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Memory’s Technique, Shin Samejima Jiken, Shibuya Shadow, Issho de ichiban nagai kubu, Kakurenbo, She is Alone Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, everyone.

This is the second part of the weekend trailer post following yesterday’s instalment which had six films listed. So that makes 12 out of 19. There will be another post tomorrow. Since I last wrote, I watched the Chinese film Devils on the Doorstep (2000) for the Heroic Purgatory podcast.

What else was released this weekend?

Continue reading “Memory’s Technique, Shin Samejima Jiken, Shibuya Shadow, Issho de ichiban nagai kubu, Kakurenbo, She is Alone Japanese Film Trailers”

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Underdog, Sora wa doko ni aru, Mogura, Songs of Triumph, Sasaki in My Mind, One in a Hundred Thousand Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, everyone.

Creepy Film Image Hidetoshi Nishijima

I hope you are all well.

Since my last trailer post, I have watched two b-movies Goke, Body Snatcher From Hell and Matango, and three Hong Kong crime thrillers – the Infernal Affairs trilogy. I posted reviews for The Mistress/Wild Geese and Goke, Body Snatcher From Hell. Also, the latest episode of the Heroic Purgatory podcast is up and it is about Bong Joon-ho’s sophomore feature Memories of Murder!

I hope you are all listening to interesting podcasts and watching interesting films.

What Japanese films are released this weekend? 19 films so I’m splitting the trailer post up into three parts. Thankfully, I’ve written about some of these which played at the Tokyo International Film Festival.

Continue reading “Underdog, Sora wa doko ni aru, Mogura, Songs of Triumph, Sasaki in My Mind, One in a Hundred Thousand Japanese Film Trailers”

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Goke, Body Snatcher From Hell 吸血鬼ゴケミドロ (1968) Dir: Hajime Sato

Goke, Body Snatcher From Hell    Goke, Body Snatcher From Hell Japanese Film Poster

吸血鬼ゴケミドロ Kyuketsuki Gokemidoro

Release Date: August 14th, 1968

Duration: 84 mins.

Director: Hajime Sato

Writer: Kyuzo Kobayashi, Susumu Takaku (Script),

Starring: Tereuo Yoshida (Sugisaka, the co-pilot), Tomomi Sato (Kazumi Asakura, the stewardess), Eizo Kitamura (Gozo Mano, the senator), Hideo Ko (Hirofumi Teraoka, the hijacker), Kathy Horan (Mrs. Neal), Yuko Kusunoki (Noriko Tokuyasu), Nobuo Kaneko (Tokuyasu). Kazuo Kato (Dr. Momotake, the psychiatrist), Masaya Takahashi (Toshiyuki Saga, the scientist)

IMDB

Goke, Body Snatcher From Hell is a pessimistic sci-fi horror where a group of survivors from an airplane crash encounter an extra-terrestrial blob that can turn humans into bloodsucking vampires.

Released in 1968, the same year as classic Edo-gothic horror Kuroneko (Kaneto Shindo), the disturbing drama The Profound Desire of the Gods (Nagisa Oshima), and social commetary Death By Hanging (Nagisa Oshima), while it won’t be remembered as anything ground-breaking like those titles, it has its B-movie charms that justify giving it a watch.

Continue reading “Goke, Body Snatcher From Hell 吸血鬼ゴケミドロ (1968) Dir: Hajime Sato”

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Wild Geese / The Mistress 雁 Shiro Toyoda (1953)

The Mistress (aka Wild Geese)      Wild Geese Film Poster

雁 「Gan

Running Time: 104 mins.

Release Date: September 15th, 1953

Director: Shiro Toyoda

Writer: Masashige Narusawa (Screenplay), Ogai Mori (Original Novel)

Starring: Hideko Takamine, Hiroshi Akutagawa, Choko Lida, Eijiro Tono, Jukichi Uno,

IMDB

Wild Geese a.k.a The Mistress is based on a novel by Ogai Mori (real name, Mori Rintaro, 1882–1916), an interesting figure in himself. Originally born to a family of doctors, he was expected to follow that path but, instead, found fame as a translator, novelist, and poet. He lived through the transition from the Meiji era to the Taisho period and, from what I have read on Wikipedia, his works are humanist dramas as is evident in this particular film that tells a quiet tragedy about a poor woman who dares to dream of escaping the confines of her lowly position through marriage but finds herself trapped by gender and class as is revealed when she falls in love.

Continue reading “Wild Geese / The Mistress 雁 Shiro Toyoda (1953)”

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Graffiti Graffiti, Tsuyogari Caponata, Macho Caponata, Wonderful Paradise, Yaunpe wo Sagase!, Listening to the Air, Nakamuraya Saketen no Kyoudai Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend!

Gemini Ryo Masahiro Motoki

I hope you are all well!

This is the second part of my weekly trailer post. Part one can be found here.

What else is released this weekend?

Continue reading “Graffiti Graffiti, Tsuyogari Caponata, Macho Caponata, Wonderful Paradise, Yaunpe wo Sagase!, Listening to the Air, Nakamuraya Saketen no Kyoudai Japanese Film Trailers”

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Tezuka’s Barbara, Food Luck, Runway, Me & My Brother’s Mistress, Any Crybabies Around?, Stand By Me Doraemon 2 Japanese Film Trailers

Hello everyone!

I hope you are all well.

This is part one of my weekend trailer post.

This week, I’ve posted reviews for the Lisa Takeba films Wandering Alien Detective Robin and The Horse Thieves. Roads of Time. I’ve split this trailer post into two, the first today and the second tomorrow to allow space for all of the films released. These are just Japanese ones but the Chinese film The Crossing gets a Japanese release.

What have I watched this week? The Departed, Umberto D, V/H/S 2, The House of Exorcism, Door III, The Revenge I: A Visit from Fate, To the Ends of the Earth.

What is released this weekend? A lot of films I have already written about for festivals this year!

Continue reading “Tezuka’s Barbara, Food Luck, Runway, Me & My Brother’s Mistress, Any Crybabies Around?, Stand By Me Doraemon 2 Japanese Film Trailers”

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Wandering Alien Detective Robin さすらいのエイリアン 私立探偵ロビン Dir: Lisa Takeba (2012)

Wandering Alien Detective Robin

さすらいのエイリアン 私立探偵ロビンSasurai no eirian shiritsu tantei Robin

Release Date: June 16th, 2012

Duration: 20 mins.

Director: Lisa Takeba

Writer: Lisa Takeba (Script), 

Starring: Masanori Mimoto, Takuro Kodama, Lisa Geran, Kinuo Yamada, Arata Yamanaka, Takashi Nishina, Yaeko Kiyose, Yuya Ishikawa, Marc Walkow,

JFDB IMDB

Lisa Takeba is a multi-hyphenate talent who gleefully blends genres, utilises melodrama and has the sort of imaginative hands-on DIY special effects that can charm an audience enough to paper over how slight or loopy her stories are. This can best be appreciated in her feature films The Pinkie (2014) and Haruko’s Paranormal Laboratory (2015), both of which are zany romances with a science fiction spin. Her earliest available work, the short film Wandering Alien Detective Robin (2012), is a good indicator of what she is capable of.

Continue reading “Wandering Alien Detective Robin さすらいのエイリアン 私立探偵ロビン Dir: Lisa Takeba (2012)”

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The Horse Thieves. Roads of Time オルジャスの白い馬 Director: Yerlan Nurmukhambetov, Lisa Takeba (2019)

The Horse Thieves. Roads of Time Film Poster

The Horse Thieves. Roads of Time   

オルジャスの白い馬Oruhasu no Shiroi Uma

Release Date: January 18th, 2020

Duration: 81 mins.

Director: Yerlan Nurmukhambetov, Lisa Takeba

Writer: Yerlan Nurmukhambetov (Screenplay),

Starring: Dulyga Akmolda, Madi Minaidarov, Mirai Moriyama, Samal Yeslyamova,

Website IMDB

 

The Horse Thieves. Roads of Time is a wholly original film that runs for a tight 81 minutes and utilises the mechanics of various genres to explore the impact of a murder on a family in a remote region of the world. The film, which opened the 2019 edition of the Busan International Film Festival, is an international co-production between Kazakhstan and Japan. It’s the collective vision of two directors: Yerlan Nurmukhambetov, who won the New Currents Award at the Busan International Film Festival 2015 for The Walnut Tree, and Lisa Takeba who is known for her quirky sci-fi tinged romcoms, The Pinkie (2014) and Haruko’s Paranormal Laboratory (2015). What is delivered is a picture that definitely deserves to be seen on the widest screen possible as it zeroes in on the tiny dramas of a group of characters clinging to life in an uncaring environment.

Continue reading “The Horse Thieves. Roads of Time オルジャスの白い馬 Director: Yerlan Nurmukhambetov, Lisa Takeba (2019)”

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The Man Who Was There, Tane wa Dare no Mono, Tabun, The Werewolf Game: Death Game’s Operator, Hotel Royal, The Legacy of Dr. Death: Black File, Sakura, The Believers Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, part two!

Haruko's Paranormal Laboratory Film Image

I hope you are all still feeling good.

In the time between this post and the last, I have watched Memories of Murder as prep for another instalment of the Heroic Purgatory podcast.

What else is released this weekend?

Continue reading “The Man Who Was There, Tane wa Dare no Mono, Tabun, The Werewolf Game: Death Game’s Operator, Hotel Royal, The Legacy of Dr. Death: Black File, Sakura, The Believers Japanese Film Trailers”

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Life: Untitled, Flight on the Water, Looking for Magical DoReMi, Japan Sinks: 2020, Date A Bullet Nightmare or Queen, Fafner THE BEYOND, Ling Tosite Shigure 15th anniversary #4 for Extreaming, Vanitas, Onkio Haus Melody – Go – Round Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend everyone

I hope you are all well

This is part one of the trailer post and it will cover films I have already written about in some form. The ones gathered here have been taken from my Annecy, Japan Cuts, and TokyoIFF 2020 posts. 

In terms of what I have done this week, I have gone to work and posted reviews of two Lisa Takeba films, The Pinkie and Haruko‘s Paranormal LaboratoryI have watched the films Lisa and the DevilZodiac, and VHS2.

What is released this weekend?

Continue reading “Life: Untitled, Flight on the Water, Looking for Magical DoReMi, Japan Sinks: 2020, Date A Bullet Nightmare or Queen, Fafner THE BEYOND, Ling Tosite Shigure 15th anniversary #4 for Extreaming, Vanitas, Onkio Haus Melody – Go – Round Japanese Film Trailers”

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Haruko’s Paranormal Laboratory 春子超常現象研究所 Dir: Lisa Takeba (2015)

Haruko’s Paranormal Laboratory    Haruko'sParanormal Laboratory Film Poster

春子超常現象研究所「 Haruko Chojo Gensho Kenkyujo」

Release Date: December 05th, 2015

Duration: 73 mins.

Director: Lisa Takeba

Writer: Lisa Takeba (Screenplay),

Starring: Aoi Nakamura, Moeka Nozaki, Fumiyo Kohinata, Sayaka Aoki, Takumi Saito, Yumiko Takahashi,

Website    IMDB

The spirit of love and youth animates everything in Lisa Takeba’s sophomore feature. With the imagination and energy of a high schooler drunk with love for B-movies, she showers the screen with handmade sets, head-spinning moments of romance, and characters set up to accentuate the giddy energy of love as Takeba crafts a colourful, creative and offbeat tale of a maladjusted girl finding romance with a TV in a film that doesn’t belabour but parodies and placates the existential angst living creatures feel as they seek a place in the world.

The story begins  with Haruko (Moeka Nozaki), a loner with a passion for the paranormal, something she has longed to encounter since childhood when she sought out an alien abduction to free her of her high school days which were fraught with betrayal and bullying. Her only company at home is her television, an old analogue set from the 1950 which, one day, transforms into a man (Aoi Nakamura) with a TV-shaped head. Haruko names him Terebi and soon falls in love with him. Their path to true love proves to be rocky and the two have to work through issues, Haruko’s being a hatred of other people and Terebi’s being an existential crisis brought on by the fact he was once an inanimate object and not human (so what are feelings and aree his real or something he learned from a TV show!?!?!).

Continue reading “Haruko’s Paranormal Laboratory 春子超常現象研究所 Dir: Lisa Takeba (2015)”

Featured The Pinkie Film Image Miwako Wagatsuma 2

The Pinkie さまよう小指 Dir: Lisa Takeba (2014)

The Pinkie   

The Pinkie Film Poster
The Pinkie Film Poster

さまよう 小指  Samayou Koyubi

Release Date: September 14th, 2014 (Japan)

Duration: 63 mins.

Director: Lisa Takeba

Writer: Lisa Takeba (Screenplay),

Starring: Ryota Ozawa, Miwako Wagatsuma, Haruka Suenaga, Kanji Tsuda,

Website

When I first saw this film I fell in love with it and hyped the director up. Lisa Takeba is one of those multi-hyphenate talents whose imagination covers writing, directing and more. She has a background in advertising and writing videogames for the likes of Nintendo so she’s got a lot of experience with different styles to work with, something which shows in this fun and insane mash-up of genres where rom-com meets offbeat sci-fi and yakuza thrills in a story that firmly places love at the centre of everything.

The story is about love as experienced by four people but it starts with two.

Since they were both five, Ryosuke (Ryota Ozawa) has been stalked by Momoko (Miwako Wagatsuma) – the ugliest girl in the village. Momoko’s love for Ryosuke is so boundless that she has her face surgically altered to suit his taste – but still, he wants nothing to do with her. Ryosuke is a louche NEET who is in love with the girlfriend of a yakuza boss, a slippery dame named Manami (Haruka Suenaga), but when the boss finds out about their affair he has Ryosuke’s little finger hacked off and chases him off. Magically, the finger falls into Momoko’s hands and she uses it to clone Ryosuke so she can finally have him (or almost him) for herself – and that’s the first five minutes of this deranged tale of pure-hearted love.

Continue reading “The Pinkie さまよう小指 Dir: Lisa Takeba (2014)”

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Doran, Railroad Man, Saitan kyori wa mawarikudokute, rakka ryusui, Nekutai o Shimeta Hyakusho Ikki, Blue Forest, Kansha Hanare Zutto Issho ni Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend!

I hope you are still all feeling good.

Following yesterday’s trailer post, I jumped onto this one and then prepared material for English conversation class and prepped to go back to my regular day job. I really need to restart writing reviews for my blog!

What else is released this weekend?

Continue reading “Doran, Railroad Man, Saitan kyori wa mawarikudokute, rakka ryusui, Nekutai o Shimeta Hyakusho Ikki, Blue Forest, Kansha Hanare Zutto Issho ni Japanese Film Trailers”

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Junihitoe wo Kita Akuma, Ora Ora Be Goin’ Alone, Georama Boy Panorama Girl, 461 Days of Bento, Beautiful Dreamer, Monster Strike The Movie: Lucifer Zetsubou no Yoake, and Other Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, everyone.

I hope you are all doing well.

There was only one post this week and it was for the Atsushi Funahashi film Lovers on Borders (2019). I watched were The Colour Out of Space (2019), a brilliant updating of one of H.P. Lovecraft’s best stories, The Day of the Triffids (1963), a competent b-movie (I haven’t read the source novel) and The House on Haunted Hill.

Like last week (and probably going forward), I’ve split this trailer post into two due to the large amount of films being released thanks to the Covid-19 backlog from earlier this year.

What is released this weekend?

Continue reading “Junihitoe wo Kita Akuma, Ora Ora Be Goin’ Alone, Georama Boy Panorama Girl, 461 Days of Bento, Beautiful Dreamer, Monster Strike The Movie: Lucifer Zetsubou no Yoake, and Other Japanese Film Trailers”

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Lovers on Borders ポルトの恋人たち時の記憶 Director: Atsushi Funahashi (2018)

Lovers on Borders   Lovers on Borders Film Poster

ポルトの恋人たち 時の記憶 「Poruto no koibitotachi toki no kioku

Release Date: November 10th, 2018

Running Time: 139 mins.

Director: Atsushi Funahashi

Writer: Atsushi Funahashi, Shigeru Murakoshi (Screenplay),

Starring: Tasuku Emoto, Yuta Nakano, Ana Moreira, Antonio Duraes, Flavio Hamilton, Alex Miranda, Miguel Monteiro, Valdemar Santos,

Website IMDB

Lovers on Borders is an international co-production between Japan and Portugal that was released in 2018. Based on an original script by writer Shigeru Murakoshi and director Atsushi Funahashi, it tells the story of a relationship between two lost souls that defies many lines of separation. Life and death, geographical distance, language, race, religion, social class, hatred, and ultimately time are traversed in a love story that takes nearly 300 years to reach fruition.

The film starts in Japan in 2021, a year after the Tokyo Olympic Games have successfully been held but have failed to revitalise the economy and ten years after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, the effects of which continue to haunt the nation.

Continue reading “Lovers on Borders ポルトの恋人たち時の記憶 Director: Atsushi Funahashi (2018)”

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Futsuu ni shinu inochi no jiritsu, MISSION IN B.A.C. THE MOVIE, Musical `Touken Ranbu’ Uta Awase Ranbu Kyouran 2019 4 DX, Eiga Precure Miracle Leap: Minna to Fushigi na 1-nichi, Planet of the Red, Howl from Beyond the Fog, Hakuchi: The Innocent, Muchi no Sekai Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend (again)!

I hope you are all still well and you had a nice Halloween.

The only change between Friday and now is that I posted a review of Shinya Tsukamoto’s 1999 film Gemini and I will record an episode of the Heroic Purgatory podcast which was dedicated to Ang Lee’s 1994 film Eat Drink Man Woman.

Oh, and yesterday, I watched Phenomena and The Horse Thieves. Roads of Time.

What is released this weekend?

Continue reading “Futsuu ni shinu inochi no jiritsu, MISSION IN B.A.C. THE MOVIE, Musical `Touken Ranbu’ Uta Awase Ranbu Kyouran 2019 4 DX, Eiga Precure Miracle Leap: Minna to Fushigi na 1-nichi, Planet of the Red, Howl from Beyond the Fog, Hakuchi: The Innocent, Muchi no Sekai Japanese Film Trailers”

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GEMINI 双生児 -GEMINI- (1999) Dir: Shinya Tsukamoto

This year’s Halloween movie review is back and I am returning to a familiar name for this year’s chosen film, Shinya Tsukamoto. There are slight spoilers in here.

Gemini   

双生児 -GEMINI- そうせいじ ジェミニ

Release Date: September 15th, 1999

Duration: 83 mins.

Director: Shinya Tsukamoto

Writer: Shinya Tsukamoto (Script), Edogawa Rampo (Original Story – Souseiji: Aru Shikeiin ga Kyoukaishi ni Uchiaketa Hanashi)

Starring: Masahiro Motoki, Ryo, Yasutaka Tsutsui, Shiho Fujimura, Akaji Maro, Masako Motai, Renji Ishibashi, Tomorowo Taguchi, Tadanobu Asano, Naoto Takenaka, Yuriko Hirooka,

IMDB

Gemini (1999) is an adaptation of the Edogawa Rampo story ‘The Twins’ by Shinya Tsukamoto. Now, tone down any expectations of hyper-stylised violence and prepare yourself for psychological horror as a doppelganger forces a doctor to confront class issues in Tsukamoto’s first period film.

It is Meiji-era Japan and as the country goes through growth pains Yukio (Masahiro Motoki) has been blessed with good fortune. Following his unscathed return from being a military surgeon on the bloody frontlines of an unspecified war, he has followed in his father’s footsteps and taken over the practice in his family’s beautiful home. He is handsome, highly educated and refined, a naturally talented doctor, and well-respected by those who can afford him. To cap things off, he has a beautiful wife, Rin (Ryo). The only wrinkle in his picture-perfect life is that Rin has no past for she has amnesia and nobody knows a thing about her and her social status, something which rankles his parents. Despite this, Yukio is happy.

Gemini 1

Continue reading “GEMINI 双生児 -GEMINI- (1999) Dir: Shinya Tsukamoto”

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Sumou-do samurai o tsugu-sha-tachi, Closet (2020), Kichijoji Go-Go-, WAVE!! Surfing Yappe!!   Chapter 3, Tonkatsu DJ Age-Taro, The Voice of Sin, Cry, I’m Really Good, Mimicry Freaks Japanese Film Trailers

 

 

Happy weekend, everyone!

Notes on Monstropedia

I hope you are all feeling genki.

Throughout this month, I worked the Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival 2020. It seemed to go well. I worked as the press officer so I would write press releases and contact animation websites/animation lecturers and student newspapers, write SNS posts whilst I had personal control of Twitter. I’ve done it before in previous years but this year was different because it was all online.

Actually, since it was an online festival, Twitter proved to be the perfect way to talk about the fest since I could tweet links to the screenings. 40% of viewers joined streams directly from Twitter.

Whilst all that was going on, I wrote many things over the past month for this blog. This week, I posted my review for All the Things We Never Said and a preview of the Tokyo International Film Festival 2020 and the Third Window Films release of Gemini

I watched a lot of films: What Did You Do to Solange?CenturionGemini, The Purge, Inseminoid, Eat Drink Man Woman and a couple of others as I took advantage of Amazon’s Prime service which is awash with horror films.

Due to the large number of films, this trailer post has been split into two parts, one today and one on Sunday. Due to my tradition of posting a horror movie review on Halloween, you can find something spooky to watch for Saturday’s post.

What is released this weekend in Japan?

Continue reading “Sumou-do samurai o tsugu-sha-tachi, Closet (2020), Kichijoji Go-Go-, WAVE!! Surfing Yappe!!   Chapter 3, Tonkatsu DJ Age-Taro, The Voice of Sin, Cry, I’m Really Good, Mimicry Freaks Japanese Film Trailers”

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Third Window Films Release Europe’s first Blu-ray and the UK’s first release of Shinya Tsukamoto’s “GEMINI” on November 02nd

Third Window Films are going to bolster their stable of  Shinya Tsukamoto films by issuing a (Region B) blu-ray release of Gemini, his 1999 horror title, on November 02nd.

It has a sparkling transfer that is pin-sharp and accentuates the colours and the extras, which the disc is packed full of, do a brilliant job of going into the background of the film. Here are the details:

 

 

Extra features
New HD transfer
Audio commentary by Tom Mes, author of Iron Man: The Cinema of Shinya Tsukamoto
Making of Gemini” featurette directed by Takashi Miike
Behind the Scenes
Make-up demonstration featurette
Venice Film Festival featurette
Original Trailer
First 1000 units come with slipcase featuring new artwork illustrated by Ian McEwan

Here’s the trailer and synopsis and a little extra info:

Continue reading “Third Window Films Release Europe’s first Blu-ray and the UK’s first release of Shinya Tsukamoto’s “GEMINI” on November 02nd”

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A Preview of the Tokyo International Film Festival 2020

TIFF Logo

The 33rd Tokyo International Film Festival (TokyoIFF) runs from October 31st to November 09th and it is a physical event. Information on this page shows the various measures that will be taken by staff such as temperature checks, ensuring audiences wear masks, empty seats around viewers and other methods of ensuring physical distancing.

In terms of films, TokyoIFF has a pretty busy and diverse programme that pitches a lot of dramas alongside restored classics, animation and super sentai. On top of that, there are many interesting talks and other events scheduled with a range of guests.

Here is the festival’s trailer!

Like my last TokyoIFF post, I’ll keep this brief by writing in detail about films I haven’t covered before (or not that often) and I’ll also focus on titles from the indie end of the spectrum as well as utilising the main sections TokyoIFF has created to provide structure to this post.

Continue reading “A Preview of the Tokyo International Film Festival 2020”

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All the Things We Never Said 生きちゃった Dir: Yuya Ishii (2020)

All the Things We Never Said Film Poster

All the Things We Never Said   

生きちゃった Ikichatta

Release Date: October 03rd, 2020

Duration: 91 mins.

Director: Yuya Ishii

Writer: Yuya Ishii (Script), 

Starring: Taiga Nakano, Yuko Oshima, Ryuya Wakaba, Park Jung-bum, Yuuno Ota, Miyu Yagyu, TOBI,

Website IMDB

In 2019 the Hong Kong International Film Festival Society and China’s Heaven Pictures launched a pan-Asian project called B2B A Love Supreme wherein six Asian auteurs were tasked with going back to basics and making a feature on a limited budget of approximately US$145,000. The filmmakers selected included Tsai Ming-Liang from Taiwan, Chinese-Korean Zhang Lu and Japanese director Yuya Ishii who contributed All the Things We Never Said.

The title for Ishii’s story proves to be apt as this 90 minute film finds its dramatic fluctuations based on a cycle of escalating tragedies derived from various character’s inability to communicate what they truly feel to others. This is down to the fact that expressing ones emotions and risking breaking the peace of a situation is difficult in a Japanese situation where social equanimity and cohesion is prized.

The opening is anything but grim. Boundless optimism radiates from the screen as we gaze upon three high schoolers, two guitar-wielding boys and a girl, who amble along an open road on a balmy summer’s day. An upbeat song gives us the perfect accompaniment to these sun-kissed scenes that are familiar from countless seishun eiga and sappy romances. These are hopeful kids however, amidst all of their joy, seeds of disharmony are sown as they are caught in an unspoken love triangle that will have consequences well into adulthood. 

Continue reading “All the Things We Never Said 生きちゃった Dir: Yuya Ishii (2020)”

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GOZE, We Are Oh! & Yeah!!, Dancing in Her Dreams, Little Subculture Wars – Villevan! Counterattack, Saitan kyori wa mawarikudokute Ame to Soda Nizu, Just By My Side, Happy-Go-Lucky Days Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, everyone!

I hope you are all doing fine!

The Kotatsu Festival is underway and there will be two free film streaming sessions later today. My review for Yuya Ishii’s All the Things We Never Said went lives yesterday on V-Cinema. This is the follow-up post to yesterday‘s which details what was released in cinemas in Japan this weekend.

Continue reading “GOZE, We Are Oh! & Yeah!!, Dancing in Her Dreams, Little Subculture Wars – Villevan! Counterattack, Saitan kyori wa mawarikudokute Ame to Soda Nizu, Just By My Side, Happy-Go-Lucky Days Japanese Film Trailers”

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Living in Your Sky, True Mothers, Your Eyes Tell, An Ant Strikes Back, Videophobia, Travel Nostalgia, Sorezore, Tamayura, JUST ANOTHER, Aoi, Instant Camera, Geki × Cine `Nise Yoshitsune Meikai Uta’ Japanese Film Trailers

 
Dreams Into Drawing

Happy weekend, everyone!!!

I hope you are all well.

This post is truncated due to time constraints. As has been the case for at least the past four years, I’m working as press officer/writer for the Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival and so I am caught up doing SNS as well as covering other things (one more day to go and everything is online and free to view).

This week I posted a preview of the Japanese films at Tokyo FILMeX and my review for the Kazuya Shiraishi film One Night. I’ve watched Italian horror giallo movies like Terror at the Opera and Deep Red (both by Dario Argento), Black Sabbath and Black Sunday (both by Mario Bava).

What is released this weekend? About 19 films, so I’ve split this post into two with the second part tomorrow. Some of these films are screening as part of Busan, others I have seen as part of Nippon Connection and the Osaka Asian Film Festival.

Continue reading “Living in Your Sky, True Mothers, Your Eyes Tell, An Ant Strikes Back, Videophobia, Travel Nostalgia, Sorezore, Tamayura, JUST ANOTHER, Aoi, Instant Camera, Geki × Cine `Nise Yoshitsune Meikai Uta’ Japanese Film Trailers”

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One Night  ひとよ Dir: Kazuya Shiraishi (2019)

One Night    One Night Film Poster

ひとよ  Hitoyo

Release Date: November 08th, 2019

Duration: 123 mins.

Director: Kazuya Shiraishi

Writer: Izumi Takahashi (Screenplay), Yuko Kuwabara (Original Stage Play)

Starring: Takeru Satoh, Ryohei Suzuki, Mayu Matsuoka, Yuko Tanaka, Kuranosuke Sasaki, Mariko Tsutsumi, Hanae Kan, Megumi,

Website IMDB

Director Kazuya Shiraishi chronicles the darker aspects of Japan with true-crime stories featuring outlaws like The Devil’s Path (2013) and Twisted Justice (2016) mixed with depictions of damaged everyday people on the outermost fringes of society like Dawn of the Felines (2017) and Birds Without Names (2018). For One Night, his first family drama, he adapts a stage play by Yuko Kuwabara but leans too far into crime territory late in the proceedings for an unsatisfactory ending.

The film opens on a stormy night at the Inamoto Taxi company which is located in some nondescript town. Koharu Inamoto (Yuko Tanaka) runs over her abusive husband in a taxi in an act to free herself and her three children from his merciless violence. After confessing what happened to her kids, all of whom bear the bruises of a beating, Koharu tells them, “Nobody will ever beat you again. You can live however you want.” Just before departing into the rain and darkness to give herself up to the police, she promises she will meet them again in the future.

Cut to 15 years later and we see that Koharu’s selfless act that was supposed to set her family free to pursue their dreams has trapped them in a vicious circle of shame and self-loathing that has made their lives nightmarish. Koharu discovers this bitter disappointment as she keeps her promise and returns to her children and the family business. Her presence forces everyone to confront the scars from their traumatic background, how the kids have inherited the sins of the mother by living in shame, and how this has all warped their personalities in various ways. These differences lead to multiple angles of conflict between characters we sympathise with due to their shared history and that provides ample drama which is excellently delivered by the cast.

Displaying various degrees of emotional damage and toxic masculinity are Koharu’s boys. Eldest son Daiki is a nebbish-looking guy who is struggling badly with a failing marriage and meeting masculine norms. The slicker younger son Yuji is a cynical journalist for a sleazy tabloid who senses he can turn his tragic past into a brighter future through writing about it, even if this betrays his family. Screen heartthrob Takeru Satoh plays the more showy character of Yuji with provoking sneers and condescension fit for his character. More conventional but really harrowing is the plight faced by Daiki. Ryohei Suzuki is very sympathetic playing the bespectacled guy unable to process what happened to them. He is all huddled and quiet with a downcast gaze and stutter due to a lack of confidence and a lot of shame. His constant avoidance of conflict leads to a shock later in the story as he he slips into violence in a way that reminds audiences that children learn from their parents.

More welcoming is Koharu’s daughter Sonoko played by Mayu Matsuoka, a much-needed ray of sunshine whose bright personality and hard-knock smile lights up the dark narrative. Having been forced to give up her ambitions to be a hairstylist, she works at a snack bar where she belts out karaoke tunes with glee and has a cynical view of men that she is unafraid to show. This motivates her to push back against her brother’s wayward feelings towards their mother.

Veteran actress Yuko Tanaka plays Koharu as a woman with mighty resolve and a humane nature who is resigned to enduring whatever hardship she faces for the good of her children. Naturally the audience will be with her and there is the expectation that she will right whatever wrongs that are going on, from saving Daiki’s marriage to coming to peace with with Yuji. Except it doesn’t quite work out so simply and seeing the family members navigate their sense of betrayal and try to overcome their traumas provides gripping material that the performances keep us invested in. Throw in an examination of how society ostracises those connected to crime, other characters around them struggling with issues like senile parents and wayward children and there is enough material here for a fine family drama that depicts the problems faced by modern families.

While the pieces are all there, the story loses its thread in the final third as if the writer Izumi Takahashi lacked an interest in realistically evolving the story and bringing the characters to a natural catharsis. Instead, a subplot involving Michio Doushita (Kuranosuke Sasaki) as a taxi driver whose criminal past catches up with him drives the action. While his plight makes an interesting parallel to Koharu’s, his story hijacks the film and takes away any agency from the mother and it leads to a contrived ending which foists an unbelievable connection between himself and the children, whom we never really see interact with him, just for the sake of a resolution.

One Night really starts off as a deep, dark, and very difficult performance-driven drama as we watch an excruciating reunion ripe for theatrics but everything is kept in check as the cast deliver some very fine and realistic portrayals showing the ways domestic violence can affect people. With a better ending, the emotional of sticking it out rewards would have been greater.

The technicals are all impressive enough and help transcend the film’s stage origins by taking advantage of the taxi company to get out of the single location so it never feels boring and there is a sense of place and time so that this feels rooted in reality.

My review for One Night first appeared on VCinema on September 01st.

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Japanese Films at Tokyo FILMeX 2020 (October 30th to November 05th)

Tokyo FILMeX 2020 runs from October 30th to November 05th. It’s the placeTokyo Filmex Poster to see arthouse films but, due to Covid-19, organisers have decided to shorten the duration of the fest and have it run alongside the Tokyo International Film Festival, although it’s still a physical event. This move positions the festival in a way to make it akin to Director’s Fortnight at Cannes. You can read a statement here which explains more.

Anyway, the festival has quite a few titles from Japan or set in Japan that are worth checking out.

Click on a title to be taken to the festival page:

Continue reading “Japanese Films at Tokyo FILMeX 2020 (October 30th to November 05th)”

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Wife of a Spy, Mio’s Cookbook, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Movie: Mugen Train, Ainu Mosir, Beautiful Escape, Oni Garu!!, WAVE!! Surfing Yappe!!   Chapter 2, Twiceborn, Gekijouban hontou ni atta kowai hanashi 2020 norowareta-ka Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, everyone!

I hope you are all doing fine!

This week I posted about the Japanese films at the Raindance Film Festival and the OP Pictures + Fest going on throughout this month.

I will be recording the Halloween episode of the Heroic Purgatory podcast about the film Audition (1999) and watching some Japanese films from the 80s. Since it’s the season of scares, I’d like to highlight some of my older horror films reviews.

Carved – The Slit-Mouthed Woman

Tamami: The Baby’s Curse

Pulse

BAMY

Don’t Look Up

What is released this weekend?

Continue reading “Wife of a Spy, Mio’s Cookbook, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Movie: Mugen Train, Ainu Mosir, Beautiful Escape, Oni Garu!!, WAVE!! Surfing Yappe!!   Chapter 2, Twiceborn, Gekijouban hontou ni atta kowai hanashi 2020 norowareta-ka Japanese Film Trailers”

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Japanese Films at the Raindance Film Festival 2020

The 2020 edition of the Raindance Film Festival takes place online from October 20th to November 07th with the UK being able to enjoy all of the entire programme while people in other parts of the world can enjoy certain content. All of the films are available for free but the organisers are asking for a donation (click here to find out more). There are a couple of Japanese films. Here they are…

Click on the title links to be taken to more information:

Continue reading “Japanese Films at the Raindance Film Festival 2020”

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OP PICTURES+FEST 2020 Films (October 16th – 29th)

OP PICTURES + Fes 2020

OP Pictures is back for another year and it comes in the middle of the Covid-19 OP Pictures Fest 2020 Posterpandemic, a time when intimacy is to be shunned lest the virus get you. These films were mostly made last year before Covid-19 went global and just before the actor Takuya Sakurai died (he appears in a number of these titles). These films are screening between October 16th – 29th at Theater Shinjuku, Tokyo.

Just like last two year’s events (2018 and 2019), this is a collection of pink films produced by Okura Movie and screened over a number of evenings and there is a selection of films from Hideo Jojo who I spoke to at this year’s Osaka Asian Film Festival due to the screening of his film On the Edge of Their Seats – you can find the interview here. A wonderful irony about this is that I have compiled this list of titles and I don’t think I’ll watch them myself but this list might prove useful to others.

It goes without saying that this stuff is NSFW so you have been warned.

Here’s a festival trailer, the films will follow below… 

Continue reading “OP PICTURES+FEST 2020 Films (October 16th – 29th)”

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The Real Thing, Mechanical Telepathy, Under the Stars, Tokyo Telepath 2020, Super Mikincorinista, Wish, Fruitful and Other Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, everyone!

The Taste of Tea Anna Tsuchiya and Go

I hope you are all well.

I started the week with a review of the gentle family comedy The Taste of Tea (2004) and followed that with a preview of the free films and events at the Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival 2020, an interview with Ryushi Linday, director of Idol (2020) and Kokutai (2019), and a look preview of the Japanese films at the Busan International Film Festival. The filmic highlight of the month has to be The Taste of Tea which I enjoyed a lot but I have been able to watch more…

In terms of films watched three horror movies, After Death (1989), Society (1989) and Spellcaster (1988), and three films by Hirobumi Watanabe.

What is released this weekend?

Continue reading “The Real Thing, Mechanical Telepathy, Under the Stars, Tokyo Telepath 2020, Super Mikincorinista, Wish, Fruitful and Other Japanese Film Trailers”

Featured Busan International Film Festival Logo

Japanese Films at the Busan International Film Festival 2020 (21st-30th October)

Busan International Film Festival Logo

The full programme for the 2020 edition of the Busan International Film Festival was announced earlier this month as was the format of the festival.

This year’s edition is smaller than previous years where there would typically be multiple screenings of 300 features and shorts. Now there are 192 films from 68 countries and each film will screen only one time.

The reduced format sees all but a handful of physical screenings and events cancelled or moved online. This includes the opening and closing ceremonies, receptions, on-stage greetings, talks and guest meetings. The priority is safety but people can still enjoy films, many of which are available to view online via (Korea only).

So, the fest will take place from October 21st to the 30th and it features a great selection of films from across the world. Titles that I have already reviewed (forgive me for plugging my own writing) are Happy Old Year and Beasts Clawing at Straws. I have not seen any of the Japanese titles, many of which look awesome.

Here’s the line-up:

Continue reading “Japanese Films at the Busan International Film Festival 2020 (21st-30th October)”

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An Interview with Ryushi Linday, director of Idol (2020) and Kokutai (2019)

Ryushi Lindsay PhotoRyushi Lindsay (website) is an Anglo-Japanese filmmaker working in both Japan and the UK. He currently has two very different films on the festival circuit, the experimental documentary Kokutai (2019) and the drama Idol (2020). The former’s examination of baseball is delivered with a more expressionistic quality created by the rigorous use of formalist aspects of film while the latter is more naturalistic with carries a critique of social conditions in Japan as well as the idol industry. It is clear that underlying it all is a keen awareness of the world which is refreshing to see and engaging to view. Lindsay took the time to answer questions via email about his background, his inspirations as a filmmaker, his motivation for making Kokutai, and the many ideas and collaborations that went into making Idol.

Continue reading “An Interview with Ryushi Linday, director of Idol (2020) and Kokutai (2019)”

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Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival 2020 (Online) – Free Films and Workshops Via YouTube and Zoom October 24/25

I wrote two news posts on Anime UK News covering the Kotatsu Festival and have decided to merge them here.

Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival Banner

The Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival 2020 is a free two-day event (Oct 24-25) where a whole host of animation and workshops will be online for anybody around the world to view. If you are an animation student or just curious about Japanese animation, this is an unmissable occasion because you can interact with real-deal award-winning animators and you can watch different works made by professionals and students from across Japan. All that is required is an internet connection to view things via the fest’s YouTube channel and to attend workshops via Zoom.

Details:

Continue reading “Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival 2020 (Online) – Free Films and Workshops Via YouTube and Zoom October 24/25”

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The Taste of Tea 茶の味 Dir: Katsuhito Ishii (2004)

The Taste of Tea    The Taste of Tea Film Poster

茶の味  Cha no Aji

Release Date: July 17th, 2004

Duration: 143 mins.

Director: Katsuhito Ishii

Writer: Katsuhito Ishii (Screenplay),

Starring: Tadanobu Asano, Takahiro Sato, Maya Banno, Satomi Tezuka, Tatsuya Gashuin, Tomokazu Miura, Anna Tsuchiya, Ikki Todoroki, Hideaki Anno,

IMDB

Katsuhito Ishii is probably best known for making weird films and while The Taste of Tea is one of his most restrained, it is probably his most popular work. At its simplest, The Taste of Tea is a cross between Yasujiro Ozu’s gentle comedy Good Morning (1959) and the playfully bizarre Survive Style 5+ (2004). Try to imagine the styles of the two melding with and diluting each other and you come close. The result is a film where everyday characters and their small dramas are given the odd flights of fancy that burst out from beneath the surface of normality.

Like in a typical Ozu film, we follow multiple generations of a family. Here, we are spending time with the Haruno family who live in an old-fashioned house in a small mountain town just north of Tokyo. They consist of the mother, Yoshiko (Satomi Tezuka), Nobuo (Tomokazu Miura), the father, their son Hajime (Takahiro Sato), Sachiko (Maya Banno), their daughter, and eccentric grandfather Akira (Tatsuya Gashuin). They will soon be joined by uncle Ayano (Tadanobu Asano) who is taking a break from his job as a music producer to visit for a few days.

Continue reading “The Taste of Tea 茶の味 Dir: Katsuhito Ishii (2004)”

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The Asadas!, Architecture Time and Kazuyo Sejima, Our Story, Gekijouban BEM BECOME HUMAN, Meishi Game, Love Stage!!, Idol Sniper The Movie, Yokohama Mary, All the Things We Never Said, Share the Pain and Other Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, everyone!

Creepy Film Image Hidetoshi Nishijima and Yuko Takeuchi

I hope you are all doing well.

I will be recording an episode of the Heroic Purgatory podcast tonight so I spent this week watching pistol operas from John Woo – A Better Tomorrow (1986), Hard Boiled (1990) and The Killer (1989). The last title is the one my co-host John and I will be talking about for the Heroic Purgatory podcast.

Anyway, other Heroic Purgatory podcast episodes covered Police Story (1984) – podcast -,  Battle Royale (2000) – podcast – and A Bittersweet Life (2004) – podcast.

This week I posted reviews for the Kiyoshi Kurosawa thriller Creepy (2016), the experimental documentary Kokutai (2019), and a preview of the next Third Window Film release, The Taste of Tea (2004). My review for the Atsushi Funahashi film Lovers on Borders (2018) was published on V-Cinema on Thursday evening.

What is released this weekend?

Continue reading “The Asadas!, Architecture Time and Kazuyo Sejima, Our Story, Gekijouban BEM BECOME HUMAN, Meishi Game, Love Stage!!, Idol Sniper The Movie, Yokohama Mary, All the Things We Never Said, Share the Pain and Other Japanese Film Trailers”

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Third Window Films Release World’s First Blu-ray Edition of Gentle Warped Comedy “The Taste of Tea” on October 05th, 2020

Third Window Films are going to issue the world’s first blu-ray release of the offbeat comedy The Taste of Tea on October 05th. Here are the details on the extras on the disc.

The Taste of Tea Bluray Cover 1

Extra features:    

Extra features (*in standard definition):
90 minute Making Of
‘Super Big’ – Animation
Reversible sleeve art

Here’s the trailer and synopsis and a little extra info:

Continue reading “Third Window Films Release World’s First Blu-ray Edition of Gentle Warped Comedy “The Taste of Tea” on October 05th, 2020″

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Kokutai 國體 (2019) Dir: Ryushi Lindsay

Kokutai    Kokutai Poster 02    

國體 「Kokutai

Release Date: September 23rd, 2020

Duration: 10 mins.

Director: Ryushi Lindsay

Writer: N/A

Starring: N/A

Website IMDB

Baseball has never looked so menacing.

Kokutai is roughly translatable as ‘body politic’ and it is the title of Ryushi Lindsay’s debut movie. An experimental documentary, Kokutai looks askance at the pomp and ceremony of high school baseball in Japan and, through careful and selective assemblage of footage, reveals the fascist aesthetics that are present.

Baseball is not normally thought of as a place of violent political leanings but this 10-minute montage strikes a defiantly different note as it plays out sequences from Koshien baseball tournaments and goes heavy displaying imagery drenched in fascist overtones. 

Continue reading “Kokutai 國體 (2019) Dir: Ryushi Lindsay”

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Creepy クリーピー 偽りの隣人 Dir: Kiyoshi Kurosawa (2016)

Creepy       

Creepy Film Poster
Creepy Film Poster

クリーピー 偽りの隣人 「Kuri-pi- Itsuwari no Rinjin」 

Running Time: 130 mins.

Release Date: June 13th, 2016

Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Writer: Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Chihiro Ikeda (Screenplay), Yutaka Maekawa (Original Novel)

Starring:  Hidetoshi Nishijima, Teruyuki Kagawa, Yuko Takeuchi, Masahiro Higashide, Haruna Kawaguchi, Ryoko Fujino, Toru Baba, Misaki Saisho,

Website IMDB

I have been sitting on this film review for nearly two years. Due to the tragic death of Yuko Takeuchi, I have released it in her honour. This film is available to view for free on Amazon Prime in Japan and the UK, so please take the time to watch it and see Yuko Takeuchi in action.

Kiyoshi Kurosawa has crafted some chilling antagonists in his horror films, all based on original scripts. The amoral magnetism of the mesmerist Mamiya from Cure and the ghosts of Pulse are some of the most memorable, but they were just the symptom and not the cause of the main character’s true conflicts. Alienation caused by society was at fault for channelling these monsters into everyday settings. This sense of disconnection is something Kurosawa masterfully utilised in the family drama Tokyo Sonata where a patriarch and his clan lose their cohesion after he loses his job and the family each reformulate their sense of place in the world. With family time made unbearable by the barely suppressed anger and disappointment each character feels, it strikes a very realistic chord whilst being scary like much of Kurosawa’s horror output. Creepy is based on a book by Yutaka Maekawa and while Kurosawa may not have scripted the antagonist, he is one of his most odious bad guys yet.

He gave me the creeps.”

Ex-detective Koichi Takakura (Hidetoshi Nishijima) quits the Tokyo police force after a psychopath almost kills him. He ups roots and moves with his wife Yasuko (Yuko Takeuchi) to the suburbs and takes up work as a university lecturer in criminal psychology. Their new life seems stable enough. He thinks his job is fun, she is busy as a housewife and their new house seems pleasant but things turn sour when they introduce themselves to their next door neighbours. One set, the Tanakas’, aren’t interested in getting to know them and then there is Mr. Nishino (Teruyuki Kagawa) who seems to hide his wife and daughter Mio (Ryoko Fujino) from the outside world.

Continue reading “Creepy クリーピー 偽りの隣人 Dir: Kiyoshi Kurosawa (2016)”

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Kamata Prelude, Midnight Swan, My Sweet Grappa Remedies, Keep Your Hands off Eizouken! Live-Action, How Neya Ryoka Became a Director, ATEOTD – At the End of the Day and Other Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, everyone.

We have made it through another week.

I have been busy posting things such as a round up of the Japanese films at the Vancouver International Film Festival, the London Film Festival, Skip City D-Cinema Festival and an interview with Urara Matsubayashi and Mayu Akiyama for their work on Kamata Prelude and a post about the Kickstarter campaign for Noriko Yuasa’s latest project, Performing Kaoru’s Funeral. In terms of films watched, I have ploughed through the MOOSIC Lab works that are free to view for the remainder of this month and I have watched John Woo’s The Killer and a Japanese film from 2018, Lovers on Borders. Oh, also more episodes of The Boys season 2!

What is released this weekend?

Continue reading “Kamata Prelude, Midnight Swan, My Sweet Grappa Remedies, Keep Your Hands off Eizouken! Live-Action, How Neya Ryoka Became a Director, ATEOTD – At the End of the Day and Other Japanese Film Trailers”

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“Performing KAORU’s Funeral” – A Kickstarter Project by Noriko Yuasa

Noriko Yuasa has a new project on Kickstarter and it is for a feature-length film called Performing KAORU’s Funeral. A successful campaign will help finance this film which is based on an original script that she wrote in 2017 and has been working on since last year. It is described as, “A tragic and comical story of one woman’s final days, mixed with irony and love”.

Judging from the initial teaser trailer for the film, this looks like it could be something that brings tears mixed with laughter as a dark-dark drama plays out.

 

Continue reading ““Performing KAORU’s Funeral” – A Kickstarter Project by Noriko Yuasa”

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Japanese Films at the Skip City International D-Cinema Festival 2020

The Skip City International D-Cinema Festival runs from Saturday, September 26th Skip City International DCinema Festival Poster 2020to Sunday, October 4th, 2020. Skip City was one of the first international competitive film festivals to exclusively feature digital cinema and in 2020 the 17th edition of the festival will be a totally difital experience as organisers take the festival online for the first time ever. There are 24 films programmed and they will be viewable over at the website Cinema Discoveries, a new streaming service that started in April this year. In terms of subtitles, Skip City provides English ones for Japanese films, so I am assuming they will do so for this year’s edition.

This is my first ever post about the Skip City International D-Cinema Festival even though I have been aware of it for many years since it is a hotbed of new film talent from Japan and its English-language information has helped me write trailer posts and festival previews in the past. The main reason I decided to write about it is because it features two works I reviewed as part of the Osaka Asian Film Festival earlier this year. These two titles and the filmmakers whom I interviewed provide a bright future for the Japanese film industry and I hope more people can watch their films.

My rewrites will get rewritten eventually but, for now, I suggest that you go to the festival page to see a better synopses and more director information…

Here are the films. To find out more information about them, just click on the titles:

Continue reading “Japanese Films at the Skip City International D-Cinema Festival 2020”

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An Interview with Urara Matsubayashi and Mayu Akiyama on the Film “Kamata Prelude” at the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2020

Mayu Akiyama (director) and Urara Matsubayashi (producer/lead actress) from the Osaka Asian Film Festival
Mayu Akiyama (director) and Urara Matsubayashi (producer/lead actress) from the Osaka Asian Film Festival

My final interview at the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2020 was with Mayu Akiyama and Urara Matsubayashi for the festival’s closing film Kamata Prelude.

Kamata Prelude is the brainchild of Urara Matsubayashi (lead actress in The Hungry Lion) who Kamata Prelude Film Posterproduced as well as took a lead role. She gives a portrayal of a struggling actress named Machiko who lives in the Kamata area of Tokyo. A four-part omnibus film, each section revolves around her in some way and aims to depict what it means to be a “woman” and an “actress” in society, but they are done in the unique style of each of the four directors.

Two of the directors are guys you may have heard of if you follow film festivals. Book-ending the film are Ryutaro Nakamura, whose works like Plastic Love Story and Silent Rain are full of lyrical imagery, and Hirobumi Watanabe, who has built a filmography based on his stories all being set in his native Tochigi prefecture and shot with distinct monochrome visuals while being shot-through with dry humour. The newer directors are two young women, Yuka Yasukawa, one of a number of emerging talents tapped to helm a section in the omnibus film 21st Century Girl, and Mayu Akiyama, whose debut work, Rent a Friend, won the MOOSIC LAB Grand Prix and was screened at the Tokyo International Film Festival 2018.

While Watanabe and Nakamura made sections that are delightful reveries about life and a love of movies/culture (albeit, tinged with melancholy in Nakamura’s case), Yasukawa and Akiyama provided subjects that feel more keyed in to the thorny issues of life as a young woman. Yuka Yasukawa gives a #MeToo story wherein Machiko goes to a casting call and finds herself facing a grossly exploitative panel of guys alongside a defiant fellow actress played by Kumi Takiuchi (It Feels So Good, Greatful Dead). Meanwhile, Akiyama’s section felt like a realistic depiction of a get-together of girls wherein false masks and the anxieties that women bear in society are exposed in an onsen in Kamata. This section is full of great actresses who are making waves in the entertainment world like Mayuko Fukuda (Good-Bye) and an especially acerbic Sairi Ito (Love & Other Cults). 

Sat with Matsubayashi and Akiyama at a rooftop bar, I enjoyed a lively talk with two intelligent and resourceful creatives who I felt would be making big things in the future. Their film is a refreshingly hip and contemporary set of stories where its unique approach to style and subject-matter rendered their address of important issues enjoyable, nuanced, and relevant for our age.

This interview was done at the festival and via email with their help and the invaluable help of Takako Pocklington who translated and added some interesting comments.

Continue reading “An Interview with Urara Matsubayashi and Mayu Akiyama on the Film “Kamata Prelude” at the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2020″

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Japanese Films at the BFI London Film Festival 2020

BFI London Film Festival Logo

2020 has knocked everyone sideways, not least film fests across the globe, many of which went virtual to protect audiences from Covid-19. This year’s London Film Festival follows many others in being a virtual event as well as having physical screenings in Loondon. It runs from October 07th to the 18th and viewers across the UK will be able to access all of the films wherever they are. Reflecting the other tumultuous events of this year, specifically the long-ignored issue of racial justice, there is a substantial presence of black filmmakers, a traditionally under-served demographic, that is finally getting their chance to shine.

In terms of Japanese films there are none. We get the first episode of a TV show. This lack of films is rather ironic considering 2020 is the year that the BFI is going all in on its Japanese movie coverage to leverage any and all interest in the now-postponed Tokyo Olympics but I guess it’s another sign of a Covid-19 casualty.

Here’s what is programmed (click on the title to be taken to the corresponding festival page):

Continue reading “Japanese Films at the BFI London Film Festival 2020”

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Japanese Films at the Vancouver International Film Festival 2020

Vancouver International Film Festival 2013 Logo

The Vancouver International Film Festival 2020 (VIFF) runs from September 24th to October 07th and it is packed with over 100 feature films from around the world. This year’s fest is going to be available for people to view online so this means that viewers in British Columbia can watch from the comfort of their homes via VIFF Connect, VIFF’s new online streaming platform. There will be talks and conferences that are open the everyone around the world to tune into on top of that.

Here’s the round-up of Japanese films.

Continue reading “Japanese Films at the Vancouver International Film Festival 2020”

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Cenote, Daughters, The Hardness of Avocado, Tomodachi Yameta., Jazz Kissa Basie: Swifty’s Ballad, Violet Evergarden: The Movie and Other Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, everyone.

Miyamoto Movie Image

I hope everyone is fine and dandy.

I’ve been trying to get my life in order by writing schedules down for myself with achievable goals. Normally, I just have a bunch of things I want to do and get around to them eventually but I have to push myself harder. That also means practising Japanese again.

In terms of films, I posted reviews for Battle Royale and an indie short called Idol. I also posted a round-up of the films playing at the Tokyo Students Film Festival. They all look exciting and I want to see them!!! The previous week, I reviewed the Korean film Beasts Clawing at Straws.

What is released this weekend?

Continue reading “Cenote, Daughters, The Hardness of Avocado, Tomodachi Yameta., Jazz Kissa Basie: Swifty’s Ballad, Violet Evergarden: The Movie and Other Japanese Film Trailers”

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Idol アイドル (2020) Dir: Ryushi Lindsay

Idol    Idol Poster No Creds Laurel 02    

アイドルAidoru

Release Date: September 23rd, 2020

Duration: 20 mins.

Director: Ryushi Lindsay

Writer: Ryushi Lindsay (Script),

Starring: Ryoka Neya (Miyabi), Miyu Sasaki (Kasumi), Sawa Takahashi (Ami), Akira Takanohashi (Yoshimura), Yui Matsuura (Rie), Yuki Mayama (Junya),

Website IMDB

Ryushi Lindsay is a British-Japanese filmmaker based in Japan and the UK. Even with just a couple of shorts to his name, he is beginning to carve out an interesting filmography as he works across genres and approaches subjects with an eye for the politics that underlie things.

Lindsay’s debut film, the experimental baseball documentary Kokutai (2019), finds uncomfortable parallels with the pomp and circumstance of fascistic events of the past and the current martial aesthetics of Japan’s popular national high school baseball tournaments. His latest, Idol, is a drama set in the world of girl groups.

Long a ubiquitous facet of Japanese entertainment, pop idols present a broad range of issues ripe for examination, from the objectification of performers to their role in the mass media in defining femininity and gender relations. These issues were looked at in Kyoko Miyake’s 2017 documentary Tokyo Idols. Idol uses it as background for a dark drama but focuses on the economic drivers that make the parents push their children to perform as we get front row seats of one parasitic parent’s extreme behaviour.

Taking place over two nights in Tokyo, the story enters at the point of crisis for a young single mother named Miyabi as her child idol daughter Kasumi is unceremoniously dropped from the line-up of a stage act just minutes before a performance and replaced by someone more popular. At first Miyabi argues against her daughters firing, then begs with the manager for another chance, all to no avail. She won’t give up and this sets in motion a foolish plan involving another child idol named Ami that will have viewers tensing up with a sense of foreboding.

Continue reading “Idol アイドル (2020) Dir: Ryushi Lindsay”

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A Glimpse at the Films at the Tokyo Student Film Festival 2020

31st TougakusaiLogo

Tthe 31st Tokyo Student Film Festival runs from October 15th to October 17th in Shibuya Eurospace and 19 have been selected for audiences to enjoy. The line-up consists of films produced by students from across Japan and they are submitted to the festival which is run by a small team of students who have created a space where the free-flowing and unique ideas people have in their student days can thrive. Some of these films go on to the international festival circuit so this is a good way to check out future talent.

This event is the largest student film festival in Japan with the longest history and people who have cooperated in the past include Nobuhiko Obayashi, Mamoru Oshii, Yuya Ishii, Satoko Yokohama, Yoshihiro Nakamura Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Shinji Aoyama, Kazuo Hara and more. This being a student festival, funds are tight so organisers have arranged a crowdfunding campaign to help with the venue cost and the printing cost of flyers and pamphlets.

Here are the films with information pulled from the festival site and the YouTube pages for the trailers as well as other resources I discovered (badly translated):

Continue reading “A Glimpse at the Films at the Tokyo Student Film Festival 2020”

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Battle Royale バトル・ロワイアル Dir: Kinji Fukasaku (2000)

Battle Royale    Battle Royale Film Poster

バトル・ロワイアルBatoru Rowairu

Release Date: December 16th, 2000

Duration: 109 mins.

Director: Kinji Fukasaku

Writer: Kenta Fukasaku (Script), Koushun Takami (Original Novel)

Starring: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Aki Maeda, Takeshi Kitano, Chiaki Kuriyama, Kou Shibasaki, Taro Yamamoto, Masanobu Ando,

IMDB

Some time in the near future, Japan has suffered a major economic collapse that has resulted in an explosion in unemployment and the attendant fraying of society as increasing numbers of kids cease to respect adults, classrooms are abandoned and teachers face escalating violence. The Japanese government decide that the only way to control this new generation of disruptive teenagers is to punish them and so they issue the Battle Royale act, an ultra-violent attempt to stop juvenile delinquency whereby, every year, a random class of 15 year olds is kidnapped and dumped in a remote area with nothing but a stockpile of weapons and they are forced to fight until only one survivor is left.

The film follows the 42 students and two transfers of class 3-B of Shiroiwa Junior High as they go through the Battle Royale challenge on an abandoned island just off Shikoku.

Battle Royale Class

Continue reading “Battle Royale バトル・ロワイアル Dir: Kinji Fukasaku (2000)”

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Beasts Clawing at Straws 지푸라기라도 잡고 싶은 짐승들 Dir: Kim Yong-hoon (2020)

Beasts Clawing at Straws    Beasts Clawing at Straws Film poster

지푸라기라도 잡고 싶은 짐승들「Jipuragirado Jabgo Sipeun Jibseungdeul

Running Time: 108 mins.

Release Date: February 19th, 2020

Director: Kim Yong-hoon

Writer: Kim Yong-hoon (Screenplay), Keisuke Sone (Original Novel – 藁にもすがる獣たち)

Starring: Jeon Do-yeon (Yeon-hee), Jung Woo-sing (Tae-young), Bae Sung-woo (Jung-man), Jung Ga-ram (Jin-Tae), Kyung Jin (Young-Seon),

IMDB

Crime thriller Beasts Clawing at Straws is the debut feature of director Kim Yong-hoon and while he may be new name on the scene what is on the screen has all of the narrative slickness and stylistic panache associated with Korean cinema to ensure it stands with the best of his nation’s crime films.

Based on a Japanese novel by Keisuke Sone, it’s hard to imagine a director from Japan, outside of Takeshi Kitano or Tetsuya Nakashima, being able to do this hard-boiled story with the grit, the grue, the darkness, the bouncy pacing and the wry sense of humour that seems more natural for modern Korean film-makers and Kim applies these elements to a collection of morally compromised characters colliding with each other as they all chase a Louis Vuitton Boston bag stuffed to the brim with cash.

Continue reading “Beasts Clawing at Straws 지푸라기라도 잡고 싶은 짐승들 Dir: Kim Yong-hoon (2020)”

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A Beloved Wife, Reiwa Uprising, Humanoid Monster Bela, The Magnificent Kotobuki Complete Edition, Umibe no Étranger, Lost Baby Lost, Tokyo Butterfly and Other Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, everyone!

A Beloved Wife 喜劇 愛妻物語  Film Image 5

I hope you are all genki.

September is going to be very busy in terms of this blog as I aim to cover a grip of festivals and also release reviews. I’ve got one post planned for tomorrow. So far this week, I’ve posted a review for Beneath the Shadow and Miyamoto and, over at Anime UK News, an article about the Inter-College Animation Festival 2020, a showcase of the talent in the Japanese university system, and how it is possible to watch it via the internet.

What is released this weekend?

Continue reading “A Beloved Wife, Reiwa Uprising, Humanoid Monster Bela, The Magnificent Kotobuki Complete Edition, Umibe no Étranger, Lost Baby Lost, Tokyo Butterfly and Other Japanese Film Trailers”

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Beneath the Shadow (Eiri) 影裏 Dir: Keishi Otomo (2020)

Beneath the Shadow   Eiri Film Poster

影裏  Eiri

Release Date: February 14th, 2020

Duration: 134 mins.

Director: Keishi Otomo

Writer: Kaori Sawai (Script), Shinsuke Numata (Story) 

Starring: Gou Ayano, Ryuhei Matsuda, Mariko Tsutsui, Tomoya Nakamura, Ken Yasuda, Jun Kunimura,

Website IMDB

After spending the 90s working in TV, director Keishi Otomo moved into film and has built a filmography stacked with adaptations of novels and manga. He is best known for the internationally successful Rurouni Kenshin trilogy, a big-budget samurai series with a visual sheen of intense action, dizzying stunt work and exquisite period details that swept viewers away. He reigns everything in for his latest work, Beneath the Shadow, Eirin in Japanese. 

This is based on a same-named 2017 Akutagawa prize-winning novel by Shinsuke Numata and is set in the director’s hometown of Morioka, Iwate Prefecture, both before and after the 3/11 disaster. It features a slow-burn character-driven drama that teases audiences with a light mystery that hinges on the idea that our interpretations of people’s behaviour can be wrong if our emotions get in the way but also, that all of us have something we keep in the shadows.

Continue reading “Beneath the Shadow (Eiri) 影裏 Dir: Keishi Otomo (2020)”