I caught a really great movie on my flight back from Japan. Titled NaNa, it is the story of two 20 year old women who meet on a train ride to Tokyo. Both are named NaNa and they couldn't be more different- one is a singer in a rock band (appropriately goth-like) and the other is a sunny cutesy pretty bit of fluff (appropriately trendy). Cute NaNa is there to chase after her boyfriend and rocker NaNa is there to launch her Tokyo career. That's where some of the predictability ends. They become roommates and friends, which is a wonderful departure from how cinema usually embraces stereotypes and social boundaries. You begin to discover the amazing depths of each character, their past histories, their dreams, and their weaknesses. Throw in some boy candy and Japanese pop/rock to keep things interesting. The movie is based on the Manga (graphic novel) of the same name, written by Ai Yazawa.
I sniffled a lot, laughed a lot, sniffled some more, and cheered them on. Much of Japan went wild over this movie, it won a few Japanese Academy Awards. In fact, in this age where there is a dearth of actual award-worthy movies, I think if NaNa launched in America, it'd get a nomination at the U.S. Academy Awards as well as becoming an indie box office hit. This is one the few movies I'd buy and watch over and over. That's the best compliment I could give any movie; there are less than a dozen movies I've willingly seen more than once- start to finish. Lucky for me, NaNa the manga is going into its' 15th volume so there should be a sequel.
Be on the lookout for an English subtitled version. nana-nana.net has a few sources for those of us who don't speak Japanese. I think the effort to get it is worth it.
And just so you know, I have a LOT of trip photos and it'll take me a while to post all of them. So I'll upload in batches and you can wander over to the gallery from time to time to see the progress, or just wait until I announce that all photos have been uploaded before taking a few moments to look at them.