I-pads, smartphones and netbooks are ever present; their constant connection to the Internet is now a must. In the Japanese film “Happy Flight”, their ubiquitous presence plays a crucial role in helping a plane’s safety. An airplane enthusiast posts regular photos of planes on his blog minutes after it has taken off. And a ground crew uses the high quality photos to diagnose a mechanical problem.
“Happy Flight” can be seen for free. It is part of the Eiga Sai film festival at Shang Cineplex running from July 5 to 15. It will also tour these other locations around the country: Gaisano South Citi Mall in Davao City from July 20-22, Cinema 4 Ayala Center Cebu from August 7 to 12 and at the Cine Adarna of the U.P. Film Institute in QC from August 15-21, 2012.
Eiga Sai will open on July 5 with the critically acclaimed film “Villain.” The Japan Foundation will also be part of the Silent Film fest in Shang Cineplex featuring screenings with live performances of top bands. Japan will have Tropical Depression perform for their film slated this August.
What makes this particular blogger unique is his use of high-end photography equipment. He has a 600mm Canon L series lens easily in the 6 thousand dollar range. These are the same huge lenses used by sports photographers covering events like the upcoming London Olympics. Their size is almost like a rocket launcher, but is white in color. The large optics brings far objects nearer and the larger aperture allows for faster moving objects to be photographed sharper.
Whether its 3 time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt breaking the 100m world record again or an A360 jet screaming overhead, the expensive lens is perfect for the job. Although, it’s almost like seeing a Mercedes Benz being used as a taxi cab in the streets of Hong Kong. There are publications here in Manila who won’t be able to supply that kind of lens to their photographers and yet this Japanese blogger uses it out of his passion for planes.
“Happy Flight” is a great combination of how high technology and the extremely strict standards of training and excellence of their airline industry keeps passengers safe and ‘happy’. There are vignettes at every level from a mechanic who insists on fixing a minor nuisance in the plane, a rookie stewardess to a co-pilot going on his final test before becoming a full-fledged airline pilot.
Kazuhiro Suzuki played by Seiichi Tanabe is the co pilot in his final test. He had a terrible experience during flight simulation when he was not able to deal with a relatively minor technical difficulty, crashing the plane to the sea. The instructor reminded him how lucky he was that it was just a computer simulation. Suzuki’s character can be considered comedic, waving to the stewardesses and getting his uniform dirtied in the process.
In an official test flight from Tokyo’s Haneda airport to Honolulu, the stern and more experienced Captain Harada (Saburo Tokito) will be evaluating him. The captain notices every little mistake that Suzuki makes from not wearing the pilot’s cap to mindlessly having meals while steering the plane. And generally it does seem that Harada is on his case.
The emerging pattern is that direct supervisors who seem to be hard on their underlings are not doing so because of a power trip. There are rules to be followed and they are there for a reason. The overall system was devised to keep passengers safety as a priority. What may seem to be the smallest details can end up being very costly in terms of keeping a flight worry free.
The lovely Haruka Ayase plays the rookie stewardess Etsuko Saito. She has a striking resemblance with our own Heart Evangelista. Her adorable face and megawatt smile can melt anyone’s ‘heart’. She’s eager to please but the stresses of the job have changed her perception of the career she’s looked at with rose-colored glasses.
Her terror boss is Reiko Yamazaki (Shinobu Terajima). Just like the tough captain she is strict for a reason, putting the passengers’ safety and satisfaction above their own. Terajima is a multi award-winning actress having won the Best Actress trophy from different award giving bodies such as the Berlin Film fest for “Caterpillar” (2010), Japan Academy Prize for “Akame 48 Waterfalls” (2003) and a Blue Ribbon award for “Vibrator” (2003).
Two comic relief characters are the female ground crew who can’t seem to do anything right played by Tomoko Tabata and Kami Hiraiwa. Hand carried luggage that was allowed to get on board in spite of being the wrong size cause the whole flight all sorts of inconveniences. Even they prove their worth in the end connecting the information by tech-obsessed geeks and the delayed flight. Their cute faces along with the adorable Ayase is a worthy selling point for the film.