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The Blood of Wolves 孤狼の血 Dir: Kazuya Shiraishi (2018)

The Blood of Wolves      The Blood of Wolves Film Poster

孤狼の血 Korou no chi

Running Time: 126 mins.

Release Date: May 12th, 2018

Director: Kazuya Shiraishi

Writer: Junya Ikegami (Screenplay), Yuko Yuzuki (Original Novel)

Starring: Koji Yakusho, Tori Matsuzaka, Yoko Maki, Tomoya Nakamura, Pierre Taki, Shido Nakamura, Yosuke Eguchi, Renji Ishibashi,

Website IMDB

Director Kazuya Shiraishi follows his Roman Porno, Dawn of the Felines with this blistering film.

Hiroshima is a prefecture with lots of natural beauty but filmmakers do like to find drama in the dark underbelly of the place, perhaps most famously with Kinji Fukasaku’s 1970s crime film series Battles without Honour and Humanity which was based on the experiences of a post-war yakuza boss from Hiroshima. Kazuya Shiraishi takes audiences into the same world with The Blood of Wolves, a film which feels like a throwback to an earlier time due to its raw violence, emotions, and the character archetypes in play. Shiraishi is no stranger to the crime genre thanks to his previous films The Devil’s Path (2013) and Twisted Justice (2016) but this is his best crime film yet and it is all down to a magnetic performance from lead actor Koji Yakusho and his character’s no-holds barred attitude to policing.

The Blood of Wolves Film Image 6

Continue reading “The Blood of Wolves 孤狼の血 Dir: Kazuya Shiraishi (2018)”

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Dynamite Graffiti 素敵なダイナマイトスキャンダル Dir: Masanori Tominaga (2018)

Dynamite Graffiti   Dynamite Graffiti Film Poster

素敵なダイナマイトスキャンダル Suteki na Dainamaito Sukyandaru

Running Time: 138 mins.

Release Date: March 17th, 2018

Director: Masanori Tominaga

Writer: Masanori Tominaga (Screenplay), Akira Suei (Autobiographical Essay)

Starring: Tasuku Emoto, Atsuko Maeda, Toko Miura, Machiko Ono, Kazunobu Mineta, Yutaka Matsushige, 

Website IMDB

Adult magazines are big business worldwide, including in Japan where it is still possible to walk into some convenience stores and see them on open display although in the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics, this is getting cleaned up. Masanori Tominaga’s biopic Dynamite Graffiti tells the history of raunchy magazine mogul Akira Suei, starting from childhood to the peak of his infamy in the 1980s when his publications had a circulation of over 300,000 copies a month and he publicly challenged censors with his magazine’s content.

Tominaga aims big and scores some smiles with behind-the-scenes looks at the smut trade but the scale of his script’s ambitions in trying to capture changing times delivers a cast of characters who are little more than cyphers while Suei remains a joker.

Continue reading “Dynamite Graffiti 素敵なダイナマイトスキャンダル Dir: Masanori Tominaga (2018)”

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Haman, Shuumatsu no Kemonotachi, Call of Zon, Yoru no tanken Japanese Film Trailers

Hello dear readers!

Jimami Tofu Film Image 4

I hope you are all doing fine.

I’m at the end of my 12 day work week (it starts again next Monday) and the sunny weather has also taken a break and it’s now raining in the UK. Everybody heaves a huge sigh of relief because climate change has led to health problems, droughts and bad harvests, increased damage to food supplies and dangers from invasive species from tropical countries and what not. Most of all, it allows me to justify watching lots of films. I’ve watched around nine since the last weekend. I wrote about the Venice International Film Festival and posted an old review of the film Jimami Tofu (2017).

What is released this weekend in Japan?

Continue reading “Haman, Shuumatsu no Kemonotachi, Call of Zon, Yoru no tanken Japanese Film Trailers”

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Jimami Tofu ジーマーミ豆腐 (2017) Directors: Jason Chan, Christian Lee

Jimami Tofu  Jimami Tofu Film Poster

ジーマーミ豆腐 Ji-ma-mi Toufu

Running Time: 121 mins.

Release Date: March 28th, 2018

Director:  Jason Chan, Christian Lee

Writer: Jason Chan, Christian Lee (Screenplay),

Starring: Jason Chan, Rino Nakasone, Mari Yamamoto, Christian Lee, Masane Tsukayama, Masoyoshi Kishimoto,

IMDB

Jimami is the Okinawan dialect word for peanut and jimami tofu is a simple but much-loved speciality of the islands. This is one of the ingredients that Singaporean directors Jason Chan and Christian Lee use to cook up a tale of history, lost love, and fusion cooking with varying results.

Continue reading “Jimami Tofu ジーマーミ豆腐 (2017) Directors: Jason Chan, Christian Lee”

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Japanese Films at the Venice International Film Festival 2018

The Venice International Film Festival is here for its 75th edition and it will run from August 29th to September 08th. There are about five apanese films at this year’s festival (so far), the highlight being Shinya Tsukamoto’s return to feature-film making as a director. His last film was First on the Plain which was at the 2014 edition of the festival. He’s in the competition section with his latest offering. On a purely personal note, I met the chap and got his autograph.

Here’s what’s on offer:

Continue reading “Japanese Films at the Venice International Film Festival 2018”

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Sensei Kunshu, Ao-Natsu Kimi ni Koi Shita 30-nichi, My Hero Academia THE MOVIE: The Two Heroes, Doushiyoumonai Koi no Uta, The Exorcist Nurse, Poem of Seasons Woven Together / Flavors of Youth, K SEVEN STORIES Episode2 「SIDE: BLUE Tenrou no Gotoku」, Kamen Rider Build: Be The One, Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger vs. Keisatsu Sentai Patranger en Film, Zenra Resistance, Garandou, Fureto tsumori de, Tokyo Noir, Crazy Road of Love Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, people!

I hope you are all well.

I’ve started doing regular PR work for a festival which is on the horizon and I’m making my way through as many films as I can and I also re-watched some Ghibli films which are getting aired on television in the UK. That written, I’ve been in work every day this week (it’s a 12 day work week) and hanging out at places and eating Japanese food when I get the chance as I try and take advantage of the nice weather. This week was chicken katsu curry, next week will be a sushi party of sorts.

In terms of posts on this blog, there was one for the Japanese Film Festival Los Angeles which starts in a couple of weeks time and there was one for Donation Theater, a way of donating money to a charity while also getting the chance of watching indie films. It’s all set up to help the people of western Japan recover after the rainfall. I hope you will help out.

What’s released this weekend in Japan?

Continue reading “Sensei Kunshu, Ao-Natsu Kimi ni Koi Shita 30-nichi, My Hero Academia THE MOVIE: The Two Heroes, Doushiyoumonai Koi no Uta, The Exorcist Nurse, Poem of Seasons Woven Together / Flavors of Youth, K SEVEN STORIES Episode2 「SIDE: BLUE Tenrou no Gotoku」, Kamen Rider Build: Be The One, Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger vs. Keisatsu Sentai Patranger en Film, Zenra Resistance, Garandou, Fureto tsumori de, Tokyo Noir, Crazy Road of Love Japanese Film Trailers”

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Donation Theater: Help Western Japan Recover From the Flooding Through Film

Japan has a rainy season and typhoon season every year but this year’s has been pretty bad with record rainfall in July leading to widespread flooding and landslides in various areas of western Japan such as Okayama, Ehime, Hiroshima, and elsewhere. At least 140 are dead and others are missing. Millions of people have been have been ordered to evacuate and too many have lost their homes and access to utilities like electricity and water. With the weather calming down, the heat has returned so dangers are still present. People are now digging through mud and rubble to recover their communities and some are living in evacuation centres as the recovery efforts are underway with more than 70,000 rescue workers and lots of volunteers helping the relief effort.

You may be wondering what you can do. There is something.

http://donation-theater.eiga-infra.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/main-1024×386.png

Last month film Twitter started retweeting a link to something called Donation Theater, a fund-raising campaign handled by the CINEMA INFRASTRUCTURE ASSOCIATION OF JAPAN to support the victims of the “western Japan heavy rain disaster”. Essentially, you can use a Paypal account or bank transfer to donate some money to help people and then watch films, some of which have been made by people who come from these areas.

Continue reading “Donation Theater: Help Western Japan Recover From the Flooding Through Film”

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Japanese Film Festival Los Angeles (August 18 – 19)

Japan Film Festival in Los Angeles will run on August 18 to 19 at the Japanese American National Museum and then at Orange County’s Newport Beach Higashi Honganji.

It’s an event that has been running since 2003 and it’s stated aim is to strengthen understanding of Japanese culture through screening films for Japanese and American people to watch together. It’s laudable and it highlights the power of cinema: to take us into the lives of others. As such there are many different films programmed each year and in doing research for trailer posts, I’ve stumbled upon this festival and want to support it.

The films selected are really eclectic and run the gamut from largeish commercial feature to indie titles that hit the festival circuit. If you’re in the LA area, this could be the best chance to catch these films on the big screen.

Here are the details:

Continue reading “Japanese Film Festival Los Angeles (August 18 – 19)”

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Code Blue, Imagination Game, Katachi no Nai Hone, 1999 – Nen no natsu yasumi, There is no gender! Queer days of intersex cartoonists, Boy Soldiers: The Secret War in Okinawa Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, dear reader!

I hope you are all well.

It has been a busy week for J-film fans in North America because the while the New York Asian Film Festival has finished, Japan Cuts is still in full swing on the East Coast of the States in New York and the Asian Film Festival Dallas has been making waves down south in Texas. There’s another festival due to start next week called the Batsu Film Festival in Denver, Colorado. Each festival has had a fantastic selection of films, many of which I have reviewed (yay!) and can recommend. V-Cinema has been publishing reviews of mine:

Hanagatami (2017)

Amiko (2017)

Towards a Common Tenderness (2017)

Born Bone Born (2018)

Of Love and Law (2017)

Older ones from the V-Cinema archive which I covered last year or at Osaka earlier this year:

The Night is Short, Walk on Girl (2017)

Passage of Life (V-Cinema Review) (2017) 

Kushina, what will you be (V-Cinema Review) (2018) Here’s an interview with the director: Hayami Moet (V-Cinema)

Dear Etranger (2017) (V-Cinema)

Nagisa (2017)

TOURISM (V-Cinema Review) (2018) Here’s an interview with the director: Miyazaki Daisuke (V-Cinema

My reviews from the New York Asian Film Festival were also published at V-Cinema:

The Scythian Lamb (2017)

The Blood of Wolves (2018)

The Hungry Lion (2017)

Dynamite Graffiti (2018)

Some of the older reviews and the Osaka ones I have published here over the last year, the newer ones will be published over the next couple of months. A couple of these will make my top ten films of the year!

As for the UK, we get a lot of films screened for free by the Japan Foundation as part of their Pre-Summer Explorers and Summer Explorers run.

Right, that’s enough of a catch-up with here, what’s released in Japanese cinemas this weekend?

Continue reading “Code Blue, Imagination Game, Katachi no Nai Hone, 1999 – Nen no natsu yasumi, There is no gender! Queer days of intersex cartoonists, Boy Soldiers: The Secret War in Okinawa Japanese Film Trailers”

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A Preview of BATSU FILM FESTIVAL 2018 (AUGUST 03-05)

Here’s a brand new festival for North America that is totally dedicated to Japanese films. It’s called the BATSU FILM FESTIVAL and it runs from August 03rd to 05th at the Alamo Drafthouse in Denver Colorado. It’s aim is to go beyond the films of familiar names that tend to make the rounds on the festival circuit and get releases and expose the hidden talents in the Japanese film industry. With this mission, the festival programmer has dived into indie films as well as commercial features that weren’t given a wide distribution or shown outside of the bigger festivals to bring audiences in Denver a great selection of films all in one weekend in August.

There are many highlights amongst the 12 features and 4 shorts that have been selected and I have trailers for them all and links to reviews. I have watched (and reviewed) some but haven’t published any info yet so check out the notes above the trailers for some thoughts. As always, click on the titles to be taken to the festival page to see more info:

Continue reading “A Preview of BATSU FILM FESTIVAL 2018 (AUGUST 03-05)”

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Japan Foundation’s Free Film Screenings: “Summer Explorers!”

The Japan Foundation in London are putting on a series of free film screenings the first of which I posted about yesterday – Pre-Summer Explorers! – and this is the second series of screenings which has three films that aren’t screened in the UK all that often, or at all! Just click on the title to be taken through to the page to book tickets.

Sunday 12th August 2018: Courthouse Hotel Cinema
19-21 Great Marlborough Street, London, W1F 7HL

His Master’s Voice   Mouichido Film Poster

もういちど  「Mo ichido」

Release Date: August 23rd, 2014 (Japan)

Running Time: 95 mins.

Director: Hiroyuki Itaya

Writer: Hiroyuki Itaya (Screenplay/Original Story),

Starring: Nayuta Fukuzaki, Gori, Taihei Hayashiya, Mami Kumagai, Hisashiro Ogura, Momoka Ohno, Yasuko Tomita,

IMDB   Website

This film will be screened twice on August 12th, 14:00 and 18:40.

Synopsis: A, Edo Period drama focussing on the comic storytelling art of Rakugo, the story begins when Sadakichi (Nayuta Fukuzaki) returns home to take a holiday from his work after being bullied there. In order to cheer up their little son, his parents ask their gloomy looking neighbour, Taihei (Taihei Hayashiya), a former Rakugo storyteller, to give a performance for him. Sadakichi is deeply moved by his performance and hopes to become Taihei’s apprentice and learn the art.

Continue reading “Japan Foundation’s Free Film Screenings: “Summer Explorers!””

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Japan Foundation’s “Pre-Summer Explorers!” Free Film Screenings in August

The Japan Foundation are running their Summer Explorers full of anime and live-action films that are set during the summer. This is a free event which you have to register for. I repeat, this is a free event. Free films!!! To find out more about it, visit the Japan Foundation’s website.

Saturday, 4 August 2018: Soho Hotel Cinema
4 Richmond Mews (via Richmond Buildings), London, W1D 3Dh

NHK WORLD DOUBLE BILL PART ONE

A Tale of Love & Honour: Life in Gion
Dir. Maki Kubochi, 2017, 49min

Take a peek into the distinct district of Gion in Kyoto and witness the proud and wistful stories of people belonging to this secret world in this fascinating documentary from NHK WORLD-JAPAN.

Living Ninja Legend Masaaki Hatsumi
Dir. Fuyuhiko Nishi, 2016, 41 min

Masaaki Hatsumi, 84 years old, is a living ninja in modern times. What is the essence of his astonishing art? This documentary investigates the hidden power of this ninja master.

House    House Film Poster

ハウス 「Hausu」

Released: July 30th, 1977 (Japan)

Running time: 88 mins.

Director: Nobuhiko Obayashi,

Writer: Nobuhiko Obayashi, Chiho Katsura (Screenplay),

Cast: Kimiko Ikegami – Oshare,  Miki Jinbo – Kung-Fu, Kuniko Oba – Fantasy, Ai Matsubara – Prof., Kiyohiko Ozaki – Mr. Togo, Yoko Minamida – Auntie,

IMDB

The highlight, in my opinion. This film is a riot of fun and good music with a haunted house setting to die for as a bunch of girls will find out. It comes from Nobuhiko Obayashi and his daughter and features so much imagination and flair for visual spectacle and cool music that it is a delight to watch. I highly recommend it. Here’s my review.

Synopsis: The summer holidays have arrived and for seven high school girls named Melody, Prof, Sweetie, Kung-fu, Mac, Fantasy and Oshare (Kimiko Ikegami) they have the chance to go camping with their teacher Mr. Togo. Oshare declines because her father is back from Italy and she’s looking forward to staying at a villa with him. Her plans are ruined when he introduces her to his potential new wife. Oshare is upset at the presence of the woman and decides to visit an eccentric spinster aunt, inviting her friends along for the trip. After a long journey the girls arrive at the aunt’s house but find their presence has triggered a hostile force that immediately attacks them, picking them off one by one while the eccentric aunt watches.

Continue reading “Japan Foundation’s “Pre-Summer Explorers!” Free Film Screenings in August”

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Bleach, Mirai of the Future, Still Life of Memories, Ame no kubi furizaka, Engine Sentai Go-Onger: 10 Years Grand Prix, Anna (Kidnapper), Sukabro Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, people!

The Suffering of Ninko Kazama

I hope everyone is feeling fine.

I’ve just finished a six-day working week at my regular job and I’m in the middle of film festival work for Kotatsu. I finished crafting PR stuff weeks ago but getting it set in motion is happening now. Since the last trailer post, I watched ten films and written about Third Window Films’ release of Suffering of Ninko, posted a review for The Path Leading to Love and posted an interview with the director of that film, Takayama Kohei.

What is released this weekend in Japan?

Continue reading “Bleach, Mirai of the Future, Still Life of Memories, Ame no kubi furizaka, Engine Sentai Go-Onger: 10 Years Grand Prix, Anna (Kidnapper), Sukabro Japanese Film Trailers”

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An Interview with Kohei Takayama, director of “The Path Leading to Love” at the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018

Takayama Kohei OAFF Interview

Kohei Takayama was born in Chiba prefecture in 1987. After graduating from Waseda University, he began making indie films such as Ni naru (2015) and Kudaranai kudaranai kono sekai (2016). He was at the Osaka Asian Film Festival to present the world premiere of his latest work, The Path Leading to Love (2018). The story is a downbeat tale of a talented manga artist wasting his skills thanks to alcohol. The main protagonist, Shosuke (Ippei Tanaka) lacks the ability to overcome his alcoholism even though it has ruined relationships with his family, his ex-girlfriend Sawako (Mika Dehara) and threatens his relationship with his current girlfriend Yasuko (Yumi Mukai). The story refuses to look away from the negative aspects of alcoholism and asks the audience to follow a man on his self-destructive path. What makes it a gripping watch is the powerful acting performances from the cast.

Kohei Takayama kindly gave an interview on the penultimate day of the festival at the press centre. Acting as interpreter was Kayoko Nakanishi who was invaluable in helping the conversation flow smoothly and always offering nuanced interpretation of what turned into a philosophical conversation based on the intelligent and thoughtful work of Takayama.

Continue reading “An Interview with Kohei Takayama, director of “The Path Leading to Love” at the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018”

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The Path Leading to Love アイニ向カッテ Dir: Kohei Takayama (2017) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018

The Path Leading to Love

アイニ向カッテ Ai ni Mukatte

Running Time: 76 mins.

Release Date: 2018

Director: Kohei Takayama

Writer: Kohei Takayama (Screenplay),

Starring: Ippei Tanaka, Yumi Mukai, Mika Dehara, Suzuka Minagawa, Koichi Sakaguchi,

Alcohol addiction and writers go together like cookies and cream, or so it seems. The combination of self-destructive artist and liquid fire has been the subject of films like The Lost Weekend (1945), Leaving Las Vegas (1995) and works based on the life and novels of Charles Bukowski. The need to blot out reality comes from many sources and The Path Leading to Love is a quietly powerful film that shows how alcohol blights the life of someone too filled with doubt, cowardice, weakness, and selfishness to overcome it for the sake of others.

The drunk is Shosuke (Ippei Tanaka). He could be a promising manga artist but he cannot even approach the foothills of creativity because his alcoholism pushes away his desire to work. It also pushed away his ex-girlfriend Sawako and threatens his relationship with his current partner, the loyal but lovelorn Yasuko.

Continue reading “The Path Leading to Love アイニ向カッテ Dir: Kohei Takayama (2017) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018”

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Third Window Films Release “SUFFERING OF NINKO” on July 23rd on DUAL FORMAT Blu-ray/DVD

Third Window Films are having a cracking year releasing great films what with three Sono titles The Whispering Star/The Sion Sono and Antiporno and the Osamu Tezuka anime. Here’s a great title which I reviewed last year called Suffering of Ninko which will get released on July 23rd on Blu-ray and DVD.

Special Features:
Dual format DVD & BLURAY
45 minute interview with the director
“Strawberry Jam” Short film

Director Norihiro Niwatsukino trades in combining animation and live-action to make a fun horror comedy with shades of shunga and samurai action as well as plenty of earthy humour. With beautiful women and ghosts aplenty, this comes close to being like the 70s exploitation films many fans of Japanese cinema will recognise. Here’s more about the film:

Continue reading “Third Window Films Release “SUFFERING OF NINKO” on July 23rd on DUAL FORMAT Blu-ray/DVD”

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Ginmaku-ban shonan no kaze ichigoichie, Pokemon the Movie: Everyone’s Story, Shino Can’t Say Her Own Name, Watashi no jinsei nano ni, Kalanchoe, Akabeko, Kono machi de kuraseba, Peace Nippon, Everyday is Alzheimer’s The Final Death Becomes Us Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, people!

Dynamite Graffiti Tasuku Emoto

I hope everybody is doing well!

Think about the people who live in the western part of Japan who have lost a lot due to the heavy rain and consider donating to relief efforts if you can spare the money. Times are tough so prayers and positive energy and raising awareness is also good. Here’s a link to Time Out which has a number of options. Good news came in the form of the boys and the coach rescued from the cave in Thailand. Well done rescuers and the people who supported them.

As for me, I ducked out of some social engagements due to a physical injury I’ve had since last week Monday but I watched three films and got three film reviews done. I also watched Sicario II: Soldado in a cinema with my mother and sister and really enjoyed what turned out to be a thrilling film. Great performances from Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro and some hair-raising action scenes! I posted a preview of the awesome-looking Asian Film Festival Dallas which has lots of great Japanese films. I also posted an old interview from the Osaka Asian Film Festival (OAFF) involving Rina Tanaka and her cast and crew from her film, Filled with Steam. The Fantasia International Film Festival launched this week in Canada and it has some killer titles!

What is released this weekend in Japan?

Continue reading “Ginmaku-ban shonan no kaze ichigoichie, Pokemon the Movie: Everyone’s Story, Shino Can’t Say Her Own Name, Watashi no jinsei nano ni, Kalanchoe, Akabeko, Kono machi de kuraseba, Peace Nippon, Everyday is Alzheimer’s The Final Death Becomes Us Japanese Film Trailers”

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An Interview with Rina Tanaka, Ryo Kato, Fixy Lee, Takehito Sato, and Kaori Takeshita, the Cast and Crew of the film “Filled With Steam” at the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018

At the Osaka Asian Film Festival, Filled with Steam (2017) was one of the films screened at the Housen section, a place reserved for films that received support from the Housen Cultural Foundation. This organisation aims to further film study and production in graduate schools across Japan with the aim of “preserving and helping grow film culture in Japan” through funding shorts and features. This is the second year that OAFF ran a dedicated Housen section and this year there were three films, Girl Returned (2017), Protest (2016), and Filled with Steam.

Filled with Steam is a bittersweet 30-minute dramedy that details a relationship full of secrets as a woman named Midoriko (Ayako Mizuno) and her husband Daisuke (Takehito Sato) drift apart. Midoriko is visiting a pregnancy classroom run by a flamboyant teacher named Miho (Kaori Takeshita) unbeknownst to Daisuke but a series of twists forces the couple to confront the substance of their marriage. Directed by Rina Tanaka, the film displays a talented director working with great people and interesting material to make a thought-provoking human drama. It was warmly received by its audience at its world premiere at the National Museum of Art, Osaka, but questions remained for this correspondent about the use of comedy and the late-stage intervention of a baby. Fortunately. the cast and crew of the film provided answers in a group interview.

Filled with Steam Team
Fixy Lee, Takehito Sato, Rina Tanaka, Ryo Kato, KAori Takeshita

This interview was conducted after the screening with the help of Kayoko Nakanishi, a member of OAFF’s International Press team, who acted as an interpreter and got involved in the lively interview with some questions and comments due to her own enjoyment of the film. Taking part in the interview from the film’s cast and staff were the director, Rina Tanaka, a graduate with a Masters from the Tokyo University of the Arts, Film & New Media, Directing course, the actors Takehito Sato and Kaori Takeshita, the film’s writer Ryota Kato and the editor, Fixy Lee.

Continue reading “An Interview with Rina Tanaka, Ryo Kato, Fixy Lee, Takehito Sato, and Kaori Takeshita, the Cast and Crew of the film “Filled With Steam” at the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018″

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Japanese Films at the Asian Film Festival Dallas 2018 (July 19 – 26)

The Asian Film Festival Dallas runs from July 19th to 26th and is continuing its mission of bringing movies from Asian and Asian-American filmmakers living around the world to audiences in Dallas, Texas in order to celebrate and support emerging and established filmmakers and sharing the rich diversity of Asian culture through films.

I’m here to cover the Japanese films and the selection is really surprising and good. Many of these Dallas Premieres and some US Premieres with the likes of Riding Uphill, 3Ft and Ball, and The Reverse Diaries being real surprises. These three look like solid dramas and offer an alternative look at Japan. There’s the entertainment movies like We Make Antiques and Laughing Under the Clouds and there’s a classic in the form of Seijun Suzuki’s Tokyo Drifter.

There are some great non-Japanese films like Edward Yang’s phenomenal Yi Yi and the HK crime thriller The Brink and a bunch of Korean films like The Mimic and Believer. There’s a lot on offer!

America is a big place and you’re not going to be able to see many titles on the big screen if you’re not living in New York and able to enjoy Japan Cuts and the New York Asian Film Festival. If you’re in Texas or near it, this is going to be your best opportunity to see them especially since some of these may not be available on streaming services.

Anyway, here are the films! Just click on the titles to be taken to the corresponding page on the festival site!

Continue reading “Japanese Films at the Asian Film Festival Dallas 2018 (July 19 – 26)”

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Room Laundering, The Chrysanthemum and the Guillotine, Rainbow Days, 36.8°C Sanjurokudohachibu, One Man’s Son, You, Your, Yours, K SEVEN STORIES Episode1 「R:B BLAZE」, Okinawa 1965, Into the Shin Guu, Hooked on the Jomon, Hotaru no Kawa no Mamoribito Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, you lovely people!

Room Laundering Film Image

I hope you are well!

I’ve had a busy week packed full of fun things. Sunday started with VCinema posting my review of The Blood of Wolves and then I posted a review for Passage of Life. I then posted a preview for the Fantasia International Film Festival over in Montreal, Canada which looks absolutely fantastic. Vcinema also published my review for The Scythian Lamb. In the real world, the weather has been great and I continued with my day job and went to a funding meeting with a friend for her film festival. I also met Prince Charles at work and I had the chance to shake his hand and talk to him about my role in an exhibition! I have a couple of invites for drinks next week but I’ve got to get two film reviews filed away and do some more festival work before I can think about them.

What is released this weekend?

Continue reading “Room Laundering, The Chrysanthemum and the Guillotine, Rainbow Days, 36.8°C Sanjurokudohachibu, One Man’s Son, You, Your, Yours, K SEVEN STORIES Episode1 「R:B BLAZE」, Okinawa 1965, Into the Shin Guu, Hooked on the Jomon, Hotaru no Kawa no Mamoribito Japanese Film Trailers”

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Japanese Films at the Fantasia International Film Festival (July 12th – August 02nd)

The Fantasia International Film Festival starts in Montreal next week on July 12th and runs until August 02nd. The selection of Japanese films is simply stunning with titles from Miki Satoshi, Takashi Miike,  Nobuhiko Obayashi, Sion Sono and more. However, there are a selection of indie film titles that look absolutely killer as well.

Fantasia Header Image

This is the 22nd edition of the festival and it has become a focal point for filmmakers, festival programmers, journalists, and audiences eager to see a diverse slate of films before they hit the DVD or internet and take part in film culture. There are lots of guests and great experiences to be had and a chance to get involved with dictating which films get the hype behind them, so please choose Japanese, and try some of the titles listed here.

So what’s lined up?

Continue reading “Japanese Films at the Fantasia International Film Festival (July 12th – August 02nd)”

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Passage of Life  僕の帰る場所 Dir:  Akio Fujimoto (2017) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018

Passage of Life    Passage of Life Film Poster

僕の帰る場所 「Boku no kaerubasho

Running Time: 100 mins.

Release Date: November 25th, 2017

Director:  Akio Fujimoto

Writer: Akio Fujimoto (Screenplay)

Starring: Kaung Myat Thu, Khin Myat Thu, Issace, Htet Myat Naing, Yuki Kitagawa, Kanji Tsuda,

IMDB Website

Immigration is a thorny issue the world over and Japan is not immune to it since its tough stance and refusal to take large numbers of refugees draws criticism from nations which have more open policies. Whether this criticism is fair or not is put to the side in Passage of Life, as drama trumps politics.

One of two films at the Osaka Asian Film Festival looking at the immigrant experience of people who are of Burmese extraction and living in Japan, the other being My Country, My Home, it is shot with remarkable confidence considering it is the debut feature-film from Osaka-born director Akio Fujimoto who uses a documentary film style to show the uncertainties of life as an immigrant feeling the pull of two different cultures.

Continue reading “Passage of Life  僕の帰る場所 Dir:  Akio Fujimoto (2017) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018”

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Punk Samurai Slash Down, The Name, Modern Love, The Trial, The Negotiator: Behind the Reversion of Okinawa, Let’s go! Anpanman: Shine! Kurun and the Star of Life, Uchu Sentai Kyuranger vs. Space Squad, MANDALAY STAR My Journey to Myanmar Folk Music, Bridge to Tomorrow Memories of 1989, Girls’ Encounter, The Second Security Unit Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, everyone!

Tourism Film Image 2 Nina Endo and SUMIRE

I hope everyone is feeling great!

I’ve had a good week watching some fantastic films and enjoying the good weather the UK is experiencing. I also got a lot festival press work done months in advance of an event with a press release, synopses, and contacts ready to go out.

The New York Asian Film Festival kicked off yesterday and two of my reviews have gone live on V-Cinema: The Hungry Lion and Dynamite Graffiti and there are a couple more waiting to be published. Over here on this blog I published a review for TOURISM and an interview with the director of TOURISM, Daisuke Miyazaki.

What is released this weekend in Japan?

Continue reading “Punk Samurai Slash Down, The Name, Modern Love, The Trial, The Negotiator: Behind the Reversion of Okinawa, Let’s go! Anpanman: Shine! Kurun and the Star of Life, Uchu Sentai Kyuranger vs. Space Squad, MANDALAY STAR My Journey to Myanmar Folk Music, Bridge to Tomorrow Memories of 1989, Girls’ Encounter, The Second Security Unit Japanese Film Trailers”

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An Interview with Daisuke Miyazaki, director of “TOURISM”, at the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018

Daisuke Miyazaki was born in 1980 in Yokohama, Kanagawa. A passion for analysing films turned into a career when he started making them while studying at Waseda University. In 2004, he participated in New York University’s summer school that took place in Japan. His thesis The 10th Room won the Christine Choi Award, which is the grand prix at the KUT Film Festival held by the NYU. His following film Love Will Tear Us Apart was invited to be a special screening at the Image Forum Film Festival 2006, which is the largest experimental film festival in Japan.

The next stage in his career was to work his way up through the film world from lighting assistant to acting as an assistant director for Kiyoshi Kurosawa on Tokyo Sonata(2008). Miyazaki’s first feature film, End of the Night (2011), was exhibited at the Montreal Festival du Nouveau Cinema International Film Festival, and received a special award at the Toronto Shinsedai Film Festival. His work on the omnibus film 5TO9 was screened at the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2016 (OAFF) and his second feature Yamato (California) was screened at OAFF 2017.

He returned to OAFF in 2018 with his latest feature film, Tourism, an amusingly hip youth movie following two Japanese girls named Nina (Nina Endo) and Su (SUMIRE) who get lost in Singapore, which was shot in the space of five days. This is the first of a planned five film run which could take Miyazaki around the world.

Daisuke Miyazaki

Miyazaki kindly took part in an interview at the ABC Hall in Osaka midway through the festival where he went into detail about the shoot and his background.

Continue reading “An Interview with Daisuke Miyazaki, director of “TOURISM”, at the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018”

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Tourism Dir: Daisuke Miyazaki (2018) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018

Tourism    Tourism Film Poster

Running Time: 77 mins.

Release Date: 2018

Director: Daisuke Miyazaki

Writer: Daisuke Miyazaki (Screenplay),

Starring: Nina Endo, Sumire, Takayuki Yanagi,

IMDB

Daisuke Miyazaki is fast becoming a director to watch., quickly following up his last film Yamato (California) (2017) with Tourism, the second of a two-part video installation commissioned by the ArtScience Museum in Singapore and Singapore International Film Festival for an exhibition called “Specters and Tourists”. The project aimed to explore the nature of contemporary life and an under-seen side of Singapore. Nina Endo, one of the stars of “Yamato (California)”, takes the lead role here (as well as acting as stylist and co-producer) and is paired up with SUMIRE, a popular fashion model and daughter of Tadanobu Asano, to make a cute double-act that Miyazaki sends to Singapore on a journey off the beaten track.

This story happened a while ago, in two countries on a certain planet.”

Continue reading “Tourism Dir: Daisuke Miyazaki (2018) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018”

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Gyoza You Can Kiss, Yakiniku Dragon, Uta Monogatari CINEMA FIGHTERS project, Missions of Love, Neko wa Daku Mono, One Cut of the Dead, The World’s Longest Photograph, Under the Dog Jumbled, Kawaii Akuma, Shoujo Picaresque Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, people!!!

After the Storm Koreeda Kirin Abe

We made it to another one.

There was an earthquake in the Kansai region last Monday which resulted in some tragic news. I hope everyone who has been affected is coping or has recovered.

I’ve entered a new work period which is a little less intense so I’ve had time to watch films for pleasure. I’ve seen six since last weekend and I watched some of those twice. Two are by the same director. Reviews will materialise at some point. Other than that, business as usual. The weather has been good and I’ve been practising Japanese. My favourite discovery of the week is ほんまに which is 関西弁 apparently. I’m trying to remember times when people have said it around me. Fluency when speaking a language is partly about confidence and I’m speaking Japanese a lot so having fun ways to start sentences is great. I’m trying to arrange a get-together with friends I haven’t hung out with for a while and trying to get a handle on festival work I’ve put off for a while because of work elsewhere. 

I posted a news article about the New York Asian Film Festival and an interview with the guys behind Bad Poetry Tokyo.

What is released this weekend in Japan?

Continue reading “Gyoza You Can Kiss, Yakiniku Dragon, Uta Monogatari CINEMA FIGHTERS project, Missions of Love, Neko wa Daku Mono, One Cut of the Dead, The World’s Longest Photograph, Under the Dog Jumbled, Kawaii Akuma, Shoujo Picaresque Japanese Film Trailers”

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An Interview with Anshul Chauhan, Orson Mochizuki, and Takaeshi Kawaguchi Director and Actors of “Bad Poetry Tokyo” at the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018

Bad Poetry Tokyo (BPT) is the debut feature film from Anshul Chauhan, an animator turned indie film director. Born in India in 1986, Anshul’s main job is working as an animator in Japan. His career stretches back to 2006 with work in both TV and film and it has progressed to include some recently released major titles such as Final fantasy XV: Kingsglaive and Gantz: O. Life as a live-action director began with short films which is how he met his lead actors for BPT. With his actors lined up and having gained some experience, he finally made the leap into features with this BPT, a dark drama built around an acting tour de force from a trio of talented actors, Shuna Iijima and her co-stars, Orson Mochizuki and Takashi Kawaguchi

Continue reading “An Interview with Anshul Chauhan, Orson Mochizuki, and Takaeshi Kawaguchi Director and Actors of “Bad Poetry Tokyo” at the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018”

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Japanese Films at the New York Asian Film Festival (June 29 – July 15)

The 17th edition of the New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF) will run from June 29 – July 15, 2018 and there are 14 Japanese films programmed for the event. There are many guests arriving in New York and a real variety of films which makes the Japanese content really exciting to see.

Indeed, the Opening Night film is the North American premiere of Tominaga Masanori’s Dynamite Graffiti, an earthy dramedy about the life of Suei Akira, who is described as “Japanese porn mag king”.

Dynamite Graffiti Film Image

Continue reading “Japanese Films at the New York Asian Film Festival (June 29 – July 15)”

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Dynamite Graffiti 素敵なダイナマイトスキャンダル Dir: Masanori Tominaga (2018)

Dynamite Graffiti   Dynamite Graffiti Film Poster

素敵なダイナマイトスキャンダル Suteki na Dainamaito Sukyandaru

Running Time: 138 mins.

Release Date: March 17th, 2018

Director: Masanori Tominaga

Writer: Masanori Tominaga (Screenplay), Akira Suei (Autobiographical Essay)

Starring: Tasuku Emoto, Atsuko Maeda, Toko Miura, Machiko Ono, Kazunobu Mineta, Yutaka Matsushige, 

Website IMDB

Adult magazines are big business worldwide, including in Japan where it is still possible to walk into some convenience stores and see them on open display although in the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics, this is getting cleaned up. Masanori Tominaga’s biopic Dynamite Graffiti tells the history of raunchy magazine mogul Akira Suei, starting from childhood to the peak of his infamy in the 1980s when his publications had a circulation of over 300,000 copies a month and he publicly challenged censors with his magazine’s content.

Tominaga aims big and scores some smiles with behind-the-scenes looks at the smut trade but the scale of his script’s ambitions in trying to capture changing times delivers a cast of characters who are little more than cyphers while Suei remains a joker.

Continue reading “Dynamite Graffiti 素敵なダイナマイトスキャンダル Dir: Masanori Tominaga (2018)”

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Kairai / Marionettes, Yuzuriha, Recall, East of Jefferson, Batman Ninja, B’z 30th Year Exhibition “SCENES” 1988-2018 Gekijouban, Dolmen X Japanese Film Trailers

Happy Weekend, people!

Thicker than Water Film Image

I hope everyone is well.

It’s a bit of a gloomy day today and I’m feeling under the weather because I caught a cold last week. It’s on its way out, thankfully, and it couldn’t come sooner because I am taking a friend out to a pub tonight so we can have a good time together. Earlier this week, I attended the opening of a gallery with the same friend and the Japanese ambassador was there. Other than that, business as usual with films and work at my day job. I saw two great titles last Sunday, a Sono film and a Junji Sakamoto one that both had me tearful and laughing. In terms of my writing, I published an old review of Bad Poetry Tokyo and a preview of Japan Cuts 2018 which has many excellent titles. Japan Cuts always programmes great films and this year looks stellar with titles like Night is Short, Walk on GirlKushina, Nagisa, Passage of Life, Dear Etranger, and TOURISM, being ones I have already seen and rated highly. Hanagatami, Thicker than Water, and Amiko are ones I am desperate to watch. Violence Voyager, the Geki-animation by Ujicha looks like a barrel of laughs!

What is released in Japan this weekend?

Continue reading “Kairai / Marionettes, Yuzuriha, Recall, East of Jefferson, Batman Ninja, B’z 30th Year Exhibition “SCENES” 1988-2018 Gekijouban, Dolmen X Japanese Film Trailers”

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A Preview of Japan Cuts 2018 (JULY 19–29)

Japan Cuts 2018 is due to kick off in New York soon! This is the 12th edition of the festival which screens the largest collection of contemporary Japanese films in North America. It runs from JULY 19–29 and there is everything from indies to blockbusters, anime to documentaries and short films, and lots of off-screen action like parties, live music and more over a 10-day festival.

Trailer!

The full list of films can be found here and some features are preceded by short films. There is an impressive list of films covering a variety of topics from refugee-life to the fight for equality by people facing discrimination due to sexual orientation, the desire to create new worlds by travelling to places mainstream films never go, to a much-anticipated adaptation of a popular manga/anime. These films are made by people from different backgrounds and the guests at the festival include a lot of female filmmakers, proving that Japan is a hotbed of talent from all sorts of places.

There will be many guests including legendary screen veteran Kirin Kiki who will receive the 2018 CUT ABOVE Award for Outstanding Performance in Film.

Here is what has been programmed!

Continue reading “A Preview of Japan Cuts 2018 (JULY 19–29)”

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Bad Poetry Tokyo 東京不穏詩 Dir: Anshul Chauhan (2017) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018

Bad Poetry Tokyo    Bad Poetry Tokyo Film Poster

東京不穏詩 Tōkyō fuon uta

Running Time: 114 mins.

Release Date: 2018

Director: Anshul Chauhan

Writer: Anshul Chauhan, Rand Colter (Screenplay), Anshul Chauhan (Original Story)

Starring: Shuna Iijima, Orson Mochizuki, Takashi Kawaguchi, Nana Blank, Kohei Mashiba, Kento Furukoshi,

Website    IMDB

Fake it till you make it. It’s a useful mantra to live by. Appear confident and people will accept it. We all do it, but every once in a while the mask will slip. What happens when you simply run out of energy to hold that mask up?

Jun Fujita (Shuna Iijima) is 30 years old. She majored in English at Tokyo University and dreams of appearing in Hollywood movies. For the time being, though, she works as a hostess at a shady club where her boyfriend Taka (Orson Mochizuki) is employed as a barman. Some of that is true, some of that is false. Life hasn’t turned out the way Jun imagined when she fled her home in Nagano Prefecture five years ago. Still, she yearns to be an actress and is about to make it when betrayed by her lover. Broken and made savage by the experience, she heads back to her sleepy countryside hometown to lick her wounds. As far as she can tell, things seemingly haven’t changed much when she first arrives and is reunited with her father and her old lover Yuki (Takashi Kawaguchi), which is a problem because there are ugly secrets about her past that made her flee in the first place.CO01_BadPoetryTokyo

The drama of Bad Poetry Tokyo opens with a sequence showing Jun perpetrating a violent attack while her narration tells us some of what has driven her to this point. It then cuts back to an earlier period of time so viewers can trace the sequence of events that has to the moment that the weight of the world has become too heavy for Jun to bear.

Continue reading “Bad Poetry Tokyo 東京不穏詩 Dir: Anshul Chauhan (2017) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018”

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Shoplifters, A Forest of Wool and Steel, When I Get Home, My Wife Always Pretends to Be Dead., Vision, WAKITA PEAK, Enokida Bouekido, Life in Overtime, 5TO9, Asagao to kase-san / Kase-san and Morning Glories, Tokyo Living Dead Idol, Cinema Kabuki: Tokai Dochu Hizakurige Kobikicho Nazotokibanashi, Laughing Under the Clouds Gaiden Fate, The Double-Headed Fūma Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend!

Shuhei Morita Possessions Image

We made it through to another one!

I’ve been busy at my day job but it’s the good kind of busy. Had some fun working, the highlight of which was installing perspex for a stage housing an Edo-period screen, and dining with Japanese and British colleagues at a fancy hotel. That work is calming down over the next week and I’ll be resuming other duties soon including movie watching. Due to my regular job, in terms of this blog, my work at the Osaka Asian Film Festival came to the rescue and allowed me to have some content ready to go over the last couple of weeks. I posted a review of The Sower and an interview with that films director, Yosuke Takeuchi. V-Cinema also posted my interview with Rina Tanaka and her cast and crew from the film Filled With Steam.

Here’s what’s released this weekend.

Continue reading “Shoplifters, A Forest of Wool and Steel, When I Get Home, My Wife Always Pretends to Be Dead., Vision, WAKITA PEAK, Enokida Bouekido, Life in Overtime, 5TO9, Asagao to kase-san / Kase-san and Morning Glories, Tokyo Living Dead Idol, Cinema Kabuki: Tokai Dochu Hizakurige Kobikicho Nazotokibanashi, Laughing Under the Clouds Gaiden Fate, The Double-Headed Fūma Japanese Film Trailers”

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Yosuke Takeuchi Interview at the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018

Yosuke Takeuchi is an award-winning independent filmmaker based in Japan. Born Yosuke Takeuchiin 1978, he graduated from Shibaura Institute of Technology in 2000 and, in 2002, went to France to learn painting. In 2003, his work won the Jury’s Special Award at the exhibition of the Academie de Port-Royal before he took to travelling to various places in Europe and Africa. In 2004, Takeuchi returned to Japan and started his career as a filmmaker, debuting with Segutsu which was nominated for the Short Shorts Film Festival in Tokyo in 2008. His short film Katsuko won the Associate Grand Prix at the Mito Short Film Festival and his screenplay for People’s Vanity won an award at a contest for new writers in 2012.

His time in Paris proved to be very influential since it was there that he first encountered the works of Vincent van Gogh and was inspired by them. That inspiration went into The Sower, his first feature film which transplanted aspects of the tragic artist into characters seen on the screen and tackled issues surrounding mental illness. Made in 2016, this drama has been screened at Nippon Connection 2017 as well as the 57th Thessaloniki Film Festival where it won Takeuchi the Best Director award as well as netting the Best Actress award for its young lead Suzuno Takenaka. It received its Japan Premiere at the 2018 Osaka Asian Film Festival which is where this interview took place.

This interview was conducted with the help of the interpreter Mana Kukimoto, a volunteer at the Osaka Asian Film Festival whose help proved important for the development of the conversation that took place.

Continue reading “Yosuke Takeuchi Interview at the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018”

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The Sower 種をまく人 Dir: Yosuke Takeuchi (2016) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018

The Sower      A1PosterAward2

種をまく人  Tane o maku hito」    

Running Time: 117 mins.

Release Date: 2016

Director: Yosuke Takeuchi

Writer: Yosuke Takeuchi (Screenplay)

Starring: Kentaro Kishi, Suzuno Takenaka, Tomomitsu Adachi, Arisa Nakajima, Ichika Takeuchi,

IMDB           Website

As far as movies inspired by artists go, most tend to be autobiographical such as “Lust for Life” (1956) which stars Kirk Douglas as Vincent Van Gogh. Yosuke Takeuchi’s film “The Sower” is an independent movie that takes inspiration from that famous and tragic artist who lived with a naive but passionate connection with the world and suffered for it.

Mitsuo, the lead character here, fixates on sunflowers, wears a hat and bears a beard that is similar to the genius who roamed the fields of Provence, but Mitsuo’s story finds itself connected to the efforts made by farmers and volunteers to plant sunflowers across swathes of Fukushima prefecture to help the soil absorb radiation leaked from the region’s damaged nuclear power plant but have they absorbed other aspects of life? Mitsuo is the titular “Sower”, a man who believes they have. He is riven by guilt over a death he had no power over but it isn’t just his story, it is that of the people around him, all of whom are unique individuals with issues.

Mitsuo (Kentaro Kishi) was one of those brave souls who answered the call for volunteers to clear out the debris left behind by the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami. The strain of the task proved to be too much and he spent three years in psychiatric care. Upon his release, Mitsuo finds solace when he is warmly welcomed into the home of his younger brother Yuta (Tomomitsu Adachi) and meets his sister-in-law Yoko (Arisa Nakajima) and two nieces, elementary school-girl Chie (Suzuno Takenaka) and Itsuki (Ichika Takeuchi), a three-year-old with down-syndrome. This sweet moment of family bonding is shattered by tragedy when the two girls are left in Mitsuo’s care and Itsuki dies in an accident. Even though he had no direct involvement in the incident, Mitsuo is blamed and he must deal with the burden of guilt and the struggle for atonement while Chie suffers equally as much over whether to tell the truth of what happened or not…

This slow-burn drama is something of a revelation. Considering it is Takeuchi’s debut feature film, it is an amazing achievement since it has so much grace and builds up an emotional current through patient direction and perfect acting that it sweeps the audience into a realm of individual’s suffering from profound emotions in such an almost visceral and a very beautiful and heartfelt way.

The film hinges upon the idea of guilt, trauma, and grief warping both Mitsuo and Chie and the people around them, trapping everyone in a negative space which brings out the worst in people and, for those too naive  to understand what is happening, it is better to remain silent than open up. This is nothing new. Chie is the subject of bullying and Mitsuo has seen horrific things in Fukushima as made clear in the opening, but neither verbalises it, her isolation from the class and his haggard look saying a lot more. How to tell such things to others? It’s a difficult struggle.

The_Sower_1Chie

Any attempt to tell the truth about what happened to Itsuki is handicapped by people’s prejudices towards those with mental health issues, protectiveness over children, and grudges held over perceived wrongdoing in the past. Family, the one place that should be a refuge becomes a minefield of broiling emotions, the implications and consequences of which rise organically as the temperature of the drama rises with every story twist while also offering a strong social commentary.

Yosuke Takeuchi is an artist who studied painting in Paris which is where he was inspired by Van Gogh. However his own story has become part of this film such as a niece with special needs taking on the role of Itsuki and his thoughts on how society treats people who are different. The hesitation to love those who have down-syndrome, the fear of genetic contamination and lack of understanding for mental health issues, they are all present in the minds of characters. They verbalise these contentious issues in dialogue that could be heard in everyday life and we see how wrong it is as we come to understand the suffering of Mitsuo and Chie who are tragically too naive to cope and it is harrowing stuff to watch them be buffeted around by the emotions of their community.

The acting and mise-en-scene are naturalistic allowing us to enter the conflict. Early scenes are documentary-like with fast editing at the start that helps builds up character, setting, and, tension until the horrific moment occurs and then the film slows down, using many extended sequences to locate the character in their environment, little Chie avoiding others by being alone while Mitsuo is shambling around with a shell-shocked look when he isn’t sowing seeds with fervour as an act of atonement.

The_Sower_2Mitsuo

Takeuchi favours scenes full of close-ups to show the aftermath of every emotional encounter such as when adults fight over Chie or when people openly talk about Mitsuo’s mental health issues and others must listen uncomfortably. These close-ups are even more powerful tracking the increasingly withdrawn and sullen visages presented by Chie and Mitsuo and the anger of Yoko and Yuta as they navigate how to deal with the conflicts that arise. The best one has to be at the start when Mitsuo and Chie speak about the sunflowers in Fukushima and their supernatural aspects. Their connection is made with the look of adoration the little girl has and the warmness of Mitsuo.

The sounds of the film are equally important in detailing the deep emotions on offer. It all takes place in summer so the sounds of cicadas and festivals are intense enough to offer a contrast to the deafening silences the characters go through. When it replaces speech, the audience focuses on the acting and when characters talk it generates more force and meaning. This sets up a tear-inducing finale.

When the ending comes, having journeyed through all of the complex pain and suffering, the audience will be blessed with a moment of catharsis delivered through an innocent and simple gesture and gazes that suggest moving on. This film has to be seen.

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The Yamasato no Uta, Over Drive, 50 First Kisses, PEACE MAKER Kurogane Path of Thoughts, Yoake zen kure shūzō to mumei no seishin shōgai-sha no 100-nen, Even: Song For You, Uma no Hone, Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend!

Goodbye Silence Sumire

We made it through to another one.

It has been a manageable week split between proofing a game, practising for and conducting a Japanese language/culture lesson and then still writing about films. I covered some reviews for Mamoru Hosoda’s latest anime, Mirai and then posted about the two Japanese films at the Edinburgh Film Festival, and posted a review for the film, Goodbye Silence. I also performed some maintenance on this blog by updating dead trailers and putting in links.

What is released this week?

Continue reading “The Yamasato no Uta, Over Drive, 50 First Kisses, PEACE MAKER Kurogane Path of Thoughts, Yoake zen kure shūzō to mumei no seishin shōgai-sha no 100-nen, Even: Song For You, Uma no Hone, Japanese Film Trailers”

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Goodbye Silence Saraba Seijaku サラバ静寂 Dir: Kenichi Ugana (2018)

Saraba Seijaku   Saraba Seijaku Film Poster

サラバ静寂 Saraba Seijaku

Running Time: N/A

Release Date: January 27th, 2018

Director: Kenichi Ugana

Writer: Kenichi Ugana (Screenplay),

Starring: Kaito Yoshimura, Sumire, Ryuya Wakaba, Nobu Morimoto, Takumi Saito,

Website

 

Entertainment, ideas, and art are vital for people. They become part of human instinct. It is seen in the way people dress, arrange their homes, and the way they respond to sounds and images so what happens when you take them away from people? This is the question explored by many stories perhaps the most famous being Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. Director Kenichi Ugana follows his debut Ganguro Gals Riot (2016) with his sophomore feature Goodbye Silence (2018) and addresses this issue in a dystopian tale that is a fitfully interesting indie film with some interesting ideas.

Continue reading “Goodbye Silence Saraba Seijaku サラバ静寂 Dir: Kenichi Ugana (2018)”

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Japanese Films at the Cannes Film Festival 2018 Review Round-Up: Mamoru Hosoda’s “Mirai”

Mamoru Hosoda’s new Mirai no Mirai (Mirai of the Future) was screened at Cannes in the Directors’ Fortnight section and it took a while for a bunch of reviews to be published online but they are there to be discovered and they are all full of praise for the film.

Mirai

Mirai of the Future Film Image

Mirai of the Future    Mirai of the Future Film Poster

未来のミライ Mirai no Mirai

Running Time: 100 mins.

Release Date: July 20th, 2018

Director:  Mamoru Hosoda

Writer: Mamoru Hosoda (Screenplay/Original Work)

Starring: Haru Kuroki (Mirai-chan), Moka Kamishiraishi (Kun-chan), Gen Hoshino (Father), Koji Yakusho (Father), Kumiko Aso (Mother), Mitsuo Yoshihara (Mysterious Man), Yoshiko Miyazaki (Grandmother)

Animation Production: Studio Chizu

Website ANN MAL

Synopsis: A family living in a small house in a corner of a Yokohama dotes on a spoiled four-year-old boy named Kun-chan. When he gets a little sister named Mirai, he feels that his new sister stole his parents’ love from him. Jealousy and resentment well up until he meets an older version of Mirai, who has come from the future and takes him on an adventure.

As previously written, great plaudits for the film. Universal praise. A lot of focus is placed on Hosoda’s own experiences of being a father in a family where a newborn girl took the attention of the parents away from the elder sibling, a boy, and this dose of reality gives the story its hearty content.  

…Hosoda turns life lessons into an exuberant and enriching story full of intriguing ideas…

…From the very start Hosoda nails the chaos and pure joy of family life.” Katherine McLaughlinSciFiNow

Films based on families are what Hosoda tends to do and he tends to mix human drama with the fantastical to make it palatable. There were unconventional families showing the dedication and beauty of personal connections in Wolf Children, Summer Wars, and The Boy and the Beast. The film is closer to The Girl Who Leapt Through Time since it has time-travel with a coming-of-age story and we have time-travel again with all the familiar themes.

Once Hosoda’s fantastical premise kicks in, Mirai unfolds into an episodic, almost plotless story of a child finding their place in the world, and discovering the responsibilities and relationships that help make up their developing identity.” Michael Leader – Little White Lies

The story sounds simple enough and easy to dive into, much like Hosoda’s other films. The real richness comes from the characters and family dynamics.

The film gets praise for its character design/animation as well as the design of locations such as the house. It shows the care and attention that Hosoda typically puts into his films. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Summer Wars really capture the imagination with their locations which are so rich with details, well, I have tried on a number of occasions hunting down an old post from a blogger which went into detail about specific rooms and the symbolism of decorations.

“…the character design walks the line with grace between big-eyed anime cutesiness and closely observed realism, capturing with insightful wit the way dogs and kids move and wiggle, especially given the fact that they have different centers of gravity compared to adults. There are also some finely timed slapstick moments, and altogether, the story lasts a comparatively sprightly and pleasant 98 minutes, displaying a brevity that would serve more cartoons from the region well.” Leslie FelperinThe Hollywood Reporter

This film is going to be good!

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3ft Ball & Souls, After the Rain, My Friend “A”, What a Wonderful Family! 3: My Wife My Life, Last Love Letter, Ani Tomo, Zenigata, The Man From the Sea, Gachi Boshi, Hurry Go Round hide 20th MEMORIAL FILM, The Reverse Diaries, SEVEN/7, Mitsuko to Uchuu kobu, Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2202: Ai no Senshi-tachi Chapter 5 “Rengoku-hen”, Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion – Glorification Japanese Film Trailers    

Happy weekend, people!

Columbus Film Image 2

I hope everyone is fine and dandy!

I’ve been busy at work conducting Japanese language/culture classes as well as doing my regular job. On top of that, I’ve managed to squeeze in time to do some writing. I posted about Kore-eda Hirokazu winning the Palme d’Or at Cannes on Sunday and followed that with an interview I had with the incredibly talented Hayami Moet, director of Kushina, what will you be, at the Osaka Asian Film Festival. I then posted a review for the American indie film Columbus which I saw at the same festival. V-Cinema posted my interview with the team behind Bad Poetry Tokyo and the director Takayama Kohei, both of which were conducted at, you guessed it, the Osaka Asian Film Festival!!!

I’ll be continuing with the lessons in the next week but I have started a new anime, Golden Kamuy. It’s pretty freaking brilliant.

What’s released this weekend in Japan?

Continue reading “3ft Ball & Souls, After the Rain, My Friend “A”, What a Wonderful Family! 3: My Wife My Life, Last Love Letter, Ani Tomo, Zenigata, The Man From the Sea, Gachi Boshi, Hurry Go Round hide 20th MEMORIAL FILM, The Reverse Diaries, SEVEN/7, Mitsuko to Uchuu kobu, Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2202: Ai no Senshi-tachi Chapter 5 “Rengoku-hen”, Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion – Glorification Japanese Film Trailers    “

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Columbus Director: Kogonada (2017) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018

Columbus   Columbus Film Poster

 Running Time: 114 mins.

Release Date: August 04th, 2017

Director: Kogonada

Writer: Kogonada (Screenplay)

Starring: John Cho, Haley Lu Richardson, Parker Posey, Rory Culkin, Eren Allegretti, 

IMDB

This had it’s Japanese premiere at the Osaka Asian Film Festival where I watched it and pretty much burst into tears at the end.

There are many artistic avenues available for taking audiences into the lives of others and film offers the most direct and intense of those experiences. You can enter another person’s life in ways that other art-forms cannot hope to achieve, talented film-makers getting audiences to parse the most complex of emotions with ease if the form they construct on screen is right. Columbus is a great example. The film is named after the titular town located in Indiana which is famous for having the largest collection of public buildings designed by Modernist architects such as I.M. Pei, John Carl Warnecke, and Richard Meier. Using the pleasures of architecture and pleasurable dialogue, director Kogonoda martials his sets and cinematic techniques to concisely get at the heart of complex set of relationships through great locations and a script full of neat symmetry for the main characters.

Continue reading “Columbus Director: Kogonada (2017) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018”

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An Interview with Moët Hayami, director of “Kushina, what will you be” at the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018

Moët Hayami is an indie filmmaker who was born in Shiga Prefecture. She began her career by graduating from Ritsumeikan University’s visual department and Waseda University graduate school. Since then, she has worked on many films and commercials in different positions from production design/management, art direction, costume design, and as an assistant director. Projects include West North West (2015), directed by Takuro Nakamura, and Ryutaro Nakagawa’s award-winning film Summer Blooms (2017). She has written and directed shorts of her own and with Kushina, what will you be she has made her debut feature film.

Kushina tells the story of the inhabitants of a village of women hidden from the world in a forest somewhere in Japan. Their peaceful existence is disturbed when an idealistic anthropologist (Yayoi Inamoto) arrives and becomes attached to a girl named Kushina (Ikumi Satake). This connection deepens making tensions rise between Kushina’s mother Kagu (Tomona Hirota) and her grandmother Onikuma (veteran actress Miyuki Ono) who disagree over the future of the girl.

(from left) FUJIWARA Eri (藤原絵里), INAMOTO Yayoi (稲本弥生), ONO Miyuki (小野みゆき), HIROTA Tomona (廣田朋菜), Director: HAYAMI Moët (速水萌巴)

The film received its world premiere at the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018 where it went on to win the Japan Cuts Award. The interview took place after the first screening.

The penultimate question features a bit of a mood spoiler so consider skipping it to get the maximum emotional punch.

Continue reading “An Interview with Moët Hayami, director of “Kushina, what will you be” at the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018″

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Hirokazu Kore-eda wins the Palme d’Or for “Shoplifters” at Cannes 2018

Hirokazu Kore-eda won the Palme d’Or at the 71st Cannes Film Festival for his latest film, Shoplifters.

Hirokazu Koreeda Cannes 2018 Shoplifters Palme d'or
(Photo by Arthur Mola/Invision/AP)

Congratulations, Hirokazu Kore-eda!

This was his fifth time in the competition section and his win marks, to quote the critic Peter Debruge over at Variety,

“just the second time this century that an Asian film has claimed the festival’s top prize (the other being Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives” in 2010).”

This latest drama features an unconventional family living happily together on the margins of Japanese society through a mixture of grit and graft. Initially a gentle and heartwarming film, the tone changes as it shines a light on the failings of society and individuals. It marks yet another film where Kore-eda has worked with child actors and got amazing results as the different reviews have pointed out (round-up of reviews post).

Cate Blanchett, the Cannes Jury president said, “We were completely bowled over by ‘Shoplifters.’ How inter-meshed the performances were with the directorial vision”.

The film has already been picked up for US distribution thanks to Magnolia Films. The company’s president, Eamon Bowles said,

“In a long career of incredible peaks, Hirokazu Kore-eda has delivered one of his best works. ‘Shoplifters’ is an incredible story that deals with familial bonds in a way I’ve never seen before”. SOURCE

Continue reading “Hirokazu Kore-eda wins the Palme d’Or for “Shoplifters” at Cannes 2018″

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Nomitori Samurai, Mori, The Artist’s Habitat, SUKITA: The Shoot Must Go On, Kamen Rider Amazons the Movie: The Last Judgement, Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle, Gifted Freeman and Milk Selling Woman, Kokoro no furusato aru wansei no ayunde kita michi, Samurai and Idiots: The Olympus Affair, Mabuigumi New Caledonia hikisakareta iminshi, No Place to Return Japanese Film Trailers

Happy Weekend, people!

Shoplifters Film Image 2

I spent this week writing when I said I wouldn’t because I need to focus on learning Japanese. I rounded up the better reviews of the Japanese films at the Cannes film festival with Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s Asako I&II and Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Shoplifters and I’m waiting for reviews of Mamoru Hosoda’s latest feature, Mirai to be published so I can collect them in one post. I also posted a preview of Nippon Connection 2018. I also posted my review of Kushina which was originally published on V-Cinema. My review for the film, Goodbye Silence was published on V-Cinema as well. Right, I’ll be doing work for some classes I have to deliver late next week!

What’s released this weekend?

Continue reading “Nomitori Samurai, Mori, The Artist’s Habitat, SUKITA: The Shoot Must Go On, Kamen Rider Amazons the Movie: The Last Judgement, Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle, Gifted Freeman and Milk Selling Woman, Kokoro no furusato aru wansei no ayunde kita michi, Samurai and Idiots: The Olympus Affair, Mabuigumi New Caledonia hikisakareta iminshi, No Place to Return Japanese Film Trailers”

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A Preview of Nippon Connection 2018

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The 18th edition of the Nippon Connection Film Festival (NCFF) runs from May 29th to June 03rd in Frankfurt am Main and it continues to be the biggest and best event to see Japanese films in the world. That’s no exaggeration because it has more than 100 short and feature length films ranging from documentaries to anime to indie films and there will be an incredible slate of supporting programmes aimed at a wide range of people. Not only that, there will be many Japanese and international filmmakers, musicians, and artists travelling to the event as guests who will introduce their works and talk about films. This year’s guest of honour is the renowned actress Shinobu Terajima who will receive the NIPPON HONOR AWARD 2018.

There are lots of films programmed and just as many events and with so much to see, I’ll try and cover everything in one post. To find out more about a film, click on section titles to be taken to the festival page. Here are some highlights of what’s on offer:

Continue reading “A Preview of Nippon Connection 2018”

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Japanese Films at the Cannes Film Festival 2018 Review Round-Up: Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s “Asako I & II”

Making his Cannes debut is Ryosuke Hamaguchi who came to the world’s attenton with his five hour film Happy Hour (2015) which took a top prize at the Locarno Film Festival. Here, he adapts

Asako I & II

Asako I and II Film Image

Continue reading “Japanese Films at the Cannes Film Festival 2018 Review Round-Up: Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s “Asako I & II””

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Japanese Films at the Cannes Film Festival Review Round-Up: Hirokazu Kore-eda’s “Shoplifters”

There is a small selection of Japanese films at the Cannes Film Festival 2018 with two in the Competition section. The biggest name is Hirokazu Kore-eda who has appeared at Cannes six times in the Competition and Un Certain Regard sections, picking up the Jury Prize for Like Father, Like Son (2013). Due to his focus on families in films like I Wish (2011) and Our Little Sister (2015), he is often called the Ozu of modern Japanese cinema by critics and this one features an unconventional family by normal Japanese standards since it features a group of people living happily together on the margins through a mixture of grit and graft. Initially a gentle and heartwarming film, the tone changes as it shines a light on the failings of society and individuals. So, what are the highlights of the reviews?

SHOPLIFTERS

Shoplifters Film Image 2

Continue reading “Japanese Films at the Cannes Film Festival Review Round-Up: Hirokazu Kore-eda’s “Shoplifters””

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KUSHINA, what will you be クシナ Dir: Moët Hayami (2018) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018

KUSHINA, what will you be

クシナ Kushina

Running Time: 68 mins.

Release Date: 2018

Director: Moët Hayami

Writer: Moët Hayami (Screenplay),

Starring: Miyuki Ono, Tomona Hirota, Yayoi Inamoto, Ikumi Satake, Suguru Onuma,

Website

Director Moët Hayami’s Kushina received its world premiere at the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018 where it won the Japan Cuts award, an accolade given to films that display a unique vision. It was a well-deserved win because it is a drama put together with such profound vision and dedication that it creates a world wholly different from what many people will expect from Japanese cinema and features a beautifully realised tale about three women fighting over the fate of a pure girl.

Continue reading “KUSHINA, what will you be クシナ Dir: Moët Hayami (2018) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018”

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The Blood of Wolves, Sweating the Small Stuff, Summer Blooms, Garden in Movement, Mifune: The Last Samurai, Hiragana Danshi – Prelude -, Kamen Rider Amazons Season 2 the Movie: Reincarnation, Kujira no Shima no Wasuremono, Love x Doc, Kuchisan, Technology, SHOOT X Spiritual Game, Butterfly Sleep, Last Hold!, Clingy Girlfriend Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend!

Night Working Film Image

I hope everyone is well!

I’m in work but I have an art talk at an embassy to attend in London on Monday which is my next day off. I’m putting the finishing touches to a review and studying Japanese regularly. This week I posted reviews for Night Working and Filled with Steam here and Jimami Tofu over at V-Cinema. The Cannes film festival has kicked off and there are a lot of interesting titles to read about once the reviews come through.

What’s released this weekend in Japan?

Continue reading “The Blood of Wolves, Sweating the Small Stuff, Summer Blooms, Garden in Movement, Mifune: The Last Samurai, Hiragana Danshi – Prelude -, Kamen Rider Amazons Season 2 the Movie: Reincarnation, Kujira no Shima no Wasuremono, Love x Doc, Kuchisan, Technology, SHOOT X Spiritual Game, Butterfly Sleep, Last Hold!, Clingy Girlfriend Japanese Film Trailers”

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Filled with Steam 湯気満ちて Dir: Rina Tanaka (2017) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018

Filled with Steam

湯気満ちて Yuge michite

Running Time: 30 mins.

Release Date: 2017

Director: Rina Tanaka

Writer: Ryota Kato (Screenplay),

Starring: Ayako Mizuno, Takehito Sato, Yoko Kakegawa, Shigeru Harihara, Hisato Hayashi, Kaori Takeda,


And oh, after the love has gone

How could you lead me on

And not let me stay around?

Oh, after the love has gone

What used to be right is wrong

Can love that’s lost be found?

AFTER THE LOVE IS GONE / Earth,Wind & Fire

Filled with Steam is one of the latest works by Rina Tanaka, an up-and-coming filmmaker with a Masters from Tokyo University of the Arts, Film & New Media’s Directing course who already has a feature film to her name and is developing a distinct style. With this short, audiences at the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018 got to taste her sensibility, which favours creating ambiguity through the use of clashing tones. Here we see quite a clash. Filled with Steam is a tale of love on life-support featuring a visceral undercurrent of tragedy masked by comedic elements that culminates in a powerful ending.

Continue reading “Filled with Steam 湯気満ちて Dir: Rina Tanaka (2017) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018”

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Night Working 夜間勤務 Dir: Kim Jung-eun (2017) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018

Night Working

夜間勤務 Yakan kinmu

Running Time: 27 mins.

Director: Kim Jung-eun

Writer: Kim Jung-eun (Screenplay),

Starring: Sreng Vuchny, Kim Yae-eun, Gil Hae-yeon,

The Osaka Asian Film Festival is a fun event to attend and also serves as a highly informative window into migration of Asians around the world. One short film that really struck a chord with me was Night Working (2017). Set in Korea, it takes two women, Lyn, a young Cambodian migrant worker, and a working-class Korean named Yeonhee, and shows how the youthful generation are facing the same hardships and have the same desires and are looking for hope elsewhere.

Their stories are told with simplicity and heartfelt kindness through mirroring and parallelism of lives and actions. Both work the night shift at a small port-side factory in Incheon. They are trying to earn as much money as possible to send back to their families and better their lives.

Narration from a letter Lyn is in the process of writing to her mother opens the film along with scenes of her daily life and as she narrates we see how she overcame initial fears of being alone and established a bond with Yeonhee and we get a lovely shot of them cycling to work during the onset of dusk.

Night Working Film Image2

The story shows the friendship the two have built and how, for Lyn, her shared sense of kinship with the seemingly confident Yeonhee helps her cope with their boss’ unfair treatment at work. Lyn is in a stable place. Lyn is happy. This connection means a lot. All she wants is simple. She tells Yeonhee:

“I want to go to the sea. With you.”

Continue reading “Night Working 夜間勤務 Dir: Kim Jung-eun (2017) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018”