รางวัล:2 wins & 1 nomination
Summer vacation has emptied a Japanese boys'' school of all but three boys: the junior Norio & the seniors Kazuhiko & Naoto. They have no families to return to for the summer, so they spend their days in the empty school. A darkness hangs over the three however: the suicide, three months earlier, of classmate Yu. Norio blames Kazuhiko for Yu''s death, because it was well-known that Yu loved Kazuhiko; so Kazuhiko is cruel to Norio, and yet has bad dreams. This uneasy arrangement is exacerbated by the arrival of Kaoru, a student early for the fall - who looks exactly like Yu.
Here is a little gender deconstruction curio with a uniquely Japanese flavor. This movie is based on a shonen-ai manga (a graphic novel centered on male adolescent homoeroticism typically drawn by middle-aged women and targeted at the teenage girl audience, and reflecting predominantly feminine sensibilities), with all the "boys" being performed by girls. The whole thing is directed in the style of hyper-sensitive adolescent melodrama, with eye-candy photography, mellow-but-tasteful piano soundtrack, and bizarre retro-futuristic electric appliance design. What to take out of it is very much up to you. Judging from the imdb comments, some are moved, some are amused, some are indifferent... English subtitles co-authored by no less than Donald Richie...
As a bonus, you get Thomas'' Heart, the original graphic novel upon which the movie is based, as well as an article by Rosemary Iwamura deliciously entitled Letter from Japan: From Girls Who Dress Up Like Boys To Trussed-up Porn Stars - Some of the Contemporary Heroines on the Japanese Screen, which gives, among other things, some particulars about the movie...
Summer Vacation: 1999, aka 1999 - Nen No Natsu Yasumi
This poetic independent Japanese drama uses girls to play the young teenaged boys in the story, reminiscent of a traditional dramatic custom known as Takurazuka. The story concerns three friends who have remained at their boarding school over the summer break in order to further their studies independently. One boy is missing from the group, having recently committed suicide. A complicating factor in their interactions is that each one has a romantic crush on one of the others. Indeed, their passions for one another are so intense that the missing boy''s suicide can be attributed to his unrequired love for one of them. When a new boy arrives on the scene bearing an uncanny resemblance to the dead boy, the three are not sure whether they are dealing with an elaborate joke, a spirit, or some other strange karmic destiny.