, focus and getting your life back on track. That’s certainly the case in Masaharu Take’s 100 Yen Love, in which a thirty-something slob is forced to fend for herself after a series of unfortunate events expose her to life’s harsh realities.
An inspirational event that captured the world’s attention, the 2010 Copiapo mining accident in Chile – in which 33 miners were trapped underground for 69 days – seemed tailor-made for a stirring Hollywood adaptation. But arriving in the wake of more cinematically accomplished survival stories like The Martian, In the Heart of the Sea and The Revenant, the miners of The 33 seem to have had an easy time of it.
In the years since Hayao Mayazaki announced his retirement as the de facto king of Japanese animation, many have pointed to Mamoru Hasoda to take up the mantle. With films like The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Summer Wars and Wolf Children, Hasoda has developed a winning blend of escapism, charm and thoughtful narrative insight to back up his claim.
Love the Coopers reminds us that there are few things worse than booze-fuelled family gatherings, but one of them is definitely schmaltzy Hollywood movies about such reunions. Drawing numerous narrative threads towards a climactic yuletide dinner, the film introduces four generations of one family, who must overcome grudges and failings, let slip the odd lingering secret, and possibly realise the true meaning of Christmas.
In cross-cultural relationships, families and friends can let their own prejudices get in the way of romantic endeavours. Spanish Affair pits the Andalusians against the Basques when Rafa (Dani Rovira), a stand-up comic from Seville, falls for feisty country girl Amaia (Clara Lago). Venturing into Basque country for the very first time, Rafa must keep up the charade that he is a local, rather than a vile city dweller, especially in front of Amaia’s fiercely traditional father (Karra Elejalde).