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The Whispering Star  ひそひそ星 Dir: Sion Sono (2016)

The Whispering Star    

The Whispering Star Film Poster
The Whispering Star Film Poster

ひそひそ星「Hiso Hiso Boshi

Running Time: 101 mins.

Release Date: May 14th, 2016

Director: Sion Sono

Writer: Sion Sono (Screenplay)

Starring: Megumi Kagurazaka, Kenji Endo, Yuto Ikeda, Mori Kouko,

Website    IMDB

The Whispering Star was originally created and screened as part of an art exhibition which had the theme of dystopia running through it. That theme is more than adequately captured in this black fable about a robot travelling amidst the remnants of humanity. It was shot in different locations in Fukushima prefecture, turning depopulated and irradiated areas into a futuristic landscape that speaks of hopelessness, pollution, and abandonment delivered in slow sketches until the film ends on a touching note of human contact. It shows good control of material from Sion Sono but that’s to be expected from a man who has been in the industry since the 80s.

At the start of the film we learn that multiple nuclear disasters and other mistakes have forced people to migrate to the stars. Humans are scattered across a myriad of planets and are on the verge of extinction as their will to live and explore flickers out in the face of technology and ennui. What keeps people hanging on are robots with AI who operate an interplanetary delivery system, facilitating a new sort of human contact.

Continue reading “The Whispering Star  ひそひそ星 Dir: Sion Sono (2016)”

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The Night I Swam, A Seaside Weekly Tabloid, Seinaru Mono, Stray Dogz 8, Walking with My Grandma, Seven Colours★Rocket, Ninagawa Yukio Theatre 2 “midokumaru fainaru”, Tenshi Ja nai!, Sore sore ga yattekitara…, Detective Conan: Zero the Enforcer, Eiga Crayon Shin-chan Bakumori! Kung-Fu Boys ~Ramen Tairan~ Japanese Film Trailers

Happy Weekend, People!

I’m at the end of day six of a twelve day work week and I’m feeling okay but there is a lot of content I need to publish as well as working on things for my regular job. This week saw me post about introducing some films at a festival, the rather excellent line-up of films at the Udine Far East Film Festival, and the rather superb Japanese twosome in competition at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. I’m going to keep the pace up with a post tomorrow and break with my regular schedule of Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday, to keep posting content I have waiting to be released. That’s not including a festival I’m helping put together later this year. Heck, I updated the trailers for last year’s Osaka Asian Film Festival earlier today… I like being busy.

What is released this weekend in Japan?

Continue reading “The Night I Swam, A Seaside Weekly Tabloid, Seinaru Mono, Stray Dogz 8, Walking with My Grandma, Seven Colours★Rocket, Ninagawa Yukio Theatre 2 “midokumaru fainaru”, Tenshi Ja nai!, Sore sore ga yattekitara…, Detective Conan: Zero the Enforcer, Eiga Crayon Shin-chan Bakumori! Kung-Fu Boys ~Ramen Tairan~ Japanese Film Trailers”

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Japanese Films at the Udine Far East Film Festival 2018

The Udine Far East Film Festival plays from April 20th to the 28th and it is the 20th year it has been in operation. There are over 80 films programmed with a strong contingent from Japan. Also at the festival are many films from across the rest of Asia, some of which got there world premieres at the Osaka Asian Film Festival last month – No. 1 Chung Ying Street. More interestingly, there’s a celebration of Brigitte Lin so that means screenings of Chungking Express and Dragon Inn!!!!

This is a film blog dedicated to Japanese cinema so I’m covering the Japanese films now but I will endeavour to get reviews for as many of these titles as possible!

What are the Japanese films programmed for the festival?

Udine Far East Film Festival Logo

Continue reading “Japanese Films at the Udine Far East Film Festival 2018”

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Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival presents: Japanese Animated Shorts at Cardiff International Animation Festival 2018

Lady Nosferatu Film Image

On Saturday April 21st and Sunday April 22nd, staff from Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival will be at Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff to present a series of short film screenings from Japan as part of the Cardiff International Animation Festival (CIAF). These are from a special programme of animated graduate films from Japan’s top National art University, Tokyo National University of Arts Graduate School and Kotatsu was able to get these thanks to Professor Yuichi Ito who oversees the course and came to last year’s Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival.

The stories are some of the best to have been produced by graduates from the university and this is a rare chance to see the likes of them outside of the London International Animated Film Festival and Japan. Here are more details on the CIAF page and a Geidai page set up to showcase some of the content.

Continue reading “Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival presents: Japanese Animated Shorts at Cardiff International Animation Festival 2018”

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Yamato California, Minatomachi, Chronicle of the After-School Wars, Liverleaf, The Bastard and the Beautiful World, Call Boy, Too Unbelievable of a Woman: Defendant Yoshie, father kanbojia he shiawase o todoketa goccahn shinpu no monogatari, The Werewolf Game: Inferno, I Will Never Forgive, Ninagawa Yukio Theatre 2 “Ninagawa MacBeth”, Gekijouban Servamp: Alice in the Garden Japanese Film Trailers

Hello, dear readers.

Only Yesterday Film Image 2

A bit of a subdued opening to this week’s trailer post because of the death of Isao Takahata at the age of 82. This is a sad moment because he was a true creative genius. Anyone familiar with his films and TV shows will know that, as well as founding Ghibli and supporting artists, he was a groundbreaking artist himself and pushed boundaries. Look at the difference in style and story from his directorial debut The Little Norse Prince to the heartbreaking Grave of the Fireflies and his last film, Princess Kaguya. My personal favourite is Only Yesterday which, despite my best resistance, got me crying floods of tears at the end. Pom Poko was another that broke through my defences but the most potent was Grave. I cannot watch that film again. It broke me the first time. I sincerely hope Takahata has found peace and his family find comfort in this trying time.

This week saw me post about the Japan Film Festival Ireland and Mari Okada visiting the UK.

What’s released this weekend?

Continue reading “Yamato California, Minatomachi, Chronicle of the After-School Wars, Liverleaf, The Bastard and the Beautiful World, Call Boy, Too Unbelievable of a Woman: Defendant Yoshie, father kanbojia he shiawase o todoketa goccahn shinpu no monogatari, The Werewolf Game: Inferno, I Will Never Forgive, Ninagawa Yukio Theatre 2 “Ninagawa MacBeth”, Gekijouban Servamp: Alice in the Garden Japanese Film Trailers”

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Mari Okada Visits the UK in April: Lighthouse Cinema in Dublin on Saturday 14th April and the Prince Charles Cinema in London on Monday 16th April

Okada Mari Image
Image from: https://woman.infoseek.co.jp/news/entertainment/dmenueiga_1103087

In big news for UK anime fans, veteran writer Mari Okada will attend two screenings of her film Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms in April. This is a film which she wrote and directed and it is getting two special screenings ahead of a cinema release in the UK and Ireland on June 27th. Indeed, it’s her debut as a director and Okada will do a live Q&A session at both screenings so go on down to the screenings to find out how it was made and, just as importantly, to make the very talented Mari Okada feel welcome in the UK!

Here are the details:

Continue reading “Mari Okada Visits the UK in April: Lighthouse Cinema in Dublin on Saturday 14th April and the Prince Charles Cinema in London on Monday 16th April”

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A Preview of the Japanese Film Festival Ireland 2018 – “The Sower” and “The Night is Short, Walk on Girl” headline a great programme

The Japanese Film Festival Ireland is back for its 10th year and the event kicks off on April 08th and lasts until the 21st as a diverse programme of films made in Japan over the last year and a half are screened. This list features some of the best films to have been given a release including two titles by Masaaki Yuasa, the hottest talent in anime right now, and also, The Sower, a finely controlled human drama that is both beautiful and haunting. It made me cry every time I watched it. I have watched it around five times! That shows you its power!

A selection of the films will be hosted at each of the venues stretching from Cork, Galway, Limerick, Tipperary, Dublin, Sligo, Waterford and finally to Dundalk over the next month so check out the website to see which venues have which films.

Here are the films programmed:

The Sower      

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

I had the pleasure of watching this as part of the Osaka Asian Film Festival where I also met its director, Yosuke Takeuchi. It’s a fine film, one of the best I have seen in recent years. Its genesis comes from the personal life of the director and also the life of Vincent van Gogh and how the artist lived a humble and naive existence to the full despite the treatment he faced from society. That story is reflected in not just one of the main characters, the titular “Sower”, but also the people around him. Through their story, a wider one about the treatment of outsiders occurs. This is a remarkable drama that I have seen five times and I am impressed by it which is why I am highlighting it as part of this festival.

Here’s my review for V-Cinema for The Sower.

Synopsis: Mitsuo 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 in reuniting with his brother and his nieces Chie and Itsuki. But a tragic accident soon disrupts the newly found happiness when the two girls are left in his care and Itsuki is killed. Though he had no direct involvement in the incident, Mitsuo is blamed and this causes him and the people around him to deal with the burden of guilt and the struggle for atonement.

Continue reading “A Preview of the Japanese Film Festival Ireland 2018 – “The Sower” and “The Night is Short, Walk on Girl” headline a great programme”

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Pumpkin Girl, honey, Psychic Agents, Neteru toki dake aishiteru., Deaf Person’s South America Report, Kalafina 10th Anniversary Film Yume ga Tsunagu Kagayaki no Harmony, ANIMA o ute!, Tokyo Outskearts Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, people!

I had a fantastic week visiting temples and shrines, museums, and restaurants with friends and, performing hanami with wonderful people. It was a fantastic experience that will stay with me. Now I’m back in the trenches writing reviews and transcribing interviews using my free time before I go back to my regular job next week. I posted two reviews this week: Girl Returned and CYCLE-CYCLE, both screened at the Osaka Asian Film Festival.

What’s released this weekend?

Continue reading “Pumpkin Girl, honey, Psychic Agents, Neteru toki dake aishiteru., Deaf Person’s South America Report, Kalafina 10th Anniversary Film Yume ga Tsunagu Kagayaki no Harmony, ANIMA o ute!, Tokyo Outskearts Japanese Film Trailers”

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Girl Returned 帰ってきた少女 Dir: Satoru Hirohara (2017) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018

Girl Returned

帰ってきた少女 Kaette kita shoujo

Running Time: 44 mins.

Release Date: 2018

Director: Satoru Hirohara

Writer: Satoru Hirohara (Screenplay),

Starring: Reina Kikuchi, Masahiro Ezaki, Toru Kizu, Sakiko Takao, Michie Kita,

Website

Girl Returned” is built around a nightmare scenario – a child has been kidnapped. 15-year-old Misaki Fujino (Reina Kikuchi) was snatched by an average-looking guy while jogging and held imprisoned in his apartment for two years. Following her rescue by the police, she is allowed back to her home but the experience has left her not knowing what to do. Finally free from her kidnapper, she is now trapped in the role of a victim. The media wait outside the house for a story, her parents are trapped inside with the fear she will disappear again, and Misaki… all she does is wait for the time to pass and the scandal to die down.

IF04_GirlReturned

Continue reading “Girl Returned 帰ってきた少女 Dir: Satoru Hirohara (2017) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018”

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CYCLE-CYCLE Dir: Junichi Kanai (2018) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018

CYCLE-CYCLE

Running Time: 18 mins.

Release Date: 2018

Director: Junichi Kanai

Writer: Junichi Kanai (Screenplay),

Starring: Jinto Yoshida, Haruki Yamazaki, Daichi Shiozaki

Website IMDB

Jinto Yoshida, Haruki Yamazaki, and Daichi Shiozaki are three members of the idol group M!LK and they are starring in a short film billed as a “fresh, light, absurd teen movie which sharply cuts into Japan social problems.” What audiences will get is a well-shot mildly amusing road-trip movie with only the slightest glance at a social problem. However, for fans of the group, this is the perfect film that highlights the foibles and behaviour of the people they adore.

The story starts with two high school boys, Junpei and Satoshi, who have started a bicycle trip around Japan on a tandem after failing their college entrance exams. Headstrong Junpei claims he is on this trip because he is determined to look at his life from a fresh perspective but Satoshi is more interested in looking at his social media profile and hoping for a bump in followers with his journey. Soon they argue and split up. Junpei keeps going on his own trip by bicycle and picks up a hitch-hiker named Mitsuru to ride with him.

IF02_cyclecycle

Continue reading “CYCLE-CYCLE Dir: Junichi Kanai (2018) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018”

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Eriko Pretended, Laughing Under the Clouds, Girl’s Play, The Final Parting, Saimon and Tada Takashi, Goku Tomo, From Taiwan with Love, From Taiwan with Love, Spit & Honey Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, people!

Eriko, Pretended Film Image

I’m just about ready to get back into normal service again after spending much of last week working and much of this week travelling. The sun has been shining, I had dinner with a really cool person I admire and I visited good places. I am happy.

I have more OAFF 2018 reviews stacked up, the only reason I didn’t post them this week was because I was rushing around doing things or relaxing and exploring places and, I must admit, I need to do rewrites on some. That period is almost over as I am about to resume my normal life but the festival process is starting with Kotatsu and I am working on new projects in my day-job.

What is released this weekend in Japan (we’re on time this week, people!!!)?

Continue reading “Eriko Pretended, Laughing Under the Clouds, Girl’s Play, The Final Parting, Saimon and Tada Takashi, Goku Tomo, From Taiwan with Love, From Taiwan with Love, Spit & Honey Japanese Film Trailers”

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Chihayafuru: Musubi, Dynamite Graffiti, Eiga Precure Super Stars!, Magic Town, Niwatori Star, Kamisama no wadachi check point of the life, Youth Discovery Film, Tomoyasu Murata Stop-Motion, Ai-chan: the Teen Detective from Yoshimoto Shinkigeki, across the border Cu-Bop Japanese Film Trailers

Happy mid-week, everyone!(?!?!?)

Here and Here Film Image

This post is late because I was doing a lot of press work at the Osaka Asian Film Festival and working late into the night on the final two days. I maintained by cool better than last year but a few mistakes slipped in because I tend to rush to complete work. Still, the team pulled through. There was that dull pressure that comes after exhaustion sets in on the final night but I found the experience gratifying. It’s almost all over now and I’m travelling. I’m currently staying with a cool friend for the night before moving on to a new location tomorrow. My reviews for films I have seen at the Osaka Asian Film Festival are starting to be published such as Here and Here and Nagisa on this blog and I’ve got interviews to transcribe and get checked before publishing. So, plenty of work to do!

I hope everyone is having fun.

What was released last weekend?

Continue reading “Chihayafuru: Musubi, Dynamite Graffiti, Eiga Precure Super Stars!, Magic Town, Niwatori Star, Kamisama no wadachi check point of the life, Youth Discovery Film, Tomoyasu Murata Stop-Motion, Ai-chan: the Teen Detective from Yoshimoto Shinkigeki, across the border Cu-Bop Japanese Film Trailers”

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Here and Here 憧れ Dir: Yoshimasa Jimbo (2017) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018

Here and Here 

憧れ Akogare

Running Time: 20 mins.

Release Date: 2018

Director: Yoshimasa Jimbo

Writer: Yoshimasa Jimbo (Screenplay),

Starring: Heo Rynn, Heo Min-kyung, Lee Yoon-sun, Lee Hae-soon,

Website IMDB

The South Korean city of Busan is most famous as a hotbed of cinema and politics and one of the many projects it hosts is a three-week film-making residency that allows directors to make a short film with a Korean cast and staff which will then be screened at the UNESCO sponsored Busan Inter-City Film Festival. Taking part in last year’s residency was Jimbo Yoshimasa whose high-quality work, “Here and Here” turns the camera on the city and its residents in a drama about a pregnant woman confronting her fears about giving birth.

Taking place over the course of one day, we follow Mina, a writer for B.Cent magazine. Despite being seven-months pregnant, she is roaming the city of Busan for an article about people’s first memories. She is collecting them through a series of interviews she records and plays back over the film. Old men and young girls, whoever catches her attention gets questioned and their answers provide something of a soundtrack. Behind her smiles, she is anxious about what giving birth feels like as is revealed through an underlying subtext of her fears that emerges during her interviews and phone conversations with someone from her personal life who is off-screen.

Continue reading “Here and Here 憧れ Dir: Yoshimasa Jimbo (2017) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018”

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NAGISA なぎさ Dir: Takeshi Kogahara (2017) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018

NAGISA

なぎさ Nagisa

Running Time: 18 mins.

Release Date: June 17th, 2017

Director: Takeshi Kogahara

Writer: Takeshi Kogahara (Screenplay),

Starring: Kenshin Endo, Himeka Asami, Shu Takaura, Namiko Ikeda, Ruri Ikeda, Minami Muroi,

IMDB
Cinematic explorations of first love are seemingly a dime a dozen but each can be special if given a twist and Nagisa” is special. This is a tale of innocent love at the height of summer as a schoolboy tries to get closer to the titular Nagisa and what makes it special is that Takeshi Kogahara uses various cinematic techniques to show how a human connection and a moment in time can imprint itself in a person’s memory and heart and influence a life. 

It all starts on the edge of the school pool, Fuminao, a sensitive and quiet boy, is sat next to his classmate Nagisa, a playful and teasing girl he has admired from afar.

Continue reading “NAGISA なぎさ Dir: Takeshi Kogahara (2017) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018”

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Sennan Asbestos Disaster, Eiga Shimajirō: Mahō no Shima no Daibōken, Karanukan, Kids on the Slope, Sakamichi no Apollon, Sakura Guardian of the North, Last Winter We Parted, Gekijôban Urutoraman Jîdo Tsunagu ze! Negai!! Japanese Film Trailers

Happy Weekend, People!

Before We Vanish Film Image

By the time you read this, things are already underway at the 2018 run of the Osaka Asian Film Festival where there are over 50 films from across the world getting screened around the city. I hope to bring you reviews of as many of these films as possible. What will happen is that they will get posted at V-Cinema and then I’ll post them here as they go up. There are some great titles that are sure to get screened around the world so there’s plenty to look forward to.

This week, I posted a review for “Before We Vanish” (2017) which was published on V-Cinema just over a month ago. I also posted a review of the Junichi Kanai film “Transferring” (2012).

What is released in Japan this weekend?

Continue reading “Sennan Asbestos Disaster, Eiga Shimajirō: Mahō no Shima no Daibōken, Karanukan, Kids on the Slope, Sakamichi no Apollon, Sakura Guardian of the North, Last Winter We Parted, Gekijôban Urutoraman Jîdo Tsunagu ze! Negai!! Japanese Film Trailers”

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Transferring 転校生  Dir: Junichi Kanai (2012)

Transferring

校生  「Tenkousei」    

Running Time: 20 mins.

Release Date: 2012

Director: Junichi Kanai

Writer: Junichi Kanai (Screenplay),

Starring: Aoi Morikawa, Riko Masuda, Tomoki Fujiwara,

IMDB

Junichi Kanai’s short film, “Transferring” was the winner of the Sonje Award at the 2012 Pusan International Film Festival and Best Picture at the Skip City International D-Cinema Festival 2013. This is a touching and amusing comedy about two outsiders making a connection.

Continue reading “Transferring 転校生  Dir: Junichi Kanai (2012)”

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Before We Vanish 散歩する侵略者 Dir:  Kiyoshi Kurosawa (2017)

Before We Vanish (English Title) / Strolling Invader (Literal Title)  Before We Vanish Film Poster

 散歩する侵略者 Sanpo suru Shinryakusha

Running Time: 129 mins.

Release Date: September 09th , 2017

Director:  Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Writer: Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Screenplay), Tomohiro Maekawa (Original Stageplay),

Starring: Ryuhei Matsuda, Masami Nagasawa, Mahiro Takasugi, Yuri Tsunematsu, Hiroki Hasegawa,

Website IMDB

Kiyoshi Kurosawa is often pigeon-holed as a horror director with ghosts lurking in the darkness but his latest title, Before We Vanish is his first alien invasion movie and features the threat in broad daylight. Based on a stageplay by Tomohiro Maekawa which was first performed in 2005, this film appeared at last year’s Cannes Film Festival and has had a dorama spin-off. A glib comparison might be Invasion of the Body Snatchers, as aliens travel to Earth and take human hosts but in this chat-pocalypse the tension is dialled down for a surprisingly effective examination of what it means to be human with surprising results that may or may not stop the end of humanity.

Somewhere in Shizuoka, freelance designer Narumi (Masami Nagasawa) and her salaryman husband Shinji Kase (Ryuhei Matsuda) are having problems of the marital sort. He is suspected of cheating and has recently disappeared so when Narumi is summoned to a hospital to pick him up she is furious. However, the man facing her in the doctor’s office seems like a totally different person, a blank slate with vague memories of his life and a problem knowing how to navigate social situations and even use his body properly. Things learned over time have been shorn away from him including the basic meaning behind various ideas such as possession, family, and love. He wants to learn these things and so he asks Narumi to be his guide. When she isn’t around, he likes to go for a walk and talk to random people and get their understanding of a situation or word. What happens next reveals his alien nature as he engages in a game of word association. He gently questions people until he actually sees the ideas visually forming in their head and, once that happens, he touches the person’s forehead and plucks the idea away, learning a new concept while erasing it from the speaker. Sinec he’s an alien, it is how he learns what makes humans work.

Before We Vanish Film Image

After so many relationship problems, Narumi is surprised by her kinder and gentler man who tries to understand her more. What she doesn’t know is that she has the easier alien to deal with.

Continue reading “Before We Vanish 散歩する侵略者 Dir:  Kiyoshi Kurosawa (2017)”

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Ice Cream and the Sound of Raindrops, Ikiru Machi, Bungo Stray Dogs: Dead Apple, Eiga Doraemon Nobita no Takarajima, Kamen Rider EX-AID: Another Ending Part III – Kamen Rider Genm vs. Lazer, Omotenashi, Anata wa watashijanai, Principal – Koi Suru Watashi wa Heroine Desu Ka?, Anata wa watashijanai, Life Goes On, Ghost Squad, Basuketto to Boku!, Ramen Kuitee, Living the Game Japanese Film Trailers

Happy Weekend, People!

IF14_WhoKnowsAboutMyLife

This is my first trailer post from Japan. The last time I was in the country, I didn’t have the time or energy to do them because of constant activity but good experiences and good people motivated me to get back into the game and it has been fun putting this one together. After this is posted, I will head out to explore some cities. And write. I made the mistake of catching a train at rush hour last night and got stuck in a corner, desperately writing review notes with my pen and pad while I travelled back to my room.

I have had a busy week since getting here but spent the weekend prepping reviews for the upcoming Osaka Asian Film Festival. I posted an article about the Japanese films that will be playing and I’m looking forward to seeing what is on offer. My second post was a review of “Love and Other Cults” (2017) which is released on DVD/Blu-ray in the UK on March 26th by Third Window Films.

What is released this weekend in Japan?

Continue reading “Ice Cream and the Sound of Raindrops, Ikiru Machi, Bungo Stray Dogs: Dead Apple, Eiga Doraemon Nobita no Takarajima, Kamen Rider EX-AID: Another Ending Part III – Kamen Rider Genm vs. Lazer, Omotenashi, Anata wa watashijanai, Principal – Koi Suru Watashi wa Heroine Desu Ka?, Anata wa watashijanai, Life Goes On, Ghost Squad, Basuketto to Boku!, Ramen Kuitee, Living the Game Japanese Film Trailers”

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Love and Other Cults 獣道 Dir:  Eiji Uchida (2017)

Love and Other Cults   Love and Other Cults Film Poster

獣道 「Kemonomichi

Running Time: 95 mins

Release Date: March 26th, 2018

Director:  Eiji Uchida

Writer: Eiji Uchida (Screenplay),

Starring: Sairi Ito, Kenta Suga, Kaito Yoshimura, Hidenobu Abera, Antony, Denden, Hanae Kan, Leona Hirota, Tomoko Hayakawa,

Website IMDB

Not every romance is clean and tidy but the latest film from Eiji Uchida, director of Greatful Dead (2014) and Lowlife Love (2016) is the messiest and grimiest one you will see without Takashi Miike levels of gore and craziness involved. This story of star-crossed lovers is, however, everyday crazy as we see the lowest of Japanese society try and claw their way out of small town criminality and exploitation.

The film’s central couple are Ai (Sairi Itoh) and Ryota (Kenta Suga). The two meet in school and sparks start flying almost immediately but their passion is of the confrontational kind where arguments flare up. Unable to recognise love or express it, they part ways and meet up again at various points in their lives. The reason for their fractious relationship is that neither has had a stable home. We get Ai’s story for the most part and glimpses of Ryota’s while he also offers narration over the entire film which acts like a Greek chorus summing up what has gone wrong for the characters. Indeed, Ai’s story is one of constant tragedy and a search for a family.

Continue reading “Love and Other Cults 獣道 Dir:  Eiji Uchida (2017)”

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Japanese Films at the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018

The team behind the Osaka Asian Film Festival has released the entire programme of films that will play at this year’s edition and it’s a mighty cinematic feast spread across a Competition and programmes dedicated to Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Philippines, and other territories from elsewhere across Asia as well as Special Screenings, an Indie Forum, and films supported by the Housen Foundation.  

These films cover a huge range of stories from dramas involving people finding karate giving meaning to their lives, to a melancholy animated title about dogs to Taiwan. There are lots of fantastic Japanese short films and box-office hits and an appearance from Hong Kong’s king of comedy, Chapman To. He is the recipient of the Osaka Asia Star Award and will be at the festival to talk about his career. A new talent on the American indie-scene, Kogonoda, will get his film screened at the festival and there are up-and-coming female directors from Asia. More pertinently, there is a whole slew of fantastic Japanese indie films that have some of the best drama and settings. Most if not all of these films have English subs which makes this festival the best place in Japan to see films.

The entire programme and all details, times, and dates are online at the festival’s site and tickets are already on sale. Here is a preview covering the Japanese films:

Continue reading “Japanese Films at the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018”

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Let’s Decorate the Promised Flowers in the Farewell Morning, Does the Flower Bloom, Legend of the Demon Cat, Leon, Shukatsu 2,   Infini-T Force: Gatchaman Saraba Tomo yo,  Going the Distance, Devil,   Ikidzuka,    Ishin reppuu tengu hangan, Witch Which, Saraba Daiyamondo, Tokyo Capsule, Monchan, Bakemono to Onna, Curry and Rice, Tamayura, Yakyuu buin engeki no butai ni tatsu!, Shimanto inochi no shimai, Negai to yuragi Japanese Film Trailers 

Happy weekend, people!

I am still pushed for time and it’s going to be a regular thing for a while because I am going to embark on some travels. That means the trailer posts are going to suffer a lack of information and some bad translations. My apologies. I will fix these at a later date. I do go back through old festival posts and replace trailers that have disappeared/update things so I will try and get around to doing it to these trailer posts.

This week, I have posted about “Destruction Babies” (2016) and the tragic passing of the great actor, Ren Osugi.

What is released this weekend?

Continue reading “Let’s Decorate the Promised Flowers in the Farewell Morning, Does the Flower Bloom, Legend of the Demon Cat, Leon, Shukatsu 2,   Infini-T Force: Gatchaman Saraba Tomo yo,  Going the Distance, Devil,   Ikidzuka,    Ishin reppuu tengu hangan, Witch Which, Saraba Daiyamondo, Tokyo Capsule, Monchan, Bakemono to Onna, Curry and Rice, Tamayura, Yakyuu buin engeki no butai ni tatsu!, Shimanto inochi no shimai, Negai to yuragi Japanese Film Trailers “

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Ren Osugi (September 27, 1951 – February 21, 2018)

Veteran actor Ren Osugi passed away earlier today from heart failure. He was only 66. It’s not often that I write about someone’s passing but I can’t let Osugi’s go by without a few words.

I’ve grown up watching Japanese films and one person in particular kept cropping up and that was Ren Osugi. He has worked on projects directed by Takeshi Kitano, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, SABU, Shinya Tsukamoto, Sion Sono, Takashi Miike, and other major directors my generation have been influenced by. Usually it was a small part such as a detective in some horror movie or a gangster in a Kitano film but he had such skill and versatility as an actor that he appeared in many more films and doramas and he could hold a film down and bring depth to his characters, no matter what their place in the plot was.

Continue reading “Ren Osugi (September 27, 1951 – February 21, 2018)”

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Destruction Babies ディストラクション・ベイビーズ Dir: Tetsuya Mariko (2016)

Destruction Babies   

destruction-babies-film-poster
destruction-babies-film-poster

ディストラクション・ベイビーズ 「Deisutorakushon Beibi-zu

Running Time: 108 mins.

Director:  Tetsuya Mariko

Writer: Tetsuya Mariko, Kohei Kiyasu (Screenplay),

Starring: Yuya Yagira, Masaki Suda, Nana Komatsu, Nijiro Murakami, Sosuke Ikematsu, Denden,

Website IMDB

Writer-director Tetsuya Mariko’s fourth feature film is a realistic take on the idea of anger begetting more anger with nothing to break the cycle as a teen named Taira terrifies Shikoku with a wave of violence that draws a variety of innocents and other outsiders into a twisted game.

Continue reading “Destruction Babies ディストラクション・ベイビーズ Dir: Tetsuya Mariko (2016)”

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Our Blue Moment, River’s Edge, Cherry Boys, Sunny / 32, Kamen Rider Para-DX with Poppy, Kurueru sekai no tame no rekuiemu, Gure- no ko panda chiisana gure-to no seicho- nikki, Clairvoyance (Cicada), Raika, Raizu Dharuriser – The Movie, 9, N.Y. Maxman, Panda kopanda, Panda kopanda Rainy Day Circus Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, people!

I hope you are all well. I’m still spending a lot of my free time writing about lots of different things but I had more time to do the trailer post this week which is ironic because last weekend had the better batch of films that I wanted to pay more attention to. This weekend does have some appealing titles like Sunny 32 and that’s mostly because of the cast. I played catch-up by posting about the Japanese Films at the Glasgow Film Festival and posting a review for the wonderful ensemble comedy Room for Let. Also released was a lot of information for this year’s Osaka Asian Film Festival and the line-up of films is pretty fine!

What is released this weekend?

Continue reading “Our Blue Moment, River’s Edge, Cherry Boys, Sunny / 32, Kamen Rider Para-DX with Poppy, Kurueru sekai no tame no rekuiemu, Gure- no ko panda chiisana gure-to no seicho- nikki, Clairvoyance (Cicada), Raika, Raizu Dharuriser – The Movie, 9, N.Y. Maxman, Panda kopanda, Panda kopanda Rainy Day Circus Japanese Film Trailers”

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Room For Let    貸間あり Dir: Yuzo Kawashima (1959)

Room For Let   貸間あり Film Poster

貸間あり Kashima Ari

Running Time: 112 mins.

Release Date: June 02nd, 1959

Director: Yuzo Kawashima

Writer: Giichi Fujimoto, Yuzo Kawashima (Screenplay), Masuji Ibuse (Original Novel),

Starring: Frankie Sakai, Nobuko Otowa, Ikio Sawamura, Etsuko Ichihara, Takeshi Kato, Chikage Awashima, Chieko Naniwa, Shoichi Ozawa,

IMDB

This comedy gem was programmed by Britain’s Japan Foundation for their 2018 Touring Film Programme to celebrate the centenary of Yuzo Kawashima (1918 – 1963), a master Yuzo Kawashimaof satire who was little-known outside of Japan until around the 2010s when festivals like Berlin started programming restored prints of his films. The Japan Society in New York also recently screened a number of his films so his profile is rising. Closer to the UK it is hard to get many of his titles but we have one film at least, “Bakumatsu Taiyoden” (1957), which was released via Eureka’s Masters of Cinema label and it proved to be a funny ensemble comedy set during the Bakumatsu period when the shogunate was coming to an end. This historical setting is, according to experts, an outlier for what Kawashima was known for which was telling tales tragedy and comedy in the lives of ordinary people in post-war Japan, a nation in flux as people returned from colonies and front-lines, emerged from rubble-strewn streets and charred houses, to find a more liberal set of ideas taking root in the home islands with traditional social structures being modernised, cities being rebuilt, and everybody on the make. Indeed, it seems Room For Let is more representative of his output and some suggest it even goes as far as to act as a link between the formalised Golden Age of cinema and the New Wave as the chaotic sense of change and oddball personalities are captured on screen with class and plenty of ribald humour. Seeing it as part of the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2018 with a friend was great but having the privilege of seeing a rare 35mm print was fantastic as we were taken back in time to 1950s Osaka!

Continue reading “Room For Let    貸間あり Dir: Yuzo Kawashima (1959)”

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Japanese Films at the Glasgow International Film Festival 2018

The Glasgow Film Festival (February 21st – March 04th) will launch at the end of this month and it kicks off with Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs, a stop-motion animation set in a dystopian Japan and featuring the voices of lots of American actors. There’s also the documentary Haiku on a Plum Tree a documentary where the director tracks down what happened to her grandparent’s who were living in Japan during World War 2 and were interned in a prisoner of war camp when they refused to pledge allegiance to Mussolini. There plenty of films from Japan and it’s a pretty diverse slate in terms of subject-matter and medium.

Here is what is on offer:

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

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Red Comet Club, Fumiko’s Feet, Kenen, Sea Opening, Spiritual Bolsheviki, Tonight, At The Movies / Tonight, At Romance Theatre, ON THE ROAD 2015-2016 Tabisuru Songu Raita- “Journey of a Songwriter”, Kanazawa Shutter Girl, Ero bon! Oyaji to musuko no seishun nikki, Macross Δ Movie: Gekijou no Walküre, Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion – The Rebellion Path, Starship Troopers: Traitor of Mars, Gekijouban Tokimeki Restaurant: Miracle 6 Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend!

I hope everyone is well! This is going to be a super fast post light on details because I have been pushed for time this weekend! I completed editing a game’s story and have been busy at work on another project. I posted about the Berlin Film Festival, the theatrical and home release of Love and Other Cults and the closing film of this year’s Osaka Asian Film Festival.

What’s released this weekend?

Continue reading “Red Comet Club, Fumiko’s Feet, Kenen, Sea Opening, Spiritual Bolsheviki, Tonight, At The Movies / Tonight, At Romance Theatre, ON THE ROAD 2015-2016 Tabisuru Songu Raita- “Journey of a Songwriter”, Kanazawa Shutter Girl, Ero bon! Oyaji to musuko no seishun nikki, Macross Δ Movie: Gekijou no Walküre, Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion – The Rebellion Path, Starship Troopers: Traitor of Mars, Gekijouban Tokimeki Restaurant: Miracle 6 Japanese Film Trailers”

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Akihiro Toda’s “THE NAME (名前)” to Close Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018

The team behind the Osaka Asian Film Festival has given a glimpse of the entire programme of films that will play at this year’s edition and full details of the film which will close this year’s festival, the Word Premiere of Akihiro Toda’s “THE NAME (名前)” which will play at the ABC Hall on Sunday, March 18th.

Here are details on the film:

The Name    The Name Film Poster

名前 Namae

Running Time: 114 mins.

Release Date: 2018

Director: Akihiro Toda

Writer: Yusuke Moriguchi (Screenplay), Shusuke Michio (Original Story)

Starring: Kanji Tsuda, Ren Komai, Miho Kanazawa, Mako Komaki, Akari Kakimoto, Noriko Kijima, Yohta Kawase, Mayuko Nishiyama, Mariko Tsutsui,

IMDB

The Name Film Image

Synopsis: Moriya city in Ibaraki is a quiet place with residents who lead simple lives. Everyone, apart from a lonely angst-ridden bachelor named Masao Nakamura. Since losing his business and becoming penniless, he has adopted multiple identities to get by: Yoshikawa, a big businessman, Suzuki, the happy family man, Okubo, the doting husband who quit Tokyo to look after a sick wife. When his ruse about the sick wife is about to be exposed as a lie at work, a schoolgirl named Emiko Hayama steps in from out of nowhere and pretends to be his daughter.

Emiko is another person who loves to lie. Instead of facing a lonely home run by a single-mother, the girl hangs out with Masao and the pair strike up a friendship. It fills a gap in their lives but their lies hinder them from overcoming inner-turmoil. At some point a fake dad and a fake daughter will have to face their suffering in order to move on. Continue reading “Akihiro Toda’s “THE NAME (名前)” to Close Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018”

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Japanese Films at the Berlin International Film Festival 2018

The 68th Berlin International Film Festival, running from February 15th to the 25th, has a pretty good line-up of films but I’m super interested in the Japanese contingent. Thanks to the great media communication, the last few weeks have been building up lots of anticipation. I’ve been covering this festival for a while now and this year is as strong as many others.

Here are the Japanese films that have been programmed, just click on the titles to be taken to the festival listing.

Berlinale 2018 Logo

The Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art has programmed the Forum as part of the Berlinale, selecting 44 films, 35 of which world premieres. The International Forum of New CinemaForum is a bit like the wild west in the sense that the filmmakers selected come from different backgrounds and practice different forms of cinema from drama to avant garde, experimental works closer to art pieces to to observational documentaries, with subjects like political reportage and drama being given equal importance. There are a huge variety of films and topics few formal limitations when it comes to the selection of films, resulting in even greater freedom.

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

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“Love and Other Cults” Plays at Derby QUAD and Deptford Cinemas before release on dual-format Blu-ray/DVD in the UK

Love and Other Cults is one of the latest in films produced Third Window Films and it is about to hit cinemas and homes in the UK very soon. This is the latest film from Eiji Uchida, director of Greatful Dead (2014) and Lowlife Love (2016). It was produced by Adam Torel of Third Window Films, a person who did a lot to build up the profile of Japanese films in the UK and he has made another cracking title with this twisted romantic saga set in small town Japan and featuring a set of broken characters. 

The film is slightly less darker than Eiji Uchida’s earlier works due to its sprightly rhythm and quirky humour but it still gets dark and female characters don’t have a fun time – this was shot under police supervision and the cast features real teen delinquents and the story deals with child neglect, cults, crime and the AV industry – but the never say die attitude of Sairi Itoh is great as she gives a loveable performance as a lost lamb looking for love in all the wrong places. Uchida builds on his earlier work with confidence and there is plenty here to charm audiences.

It will play at the Deptford Cinema on February 13th

It will then be screened at the Derby Quad on March 16 and there will also be a Q&A with director Eiji Uchida!!!

The film will then be released on dual-format Blu-ray/DVD on March 26th. Here’s a trailer:

Continue reading ““Love and Other Cults” Plays at Derby QUAD and Deptford Cinemas before release on dual-format Blu-ray/DVD in the UK”

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Miko Girl, The Scythian Lamb, The Wolves of the East, Blank 13, Namae no nai onnatachi usotsuki onna, The Idol Cannon Ball Run 2017 Movie, Impossibility Defense, Silent Revolution, Odayakana kakumei, Kamen Rider EX-AID: Another Ending Part 1 – Kamen Rider Brave & Kamen Rider Snipe Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, people!

Joy of Man's Desiring Film Image 2

I’m currently in London and about to watch some films at the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme run at the ICA with a friend. I’m looking forward to seeing some great titles! I have been reviewing films related to the tour over the last two weeks and this week saw me publish the reviews for the exciting chambara film Sword of the Stranger (2007) and the exquisitely emotionally powerful Joy of Man’s Desiring (2014) and a couple of news pieces on the Japan Foundation’s programme on various sites like Anime UK News / V-Cinema including one about guests here and the opening film for the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018 plus a review of Before We Vanish (2017) which gets a theatrical run in the US.

What is getting screened this weekend?

Continue reading “Miko Girl, The Scythian Lamb, The Wolves of the East, Blank 13, Namae no nai onnatachi usotsuki onna, The Idol Cannon Ball Run 2017 Movie, Impossibility Defense, Silent Revolution, Odayakana kakumei, Kamen Rider EX-AID: Another Ending Part 1 – Kamen Rider Brave & Kamen Rider Snipe Japanese Film Trailers”

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“Anarchist from Colony” to Open Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018

The Osaka Asian Film Festival is back for its 13th year and a wide variety of films from across Asia will be shown in a programme that includes a Competition, Special Screenings, Special Programs, an Indie Forum and more.

The festival opens on Friday March 9th at Hankyu Umeda Hall with the Japanese premiere of the Korean film “Anarchist from Colony”, directed by Lee Joon-ik (“The Throne” and “Dongju: The Portrait of a Poet”) and stars Lee Je-hoon from “Architecture 101” and “Phantom Detective”, and the up-and-coming actress Choi Hee-seo who won many awards for her performance in this title.

Continue reading ““Anarchist from Colony” to Open Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018”

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Joy of Man’s Desiring 人の望みの喜びよ  Dir: Masakazu Sugita (2014)

Joy of Man’s Desiring   Joy of Man's Desiring Film Poster

人の望みの喜びよ  Hitono Nozomino Yorokobiyo

Running Time: 85 mins.

Director: Masakazu Sugita

Writer: Masakazu Sugita (Screenplay),

Starring: Ayane Omori, Riku Ohishi, Naoko Yoshimoto, Koichiro Nishi

Website    IMDB

Following the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, Director Masakazu Sugita put into production a film dedicated to the orphans left behind after natural disasters. It was something he had long planned since he himself was a survivor of the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake and was only 14 years old at the time. The result is Joy of Man’s Desiring, a gentle yet deeply powerful human drama which received Special Mention at the 64th Berlin International Film Festival, as well as being nominated for the Best First Feature Award in 2014.

The story revolves around two siblings, twelve-year-old Haruna (Ayane Omori) and her brother, five-year-old Shota (Riku Ohishi). When an earthquake strikes their town, their house collapses and buries their family alive. Haruna was able to escape but was unable to save her parents while Shota survived by some miracle.

Joy of Man's Desiring Film Image

Continue reading “Joy of Man’s Desiring 人の望みの喜びよ  Dir: Masakazu Sugita (2014)”

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Sword of the Stranger ストレンヂア -無皇刃譚- Dir: Masahiro Ando (2007)

Sword of the Stranger    Sword of the Stranger Film Poster

ストレンヂア -無皇刃譚- Mukou Hadan

Running Time: 82 mins.

Release Date: September 29th, 2007

Director:  Masahiro Ando

Writer: Fumihiko Takayama (Screenplay),

Starring: Tomoya Nagase (Nanashi), Yuri Chinen (Kotarou), Atsushi Ii (Bailuan), Kouichi Yamadera (Luolan Rarou), Junko Minagawa (Mu-You),

Animation Production: STUDIO BONES

Website MAL ANN

Sword of the Stranger is an incredible action spectacle built around a good old fashioned chambara story brought to life with a flair and dedication to the details of the era and the characters in it through an incredible anime aesthetic that accentuates the physical world, a place of movement, passion, lies, loyalty, and action!

The story kicks off in Sengoku era Japan with intrigue and excitement as the first thing we see is a temple set ablaze and a boy named Kotaro (Yuri Chinen) and his loyal dog Tobimaru fleeing the scene. He is being pursued by the royal army of China’s Ming Dynasty. They have been hunting him for over a year and the net is closing as the boy and his dog run through the bleak wintry countryside and along the coast of the small state of Akaike. When Tobimaru is injured in an ambush, Kotaro reluctantly recruits a mysterious, nameless samurai as his bodyguard with the promise of payment. However, “No-name” (Tomoya Nagase) has a guilty past and his own inner demons to battle, all of which comes out in the open in an epic chase narrative. 

Continue reading “Sword of the Stranger ストレンヂア -無皇刃譚- Dir: Masahiro Ando (2007)”

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Midnight Bus, Between Men and the Gods, Rokuroku: The Promise of the Witch, Ramen Heads, The Swan is Laughing, Inabe, Sato-kun, Saraba Seijaku, Hoshi Meguri no Machi, CINEMA FIGHTERS, The Crimes That Bind, Kaze no Iro, Chotto Mate Yakyubu!, Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2202: Ai no Senshi-tachi “Tenmei-hen” (Karma Chapter), The Testament of Sister New Devil Departures, Ryuichi Sakamoto PERFORMANCE IN NEWYORK: async, Mitsuya seizaemon zanjitsu roku kanketsu-hen Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend!

The Tokyo Night Sky is Always the Densest Shade of Blue Sosuke Ikematsu and Friends

I hope everyone is doing fine.

I managed to watch a couple of films but have spent most of my free time editing documents. Nevertheless, I’m happy to be doing such a thing and I hope to complete it today.

On Monday I went to the cinema to see Three Billboards outside Ebbing Missouri. It was a really powerful black comedy about breaking the cycle of violence. It has a fantastic script and performances given by the cast who are all perfect as characters who endure tragicomic and complex lives but, most importantly, they keep going and never give up. The ironic and violent situations veer between scary and amusing and there’s that cracking dialogue in the early part of the film before it segues into something gently philosophical as characters contemplate how they can move on from bad events. The film treats them tenderly, thankfully. Great performances from all. McDormand and Rockwell for the Oscar wins!

Three Billboards outside Ebbing Missouri Film Image

I really want to watch A Silent Voice (2017) again. I last saw it at Kotatsu but often think about it. It has been a pretty busy week for me. I posted a review for Memoirs of a Murderer (2017) and The Dark Maidens (2017).

I’m reconsidering my top ten films of 2017 a lot because I want to move a few films around. Blade Runner 2049 will remain at the top but The Tokyo Night Sky is Always the Densest Shade of Blue is pure wonder and I think it should be joint number one.

This post has a lot of films and the highlights are the shorts and Rokuroku.

So, what’s released this weekend?

Continue reading “Midnight Bus, Between Men and the Gods, Rokuroku: The Promise of the Witch, Ramen Heads, The Swan is Laughing, Inabe, Sato-kun, Saraba Seijaku, Hoshi Meguri no Machi, CINEMA FIGHTERS, The Crimes That Bind, Kaze no Iro, Chotto Mate Yakyubu!, Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2202: Ai no Senshi-tachi “Tenmei-hen” (Karma Chapter), The Testament of Sister New Devil Departures, Ryuichi Sakamoto PERFORMANCE IN NEWYORK: async, Mitsuya seizaemon zanjitsu roku kanketsu-hen Japanese Film Trailers”

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The Dark Maidens 暗黒女子 Dir: Saiji Yakumo (2017)

The Dark Maidens    The Dark Maidens Film Poster

暗黒女子 Ankoku Joshi

Running Time: 105 mins.

Release Date: April 01st, 2017

Director: Saiji Yakumo

Writer: Mari Okada (Screenplay), Rikako Akiyoshi (Original Novel),

Starring: Fumika Shimizu, Marie Iitoyo, Yudai Chiba, Yuna Taira, Nana Seino, Tina Tamashiro, Riria Kojima.

Website IMDB

You can never truly know another person. This well-worn adage applies really well to this amusing adaptation of Rikako Akiyoshi’s novel where the pristine surface presented by places and people hide the ugliest of human behaviour.

Continue reading “The Dark Maidens 暗黒女子 Dir: Saiji Yakumo (2017)”

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Memoirs of a Murderer 22年目の告白―私が殺人犯です― Dir: Yu Irie (2017)

Memoirs of a Murderer  

22年目の告白―私が殺人犯です― 「22-nenme no kokuhaku: Watashi ga satsujinhan desu」   Memoirs of a Murderer Film Poster

Running Time: 117 mins

Director:  Yu Irie

Writer: Yu Irie, Kenya Hirata (Screenplay), Byung-gil Jung (Original Film)

Starring: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Hideaki Ito, Koichi Iwaki, Kaho, Mitsuru Hirata, Anna Ishibashi, Shuhei Nomura, Toru Nakamura,

Website IMDB

Memoirs of a Murderer is an exciting thriller based on the Korean movie Confession of Murder (2012) and made with the backing of Warner Bros. This one comes packed with stars like Tatusya Fujiwara (Battle Royale, Parade), Hideaki Ito (Princess Blade), Kaho (Our Little Sister), and more, all of whom take on this is a visually engaging film with a plot that will suck you in. I must admit not having watched the Korean original but perhaps this helped me to enjoy the silly spectacle.

Everything starts in 1995 and a serial killer is on the loose in Tokyo at the same time that the Great Hanshin Earthquake strikes Kobe. The killer’s M.O. is to strangle his victims and have a witness, preferably someone related to the victim, close at hand to see his awful work and powerless to do anything about it, then walk away to tell the tale.

Continue reading “Memoirs of a Murderer 22年目の告白―私が殺人犯です― Dir: Yu Irie (2017)”

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BAMY, The Lies She Loved, Brand New Legend of Stardust Brothers, Hoshikuzu kyodai no aratana densetsu, Pinkerton ni aini iku, The Memory of the Seasons (Tentative), Kisei Shinryaku PARASITE WAR, Yamikin gurentai, Mawari Kagura, Mitsuya seizaemon zanjitsu roku, Lady Ninja: A Blue Shadow, Saki Achiga-hen episode of side-A, Full Metal Panic! Into the Blue Japanese Film Trailers    

Happy weekend, people!

Yohei Suzuki Yeah

I hope everyone is doing well!

It was a quiet week for me although I did learn a boatload of Kanji and built my confidence in speaking Japanese up by talking a lot to myself during work throughout the week and then one friend yesterday. I’ll be meeting her again today and another one tomorrow to speak more. I published a review for Gukoroku – Traces of Sin and my annual look at the Japanese films at this year’s Rotterdam International Film Festival. I also updated my Rotterdam and Berlin festival posts by replacing trailers that had been taken down.

What is released this weekend in Japan?

Continue reading “BAMY, The Lies She Loved, Brand New Legend of Stardust Brothers, Hoshikuzu kyodai no aratana densetsu, Pinkerton ni aini iku, The Memory of the Seasons (Tentative), Kisei Shinryaku PARASITE WAR, Yamikin gurentai, Mawari Kagura, Mitsuya seizaemon zanjitsu roku, Lady Ninja: A Blue Shadow, Saki Achiga-hen episode of side-A, Full Metal Panic! Into the Blue Japanese Film Trailers    “

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Japanese Films at the International Film Festival Rotterdam 2018

The International Film Festival Rotterdam 2018 runs from  January 24th to February 04th and it includes a massive amount of titles which all look really special. Some are so new, there’s little information. Without further ado, here are the titles!

Yeah Yohei Suzuki

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

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Gukoroku – Traces of Sin 愚行録 Dir: Kei Ishikawa (2017)

Gukoroku – Traces of Sin   Gukoroku Film Poster

愚行録  Gukoroku」    

Running Time: 120 mins.

Director: Kei Ishikawa

Writer: Kosuke Mukai (Screenplay), Tokuro Nukui (Original Novel),

Starring: Satoshi Tsumabuki, Hikari Mitsushima, Keisuke Koide, Asami Usuda, Yui Ichikawa,

Website IMDB

A brutal crime is committed in Tokyo where a picture-perfect family is knifed to death by an unknown assailant. With the killer having disappeared, questions are left unanswered but the central protagonist of this film aims to answer them. Kei Ishikawa’s tightly controlled directorial debut ostensibly looks like a murder mystery similar to Rage (2016) where an ensemble cast lead the audience into the conclusion of a terrible atrocity but this is a mystery where it is less about the how and more about the why the perpetrator committed the crime. Based on a novel by Tokuro Nukui and adapted by veteran scriptwriter Kosuke Mukai, this is a disturbing film gives us a chilling portrait of people driven to murder by issues of class and background in a society where hierarchy is everything. In this tale, lies and deceit are inherent in everyone who bears traces of sin.

Continue reading “Gukoroku – Traces of Sin 愚行録 Dir: Kei Ishikawa (2017)”

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Ito-kun A to E, Evil and the Mask, Our House, Watashitachi no Ie, Hopeiro no Yuutsu, Left Fly, Legend of the Stardust Brothers, Brand New Legend of Stardust Brothers, Hoshikuzu kyodai no aratana densetsu, Mazinger Z Infinity, Full Metal Panic! One Night Stand, Shingeki no Kyojin Movie 3: Kakusei no Houkou, Cinema Kabuki Kyouganoko Musume Gonin Doujouji / The Dancing Girl at the Dojoji Temple, Cinema Kabuki Ninin Wankyu Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend!

Kako My Sullen Past Film Image Kyoko Koizumi Fumi Nikaido

I hope everyone is well!

Work has been okay, writing has been better, movie viewing has been fantastic. I posted a review for the wonderful drama, Kako: My Sullen Past, posted my top ten films from last year and watched a whole lot of Japanese movies, usually before going to work. Various things are being put into place this week as I book tickets for the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2018 event at the ICA and something else.

What’s released this weekend in Japan?

Continue reading “Ito-kun A to E, Evil and the Mask, Our House, Watashitachi no Ie, Hopeiro no Yuutsu, Left Fly, Legend of the Stardust Brothers, Brand New Legend of Stardust Brothers, Hoshikuzu kyodai no aratana densetsu, Mazinger Z Infinity, Full Metal Panic! One Night Stand, Shingeki no Kyojin Movie 3: Kakusei no Houkou, Cinema Kabuki Kyouganoko Musume Gonin Doujouji / The Dancing Girl at the Dojoji Temple, Cinema Kabuki Ninin Wankyu Japanese Film Trailers”

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Kako: My Sullen Past ふきげんな過去 Dir: Shiro Maeda (2016)

Kako: My Sullen Past   

Kako My Sullen Past Film Poster
Kako My Sullen Past Film Poster

ふきげんな過去 「Fukigen na Kako」 

Running Time: 120 mins.

Director: Shiro Maeda

Writer: Shiro Maeda (Screenplay)

Starring:  Kyoko Koizumi, Fumi Nikaido, Kengo Kora, Mei Kurokawa, Yuki Yamada, Itsuji Itao,

Website IMDB

Playwright and novelist Shiro Maeda has long been working in films, adapting A Story of Yonosuke (2013) and his novels Isn’t Anyone Alive? (2012) and The Extreme Sukiyaki (2013) for the big-screen. Indeed, his adaptation of The Extreme Sukiyaki was his directorial debut and he followed it up with Kako: My Sullen Past (2016), an exquisite character-driven story of a teenager plagued by uncertainty and cynicism who finds her dull life turned upside-down when her long-dead aunt dashes back into her life and a whole lot of skeletons tumble out of the closet.

Continue reading “Kako: My Sullen Past ふきげんな過去 Dir: Shiro Maeda (2016)”

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We Make Antiques, Love Disease, Tetsuya Kumagawa K Ballet Company “Cleopatra” in Cinema, Garo – Kami no kiba -, Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Movie: Take On Me Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, people!

The Tokyo Night Sky is Always the Densest Shade of Blue Film Image Shizuka Ishibashi and Sosuke Ikematsu

I hope you are all well and had an excellent New Year’s period. I managed to watch three films and complete a lot of writing, share good food and drink with family and chat with friends. Then it was back to work, which is a bit of a drag, but my job is good and I get to meet lots of people and work in a nice environment. I would like to try a new job soon and I suppose the New Year’s Resolutions I made will help me. I posted about the Japan Foundation’s Touring Film Programme for 2018. More importantly, I kicked off the year in an awesome way with a review of The Tokyo Night Sky is Always the Densest Shade of Blue (2017). Reviewers paint it as a depressing film about isolation but I saw it as an uplifting human drama. Mindset and positive thinking.

What’s released in Japan this weekend?

Continue reading “We Make Antiques, Love Disease, Tetsuya Kumagawa K Ballet Company “Cleopatra” in Cinema, Garo – Kami no kiba -, Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Movie: Take On Me Japanese Film Trailers”

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Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2018 Preview – (Un)true Colours Secrets and Lies in Japanese Cinema

The 2018 Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme (February 02nd to March 28th) has had its line-up of films revealed by the organisers and its a veritable feast of excellent contemporary titles with a classic and an anime added which looks/is fantastic respectively. I’ll come out cheering for The Long Excuse which is just fantastic. I cannot recommend this film enough. There’s also Sword of the Stranger which is pure action thrills, and Joy of Man’s Desiring and Room for Let which look exquisite. What’s the theme behind all of these films? Here’s more from the organisers:

Everybody has once told a lie or kept something hidden from others. Whether for good intentions or otherwise, it is a fundamental and intriguing aspect of human nature which has provided inspiration to countless storytellers and filmmakers.

With diverse cinematic voices, The Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2018 features some of the best examples of cinema from Japan and will look at how the country’s filmmakers have been drawn to portraying the “(un)true” colours of human nature. The twists and turns of life portrayed in the programme are at times heart-rending, at other times hilarious, but always enthralling.

Without further ado, here are the films!

Continue reading “Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2018 Preview – (Un)true Colours Secrets and Lies in Japanese Cinema”

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The Tokyo Night Sky is Always the Densest Shade of Blue 夜空はいつでも最高密度の青色だ (2017) Dir: Yuya Ishii

The Tokyo Night Sky is Always the Densest Shade of Blueyozora-wa-itsudemo-saiko-mitsudo-no-aoiro-da-film-poster

夜空はいつでも最高密度の青色だ Yozora wa Itsudemo Saiko Mitsudo no Aoiro da   

Running Time: 108 mins.

Director: Yuya Ishii

Writer: Yuya Ishii (Screenplay), Tahi Saihate (Original Poet)

Starring: Shizuka Ishibashi, Sosuke Ikematsu, Ryo Sato, Takahiro Miura, Mikako Ichikawa, Ryuhei Matsuda, Paul Magsalin, Tetsushi Tanaka,

Website   IMDB

Yuya Ishii has gone from indie kid to director of award-winning adaptations of major books with films like Sawako Decides (2010), A Man with Style (2011), Mitsuko Delivers (2012), The Great Passage (2013). Despite the growth in projects, he has kept looking directly at his characters and in his incisive looks at human nature he spots the oddities and uniqueness of everyone regardless of the story and gets the actors to perform perfectly.

Here, he works with newbie actor Shizuka Ishibashi (later to star in Parks) and pairs her up with the more experienced Sosuke Ikematsu (How Selfish I Am!) and Ryuhei Matsuda (Nightmare Detective, My Little Sweet Pea) who was the lead in The Great Passage. The actors all portray characters caught up in the whirlwind world of Tokyo, a place which is fearsome or fantastically rewarding depending upon a person’s perspective. Film festival synopses paint the characters as alienated, stressed, and looking for relief from the everyday grind making the film sound grimdark. Far from being a miserable time, The Tokyo Night Sky is Always the Densest Shade of Blue is a tribute to the magic of Tokyo and the people living in it. It exhorts its audience to seize life and appreciate all the small blessings and all the positives, to work hard no matter the good times and bad times and embrace the people who offer love.

Continue reading “The Tokyo Night Sky is Always the Densest Shade of Blue 夜空はいつでも最高密度の青色だ (2017) Dir: Yuya Ishii”

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Genkina hito Says Goodbye to 2017 and Hello to 2018 – New Year’s Resolutions – Follow Your Dreams Remix

Welcome to my last post of 2017.

I hope everyone is well and has had a good year.

Around this time last year, I was at the first of many shrines I would travel to in Taito-ku welcoming in 2017. It was an amazing experience made possible by a good friend and the start of a pretty good year for me. I was able to continue travelling across Japan and enjoyed doing unique things due to the kindness of others.

I had a blast at the Osaka Asian Film Festival where I got to watch lots of films and I really enjoyed meeting the team and working with them. I continued working on a film by helping out with sound-recording and photography on a couple of shoots, something which is set to continue into the new year in a more behind-the-scenes role. I took part in a major festival in Tokyo thanks to a friend (a seriously sophisticated and beautiful JoJo’s fan) and found that carrying a shrine is as hard as it looks. Also, visiting Kyoto was pure magic and it was made better since it was spent in great company.The Night is Short, Walk on Girl Image

Continue reading “Genkina hito Says Goodbye to 2017 and Hello to 2018 – New Year’s Resolutions – Follow Your Dreams Remix”

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Cardcaptor Sakura Movie 2: The Sealed Card, The Dragon Dentist Special Edition, Umi no ubuya Ogatsu houinkagura, Zen for Nothing Japanese Film Trailers

 

Happy weekend, people.

The Night is Short Walk On Girl Drinks

I hope everyone is having a great holiday period.

I got a lot of cool gifts connected to exercise and, Yakuza Kiwami and some video game clothes so I was pretty pleased but, more importantly, I received a lot of friendship in the form of messages and cards and I had a good time with my family with lots of food and drink consumed. To my friends and family, thank you for so much. To the people who visit my site, thank you as well.

This week, I posted a review for the fabulous film about a fantastic artist, A Room of Her Own – Rei Naito and Light (2016) and the comedy Emi-Abi (2016). What a way to see out the year.

What’s released in Japan this weekend? Well, two anime and some documentaries midweek so there are two of the first titles to be released in cinemas in Japan!

Continue reading “Cardcaptor Sakura Movie 2: The Sealed Card, The Dragon Dentist Special Edition, Umi no ubuya Ogatsu houinkagura, Zen for Nothing Japanese Film Trailers”

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Emi-Abi エミアビのはじまりとはじまり Dir: Kensaku Watanabe (2016)

Emi-abi    

Emi-Abi Film Poster
Emi-Abi Film Poster

エミアビのはじまりとはじまり 「Emiabi no Hajimari to Hajimari」 

Running Time: 88 mins.

Director: Kensaku Watanabe

Writer: Kensaku Watanabe (Screenplay)

Starring:  Ryu Morioka, Tomoya Maeno, Haru Kuroki, Hirofumi Arai, Mari Yamachi,

Website IMDB

Emi-Abi is a film marked by death but it is incredibly life-affirming. Written and directed by Kensaku Watanabe (he adapted the novel The Great Passage  into a script for the big screen), it tells the tale of artistic endeavour in the face of disaster and comes up trumps with a happy ending in a film that perfectly balances tragedy and comedy.

The story begins at the end of the manzai act Emi-Abi. The duo has lost its funny-man Unno (Tomoya Maeno) in an accident. All that remains is the handsome straight man Jitsudo (Ryu Morioka) and his dutiful manager Natsumi (Haru Kuroki) who has a comedy streak funnier than her remaining charge. With Unno’s funeral in the past and an uncertain future as a mere pretty-boy performer in a pretty crowded field, Jitsudo is on his way to his comedy sempai Kurosawa’s (Hirofumi Arai) home to pay respects and to get advice.

Continue reading “Emi-Abi エミアビのはじまりとはじまり Dir: Kensaku Watanabe (2016)”

Spring Explorers: Japan Foundation Shows Four Free Films in London

Spring Explorers Header Image

Spring is all about new beginnings and the Japan Foundation has programmed four films for its Spring Explorers screenings. They stretch from 1954 to 2013 and feature characters forced to enter new stages in their lives and even new worlds. Protags range from a little girl who walks on ceilings to a middle-aged man who hasn’t left his family home in years.

Here are the details:

Continue reading “Spring Explorers: Japan Foundation Shows Four Free Films in London”

Third Window Films Release “Whispering Star / The Sion Sono” on April 16th on DUAL FORMAT Blu-ray/DVD

Regular readers of this blog will know that Sion Sono is a favourite director of mine so it is with some joy that I can report that Third Window Films are helping film fans get closer to one of the best directors in Japanese cinema with a release of his sci-fi arthouse film The Whispering Star which will be paired with the feature-length documentary The Sion Sono. The two will be released as a DUAL FORMAT blu-ray/dvd on April 16th.

Sion Sono, the director of Himizu, Love Exposure and Cold Fish

Check out the webpage over at the Third Window Film site for more details. Scroll down for trailers and details!

Continue reading “Third Window Films Release “Whispering Star / The Sion Sono” on April 16th on DUAL FORMAT Blu-ray/DVD”