Film and TV picks: Better Days, 37 Seconds, Tokyo Love Story

Better Days stars Zhou Dongyu, a girl tormented by classmates. PHOTO: THE PROJECTOR


135 minutes

This critically-acclaimed coming-of-age drama from China slipped into cinemas here quietly late last year. Those who missed it then will get another shot at this one-time online screening on Saturday (May 23) organised by indie cinema The Projector.

Adapted from Jiu Yuexi's popular young adult novel, it follows the story of 17-year-old Chen Nian (Zhou Dongyu), a girl tormented by classmates. She meets street punk Xiao Bei (singer-actor Jackson Yee). But this meeting of kindred spirits is overshadowed by a murder investigation.

The film is directed by Derek Tsang, who helmed the sensitive and well-reviewed female-friendship drama Soul Mate (2016).

There will be a Facebook Live session with counsellors from the Singapore Children's Society and Lutheran Community Care Services to discuss bullying at 5pm on Sunday (May 24). For details, go to this website.

WHEN: May 23, 8pm

ADMISSION: US$9.99 for a single viewing from 8 to 10.30pm on May 23 only. Bookings close 30 minutes before screening starts

INFO: The Projector's website


Japanese drama 37 Seconds (R21, 2020, 115 minutes, Netflix) details the life of the wheelchair-bound Yuma, played by Mei Kayama, an amateur actress with cerebral palsy.

37 Seconds stars Mei Kayama and Shunsuke Daitô (top). PHOTO: NETFLIX

Yuma is an aspiring manga creator but faces a dilemma after the editor of a racy comic book tells her that while her work is emotionally mature, it lacks sexual realism. The resolute artist puts herself "out there" to fix that problem.

Written and directed by Hikari, the work was selected for the Berlin, Tribeca and Toronto film festivals.

The online watch party tomorrow (May 22) - organised by the Singapore Film Society with the Japan Creative Centre as part of the Japanese Film Festival 2020 - will include a Zoom discussion with Hikari in Los Angeles.

WHEN: May 22, 8pm

ADMISSION: Free, but the viewing requires a Netflix subscription. The watch party requires the installation of the browser plug-in.

INFO: Links to the watch party and Zoom discussion will be shown on the Telegram group and Facebook.


Tokyo Love Story, first shown in Japan in 1991, was one of the country's best-loved drama serials and made stars out of Yuji Oda, Yosuke Eguchi and Honami Suzuki.

Its breezy, super-popular theme song underlines the brio and confidence of 1990s Japan, a time when J-dramas were trending across Asia.

Some 30 years on, Japanese pop culture has lost its shine with the rise of the Korean wave.

In the poster for Tokyo Love Story 2020 (new episodes on Viu every Wednesday, 3.5 stars), the brave remake of the classic, you will likely notice the grey skies rather than the bright lights of the big city.

The story, based on a manga, is simple and timeless: Kanji Nagao (Kentaro Ito) moves to Tokyo from Ehime prefecture to take up a job, reuniting with high-school friends Ken'ichi Mikami (Sho Kiyohara) and Satomi Sekiguchi (Anna Ishii).

Guileless Nagao and rakish Mikami both have a crush on the gentle Sekiguchi. The tangled state of affairs is further complicated when Rika Akana (Shizuka Ishibashi), Nagao's senior at work, takes a shine to him.

Overall, the looks of the new cast are no match for that of the original four - Eguchi, for example, captured more hearts with his flamboyant, silky-haired Mikami.

Still, the strength of the source material - from the characters to the classic story - makes this an enjoyable show that brings back memories of 1990s J-dramas.

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