(Video on Demand, December 2015) I’m not a big dog person, but Hachi still managed to reach me twice as often as I thought. The story of a dog who comes to wait eternally for his dead master, Hachi hits high notes at the beginning of the story (when a preposterously cute puppy dog gets a lot of screen time) and at the end, as the years go on and the dog stands for permanence in a forever-changing world. It is, very obviously, a film made with obviously mawkish intent: it pulls no punches in trying to get tears out of its audience, and milks every single dramatic detail (such as the squeezable ball) to its fullest. But, especially after a slow first half, it picks up and gets far more interesting than expected later on. Richard Gere isn’t bad as the lead human character, an academic who ends up with a lot more than he expected when a dog randomly pops into his path. Still, this is the dog’s film and everyone knows it. For a movie that was apparently never widely shown in North-American theaters, Hachi has since acquired a minor but entirely well-deserved notoriety. Dog people should truly brace themselves for sobs, though.