Asae Ōnishi is the lead actress, starring as Aya Kito. 9th grader (third year of junior high school) Aya Kito collapses on the way to school. Dr. Yamamoto discovers that Aya has spinocerebellar ataxia, a fatal and incurable disease that handicaps the body. Aya’s mother and Dr. Yamamoto let Aya record in a diary to tell her story and to live her life to the fullest.
2005 – Certificate: Unknown – Japanese Film
7.5 out of 10
Last Friday was Halloween. It was also the hottest ever Halloween on record in England, 24C. Unfortunately I missed out on most of it as I left Cactus World and went to the Moon. Yes, really. Okay, to be more accurate I actually went to the Moon Club, although it is a long way from Cactus World and in a real foreign country too; a place called Wales. Sadly, it was to attend the final gig by the 8th best band on the plant, Dirty Revolution. After following the band for around five years and attending 28 gigs, everyone’s favourite alt-punk-ska-reggae-calypso-African-beats band was splitting up. Support was from the awesome 10th best band on the planet, the New Town Kings, but it really was Dirty Revolution’s night. Other than when the Undertones originally split up in 1983, I can’t think of a time when I’ve been so saddened by a band deciding to end it all. The reasons appear to be the difficulty of having a young family and trying to tour, along with its alleged inability to know how to get people to sing along to the “whoo-ooos” and “yeh-yeh-yehs” etc that populate a number of its tunes. I’d seriously considering ending it all too, but the fact that the band don’t seem to have fallen out with one another and that a quick look at my current Top Ten active bands indicates that all but two have split up and then reformed at some time or other. This gives me hope that perhaps, one day in the dim and distant future, songs about having a fat ass, not feeling fear and highlighting the fact that Skrewdriver were a bunch of wankers, will once again reverberate around venues everywhere. The Moon is a small club, with no air conditioning and sweat dripping from the ceiling. The band played a long set. I was at the front and could see a copy of the set list on the floor gradually being worked through; it was like waiting for the end of the world in some nuclear holocaust film, where all the characters can do is wait for the missiles to arrive, although before they do nothing seems any different to usual… and then all of a sudden it’s over. The gig was filmed for a DVD. One of the guys with a camera was menacingly close to where I was most of the time. I guess with a decent bit of software they’ll be able to edit out the fat, old bloke trying to dance. Joking aside, I do feel a genuine sense of loss. This film is about loss too. But before you read on, I suggest you listen to some proper good music:
This is a movie of a book that was then a TV series. Something like that anyway. The book (actually her diary) was written by a young woman called Aya Kitô. She was diagnosed with Spinocerebellar ataxia when she was 15 (in 1977) and wrote a diary about her life for as long as she could, until she died when she was 26. The film itself isn’t that great, although the actress who plays Aya is excellent. I suspect that compared with the TV series and the diary itself, a lot was cut out to make it an appropriate length for a film. However, there are a few really powerful scenes, often focusing on very small incidents; the one when Aya Kitô has to leave her school because it can no longer provide what she needs is pretty heart-breaking stuff. People often seem to say that stories like this are “life-affirming” and “uplifting”. No, they’re not. They’re sad and depressing. I can’t see anything uplifting in a story about anyone, never mind a young person, who’s tragically struck down by a terrible illness that they had no way of avoiding, however brave he or she might be. It’s just awful.
The soundtrack is mostly downbeat and piano driven. It fits the mood of the film well.
Movie Weather Forecast. Nope, still not started to take much notice of this yet. Soon, I promise!
Try as I might, I couldn’t seem to find a trailer for this film anywhere.
Recommend for doctors, carers and heartless school teachers.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? This is a true story about a young woman with a horrible illness. As her condition gets worse and worse, she never really stops trying to live her life as best she can, despite the increasing difficulty of doing so and the limitations of the physical world around her. That makes her truly badass.
You read about this sort of stuff on the Internet or see it on the TV, but you never think it will actually happen ‘here’. But it does. The last week has seen a pandemic sweep across Cactus Word, one that had infected every single one of its inhabitants with a terrible illness that even now, Cactus World’s best scientists and researchers have failed to identify, (because they’ve all been sick too silly). So for clarity, let’s just called it Skanking Flue, as it’s become known ‘on the streets’. It has what can only be described as ‘mild(ish), cold like symptoms’, but does in fact feels 1,000 times more intense to those suffering its effects. And let me point out right here, right now, that it has nothing whatsoever to do with the common cold, seasonal flu, or Man Flu, or any of those things. The resemblance is entirely superficial. However, the good news is that I feel as if I’m starting on the long road to recovery, but it was touch and go there for a while.
It’s strange how just one thing can virtually destroy a civilised society. Let me give an example. As a result of the pandemic there were huge food shortages in Cactus World. Supplies of rice, tofu, onions and garlic, along with most other foods, were entirely depleted within days; whilst the discovery of an almost full packet of pasta caused what I can only describe as a near riot in my kitchen, as I greedily grabbed it from the cupboard shelf, spilling much of its contents onto the floor, much to Penny’s disgust. What can I say? Starvation drives people to this sort of behaviour and I was desperate. International travel was banned too and I was forced to work from home for two days, to save myself the gruelling, long-distance trek into the office.
Last week, just prior the arrival of the pandemic, I went to not one, not two, but three ska/punk/reggae gigs. (And I’d like to point out that going to these and the sudden and mysterious arrival of Skanking Flue in Cactus World are entirely unrelated.) The first saw the truly wonderful Skints supporting the rather excellent Bedouin Soundclash at the Camden Koko (capacity 1410); whilst the following day saw the rather excellent Bedouin Soundclash supporting the truly wonderful Skints at Nambucca on the Holloway Road (capacity a somewhat overstated 300; I doubt the room with the music in it can take any more than 100). The third gig saw the even more awesome Dirty Revolution (which released 2010’s best album “Before the Fire” that you should go buy now) supporting the wondrous Slackers at the Islington Academy (capacity 800). Whatever your taste in music, it has to be said that bands like this are nearly always great live and thus worth going to see, even if you’ve never heard of them before. Comparing this sort of thing with the almost universally dreadful dirge that is modern indie rock and chart R&B, brings to mind a Borg Cube and a dead fruit fly.
In a not unrelated way, I have also been blessed by the availability on YouTube, of a brief shot of me attempting to dance at the recent King Blues gig at Koko. (It’s all just a bit too much like trying to maneuver an oil tanker for my liking.) Despite every gig I go to now seemingly being filmed by someone, somewhere, I rarely manage to see myself, as despite a claimed height of 6 feet and 1 inch, I’m always surrounded by people who are even taller than me. (As an aside to this, for a few seconds I thought my luck had changed at this gig, when I felt someone grab my hand. Sadly it turned out to be a case of mistaken identity, as in the crowd she thought she’d got hold of her boyfriend’s hand. Oh well, back to reality.) Anyway, YouTube. I was, I have to say, rather disappointed to see not the suave, sophisticated dance-floor guru that I imagine myself to be, (the guy “women want to be with and men want to be” kind of person); the sort of cool dude who can combine the best of White indie/punk moves with the cool of Caribbean reggae and ska rhythms, in an entirely convincing and respectful way. Instead I got to see a rather bald, fat bloke in a black t-shirt being flung across the most pit and trying not to fall over, in an entirely undignified and dad-dancing way by, a person or persons unknown. Go check it out around the 2:05 mark.
Finally, my telly has been fixed! Well done Samsung. It can’t apparently make reliable TVs, but it’s great at getting them fixed when they do break down; I guess it gets a lot of practice.
Right now I’m listening to “Lonely Man of Spandau” by the Angelic Upstarts.
Don’t you just hate it when some pretentious person with zero emotional intelligence, wants to appear posher and cleverer than they really are, by using expressions like, “a smorgasbord” of something or other? I do. It’s stupid isn’t it? Who do they think they’re fooling? I just wanted to say that. Anyway, it’s been a while since I wrote anything here, so as a catch up on life in Cactus World, here’s a potpourri of what I’ve been up to…
Had a big row in the local Ford garage for 15 minutes, as I queried a bill of nearly £700 for work that didn’t solve the problem that the car was in there for in the first place. It’s justification? Well, the work needed doing anyway and they thought it would solve the problem. This was after it failed to ring me to discuss the issue last time I was there and raised the same concern. What’s even more annoying is the fact that when I’d first taken the car in with the problem (several visits previously) I’d told them what I thought it was, which is what it turned out to be in the end; a ten minute repair rather than three visits and a bill for around £1,000. But what do I know, I’m just an ignorant, moronic member of the public who knows nothing about cars? So anyway in the end, they suggested if I wasn’t happy I should write to them. Well done Fucking Ford’s, where customer service is clearly not a speciality; or indeed is a basic understanding of cars either. I will never, ever spend a penny with Ford again. Now officially classed as Spawn of the Devil. An interesting aside to this was that for the first time ever, when my car had been serviced (which is why it was there this time), I was rung up and told a driver would drop it off home for me. I can’t imagine this was for any other reason than they didn’t want me in the showroom again, pointing out their shabby lies.
In an effort to turn myself into the physical Adonis (that I really ought to be) and realising that over the past few months I’ve taken less exercise than I had been previously (and have consequently become a bit of a fat slob), I’ve started to walk into work again. (The horror of realising I’d spent £30 driving to and from home and work the previous month probably also had an impact too, as well as the guilt trip I get for adding to the size of my carbon footprint in this way.) We moved offices last October and the new one is further from where I live. So this fact, being very busy at work and the winter weather, had all colluded to ‘force’ me to drive in. So Monday last week, psyched up for the adventure ahead, I stepped out, alone, onto the streets of Reading. Nearly 50 minutes later a sweating, wheezing, half-dead husk of a man turned up at his office, barely recognisable as the person who had started the journey all those minutes ago. There wasn’t even a big welcome or a brass band waiting for me either, what a swizz. You know that film about that guy who has to cut his hand off to escape being trapped up a mountain, 127 Hours? Well, expect a similar effort about my epic journey, to be released around Summer 2013, entitled of course, 50 Minutes. To make matters worse, three men walked past me on my journey, leaving me to cough and splutter in the dust as they zoomed past me. Needless to say, this humiliation has had a profound effect on my mojo. Actually it wasn’t so bad and I did it again last Thursday too. It’s nearly a five-mile round trip. I went the wrong way coming home both times too; my sense of direction isn’t all that great…
Penny news. Penny is fine. I do have two bits of Penny cuteness to report though. Firstly, in a wilful act of physical vandalism associated with my walking to work, I decided I also ought to go back to doing some sit up and press ups too. In my first attempt for some time to do this, (when even getting on the floor took a great deal of effort), Penny came over and rolled around on the floor next to me. I thought that was very sweet. She was either trying to encourage me or (and this is more likely), thought it was some sort of new and rather incomprehensible cat friendly game that I was playing just for her benefit. Secondly, I was watching Red on DVD recently. (This is a film about a man who has his dog killed by some thugs and the consequences of his search for justice; it’s very good and well worth watching.) Anyway, at one point there’s a cute puppy on the screen. Penny likes to sit on my lap and watch films with me, although her taste in films isn’t apparently quite the same as mine so she generally goes to sleep. In this case however she saw the puppy and jumped onto the floor and started rolling around like a little kitten right in front of the TV. Now if anyone doesn’t think that’s extremely cute, then you are truly a heartless and unfeeling being.
I’ve had a leak in my bathroom. (By which I mean a leak in one of the walls from above, rather than a colloquialism for using the toilet.) Actually this is very boring. Anyway, it’s been fixed and the smell of damp dogs in my flat has slowly receded as it dries out. I await the redecorating being arranged by the building owners…
I’ve loved this hot weather recently. I’m a summer person and a morning person. There doesn’t seem to be a way to extend the mornings, but the recent good weather has been very welcome in Cactus World. I celebrated it by not going out into it over the two, long weekends we’ve had recently. But I can assure you, it looked lovely out of the window!
One of the most important highlights of life in Cactus World, is of course the flowering of a cactus. Last week saw two, huge, pink flowers make an appearance on my window sill. Sadly lacking an extra Bank Holiday to celebrate this momentous occasion, I was at work both days so came home to see just a rather collapsed version of them; (they only really last a day). So no photos I’m afraid, but it was a small, special highlight all the same.
I’m reliably informed by my electricity company that the average electricity bill for a one bedroomed flat is around £20-£25 per month. I work for an environmental charity, have low energy light bulbs everywhere and generally try my best not to consume too many resources. I don’t use the cooker every day, put the immersion heater on perhaps twice a week, don’t leave lights on all over the place and normally take showers rather than baths. I only heat one room in winter and I’m out most days at work. My monthly electricity bill is £63! I’ve just changed my tariff to one of those that comes with all this smart meter monitoring stuff, to see why this is the case. (Of course, I’m secretly hoping to discover that the bills have been wrong and will thus get a huge refund.) News to follow, as I investigate the crimes of the environmental criminal that I have apparently become. Guilty or innocent?
Finally, I’ve have been to a number of brilliant gigs recently. Fishbone and Random Hand at the Camden Underworld; Capdown, Random Hand and Dirty Revolution at the Camden Underworld; the Stranglers at the Hammersmith Apollo; the Undertones at the Islington Garage. Lots more too; it’s actually been a really good run of gigs, most satisfying, despite the many bruises and the partial black eye I managed to suffer. The Undertones at the Garage was probably the best. It’s the best I’ve seen the band since it reformed around ten years ago; the place was packed too. The good news is that it’s playing a gig in a pub called Powers in Kilburn in June; there’s only 100 tickets available. The bad news is that that’s exactly in the middle of the two weeks I’ve booked of annual leave, so I now have to rearrange my holiday to take this gig into account; but it’s worth it. One small downer about the Fishbone gig was that I managed to lose a credit card, a debit card, my Oyster Card, my Rail Card, my Rail Card Pass, my train ticket home and £45; which left me with about £2 in my pocket. I wouldn’t normally have all that lot with me either. By some miracle I managed to find my train ticket on the floor afterwards, so at least I could get home. That’s the first time I’ve done that at a gig. It was very annoying!
Right now I’m listening to “Let Me Go” by Rancid.
This year I’ve really got much more into ska and reggae (mixed up with punk and various other things); just as well really, as the UK music scene in general is pretty weak at the moment so there’d not have been a huge number of decent gigs to go to otherwise. There is a whole (if small) underground scene in the UK (well at least London anyway) that I’d not really come across before. Bands like Sonic Boom Six, Mouthwash, Dirty Revolution, Random Hand, the Skints, the JB Conspiracy, Anti-Vigilante, all great stuff. Oh dear, sad old bloke hits mid-life crisis alert! Well it’s better than my going out and buying a big, open-topped sports car to let my three strand hairstyle blow in the wind.
I was going to have a bit of a rant about the recent election here, but then realised I can’t be bothered; it’s just more grey men in suits with different coloured ties. I enjoyed watching the election night on TV though. I had a pint of lager every time Labour won a seat, a pint of ale when the Tory’s did, a cider for the Lib Dems and a short if another party won anything. That’s over 300 drinks in one night, honest. As part of this ‘election results as an excuse to abuse yourself with alcohol game’ I was also facing the nightmare possibility of having to make myself go and throw up each time the BNP won anything, but fortunately it didn’t; it would have been a huge waste of alcohol if it had. I voted for the Green Party anyway. At least it got its first MP. I’m looking forward to a wind farm outside my lounge window anytime now.
Right now I’m listening to “All the Rest” by Stiff Little Fingers.
The summer has (sort of) arrived, finally. This is a good thing; I’m especially looking forward to hearing the first person this year moan that it’s too hot.
I don’t seem to have written that much here for a while. I’d say I’ve been suffering from Writer’s Block, but as I don’t write anything worth reading anyway, this seems highly unlikely. It would be interesting to be able to say that I’d been abducted by aliens, but as I’ve used this particular excuse more than once in the past, again it seems unlikely that it would have happened to me again. So I guess I’ll just have to say that the dog ate my homework. The fact that I don’t do homework or indeed have a dog either, isn’t that important right now; (geez, some people want every single little fact to add up in life.)/span>
Penny is fine; except with the onset of the warmer weather, every time I stroke her I’m left with what I can only describe as a tsunami of fur that engulfs my entire flat. Strangely this leaves Penny no less furry than before (although I’m sure I do detect just the slightest of smirks on her face whenever it happens), but results in several hours of housework on my part, as I fight my way through the chaos this seasonal phenomena causes. I’m sure I spotted a UN helicopter overhead at one point.
I watched Look this afternoon on DVD. This is a film that was made to look like all the action was recorded on various security cameras and just covers a few days in the lives of a number of people whose stories interact. Actually it’s pretty good and quite addictive.
Em, em, that’s it really. Well, I also had some pasta, (soya) yogurt and three bananas to eat today, had a shower, opened a new bar of soap, realised I’d left the immersion heater on overnight for no reason, did some washing up (mostly bowls and spoons), folded up and put away some washing (mainly t-shirts and socks), wrote a couple of work e-mails, did a few press ups (I used to be about to do 250 now I struggle to do 40), cleaned four wall tiles in the shower (well I clean four every time I have a shower), switched the small fridge up to 5 (as it’s not keeping things cool enough) and drunk several cups of tea (Fairtrade and organic). However, this is too banal even for me to record here; except that it’s apparently not.
Right now I’m listening to “Holding the Wire” by Echobelly.