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I Was A Secret Bitch, Magical Boy Wild Virgin, Ghost Master, The Initiation, Lupin III The First, Good People, Crickets, Korogi, Kiss Me at the Stroke of Midnight, Army Maebashi Airfield Our Village Was Also a Battlefield, Okinawa: The Afterburn Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, everyone!

The Scythian Lamb Film Image Yuka

It’s December and if you’re reading this, you’ve almost made it to the end of another year.

This week I published reviews for POETIC VOICES A Trip Through the Taiwanese Avant-garde of the 1960s and Bulbul Can Sing.

What is released this weekend?

Continue reading “I Was A Secret Bitch, Magical Boy Wild Virgin, Ghost Master, The Initiation, Lupin III The First, Good People, Crickets, Korogi, Kiss Me at the Stroke of Midnight, Army Maebashi Airfield Our Village Was Also a Battlefield, Okinawa: The Afterburn Japanese Film Trailers”

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Bulbul Can Sing Dir: Rima Das (India, 2018)

Bulbul Can Sing    Bulbul Can Sing Film Poster

Release Date: 2018

Duration: 95 mins.

Director: Rima Das

Writer: Rima Das (Screenplay),

Starring: Arnali Das, Manoranjoan Das, Manabendra Das, Bonita Thakuriya, Pakija Begam

IMDB

Rima Das is a self-taught film-maker from India’s Assam state who typically writes, shoots, and edits her own films (and more) and works with non-professional actors. Her award-winning films have been shot in her home state where she details village life of youngsters in contemporary rural India. Bulbul Can Sing continues this trajectory as she sets a coming-of-age story in her home town where three friends explore their identities but, when faced with the boundaries of their community’s strict social mores, face conflict.

Continue reading “Bulbul Can Sing Dir: Rima Das (India, 2018)”

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POETIC VOICES: A Trip Through the Taiwanese Avant-garde of the 1960s

Presented as part the 2019 Aperture: Asia and Pacific Film Festival, “POETIC VOICES: A Trip Through the Taiwanese Avant-garde of the 1960s” is a collection of four short films that were recently researched and restored by a partnership consisting of the people involved in the making of the original films, the Taiwan International Documentary Film Festival curatorial team and the Digital Restoration Department of the Taiwan Film Institute. These films are all fragments of a wider body of experimental works created by artists who were influenced by Western avant-garde movements and eager to make adventurous films of their own whilst living under the control of an authoritarian government. What each of the films do is catch a snapshot of the country and its people during the “Taiwan Miracle”, a period of rapid industrialisation that made the country an economic giant in Asia, just behind Japan. Each film has a unique feel and touches on different aspects of Taiwanese culture and society thus bringing a lost world back to life.

POETIC VOICES A Trip Through the Taiwanese Avant-garde of the 1960s Mountain Film Image

Continue reading “POETIC VOICES: A Trip Through the Taiwanese Avant-garde of the 1960s”

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Human Lost, Love and Murder of Sheep and Wolf , The Sower, Manriki, Out Zone, Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These Chapter 3, Gundam: G no Reconguista Movie Go! Core Fighter, Tetsuya Kumagawa K Ballet Company “The Nutcracker” in Cinema, Coluboccoro, Santa Company: The Secret of Christmas, Me and Him, The Manga Master, Enjiya reDESIGN, Horse Beings, Haruka no Sue, M Toru Muranishi Furious Days Full Version Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend!

Eureka Seven Hi Evolution Film Image 1

I hope everyone is well.

This post has been delayed because I’ve been busier than normal this week doing courses on top of my regular job and it’s been fun doing something outside of work with new people. I released some reviews I wrote earlier in the year, If Cats Disappeared From the World and When I Get Home, My Wife Always Pretends to be Dead. I’ll be gearing up for next year’s festival season so December is going to be busy as well.

What is released this weekend?

Continue reading “Human Lost, Love and Murder of Sheep and Wolf , The Sower, Manriki, Out Zone, Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These Chapter 3, Gundam: G no Reconguista Movie Go! Core Fighter, Tetsuya Kumagawa K Ballet Company “The Nutcracker” in Cinema, Coluboccoro, Santa Company: The Secret of Christmas, Me and Him, The Manga Master, Enjiya reDESIGN, Horse Beings, Haruka no Sue, M Toru Muranishi Furious Days Full Version Japanese Film Trailers”

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When I Get Home, My Wife Always Pretends to Be Dead  家に帰ると妻が必ず死んだふりをしていま Dir: Toshio Lee (2018)

When I Get Home, My Wife Always Pretends to Be Dead.    When I Get Home, My Wife Always Pretends to Be Dead Film Poster

家に帰ると妻が必ず死んだふりをしています。 Ie ni Kaeru to Tsuma ga Kanarazu Shinda Furi wo Shite Imasu

Release Date: June 08th, 2018

Duration: 115 mins.

Director:  Toshio Lee

Writer: Fumi Tsubota (Screenplay), K. Kajunsky Ichida (Original Story)

Starring: Ken Yasuda, Nana Eikura, Ryohei Otani, Sumika Nono,

Website    IMDB

Ken Yasuda and Nana Eikura make an odd couple in this rom-com that comes with shades of sentimentality and darkness to give a lesson on how some people express a need for love and support.

Based on a series of Yahoo! Answers messages that were novelised, this is the tale of an average salaryman named Jun (Ken Yasuda) who gets a shock whenever he returns home from work: his wife Chie (Nana Eikura) is dead every time. She isn’t really dead. It’s nothing supernatural or nefarious, she just likes to set up a scene complete with elaborate props and costumes for her husband to walk in on. Whether she is as a victim of a wild animal attack, shot through the head with an arrow or worse, Chie likes to surprise her husband. Only he doesn’t like what he sees as strange behaviour and seeks advice from work colleagues as he hopes to curb her performances. There is a deeper motivation to what Chie does and Jun will have to start looking past the theatre and at take his wife’s emotional needs seriously to understand her. Could her cryptic use of the phrase, “The moon is so blue tonight” be the key to making him realise?

Continue reading “When I Get Home, My Wife Always Pretends to Be Dead  家に帰ると妻が必ず死んだふりをしていま Dir: Toshio Lee (2018)”

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If Cats Disappeared From the World  世界から猫が消えたなら Dir: Akira Nagai (2016)

If Cats Disappeared From the World 

If Cats Disappeared From the World Film Poster
If Cats Disappeared From the World Film Poster

世界から猫が消えたなら 「Sekai kara Neko ga Kieta nara」 

Release Date: May 14th, 2016

Duration: 118 mins.

Director: Akira Nagai

Writer: Ryoichi Okada (Screenplay), Genki Kawamura (Original Novel)

Starring: Takeru Satoh, Aoi Miyazaki, Mieko Harada, Eiji Okuda, Anna Ishii, Gaku Hamada, Eita Okuno

Website   IMDB

“If I were to disappear from this world, who would miss me?” Characters in movies usually think this while contemplating death. Of course, every person matters and our lives are connected with each other and the environment so something or someone disappearing has a big impact, but that is not always clear to people as we get swept up in dramatic circumstances and tumultuous emotions. There are tried and tested cinematic journeys used to lead a character to that epiphany of interconnection, either a path defined by hijinks or a contemplative trip down memory lane to show how important we all are, the latter of which happens in this gently powerful and moving film where the main character finds out he will die within days.

Continue reading “If Cats Disappeared From the World  世界から猫が消えたなら Dir: Akira Nagai (2016)”

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Niji Iro no Asa ga Kuru Made, The 47 Ronin in Debt, Rise of the Machine Girls, Sea, Fragtime, Until Rainbow Dawn, Yayoi Kusama∞INFINITY, The Gossip Gang, Shana-o: Oedo no Kyandi 3, Ganbare to ka Urusee / Don’t Say That Word, Sticks and Stones, Hydra Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, everyone.

A Silent Voice Image 2

I hope you are all well.

It’s raining in my neck of the woods and I think I am coming down with a cold, this just before I take a teaching course to refresh my English language teaching skills. I’ll power through, regardless.

This week I managed to watch a bunch more 80’s horror movies as I tick of titles from a list of films I haven’t seen. I published a preview of the Japanese films for this year’s edition of the London International Animation Festival and a review for the Kyoto Animation film A Silent Voice.

What is released this weekend?

Continue reading “Niji Iro no Asa ga Kuru Made, The 47 Ronin in Debt, Rise of the Machine Girls, Sea, Fragtime, Until Rainbow Dawn, Yayoi Kusama∞INFINITY, The Gossip Gang, Shana-o: Oedo no Kyandi 3, Ganbare to ka Urusee / Don’t Say That Word, Sticks and Stones, Hydra Japanese Film Trailers”

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A Silent Voice 声の形 Dir: Naoko Yamada (2016) [Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival 2019]

A Silent Voice  

koe-no-katachi-film-poster-2声の形Koe no Katachi

Release Date: September 17th, 2016 (Japan)

Duration: 129 mins.

Director: Naoko Yamada

Writer: Reiko Yoshida (Screenplay), Yoshitoki Ooima (Original Manga)

Starring: Saori Hayami (Shouko Nishimiya), Miyu Irino/Mayu Matsuoka (Shouya Ishida),  Aoi Yuuki (Yuzuru Nishimiya),

Animation Production: Kyoto Animation

Website MAL ANN

If love brings out our best qualities, hatred deform us. A lack of empathy and ignorance lead to hatred and victimisation. This is perfectly illustrated in A Silent Voice. Based on Yoshitoki Ooima’s award-winning seven-volume manga, Kyoto Animation (KyoAni), with their trademark eye for revealing the humanity in their characters through their focus on exquisite character designs and animation, create a quiet and searing tale of teens experiencing the poisonous effect of bullying, the fragmenting of relationships and their self-perception in a story that takes the rather unconventional step of showing it from the perspective of the bully.

Directed by Naoko Yamada, she and her team of animators at KyoAni create one of the most honest portrayals of guilt and perseverance in the name of redemption through every character, each of whom carries some form of guilt and each of whom has been lovingly drawn and animated to give them a life that emanates from the screen so we can relate to them. Lingering shots on facial expressions or mid-shots that focus body-language and sign language show the subtly shifting emotions of hate and love so we feel for all of the characters.

Continue reading “A Silent Voice 声の形 Dir: Naoko Yamada (2016) [Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival 2019]”

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Japanese Animation at the London International Animation Festival 2019

Genki London International Animation Film Festival 2013 Banner

This year’s London International Animation Festival (LIAF 19) will be at the Barbican from Friday, November 29th to Sunday, December 08th. The organisers have combed through 2,600 entries and whittled them down to 85 films that best represent the international indie animation universe.

I’m interested in everything Japanese so here’s what’s on offer:

Continue reading “Japanese Animation at the London International Animation Festival 2019”

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i -Documentary of the Journalist-, He Won’t Kill She Won’t Die, Wings Over Everest, Last Ninja: Blue Shadow, Kyofu Ningyo, Tennis no Oujisama BEST GAMES!! Fuji vs Kirihama, Inochi Sketch, Yuuyake Kodomo Club!, Find, Mio on the Shore, Hell Girl, Shadowfall, Curtain Call, Angel Sign, Dream of Euglena, Midorimushi no Yume, Scene in the Dark, Toumei ningen ☆ Tamura Toru, Shiro to Kuro no Dousoukai, Gekijouban hontou ni atta kowai hanashi 2019 fuyu no tokubetsu-hen Japanese Film Trailers

Happy Weekend, everyone!

Time to relax unless you have a weekend job.

Only one film watched and that was the Italian zombie movie Burial Grounds which was not that great. Plenty of Japanese practise and I did a bit more overtime this week and during that period where I was just escorting a contactor around, I managed to read a book by Ernest Hemingway. I published reviews for Eureka Seven: Hi-Evolution and Penguin Highway.

What is released this weekend? A lot…

Continue reading “i -Documentary of the Journalist-, He Won’t Kill She Won’t Die, Wings Over Everest, Last Ninja: Blue Shadow, Kyofu Ningyo, Tennis no Oujisama BEST GAMES!! Fuji vs Kirihama, Inochi Sketch, Yuuyake Kodomo Club!, Find, Mio on the Shore, Hell Girl, Shadowfall, Curtain Call, Angel Sign, Dream of Euglena, Midorimushi no Yume, Scene in the Dark, Toumei ningen ☆ Tamura Toru, Shiro to Kuro no Dousoukai, Gekijouban hontou ni atta kowai hanashi 2019 fuyu no tokubetsu-hen Japanese Film Trailers”

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Penguin Highway  ペンギン・ハイウェイ Dir: Hiroyasu Ishida [Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival 2019]

Penguin Highway      Penguin Highway Film Poster

ペンギン・ハイウェイ 「Pengin Haiuei

Release Date: August 18th, 2017

Running Time: 119 mins.

Director: Hiroyasu Ishida

Writer: Makoto Ueda (Screenplay), Tomihiko Morimi (Original Script)

Starring: Kana Kita (Aoyama), Yuu Aoi (Mysterious Lady), Hidetoshi Nishijima (Aoyama’s Father), Megumi Han (Hamamoto), Naoto Takenaka (Hamamoto’s Father),

Animation Production: Studio Colorido

Website  ANN  MAL

Ten years since his three-minute student short film Fumiko’s Confession brought him to worldwide attention, Hiroyasu Ishida has taken the helm of his first feature, Penguin Highway, for Studio Colorido. A little more calm and controlled than his manic and comedic debut, what remains the same is his knack for telling a tale from a kid’s perspective and with a lot of heart.

Based on a same-named book by Tomihiko Morimi, the story takes a child’s-eye view of the world by following the adventures of Aoyama and his coterie of friends who live in a quiet suburban town. These bright and bubbly kids are charmers as they all display cute foibles while getting lost in their everyday squabbles and learning more about their world in a laid-back summertime atmosphere. Things take a turn for the fantastical as penguins start popping up everywhere without warning.

Continue reading “Penguin Highway  ペンギン・ハイウェイ Dir: Hiroyasu Ishida [Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival 2019]”

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Eureka Seven Hi-Evolution 交響詩篇エウレカセブン ハイエボリューション, Dirs: Tomoki Kyoda, Hisatoshi Shimizu (2017) [Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival 2019]

Eureka Seven Hi-Evolution    Eureka Seven Hi-Evolution I Film Poster

交響詩篇エウレカセブン ハイエボリューション Kokyo shihen Eureka sebun Hai eboryu-shon 1

Release Date: September 16th, 2017

Duration: 109 mins.

Chief Director:  Tomoki Kyoda

Director:  Hisatoshi Shimizu

Writer: Dai Sato (Screenplay),

Starring: Kaori Nazuka (Eureka), Yuko Sanpei (Renton Beams/Renton Thurston), Aya Hisakawa (Ray Beams), Juurouta Kosugi (Charles Beams), Tohru Furuya (Adrock Thurston), Michiko Neya (Talho Yuuki),

Animation Production: BONES

Website ANN MAL

When did anime compilation films become a thing and which greedy capitalist initiated it? Most months of the year feature a spin-off or a sequel to a TV anime, all of which are fine, but the compilation seems like the most cynical cash-grab since it is often only the most salient parts of a TV show blown up on the big screen, something that could only satisfy a pre-existing audience who have watched the entire story and will have a high level of familiarity with the characters and what is going on in the narrative and bring all of that linking material to a truncated story. This film is a great example of everything wrong with compilation films and then some.

Eureka Seven Hi-Evolution is the first of three movies that serve as a reboot for the Eureka Seven mecha anime which ran for 50 episodes on TV from 2005 to 2006. It takes footage from the first 10 episodes and adds a brand new beginning and end while the remixing footage from the TV anime for the middle section – you’ll notice which parts were made for the cinema and for TV with the change in aspect ratio.

The early part of the film (and the most spectacular since it is newly animated for the cinema) covers the final stages of “The Summer of Love”, a giant battle between humanity and aliens known as “Scub Coral” over the fate of the earth. Chaos and explosions shower the screen before the space opera is over, the aspect ratio changes, and the TV anime is dived into as the early years of Renton, a boy who lost his father during the event, are shown including first encounters with a mecha named Nirvash and the pilot, a girl named Eureka.

Eureka Seven Hi Evolution Film Image 5This, the remixed part, takes all of the key plot twists and character development for characters, cutting them up into smaller scenes and showing them rather randomly with only on-screen text used to inform the audience how many years, months, days, hours they have jumped in the life of Renton as the film retells the TV anime in a non-linear order. A sequence rarely lasts for than five minutes before inter-titles (Playback, Play Forward) burst on to the screen and disrupt any and all coherence and the audience is left to piece things together before having the narrative rug pulled out from under them again as the film hops back and forth along the timeline.

This may work for hardcore fans but with little of the background of the world delivered in any form of exposition, people who aren’t fans may be left confused and unsatisfied as there is no way to enter the story and all emotional connections that build solid character arcs are left flailing due to the way the timeline of the story is dealt with in such a non-linear manner. I found the process bemusing. The initial fight was exhilarating with all of the information and mecha flying across the screen tricking me into believing it was all important while the final scene had so much charming shounen spunk (after some grisly off-screen deaths) that I could imagine hardcore fans being bowled over and made hype for more of Renton’s journey in the final two movies. The rest in the middle is messy and meant I didn’t really care all that much.

Eureka Seven Hi Evolution Film Image 1

Both this movie and the TV anime were created by the animation studio Bones, a studio known for really strong world building and sharp use of contemporary counter-culture to make genre defining shows. They are the team responsible for anime like Wolf’s Rain and My Hero Academia and one of their best titles is Eureka Seven. The quality of the TV anime is present in the character/mecha designs and the glimpses of the world we see on the screen, all of which holds up over a decade after they were first created. The movie footage is spectacular with its broad and breathless approach to framing battles and landscapes. A switch in aspect ratio signals changes to the old and new footage but all of it looks good. It’s a shame that the story is lost.

This is one strictly for fans. It sets up the next two films which significantly alter certain characters and events and I have been informed the second one is much easier to get into. When it comes to this one, it might be too disorientating and you would be better off watching the TV anime first for context.

eureka-seven-hi-evolution

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Yuho no ato, Dumping Ground, Little Miss Period, One Night, Nunchaku and Soul, Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro, Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu – Hyouketsu no Kizuna, Sumikko Gurashi: Tobidasu Ehon to Himitsu no Ko, That Moment My Heart Cried, Geki × Cine SIREN IN THE SHADOWS, CinemaKabuki Onna Goroshi Abura no Jigoku, Fafner THE BEYOND, Crying Free Sex Never Again!, Kokuumon Gate Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, people!

Birthday Wonderland Film Image 1

I hope you are all well!

I watched a bunch of more horror films this week and worked harder on my kanji. Slightly less overtime at work. I’m about to spin up for a few outside projects at the end of November to refresh my teaching skills.

This post was easier to write because a few of these films were recently shown at the Tokyo International Film Festival. I posted the awards handed out at the fest and also a review for the fun anime adventure Birthday Wonderland.

What is released this weekend?

Continue reading “Yuho no ato, Dumping Ground, Little Miss Period, One Night, Nunchaku and Soul, Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro, Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu – Hyouketsu no Kizuna, Sumikko Gurashi: Tobidasu Ehon to Himitsu no Ko, That Moment My Heart Cried, Geki × Cine SIREN IN THE SHADOWS, CinemaKabuki Onna Goroshi Abura no Jigoku, Fafner THE BEYOND, Crying Free Sex Never Again!, Kokuumon Gate Japanese Film Trailers”

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Award Winners the Tokyo International Film Festival 2019

Tokyo International Film Festival Banner

The Tokyo International Film Festival (TokyoIFF) finished yesterday with an award ceremony (results) that celebrated various strands programme including Japanese movies (see this preview). Awards were aplenty in the 90 minute ceremony, beginning with the Tokyo Gemstone Award for new talents which went to Josefine Frida, Sairi Ito, Riru Yoshina and Yui Sakuma. The Lifetime Achievement awards were already announced and went to director Nobuhiko Obayashi and actor Tatsuya Nakadai.

The Competition section had two Japanese titles but the majority of awards went to international films. Uncle, the Danish film from director Frelle Petersen, was awarded the Tokyo Grand Prix after having had its world premiere in Tokyo. Winner of the second-place Special Jury Prize was the Ukrainian film Atlantis. Best Director went to Iran’s Saeed Roustaee for 6.5. The Best Screenplay award went to Shin Adachi’s A Beloved Wife.

Taking to the stage to announce the award was Julie Gayet who said that the awards went to, “a scriptwriter that made us look into his complicated private life with a lot of humour and laughter that made his film universal”.

A Beloved Wife    A Beloved Wife Film Poster

喜劇 愛妻物語 Kigeki Aisai Monogatari

Release Date: 2020

Duration: 76 mins.

Director: Shin Adachi

Writer: Shin Adachi (Screenplay/Novel)

Starring: Gaku Hamada, Asami Mizukawa, Chise Niitsu, Eri Fuse, Kaho, Kayoko Ookubo, Ken Mitsuishi, 

Shin Adachi is best known for his script for 100 Yen Love (2014) and has worked on other projects, including directing a warmly received comedy 14 That Night (2016). He adapts his autobiographical novel for his sophomore film as a director and it was produced by Aoi Pro, whose works include Shoplifters (2018) and The Long Excuse (2016).

Synopsis: Gota Yanagida (Gaku Hamada) is a scriptwriter with a family and a desperate need for a hit film. His wife of 10 years, Chika (Asami Mizukawa), is the family breadwinner and very unhappy about their lack of money. His daughter Aki (Chise Niitsu) is beginning to view him as a bit of a loser. His desperation for a break is finally answered when a film producer tasks Gota with writing a screenplay for his story of “a high school girl who makes udon noodles at a tremendous speed”. Gota has a chance to travel to Kagawa Prefecture to write a screenplay and so he persuades Chika and Aki to go with him, but when he arrives he discovers a different film project has already been decided…

Adachi took the award and thanked the programming director for allowing a comedy to be entered into the Competition and, in explaining the background of his project, assured the audience that while it is based on his life, the leading lady and man do, in no way represent his them, it’s the actors.


Japanese Cinema Splash

The Japanese Cinema Splash section for Japanese indie films featured eight titles, two notable for being political documentaries, and plenty of dramas. This provided a complicated job for the jury to narrow down the candidates for the awards.

The Best Film award went to Tatsuya Mori’s documentary i – Documentary of the Journalist.

Nam Dong-Chul, programme director at the Busan International Film Festival, was a member of the jury and he was present to give the award to director Tatsuya Mori. In his review he summed up why the film was selected:

“This film introduces an unforgettable female character described with depth and it also introduces Japanese social issues [in a way] that is appealing to the world.”

i -Documentary of the Journalist-  i -Documentary of the Journalist- Film Poster

i-新聞記者ドキュメント- I – shinbun kisha dokyumento –

Release Date: November 15th, 2019

Duration: 120 mins.

Director: Tatsuya Mori

Writer: N/A

Starring: Isoko Mochizuki

Tatsuya Mori is a documentarian famous for the films A (1998), 311 (2011) and Fake (2016). He also acted as producer on The Journalist (2019) which is based on a book by the real-life female journalist, Isoko Mochizuki. She forms the centre of this film as she pursues the truth.

Synopsis: Traditional news media is in a spin as social media, financial forces and political tribalism batter them around. Maybe film documentary might be the best place for news if not for some of brave journalists still working for newspapers who are unafraid to look for the truth. Isoko Mochizuki of The Tokyo Shimbun is one of them as she asks all the awkward questions that keep those in power on their toes and ferrets out the truth. This in a country which is still patriarchal, in an industry which is male-dominated, in a media environment that prefers not to challenge those in power lest they lose access to government press conferences. Here’s an article about her in The New York Times (written by Motoko Rich) which gives an excellent overview of the environment she works in.

Tatsuya Mori stepped onto the stage in rather normal attire at such a formal affair and made a joke of it, apologising for looking like he’s dressed like he’s going to a video rental shop in his neighbourhood.

The meat of his speech went on to thanking everyone involved and stating how documentary is important, acknowledging the presence of Kazuo Hara with his movie Reiwa Uprising but managed to lace in some jokes amidst the serious critiques. 

“I think documentary is really fun and it gets to portray how the media is positioned so the audience gets to see that as well. I believe that the air we feel in Japan, especially about speech and expression, that we’re quite suppressed. I would like to say thank you to the programme directors. You may have a difficult time but it’s your responsibility so you will have to live with it.”

The film’s producer, Mitsunobu Kawamura, talked a little about the background, how he wanted to screen this film alongside The Journalist but couldn’t.

“I believe that this film depicts the hollowness that we feel working in the media and it is also a good expression of what is taking place in Japanese society right now and I believe it is the role of film to try and bring these issues to the fore.”

Here’s a Q&A report from the film’s screening at the festival (English language).


Best Director went to Hirobumi Watanabe for Cry. The judges said that they would remember the film a year from now and there was unanimous agreement on who should win Best Director.

Director Akiko Ooku congratulated those involved in the making of the film strong and praised “a unique vision [that] also made us recall warm emotions and it was a very interesting film”.

Cry

叫び声 Sakebigoe

Release Date: N/A

Duration: 75 mins.

Director: Hirobumi Watanabe

Writer: Hirobumi Watanabe (Screenplay), 

Starring: Hirobumi Watanabe, Riko Hisatsugu, Keita Hisatsugu, Nanaka Sudo, Takanori Kurosaki, Gaku Imamura, Yuji Watanabe, Misao Hirayama,

Website

I met the Watanabe brothers and their cinematographer at the 2014 Raindance Film Festival‘s screening of And the Mud Ship Sails Away and I got their autographs. Little did I suspect that they would turn into familiar faces at the Tokyo International Film Festival as they get backing from the event to keep produce their brand of offbeat comedy shot in black-and-white. It’s an alternative to the urban voices and a lot of sideways fun.

Synopsis: A man who lives with his ageing grandmother works silently in a pigpen…

Hirobumi Watanabe explained the background to the film, how it is a family affair with his brother, parents and grandparents among those who worked on the film in their home Prefecture of Tochigi, and, in the most moving part of the ceremony, he went on to pay emotional tribute to his grandmother who passed away in August at the age of 102 saying he believed he was able to get the award because of her.

I watched the awards as they were screened live just before work. Here’s a link to a video.

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Birthday Wonderland バースデー・ワンダーランド Dir: Keiichi Hara (2019) [Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival 2019]

Birthday Wonderland     Birthday Wonderland Film Poster

バースデー・ワンダーランド Ba-sude- Wanda-rando

Release Date: April 26th, 2019

Duration: 115 mins.

Director: Keiichi Hara

Writer: Miho Maruo (Screenplay), Sachiko Kashiwaba (Original Creator)

Starring: Mayu Matsuoka (Akane), Akiko Yajima (Doropo), Anzu (Chi), Keiji Fujiwara (Xan Gu), Kumiko Aso (Midori), Masachika Ichimura (Hippocrates),

Website MAL ANN

After a career with titles that flirted with fantasy, from 2010’s Colorful and the 2015 award-winning smash-hit Miss Hokusai, director Keiichi Hara leaps straight into the genre with this movie adaptation of Sachiko Kashiwaba’s 1988 children’s story “Strange Journey From The Basement”. This Ghibli-esque tale is a delightful family-friendly female-led fantasy that is sure to entertain all but the most cynical individuals with its jaunt through a cute wonderland full of colourful characters and creatures in its story of a girl who learns how to stand up for herself and take responsibility by saving another world.

Akane Uesugi is our protagonist. A shy elementary school student (around 12 years old), she has trouble telling other people how she feels and this causes a crisis for her after one dicey situation in school where a friend is ostracised by her social circle while she stands by and does nothing. Feeling a little guilty, she decides to hide out at home by feigning an illness. The day before her birthday, Akane’s mother, Midori, sends her on an errand to go get her birthday present from her aunt Chi who owns an antique shop.

So far so normal as we see Akane’s everyday environment. Fantastic background art which is close to photorealistic depicts recognisable objects and furnishings that show the cocoon Akane inhabits as she covers herself in the duvet on her comfy bed and is surrounded by items such as iPhones and MacBooks and a cute tubby cat. Once outside, we see the suburban landscape and then Chi’s shop which has the atmosphere of one of those new age places that sell kooky knick-knacks from around the world (and there’s an impressive comic book library with covers that carry references to Hell Boy and Tintin).

Aunt Chi is a free spirit who loves to travel having had adventures in Bolivia and elsewhere as objects in her shop attests. Boisterous and independent, she rubs the sometimes sullen and mostly reluctant Akane the wrong way and she proves to be an excellent travelling companion when the young girl is dragged into a fantasy land.

This happens after Akane slots her hand into an imprint in a mysterious stone slab prompting a small fairy named Pipo and a strange man wearing a suit and top hat named Hippocrates the Alchemist arrive from the basement of Chi’s home to whisk Akane and her aunt to Wonderland.

And this is where the comparison to Ghibli begins.

With an atmosphere and set-up not so far away from The Cat Returns (2002), Akane and Chi find themselves transported to a fairy tale kingdom where there is an emerging crisis involving the world losing its vitality because of a water shortage. Akane is labelled the “Green Goddess” and told she must save the land but she resists the idea with as much sulkiness as she can muster. Chi, meanwhile, is more than happy to be along for the ride as she gets to go on an adventure. Thus begins a high stakes and low peril adventure for the ladies as they find themselves embarking on a laid-back road-trip.

Birthday Wonderland Film Image 1

The film becomes something of a delightful travelogue across the massively different colourful landscapes of Wonderland from the ruby red and lemon yellow sands of a desert, the sherbet blues and vivid violets of an icy valley crowned by an aurora borealis, the emerald greens of a pastoral paradise that feeds the fluffiest sheep you will ever see and what seems to be a recreation of Victorian London complete with smog and drunks clogging the cobblestone streets. Every location is distinctive and hosts creatively designed creatures and characters such as giant flamingos and a spiderweb road weaved by spiders sporting moustaches, glasses and top hats. Most places are completely fantastical, very different from our reality and a lot of fun because of it.

Each area is plagued by a specific environmental crisis that is sparked by the water shortage and while Akane is positioned as the one true saviour she has to be pushed to go on her journey which is more like a sojourn than a mission as she and aunt Chi saunter from place to place. The girl has to overcome her reluctance to engage with difficult situations to complete her character arc. This works because the character dynamics between Akane, Chi, Pipo and Hippocrates are entertaining to be around as they tease each other and laugh at their misadventures and admire the landscape they are in. Chi is a real standout with her hard-drinking uber romantic lifestyle which gained a huge laugh from the audience I saw it with whenever it surfaced.

With each encounter, Akane gains the confidence to be herself in character development that is simple for people to get behind.

Pushing the story along is the mildest of threats from an armoured antagonist named Zan Gul and his tiny henchman Doropo who roll around in their mouse-shaped tank and terrorise the locals in each area as they seek their own, rather violent, way of solving the water crisis. The narrative gives enough of their perspective for the audience to realise that the bad guys mirror Akane in their goals and even their personal problems with how they address tough situations. Indeed, the world reflects the problems we face in our own as there is a misuse of power and resources by the people tasked with looking after the environment.

While I was not sold on Ilya Kuvshinov’s character designs – Akane doesn’t look like a 12-year-old girl – its evocative enough and everyone has some charm including Akane who learns to overcome fear and take responsibility for herself, her environment and others to give the film a heart to go underneath the pretty images that are all lovely to look at. All in all, good fun.

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No Smoking, After the Matinee, Black School Rules, Family of Strangers, The First Supper, IDOL Aa Mujou, Dosukoi! Sukehira, Katsu Futaro!!, Wakasa to Bakasa, What Can You Do about It, Saori Piling Up, Traverse, Mizorogi Mitsuki o Sagashite, RUN! 3films Japanese Film Trailers   

Happy weekend, everyone!

Fate Stay Night - Heaven's Feel Film Image 1

I hope you are all well.

I’ve just completed a 12-day work week so I’ve got two days to relax. Because it is Halloween, I watched a bunch of 80s horror films such as Demons 2 and 3 and The Gate. I’ll watch more over the next two days. Also, because of a friend, I’ve been able to see Sion Sono’s latest work, The Forest of Love.

This week, I posted reviews for the New Directions in Japanese Cinema shorts and wrote one for Fate/Stay Night: Heaven’s Feel I Presage Flower.

This year’s Kyoto International Film Festival and my posts on the Busan International Film Festival, and Tokyo International Film Festival came to the rescue when it came to digging up info on this weekend’s trailers.

So what was released this weekend?

Continue reading “No Smoking, After the Matinee, Black School Rules, Family of Strangers, The First Supper, IDOL Aa Mujou, Dosukoi! Sukehira, Katsu Futaro!!, Wakasa to Bakasa, What Can You Do about It, Saori Piling Up, Traverse, Mizorogi Mitsuki o Sagashite, RUN! 3films Japanese Film Trailers   “

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Fate/stay night Heaven’s Feel I. Presage Flower (2017) Dir: Tomonori Sudo [Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival 2019]

The traditional Halloween movie review is back and I wanted to try something different with an action anime I had seen at the Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival earlier this month.

Fate/stay night Heaven’s Feel I. Presage Flower   gekijouban fate stay night heaven's feel ii lost butterfly film poster

劇場版 Fate/stay night Heaven’s Feel I. presage flower Gekijouban Fate/stay night Heaven’s Feel I. lost butterfly

Duration: 120 mins.

Release Date: October 14th, 2017

Director: Tomonori Sudo

Writer: Akira Hiyama (Screenplay), Kinoko Nasu, TYPE-MOON (Original Creator),

Starring: Ayako Kawasumi (Saber), Noriaki Sugiyama (Shirou Emiya), Jouji Nakata (Kirei Kotomine), Noriko Shitaya (Sakura Matou), Kana Ueda (Rin Toosaka), Mai Kadowaki (Illyasviel von Einzbern),

Animation Production: ufotable

ANN MAL Website

Fate/Stay Night is a venerable series for those who know of it. Originally starting in 2004 as a visual novel from indie video game company Type-Moon, it is an operatic story where the protagonist can join three heroines offering different routes to the finish – Fate, Unlimited Blade Works, Heaven’s Feel. What was an underground game won hardcore fans and became esoteric with every addition to the franchise over the years. This includes the many anime adaptations courtesy of animation production powerhouse ufotable (Gyo: Tokyo Fish Attack). Close collaborators of Type-Moon, they have attempted to try and be faithful to the game’s story and pack in everything into a short running time. Fate/stay night Heaven’s Feel I. Presage Flower is a fateful adaptation that takes on the same-titled, lesser-explored route.

Continue reading “Fate/stay night Heaven’s Feel I. Presage Flower (2017) Dir: Tomonori Sudo [Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival 2019]”

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New Directions in Japanese Cinema (Japan, 2019) [JAPAN CUTS / OSAKA ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL 2019]

New Directions in Japanese Cinema (ndjc) is a programme which has been in operation since 2007 with the express purpose of cultivating talented young filmmakers through putting them together with experienced actors and crews in workshops for the production of a 30-minute narrative short shot on 35mm film. The 2019 selection of shorts are all well-crafted dramas in production terms and deal with themes of either fractured families or the influence of fathers.

Farewell Family     Sayonara Kazoku Film Poster

サヨナラ家族 Sayonara Kazoku

Release Date: March 02nd, 2019

Duration: 29 mins.

Director:  Kohei Sanada,

Writer: Kohei Sanada (Screenplay)

Starring: Hoshi Ishida, Toshie Negishi, Yui Murata, Shiori Doi, Kazuhiro Sano, Yosuke Saito,

Website

I first encountered Kohei Sanada’s work at the 2017 edition of the Osaka Asian Film Festival. The title was, Icarus and Son, and its story of a father reconnecting with his son left me cold, not least because the father was unsympathetic and the conclusion of the story too obtuse to actually be moving. Sanada continues to mine father-son relationships in this short film which was the first of the five titles to screen when I saw it at the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019.

Continue reading “New Directions in Japanese Cinema (Japan, 2019) [JAPAN CUTS / OSAKA ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL 2019]”

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Summer Night Sky Autumn Sunset Winter Morning and Spring Breeze, Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These Chapter 2, 108: Revenge and Adventure of Goro Kaiba, Togenkyo Labyrinth, Kura yami-sai no Ogawa-san, Thunderbolt Fantasy Seiyuu Genka, Kimi dake ni Motetainda, Futsuu wa hashiridasu, Boy Detectives Club Neo Beginning, Saenai Kanojo (Hiroin) no Sodate-kata Fine (fi-ne), Kuuchuu chashitsu o yumemita otoko, Kono hoshi wa, watashi no hoshi janai, Tokyo24, Hitotsubu no mugi Ogino Ginko no shougai Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, everyone!

After the Storm Koreeda Kirin Abe

I hope you are all well.

I feel I’ve been searching for something deeper than the ocean and I may have found it now I have to summon the courage to seize it.

I wrote a preview of the Tokyo International Film Festival and also posted a review for Yota Kawase’s rural comedy Being Natural.

What is released this weekend?

Continue reading “Summer Night Sky Autumn Sunset Winter Morning and Spring Breeze, Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These Chapter 2, 108: Revenge and Adventure of Goro Kaiba, Togenkyo Labyrinth, Kura yami-sai no Ogawa-san, Thunderbolt Fantasy Seiyuu Genka, Kimi dake ni Motetainda, Futsuu wa hashiridasu, Boy Detectives Club Neo Beginning, Saenai Kanojo (Hiroin) no Sodate-kata Fine (fi-ne), Kuuchuu chashitsu o yumemita otoko, Kono hoshi wa, watashi no hoshi janai, Tokyo24, Hitotsubu no mugi Ogino Ginko no shougai Japanese Film Trailers”

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Being Natural 天然☆生活 Dir: Tadashi Nagayama (2018)

Being Natural    Being Natural Film Poster

天然☆生活 Tennen Seikatsu

Release Date: March 23rd, 2019

Duration: 96 mins.

Director: Tadashi Nagayama

Writer:  Tadashi Nagayama, Yuriko Suzuki (Screenplay),

Starring: Yota Kawase, Kanji Tsuda, Natsuki Mieda, Tadahiro Tsuru, Shoichiro Tanigawa,

IMDB

Tadashi Nagayama goes back to nature with his second feature following his debut, Journey of the Tortoise (2017) but where the film ends up will prove to be a surprise after a delightful, if slightly disturbing social satire of a sojourn in the Japanese countryside.

It starts off as a gentle comedy where we follow Yota Kawase’s good-natured lead character Taka, an easy-going chap who lives a quiet life in a rural town in his uncle’s traditional Kayabuki (thatched roof) house. Unemployed and easygoing, he lives a simple life of taking care of the old man with dementia, hanging out with friends, BBQs, and playing his bongos but his peaceful life changes when his uncle dies and his cousin Mitsuaki (Shoichiro Tanigawa) tries to sell the house.

Continue reading “Being Natural 天然☆生活 Dir: Tadashi Nagayama (2018)”

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The Promised Land, Show Me the Way to the Station, Special Actors, If Hope Disappears From the World, AI Tantei, AI Detective, The Detective Has a Melancholy Dream Tonight. 2, Kaihou-ku, Fragile, A Small History of Love Vol. 1, Star☆Twinkle Precure: Hoshi no Uta ni Omoi wo Komete Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, everyone!

Miss Hokusai Gruff

We made it to another one. But we have to do more than just survive…

I’ve been really fatigued this week due to sleeping patterns which see me wake up at 03:00 in the morning and struggle to get back to sleep. It’s really dispiriting to get mid-way through a regular work day and struggle to smile. I’m going to exercise more to see if that improves things. Other than that and general sense of needing to change my life and improve my writing, I’m okay.

I wrote about the London East Asian Film Festival and I want to go to Samurai Sunday where they will show 13 Assassins, two entries in the Lone Wolf and Cub series, Harakiri, and Sword of Doom! I also posted a review for Bullet Ballet which I got two years ago but only got around to watching now.

What is released in Japan this weekend?

Continue reading “The Promised Land, Show Me the Way to the Station, Special Actors, If Hope Disappears From the World, AI Tantei, AI Detective, The Detective Has a Melancholy Dream Tonight. 2, Kaihou-ku, Fragile, A Small History of Love Vol. 1, Star☆Twinkle Precure: Hoshi no Uta ni Omoi wo Komete Japanese Film Trailers”

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Bullet Ballet バルットバレエ Dir: Shinya Tsukamoto (2000)

Bullet Ballet                                                  Bullet Ballet Film Poster

バルットバレエ 「Barutto Baree

Release Date: March 11th, 2000

Duration: 87 mins.

Director: Shinya Tsukamoto

Writer: Shinya Tsukamoto

Starring: Shinya Tsukamoto, Kirina Mano, Tomorowo Taguchi, Tatsuya Nakamura, Kyoka Suzuki, Hisashi Igawa, Takahiro Murase, Keisuke Yoshida, Hiromi Kuronuma

When you say bullet ballet I think of Hong Kong gun-play movies the likes of which made John Woo famous. That isn’t the case here with this Shinya Tsukamoto film which is distinctly him as it features a visual and aural style reminiscent of Tetsuo: The Iron Man and Tetsuo II: Body Hammer (even shot in black and white) but closer in tone to the existential enquiries of A Snake of June and Tokyo Fist.

Shinya Tsukamoto takes the lead role of Goda, a thirty-something filmmaker working in advertising. His work aside, life is absolutely average – long hours at the office, drinks after work, an equally busy girlfriend named Kiriko. They have been with each other for a decade but never committed to marrying because they are both pursuing careers. No surprises. No detours. No shocks. That is until Goda returns home one night to find police cars and ambulances surrounding the entrance to his apartment building. Kiriko has committed suicide with a gun.

Continue reading “Bullet Ballet バルットバレエ Dir: Shinya Tsukamoto (2000)”

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Japanese Films at the London East Asian Film Festival 2019

The London East Asian Film Festival announced its programme last month and there will be a lot of films to see from October 24th to November 03rd and there is a great slate of films from Korea to Hong Kong and Japan.

Here are some of the non-Japanese titles I’ve reviewed:

The Crossing (festival link) and Still Human (festival link) The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil (festival link)

The Japanese selection features titles both old and new, fresh off the festival circuit and dragged out of the vaults.

Here are the details:

Continue reading “Japanese Films at the London East Asian Film Festival 2019”

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Itsuka no futari, The Truth, The Path Leading to Love, Her Blue Sky. Walking Man , Welcome to Japan Hinomaru Lunch Box, Blue Hour, Vampire Clay 2, Tokyo Adios Japanese Film Trailers

Welcome to the weekend, everyone!

I hope you are all safe and well.

It’s another weekend so that means more badly translated trailers. This week has been playing catch-up with reviews I am supposed to turn in and writing down reviews for films I saw at the Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival as well as an interview with director Takeshi Yashiro. I posted a delayed trailer post in two parts (part one / part two) and a preview of Japan Cuts Hollywood this week.

The big news is that Typhoon Habigis is about to make landfall in the Tokyo Bay area. There has been hours of rain leading up to this and rivers are swollen and people are being prepped for evacuation already. If you’re in Japan during this typhoon, take all precautions and make sure you stay indoors and stay safe and heed official warnings for evacuation if necessary. The Japan Times has a Disaster News and Information page which will be of help.

What’s released this weekend?

Continue reading “Itsuka no futari, The Truth, The Path Leading to Love, Her Blue Sky. Walking Man , Welcome to Japan Hinomaru Lunch Box, Blue Hour, Vampire Clay 2, Tokyo Adios Japanese Film Trailers”

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A Preview of Japan Cuts Hollywood 2019

Japan Cuts Hollywood Header 2

JAPAN CUTS Hollywood is a 3-day film festival organised in cooperation with JAPAN CUTS in New York. There is a unique slate of titles different from the New York fest (except for Melancholic) and some short films and a History Channel documentary called Defending Japan. Guests will also be in attendance.

Here’s what is programmed:

Continue reading “A Preview of Japan Cuts Hollywood 2019”

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Garo – Under the Moonbow, Blackfox, Words Can’t Go There, Miss Blue Lotus, Ao no Hasu Yori, Last Ninja: Red Shadow, Tenzo, LET IT BE -You Exist to Be You-, Sensei Kara, “Kiki Kirin” o Ikiru, Ikenie man Japanese Film Trailers

This is the second part of my trailer post for last weekend’s releases. A lot came out and I was busy with a film festival so I kept putting it off until now.

What was released last weekend???

Continue reading “Garo – Under the Moonbow, Blackfox, Words Can’t Go There, Miss Blue Lotus, Ao no Hasu Yori, Last Ninja: Red Shadow, Tenzo, LET IT BE -You Exist to Be You-, Sensei Kara, “Kiki Kirin” o Ikiru, Ikenie man Japanese Film Trailers”

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The Other Home, Mukou no Ie,Liar! Uncover the Truth, Listen to the Universe, Tokyo Wine Party People, Mr. Hikita, I Am Knocked Up, Strike Witches: 501st JOINT FIGHTER WING Take Off!, High & Low The Worst, Geki × cine “Seven people of the skull castle” Season Moon Waning Moon Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend!

I hope you are all well!

The Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival is on and I’m locked into doing that. It has been good getting back into anime and watching the films with the audience and then chatting about them in the lobby of the cinema. Titles include Tamako Love Story, Fate/Stay Night Heaven’s Feel Presage Flower and Birthday Wonderland, A Silent Voice and Penguin Highway. Expect to see some reviews. Due to the festival, this post will be split into two so expect more trailers later this week.

This week I reviewed Ad Astra (2019) and ran a news report about the stop-motion animation workshop being run by Takeshi Yashiro.

What’s released this weekend?

Continue reading “The Other Home, Mukou no Ie,Liar! Uncover the Truth, Listen to the Universe, Tokyo Wine Party People, Mr. Hikita, I Am Knocked Up, Strike Witches: 501st JOINT FIGHTER WING Take Off!, High & Low The Worst, Geki × cine “Seven people of the skull castle” Season Moon Waning Moon Japanese Film Trailers”

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Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival Workshop and Talks with Award-Winning Animator Takeshi Yashiro and Producer Satoshi Akutsu in the UK

Cardiff’s Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival and the Japan Foundation have teamed up to host award-winning stop-motion animator Takeshi Yashiro and his producer Satoshi Akutsu on a tour of the UK as they take part in talks and a stop-motion animation workshop.

On October 05th, the two men will show their latest collaboration, Gon, The Little Fox (2019) at a Masterclass and will talk about their careers as Yashiro explains why he chooses to work in stop-motion and how he makes his movies. Satoshi Akutsu presents an equally interesting talk considering he has extensive experience in the role of producer for a variety of projects in Japan and America, having worked with Japanese broadcaster NHK, animation production house Madhouse, and DVD distributor Geneon Universal.

Here’s a trailer for their latest work Gon, The Little Fox, an adaptation of the classic 1932 children’s story about the fateful encounter between a farmer and a mischievous fox.

On October 06th, Yashiro will lead a stop-motion workshop where attendees can animate their own scene with actual puppets used by Yashiro in the film. It is open to people from the age 8 and up at the cost of £27 (for booking please contact the festival info@kotatsufestival.com).

Following their stint in Cardiff, the two men will be in London for a special talk.

Takeshi Yashiro is a graduate from Tokyo University of the Arts who got his career started making CMs and studied different stop-motion techniques in his spare time until he decided to go full-time with the style in 2012 with his debut Dear November Boy (2012). He’s had a string of award-winning films like Norman the Snowman The Northern Light and Firewood, Kanta & Grandpa (both 2013) and Moon of a Sleepless Night (2015), which won the Japan Competition Best Short Award at the Short Shorts Film Festival 2016 (source).

Commenting on the win, Yashiro said about stop-motion,

“The best thing about using stop motion animation is that the characters and the set really “exist” in front of the camera. Though technology has enabled CG to create brilliant images these days, it is still worthwhile using stop motion pictures because the audience can feel everything being there and sense the texture of the materials. In this sense, stop motion films are developed from art design. While sculptors interpret the world by capturing single moments of objects, I like to animate figures to show my interpretation of the world. I hope you will enjoy the story and I’d be glad if you could spare a few moments to think about the art design in the film.”

Here are the events and dates:

Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival (October 05th and 06th at the Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff)
Japan Foundation in London (October 07th, 18:30 at the Courthouse Hotel Cinema in London)

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Ad Astra Dir: James Gray (2019) (USA)

Ad Astra   

アド・アストラAdo Asutora

Release Date: September 18th, 2020

Duration: 123 mins.

Director: James Gray

Writer: James Gray, Ethan Gross (Screenplay),

Starring: Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Ruth Negga, Donald Sutherland, Liv Tyler, Kimmy Shields, John Finn, LisaGay Hamilton, Bobby Nish, Sean Blakemore, Kimberly Elise,

Website IMDB

Following on from his sure-footed performance as a cocksure stunt-double in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood, Brad Pitt takes the lead in another of 2019’s biggest films but dials down the flashiness to portray an ace astronaut who must confront a hostile environment and emotional states as he goes to the far edge of the Solar System in search of his father to stop a civilisation-ending disaster.

Pitt gives an understated performance as Major Roy McBride, a skilled but buttoned-up military man famous for having a pulse that never goes above 80 bpm.

Continue reading “Ad Astra Dir: James Gray (2019) (USA)”

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The Flowers of Evil, From Miyamoto To You, Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These Chapter I, Horror Channel, Ojo-chan, Yoidore Seiyu Horoki Seibero ‘Shinbashi-hen’ , Shunga and the Japanese, Gekijouban Soshite Ikiru, Cinema Kabuki Tokubetsu-hen Yuugen , Ninkyo Gakuen, Daremonai Heya Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, everyone!

Chichi no Kekkon Film Image
Chichi no Kekkon Film Image

I hope you are all well!

This week I published my review for Orphan’s Blues and also a look at the Japanese films at this year’s Busan International Film Festival. We’re getting closer to this year’s Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival and I’m doing SNS and press stuff.

What is released in cinemas across Japan this weekend?

Continue reading “The Flowers of Evil, From Miyamoto To You, Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These Chapter I, Horror Channel, Ojo-chan, Yoidore Seiyu Horoki Seibero ‘Shinbashi-hen’ , Shunga and the Japanese, Gekijouban Soshite Ikiru, Cinema Kabuki Tokubetsu-hen Yuugen , Ninkyo Gakuen, Daremonai Heya Japanese Film Trailers”

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Japanese Films at the Busan International Film Festival 2019 (03rd-12th October)

Busan International Film Festival Logo

This year’s Busan International Film Festival is the 24th in the series and it runs from October 03rd to the 12th. This is the first time that I have covered Busan but it has been on the cards for a while because, much like Tokyo and Osaka, it’s a good place to scout out Asian films. There is a great slate of titles from some soon-to-be-released mainstream films to indie movies and there are familiar titles featured at other festivals.

Here are the titles!

The Opening Film is:

The Horse Thieves. Roads of Time    The Horse Thieves. Roads of Time Film Poster

オルジャスの白い馬Oruhasu no Shiroi Uma

Release Date: January 18th, 2020

Duration: 84 mins.

Director: Yerlan Nurmukhambetov, Lisa Takeba

Writer: Yerlan Nurmukhambetov (Screenplay),

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

Website IMDB

This road movie/western is a co-production between Kazakhstan/Japan and brought to the big screen via Tokyo New Cinema. It is the work of two directors, Yerlan Nurmukhambetov who won the New Currents Award in Busan International Film Festival 2015, and Lisa Takeba. Yes, that Lisa Takeba with the fierce imagination who made The Pinkie (2014) and Haruko’s Paranormal Laboratory (2015). In his first overseas role, Mirai Moriyama (The Drudgery Train) takes one of the lead characters amongst a predominantly Kazakh cast.

It looks like an ambitious and fresh new movie production for Japan as it follows To the Ends of the Earth to new territories and stories. 

Synopsis: We are in the plains of the Central Asian nation of Kazakhstan, a world where horse thieves operate under vast skies and on huge grass plains. A family man is murdered by those thieves as he heads to a town market to sell his horses. This leaves his wife a widow and his children fatherless. The village comes together to help the wife hold the man’s funeral and then the wife decides to return to her family with her children. Then, another man who vanished from her life eight years ago appears and helps the woman move and takes one of the children, the son, under his wing, teaching him how to ride horses. The son of the wife resembles that man. The man and the boy go out on horseback together and track down the horse thieves…

Continue reading “Japanese Films at the Busan International Film Festival 2019 (03rd-12th October)”

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Orphan’s Blues オーファンズ・ブルース Dir: Riho Kudo (2018) [Japan Cuts 2019]

Orphan’s Blues      Orphans Blues Film Poster

オーファンズ・ブルース O-fanzu Buru-su

Release Date: May 31st, 2019

Duration: 89 mins.

Director: Riho Kudo

Writer: Riho Kudo (Screenplay),

Starring: Yukino Murakami, Takuro Kamikawa, Nagiko Tsuji, Sion Sasaki, Tamaki Kubose, Yu Yoshii,

Website

Orphan’s Blues was the winner of the Grand Prize at the Pia Film Festival 2018 and was screened at last year’s Nara and Tokyo international film festivals where it earned some critical buzz. It makes its North American debut at Japan Cuts 2019 where its narrative dissonance will either capture imaginations or leave audiences bewildered.

The world seems to be ending. Grim pronouncements about rising temperatures and global warming are made on the radio and it seems to be true considering the sights and sounds of a sun-soaked stifling summer scored by cicadas provide the backdrop for a road trip taken by characters to find a missing man. Initiating this journey is a young woman named Emma (Yukino Murakami). She lives a lonely life working as a bookseller on a dusty roadside patch and she is furiously fighting against her fading memory. It is a battle she wages by creating canopies of post-it notes at home and writing in notebooks. Her present-tense thoughts are scattered around but dominated by her memories of her past in an orphanage with her best friend Yang. When she gets a painting of an elephant from Yang (elephants’ never forget), Emma decides to drop everything and search for him.

Continue reading “Orphan’s Blues オーファンズ・ブルース Dir: Riho Kudo (2018) [Japan Cuts 2019]”

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Blind Witness, Little Nights Little Love, Love’s Stoppage Time, My Father the Bride, Hello World, Soushiki no Meijin, Ghost Mask: Scar. Wolf’s Calling, Ko Sekai, Jinsei o shimau jikan (Toki), Sekai Ichi Oishii Mizu Maronpati no Namida, Three Mornings, Ko Sekai, The Tears of Malumpati, Ranhansha Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, everyone!

The Best if Youth New Generation

I hope you are well!

I ended last week with a review of The Best of Youth and then proceeded to go back into my Japanese film reviews with Samurai Marathon and the Sho Miyake film And Your Bird Can SingI’ve also been manning the SNS of an animation festival and surveying coverage on other sites and it’s going well.

What’s released this weekend?

Continue reading “Blind Witness, Little Nights Little Love, Love’s Stoppage Time, My Father the Bride, Hello World, Soushiki no Meijin, Ghost Mask: Scar. Wolf’s Calling, Ko Sekai, Jinsei o shimau jikan (Toki), Sekai Ichi Oishii Mizu Maronpati no Namida, Three Mornings, Ko Sekai, The Tears of Malumpati, Ranhansha Japanese Film Trailers”

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And Your Bird Can Sing きみの鳥はうたえる Dir: Sho Miyake (2018) [Japan Cuts 2019]

And Your Bird Can Sing   Kimi no tori wa utaeru Film Poster

きみの鳥はうたえる Kimi no tori wa utaeru

Release Date: September 01st, 2018

Duration: 119 mins.

Director: Sho Miyake

Writer: Sho Miyake (Screenplay), Yasushi Sato (Novel)

Starring: Shota Sometani, Tasuku Emoto, Shizuka Ishibashi, Makiko Watanabe, Ai Yamamoto,

Website IMDB

Film adaptations of stories by the writer Yasushi Sato have slowly been made over the last decade with Sketches of Kaitan City (2010) by director Kazuyoshi Kumakiri, Mipo Oh’s The Light Shines Only There (2014) and Nobuhiro Yamashita’s Over the Fence (2016) joined by Sho Miyake’s And Your Bird Can Sing which premiered at the 2018 Tokyo International Film Festival. All are set in the author’s native city of Hakodate in the north of Japan and all centre on the lives of working-class people, showing them with subtle shades of sadness in slow moving dramas struck through with moments of beauty for some uplift. And Your Bird Can Sing is the least dramatic of the bunch but no less engaging.  

The film takes place over one summer in Hakodate and follows an unnamed protagonist (Tasuku Emoto), simply referred to as “Me” in the credits. He is a freeter who works at a bookstore while sharing an apartment with his unemployed friend, Shizuo (Shota Sometani). They pass their time together drinking from dusk until dawn and shambling home in a fit of giggles after some mild caper. “Me” will frequently roll into work with a hangover while Shizuo will potter around during the day in anticipation of the night to come which promises a repeat of their antics. They are young, aimless and content. However, their lethargic days are shaken when “Me” begins dating his co-worker Sachiko (Shizuka Ishibashi). Independent and quietly rebellious, she is attracted to “Me” and his laid back nature. Curiosity turns into companionship as she gets roped into his hang-about life and meets Shizuo.

For “Me” and Sachiko the future appears so far off as to be inconsequential especially with more immediate pleasures at hand which consist long nights spent bopping to beats in clubs or slipping in and out of a lover’s embrace but change will happen because there is an ever so gentle forward motion to the story driven by Shizuo’s growing attraction to Sachiko. Sho Miyake’s camerawork loves Shizuka Ishibashi’s spirited performance as she slinks and grooves through scenes and she imbues a liveliness to her character which naturally holds the attention of the audience as well as other characters, Shizuo especially as his snatched glances and side-eyed stares segue into touchy-feely interactions during their many trips to karaoke bars and clubs.

“Me” seems to just accept the situation with indifference but the subtle shifting of emotions presages bigger changes as the three friends start to slowly slip away from each other at a time when employment and family pressures mount and provide unwelcome pricks of reality that let the air out of the snug and comfortable world they created. Responsibilities avoided come crashing down and it seems like the fun is over as the story forces them to reassess their situation and recognise a general malaise they feel from having held life in stasis for some time. 

This is a soft drama rather than something hardscrabble, something that explores the harmony of companionship where the pace of the film is affected by the lifestyle of the three as they while away their time but the emotional fluctuations are there and they lurk under the surface of scenes, usually in subtle movements of the actors. When the pressure mounts, hints of nastiness emerge, Shota Sometani and Tasuku Emoto able to turn their character on a dime and launch into aggressiveness and then reveal a more sympathetic worry to add welcome layers of emotions to characters that initially just seem aimless. 

Sho Miyake chooses to use this slow pace to delicately tease out the changes felt between these people in moments of low drama so the film ends up feeling like a tender and caring examination of characters preparing to face complicated feelings rather than something harsher as experienced in other adaptations of Yasushi Sato’s work. Miyake probably captures the freeter lifestyle accurately as he respects and translates the pleasures of their lives, shooting everything with a pleasant light, often during dusk and dawn, giving the image a quality that softens everything and renders their activities and the city of Hakodate more beautiful than it could possibly be in reality. Reality can be harsh but there is some hope at the end of this film as they have to leave behind their freeter lifestyles. As much as they like hanging out, at some point the party has to end but who will leave with the girl…?

 

My review for this film was originally published on July 21st at VCinema

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Samurai Marathon  サムライマラソン Dir: Bernard Rose (2019) [New York Asian Film Festival 2019]

Samurai Marathon 

サムライマラソン Samurai MarasonSamurai Marathon Film Poster

Duration: 104 mins.

Release Date: February 22nd, 2019

Director:  Bernard Rose

Writer: Hiroshi Saito, Kikumi Yamagishi Bernard Rose (Screenplay), Akihiro Dobashi (Original Novel)

Starring: Takeru Satoh, Shota Sometani, Mirai Moriyama, Nana Komatsu, Munetaka Aoki, Hiroki Hasegawa, Etsushi Toyokawa, Naoto Takenaka, Danny Huston, Junko Abe, Mugi Kadowaki, Mariko Tsutsui,

Website IMDB

Every May in Annaka city, Gunma Prefecture, a marathon is held that claims to be the oldest in Japan. Its origins can be traced back to when Commodore Perry arrived off the coast of the country in 1854 with his black ships and, through threat of aggression, ended 260 years of Japan’s self-imposed isolation. Leaders across the land reacted differently to his arrival. One cautious feudal lord, Katsuaki Itakura of the Annaka clan, tested the abilities of his samurai by holding a marathon. This story is brought to life by British director Bernard Rose – famous for Candyman (1992) – who worked from the novel “The Marathon Samurai: Five Tales of Japan’s First Marathon” by Akihiro Dobashi. The resulting film, Samurai Marathon will sweep audiences away in its neatly executed adventure that, once it gets running, provides plenty of action and amusement.

The film’s set-up is a sprint to get everyone to the starting line. Opening with the arrival of Commodore Perry (Danny Huston) and his treaty demands it dashes into Katsuaki Itakura’s (Hiroki Hasegawa) organising a marathon 36 miles long to toughen up his warriors in mind and body for potential attacks from foreigners. The promise of a wish being granted to the winner is the motivation for the ensemble of runners which consists of fighting men of all stripes from lower-class spear-men like Hironoshi Uesugi (Shota Sometani), who dreams of being raised to the status of a higher-class samurai, an aged samurai recently put out to pasture named Mataemon Kurita (Naoto Takenaka), to the chief retainer’s son, Heikuro Tsujimura (Mirai Moriyama) who wants to marry Itakura’s daughter Princess Yuki (Nana Komatsu). All are vying to win and all are introduced quickly as are the people connected to them such as wives and children. By the time we get to the starting line at the 40-minute mark we get a vertical view of samurai society and become connected to characters who are all distinctly sketched.

Continue reading “Samurai Marathon  サムライマラソン Dir: Bernard Rose (2019) [New York Asian Film Festival 2019]”

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The Best of Youth La meglio gioventù Dir: Mario Tullio Giodarna (2003) [Italy]

The Best of Youth    The Best of Youth Film Poster

La meglio gioventù

Release Date: June 22nd, 2003

Duration: 366 mins.

Director: Marco Tullio Giordana

Writer: Sandro Petraglia, Stefano Rulli (Screenplay),

Starring: Luigi Lo Cascio, Alessio Boni, Jasmine Trinca, Adriana Asti, Sonia Bergamasco, Maya Sansa, Lidia Vitale, Fabrizio Gifuni,

IMDB

The Best of Youth is director Mario Tullio Giodarna’s 2003 film that manages to pack in 40 years of Italian history into six hours of screen time by following three generations of one family. Beautifully lensed and efficiently scripted, it says a lot about how good the acting and directing is that it feels epic yet intimate, that it never strains credibility too much as it charts social changes and that it ensures we care about the internal struggles of a wide cast of characters through the decades.

Continue reading “The Best of Youth La meglio gioventù Dir: Mario Tullio Giodarna (2003) [Italy]”

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They Say Nothing Stays the Same, Hit Me Anyone One More Time, No Longer Human, BanG Dream! Film Live, Ousama ni nare, Geki × cine “Seven people of the skull castle” Season Moon, Mitorishi, Attack of the Giant Teacher Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, everyone!

Judge! Kiichiro (Tsumabuki)

I hope you are well.

I’m trying to get my genki back. I’m posting this on a Friday because I’ve got something else reserved for tomorrow. Anyway, this week I posted a review for the film Sayounara which I saw back in March. I then posted a review for the film A Japanese Boy Who Draws and a news report about the Nara International Film Festival’s Pre-Event where Berlinale and Short Short and Asia film fest films will be shown in Nara.

What’s released this weekend?

Continue reading “They Say Nothing Stays the Same, Hit Me Anyone One More Time, No Longer Human, BanG Dream! Film Live, Ousama ni nare, Geki × cine “Seven people of the skull castle” Season Moon, Mitorishi, Attack of the Giant Teacher Japanese Film Trailers”

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Nara International Film Festival Pre-event 2019 (September 14-16)

 

The organisers behind the Nara International Film Festival (NIFF) have lined up a special event this weekend (September 14-16), or should that be, Pre-Event, as they host three days of films with highlights from this year’s Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale) and the Short Short Film Festival and Asia (SSFF).

Opening on September 14th, the fest serves up Catalonian food and films with Franc Aleu’s documentary El Somni shows how creatives from various disciplines (sculptors, bonsai masters, dancers, actors, novelists) team up to create a meal of multi-sensory seduction that captures all five senses and not just the taste buds. Here’s a glimpse with the trailer:

Continue reading “Nara International Film Festival Pre-event 2019 (September 14-16)”

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A Japanese Boy Who Draws  ある日本の絵描き少年 Dir: Masanao Kawajiri (2018) [Japan Cuts 2019]

A Japanese Boy Who Draws  Aru Nihon no ekaki shonen Film Poster

ある日本の絵描き少年 Aru Nihon no ekaki shonen

Release Date: March 02nd, 2019

Duration: 20 mins.

Director:  Masanao Kawajiri

Writer: Masanao Kawajiri (Screenplay),

Starring: Takeshi Uehara, Yasumi Yajima, Kenta Abe, Yoshiko Ishii, Shota Suzuki,

Website

Masanao Kawajiri’s experimental short animation depicts the life of a boy aiming to be a manga artist. It took the Runner-up Award for the Grand Prize at last year’s Pia Film Festival awards (missing out to Orphan’s Blues) but took the Gemstone Award which is given to, “the most progressive and daring film made beyond the common ideas of filmmaking”. A Japanese Boy Who Draws definitely fits this bill as it marries the magic of art and animation and their many different styles to a mockumentary to tell an enjoyable story of someone pursuing their dream.

The film follows the life and career of Shinji Uehara, someone who pursues his passion for drawing, from the age of one to his life as a professional enduring the vicissitudes of the manga industry.

Continue reading “A Japanese Boy Who Draws  ある日本の絵描き少年 Dir: Masanao Kawajiri (2018) [Japan Cuts 2019]”

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Sayounara 左様なら Dir: Yuho Ishibashi (2018) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019

Sayounara    Sayounara Poster

左様なら Sayounara

Running Time: 86 mins.

Release Date: 2019

Director: Yuho Ishibashi

Writer: Yuho Ishibashi (Screenplay), Gomen (Original Manga)

Starring: Haruka Imou, Kirara Inori, Amon Hirai, Taichi Kodama, Nanami Hidaka,

Website IMDB

http://www.oaff.jp/2019/en/program/if05.html

Naturalistic acting, specifically using pastel colours and lovingly shot images of the sea are what dictate the ebb and flow of the drama in Yuho Ishibashi’s film Sayounara. Originally based on an SNS manga of the same name by the artist Gomen, Ishibashi took four characters and a few frames of the original and expanded its world to create a coming-of-age tale that is familiar in so many elements and yet a good example of a textured exploration of one person coming to terms with grief as life carries on around her.

Sayounara Manga Image

The muted visual tone of the film matches the temperament of the main protagonist of the film, high school student Yuki (Haruka Imou), a quiet girl who lives in a sleepy coastal town. The loudest noises are those of the waves of the sea and the laughter she shares with her best friend Aya (Kirara Inori), a cryptic girl who is soon to leave town. Their friendship is strong and a kiss snatched by Aya opens up all sorts of emotions in Yuki. Tragedy strikes when Aya commits suicide. In response, Yuki dives deep into herself and turns away from any turbulent emotions. Her classmates are also caught in the ripples of the event and react differently, some showing respect while others spread rumours.

Continue reading “Sayounara 左様なら Dir: Yuho Ishibashi (2018) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019”

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Startup Girls, Kazoku Awase, Violet Evergarden Side Story: Eternity and the Auto Memories Doll, Sleep in the Shadows, Kaguya-sama: Love Is War, Typhoon Family, Kage ni dakerete nemure, Taro the Fool, Inakunare Gunjo, Sayounara, Kamen Rider Build NEW WORLD: Kamen Rider Grease Japanese Film Trailers

Welcome to the weekend, everyone.

The Gift Simon (Bateman) Reads the Note

I hope you are well.

I’ve spent less time this week watching films since I’ve been doing a little more press and social media for the Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival and working my regular job. I’ve put together posts about the London Film Festival and the Kotatsu Festival for this week.

What films are released this weekend?

Continue reading “Startup Girls, Kazoku Awase, Violet Evergarden Side Story: Eternity and the Auto Memories Doll, Sleep in the Shadows, Kaguya-sama: Love Is War, Typhoon Family, Kage ni dakerete nemure, Taro the Fool, Inakunare Gunjo, Sayounara, Kamen Rider Build NEW WORLD: Kamen Rider Grease Japanese Film Trailers”

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A Preview of the Kotatsu Japanese Animation Film Festival 2019

This year’s Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival has 8 feature films packed with adventure, emotions, action and awesome animation, all of which should entertain a wide audience. Alongside the film screenings are the marketplace and raffle and we welcome two special guests from Japan.

Penguin Highway Key Image

The festival begins on October 04 at 18:00 at Chapter Arts, Cardiff, with a screening of Code Geass: Lelouch of the Re;surrection, the reintroduction and continuation of the Code Geass mecha saga where giant robots and political intrigue provide the drama. This will be followed by the Reception and an Anime Song Disco hosted by DJ Ryojin at 20:00 where guests can mingle and show off their moves on the dance-floor.

Continue reading “A Preview of the Kotatsu Japanese Animation Film Festival 2019”

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Japanese Films at the BFI London Film Festival 2019

BFI London Film Festival Logo

This year’s London Film Festival runs from October 02nd to the 13th and they have announced their selection of films. It’s a solid slate of films which has Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s latest, To the Ends of the Earth and Takashi Miike’s latest work, First Love! There are a couple of left-field titles such as 37 Seconds and Family Romance LLC, the latter from Werner Herzog. There’s also the American film Earthquake Bird which is set in Tokyo. There’s also the Korean film Maggie which I saw in March and reviewed here.

Here’s what is programmed:

Continue reading “Japanese Films at the BFI London Film Festival 2019”

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Samurai Shifters, Prison 13, Koisuru Antihero The Movie, Niji no Kiseki, Hikari au seimei (inochi). Kokoro ni yorisou. 2, Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku o! Kurenai Densetsu Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, everyone!

I hope you are all feeling good.

I am midway through a long week of work and I’m continuing with my “two films a day” routine with Japanese and Italian films from the 70s and also running press for a film festival. I also watched the Amazon series, The Boys and was impressed by how the studio adapted the comic book into a series that can go on and get a sequel. It has perfect world building to give depth to everyone and the set-up so that I was eager to watch each new episode to find out how the story would unfold and now I am eager to watch the second season. This week saw me post about the Japanese films at the Vancouver International Film Festival 2019 and the line-up for Raindance 2019 as well as a review for Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood.

What is released this weekend?

Continue reading “Samurai Shifters, Prison 13, Koisuru Antihero The Movie, Niji no Kiseki, Hikari au seimei (inochi). Kokoro ni yorisou. 2, Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku o! Kurenai Densetsu Japanese Film Trailers”

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Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood Dir: Quentin Tarantino (2019) (USA)

Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood    Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Film Poster

Release Date: August 14th, 2019 (UK)

Duration: 161 mins.

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Writer: Quentin Tarantino (Screenplay)

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Emile Hirsch, Margaret Qualley,

Website IMDB

Quentin Tarantino is, without a doubt, one of Hollywood’s best movie makers. He has cemented his place by making violent cinematic spectacles that are riffs on genre conventions replete with references and re-purposed iconic imagery from older genre films to synthesise entertaining experiences. The style is often the substance and it often feels like being in a closed world as thinly sketched characters act out their tales surrounded by callbacks to older entertainment. Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood feels like his most mature film to date because it is more of an open world. It speaks to more than just narrow sets of film fans as it relies upon and subverts the shared cultural memory of a wider audience who grew up with 50s and 60s Americana because the film is a melancholy love letter to a lost age in Hollywood where the transition from the fading allure of westerns to the glamorous swinging 60s was about to be knocked off course by the grisly fate of Sharon Tate, something that signalled the end of an era of innocence.

Continue reading “Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood Dir: Quentin Tarantino (2019) (USA)”

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Japanese Films at the Vancouver International Film Festival 2019

Vancouver International Film Festival 2013 Logo

The Vancouver International Film Festival 2019 runs from September 26th to October 11th and it has a fantastic selection of East Asian films with one particular highlight being the HK flick, Still Human, winner of the Audience Award at this year’s Osaka Asian Film Festival. There is a nice compliment of Japanese films, three of which are found in the Gateway strand while Melancholic and Still Human are in Dragons and Tigers. Here’s the round-up of Japanese films.

Continue reading “Japanese Films at the Vancouver International Film Festival 2019”

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Kakou no Futari, Ossan’s Love: Love or Dead, Ni no kuni, Revival II Ai to biseibutsu, How to Identify the Correct Bus, Narenai Futari, I’m Crazy, I Want to Be a Farmer, The man most feared by the US military (USA), Seisyun Kaleidoscope, Mugen Foundation, Hoshi o sutete, Riben guizi Japanese Devils Confessions of Imperial Army Soldiers from Japan’s War Against China Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, everyone.

Dear Doctor Ino Two

Autumn is approaching!

I’m at the end of a 12-day working week. I watched a looooot of films. Usually one in the morning (horror/thriller) and then one in the evening (yakuza). I also watched Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood – thoughts on that next week. I have to pack in doing PR for the Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival which launches in October.

This week I posted about two festivals taking place, Horror Hiho, which is dedicated to horror movies, and OP Pictures pink film festival, which is self-explanatory. There are too many films from both to put in the trailer posts so they got their own separate posts. I also did my preview for the Japanese films at the 2019 edition of the Toronto International Film Festival – lots of master film-makers present.

What films are playing this weekend?

Continue reading “Kakou no Futari, Ossan’s Love: Love or Dead, Ni no kuni, Revival II Ai to biseibutsu, How to Identify the Correct Bus, Narenai Futari, I’m Crazy, I Want to Be a Farmer, The man most feared by the US military (USA), Seisyun Kaleidoscope, Mugen Foundation, Hoshi o sutete, Riben guizi Japanese Devils Confessions of Imperial Army Soldiers from Japan’s War Against China Japanese Film Trailers”

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OP PICTURES+FEST 2019 Films (August 23 – September 05)

OP PICTURES + Fes 2019” is back for another year, screening between August 23-September 5 at Theater Shinjuku, OP Pictures Fest 2019 Poster Tokyo.

Just like last year’s event, this is a collection of pink films produced by the movie production company, Okura Movie, with the racy bits cut out to secure the R15 rating to open it up to a wider audience. Familiar names grace the staff and cast lists although one director from mainstream and indie cinema makes his debut here in a pink film as director and actor. Whether or not he gets up to some steamy action will only be found out by the people that watch these films. There are 15 titles in total and their release pattern is spread out over two weeks and they are screened two per evening.

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

Here’s the information that is available so far plus a trailer:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading “OP PICTURES+FEST 2019 Films (August 23 – September 05)”

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Japanese Films at the Toronto International Film Festival 2019 (05th-15th September)

Toronto International Film Festival 2014 Post Header

This year’s Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 05th to the 15th and they have announced their selection of films. There is a great slate of titles from some of the big hitters in the industry with both live-action and anime getting represented. Yes, it’s an auteur-driven selection although Contemporary World Cinema has an award-winning indie drama by newbie director Hikari. It’s joined in that strand by a drama by Koji Fukada which was at Locarno along with a film in the strand Masters which has Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s latest, To the Ends of the Earth. Wavelengths 2 features a short film collection, SUN RAVE, which has a short from Japan by director Tomonari Nishikawa. Special Presentation has Makoto Shinkai’s Weathering with You and Hirokazu Kore-eda’s The Truth. There are Japanese inclusions in the documentaries Women Make Film: A New Road Movie Through Cinema and Dads and Midnight Madness features Takashi Miike’s latest work!

Continue reading “Japanese Films at the Toronto International Film Festival 2019 (05th-15th September)”