Featured

Signal 100, Saint Young Men Third Century, The Phone of the Wind, Our 30 Minute Sessions, His, Romance Doll and Other Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend!

I hope you are all well.

I have the weekend off work so I’m happy. This week, I’ve been focusing more on movies with prep work for a lot of reviews and actually watching films. I also went to see 1917 after work with some colleagues.

In terms of this blog, I posted reviews for My Dad and Mr. Ito (2016) and The Graceful Brute (1962). My reviews for Her Sketchbook (2017) and The Actor (2016) were also posted on VCinema.

What is released this weekend?

Continue reading “Signal 100, Saint Young Men Third Century, The Phone of the Wind, Our 30 Minute Sessions, His, Romance Doll and Other Japanese Film Trailers”

Featured

The Graceful Brute しとやかな獣 Dir: Yuzo Kawashima (1962)

The Graceful Brute   The Graceful Brute Film Poster

しとやかな獣  Shitoyakana kedamono

Release Date: December 26th, 1962

Duration: 96 mins.

Director:  Yuzo Kawashima

Writer:  Kaneto Shindo (Screenplay),

Starring: Ayako Wakao, Yunosuke Ito, Hisano Yamaoka, Manamitsu Kawabata, Yuko Hamada, Eiji Funakoshi, Kyu Sazanka, Chocho Miyako, Hideo Takamatsu,

IMDB

A possible tag line for this film could be, “a family that embezzles together, stays together”, such is the content of this film which shows a day in the life of a greedy family as they swindle from subjects in their social circle. Ten actors, one location, and a narrative that takes place over 24 hours, Graceful Brute (1962) is a masterful black comedy that critiques the changing morals of Japanese people during the economic miracle of the post-war years.

The film almost exclusively takes place in the fifth floor apartment of the Maeda’s. They live in a danchi (housing complex) designed by Kunio Maekawa¹, the sort of forward-thinking utilitarian building that was meant to serve every need of its residents and promote community and harmony but the values of the Maeda’s are far from these ideals. They seem to be a stable family unit of two conservative parents (who wear kimono and listen to traditional music) and their hip son and daughter (out on the town in Ginza’s bars) but as the narrative unfolds we see the depth of their duplicity, selfishness, and materialistic behaviour which unites them. They are a product of the age.

Continue reading “The Graceful Brute しとやかな獣 Dir: Yuzo Kawashima (1962)”

Featured

My Dad and Mr. Ito お父さんと伊藤さん Dir: Yuki Tanada (2016)

My Dad and Mr. Ito

お父さんと伊藤さんOtoo-san to Itoo-sanMy Dad and Mr Ito Film Poster

Release Date: October 08th, 2016

Duration: 119 mins

Director:  Yuki Tanada

Writer: Hinako Nakazawa (Screenplay/Original Novel),

Starring: Juri Ueno, Tatsuya Fujiwara, Sei Ando, Lily Franky, Tomoharu Hasegawa, Eri Watanabe,

Website IMDB

Nothing binds people together as tightly as family ties and those ties can hurt when they really bite into you, something which the characters in this drama experience when an old man moves in with his daughter and her boyfriend in their small apartment. It may be a cramped space but a wide range of issues are raised as these three try to learn to live together.

Continue reading “My Dad and Mr. Ito お父さんと伊藤さん Dir: Yuki Tanada (2016)”

Featured

Higanbana in the Rain, The Horse Thieves. Roads of Time, Tokyo Paralympics: Festival of Love and Glory, The Return, Bad Poetry Tokyo, Complicity, Mellow, Last Letter and Other Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, everyone.

I hope you are all well.

This week, I’ve been diligently writing reviews and prepping them as well as getting ready for a Japanese film festival. I posted my reviews for Erica 38 and the Hirokazu Koreeda film Distance.

What is released this weekend in Japan?

A whole lot of films. Thankfully, a lot were played at the Tokyo International Film Festival 2019 or are older films so I could just copy and paste from past articles I wrote!

Continue reading “Higanbana in the Rain, The Horse Thieves. Roads of Time, Tokyo Paralympics: Festival of Love and Glory, The Return, Bad Poetry Tokyo, Complicity, Mellow, Last Letter and Other Japanese Film Trailers”

Featured

Distance ディスタンス Dir: Hirokazu Kore-eda (2001)

Distance    Distance Film Poster

ディスタンス Disutansu

Release Date: May 26th, 2001

Duration: 132 mins.

Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda

Writer: Hirokazu Kore-eda (Script) 

Starring: Yui Natsukawa, Yusuke Iseya, Arata, Susumu Terajima, Tadanobu Asano, Ryo, Kenichi Endo, Kanji Tsuda,

IMDB

Hirokazu Kore-eda made Distance after he became interested in the disciples of Aum Shinrikyo, the group which committed the Tokyo subway sarin attack¹. He wanted to comment on how everyone in society could be responsible for it in some way. In so doing, he strikes at a universal fear surely felt by everyone which is that perhaps those who should be the closest to us are sometimes the ones furthest away.

This idea of distance is given to us through the story of a group of people who are ostensibly disconnected from each other but each has a deep personal connection to a terrorist incident described at the start of the film by a radio announcer.

Continue reading “Distance ディスタンス Dir: Hirokazu Kore-eda (2001)”

Featured

Erica 38 エリカ38 Dir: Yuichi Hibi (2019)

Erica 38    Erica 38 Film Poster

エリカ38  Erika 38

Release Date: June 07th, 2019

Duration: 103 mins.

Director: Yuichi Hibi

Writer: Yuichi Hibi (Screenplay),

Starring: Miyoko Asada, Miu Suzuki, Kirin Kiki, Nahana, Juri Manase, Hajime Yamazaki, Shizuo Yamazaki, Hinako Saeki, Takehiro Hira,

Website IMDB

Inspired by true events, Erica 38 tells the story of a con-woman named Satoko Watabe who defrauds 50 billion yen from unsuspecting dupes in a pyramid scheme before finally being caught. The lead character, played by former pop idol Miyoko Asada, may have a silver tongue that can deceive others but in the end the biggest dupe turns out to be her.

Continue reading “Erica 38 エリカ38 Dir: Yuichi Hibi (2019)”

Featured

Stare, Kaiji: The Final Game, On-Gaku: Our Sound, King of Prism All Stars: Prism Show Best 10, Ashita, Kimi no inai sekai de, The Island of Giant Insects, Beyond the Blue, Apparel Designer and Other Japanese Film Trailers

Happy Weekend, people!

Resident Evil 2 Remake Image

I hope you are all well.

This is the second weekend of the decade and we’re all still here. I have been playing Resident Evil 2: Remake, a Christmas present from my mother and sister, and I’ve been having a blast. I got past Mr. X without dying – although he did punch me as I walked through a door to evade a licker. It’s very cinematic thanks to the moody lighting and brilliant level design and character animation. After getting to the sewer, I’ve shelved it for now because I have films to do. I watched the film Erica 38 and reviewed it for V-Cinema. I also wrote about the films playing at this year’s Rotterdam International Film Festival and 10 films I hope to pick up in Japan this year.

What is released this weekend?

Continue reading “Stare, Kaiji: The Final Game, On-Gaku: Our Sound, King of Prism All Stars: Prism Show Best 10, Ashita, Kimi no inai sekai de, The Island of Giant Insects, Beyond the Blue, Apparel Designer and Other Japanese Film Trailers”

Featured

Japanese Films at the International Film Festival Rotterdam 2020

Rotterdam International Film Festival Logo

From January 22nd to February 02nd 2020, the Rotterdam International Film Festival will screen a diverse mix of films from old masters and new talents and the Japanese contingent epitomises this with familiar names like Kazuo Hara and Nobuhiko Obayashi having their latest works picked up, after they had their premieres at the Tokyo International Film Festival last year, alongside the freshest titles from newer voices like documentarian Kaori Oda and Isamu Hirabayashi who has worked a lot in anime.

Here are the Japanese movies, the newest titles first:

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

Featured

Genkina hito’s Top Ten Films to Get in 2020

I have been writing about films here for a decade and ever since I started writing badly translated synopses to highlight interesting films, I have had a list in my mind of titles that I want to watch. I add and subtract films from said list but many listed here have remained in my mind. These ten films I have never forgotten and since it has been ten years since I first started blogging, I want to make an effort and track them down to review them the next time I am in Japan. Which is… SOON!

Will I see any of these films? Who knows, but I want to watch them.

Continue reading “Genkina hito’s Top Ten Films to Get in 2020”

Featured

Sayonara TV, Kappa 2 But we have to rest, Cinema Kabuki Letters to the Red-Light District, Kono yo wa arikitari Japanese Film Trailers

Welcome to the first trailer post of 2020 and the new decade!

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood Film Image

I hope you are well.

My New Year’s Day was spent watching films and writing about them and eating some good home-cooked food made by my mother. Some Kon Ichikawa and Naomi Kawase to start the year! I then went back to work the very next day so that was a bit of a drag after 11 days off work relaxing. Oh well, I can’t complain about my job.

2020 might be the year when I switch.

As for this blog, business as usual. I spent the week reminiscing about the last decade with Monday’s post dedicated to my Top Ten Films of 2019 and Wednesday’s post given over to the Top 25 Films of the Decade. It’s a unique list compared to a lot of others I have seen on social media but that’s because I focus mostly on Japanese films.

Enough about the past! What about the present?

There’s a small but very diverse selection of films released this weekend, most of which look genuinely interesting. So…

What’s released this weekend?

Continue reading “Sayonara TV, Kappa 2 But we have to rest, Cinema Kabuki Letters to the Red-Light District, Kono yo wa arikitari Japanese Film Trailers”

Featured

Genkina hito’s Top 25 Films of the Decade

My WordPress blog birthday was December 20th and it has been a decade since I first started writing reviews and news articles here about what interests me.

Cure Yakusho Stares at City

It started with book reviews like World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie Apocalypse and big screen Hollywood fare such as Avatar and Alice in Wonderland. It shifted to American indies like Stake Land and 2 Days in New York with some European and central/South American films like Submarine, Certified Copy, I Am Love and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo before I transitioned quickly into Asian cinema, long a passion of mine from childhood, and I took to covering the latest UK releases and festival news for Asian movies and writing about my favourite filmmakers like Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Shinya Tsukamoto. My taste has changed from horror and action to more contemplative and experimental works but my passion for cinema burns bright and for good reason.

Through ten years of writing on this blog I have made friends and watched lots of great films. Indeed, I’ve covered a quite a range of titles and, as the years progressed, actually got involved with film culture through writing for magazines and other websites, doing festival press work at the likes of the Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival and the Osaka Asian Film Festival as well as doing plenty of writing like interviews at UK festivals like Raindance, Terracotta and the London Film Festival. It has almost always been fun and I’ve even had the chance to live and travel in Japan. I can honestly say this blog has been amazing for me by helping me make friends and find my voice in this world.

So, thanks to film and writing about it, I’ve had a fun time. Indeed, sometimes the process of writing about films has been just as much fun as the viewing experience and now I want to highlight my fifteen favourite films to watch and also write about.

Strap yourself in and turn on some music for the ramblings of a film fan:

Continue reading “Genkina hito’s Top 25 Films of the Decade”

Featured

Genkina hito’s Top Ten Films of 2019 and He Says Goodbye to a Tumultuous Year

Welcome to my penultimate post of 2019

Miss Hokusai Image 1

This is a melange of things including my New Year’s Resolution and my top ten films of 2019 rolled into one.

We’re about to start a new decade and I think we all managed to hold on to our collective sanity having lived through an era of austerity, unprecedented corporate greed and malfeasance and political extremism with fascism and chauvinist/supremacist politics back in vogue. Of course, we’ve been here before many times in the past such as the 30s and 50s so we can beat this. All it takes is organising, holding officials, business and media to account and protecting our democratic institutions.

Continue reading “Genkina hito’s Top Ten Films of 2019 and He Says Goodbye to a Tumultuous Year”

Featured

Tora-san, Wish You Were Here, Shinkansen Henkei Robo Shinkalion: Mirai Kara Shinsoku no ALFA-X, Looking for Yutaka Ozaki, A Horse is Born Somewhere Today Japanese Film Trailers

Happy Weekend and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Shoplifters Film Image 2

I hope you are well.

Welcome to the last trailer post of 2019!

This week was spent Christmasing with my mother and sister which involved getting a new pet and eating lots of good food. I managed to start watching films again, a couple of classics and and a new one and I hope to get some reviews done.

In terms of published content, two reviews for Hirokazu Koreeda films, the first being The Third Murder and the second being Shoplifters.

What’s released this weekend?

Continue reading “Tora-san, Wish You Were Here, Shinkansen Henkei Robo Shinkalion: Mirai Kara Shinsoku no ALFA-X, Looking for Yutaka Ozaki, A Horse is Born Somewhere Today Japanese Film Trailers”

Featured

Shoplifters 万引き家族 Dir: Hirokazu Kore-eda (2018)

Shoplifters   Shoplifters Film Poster

万引き家族 Manbiki Kazoku

Release Date: June 08th, 2018

Duration: 121 mins.

Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda

Writer: Hirokazu Kore-eda (Screenplay),

Starring: Lily Franky, Sakura Ando, Kirin Kiki, Miyu Sasaki, Mayu Matsuoka, Kairi Jyo, Yoko Moriguchi, Yuki Yamada, Moemi Katayama, Akira Emoto, Kengo Kora, Chizuru Ikewaki, Sosuke Ikematsu,

Website IMDB

Hirokazu Kore-eda is often compared to Yasujiro Ozu due to his depictions of families in Japan but he is quite political. Through various detailed tapestries of the rich and poor, nuclear and unconventional family units and different individuals, he has charted a myriad of lives all over the archipelago of his home nation and captured the changing dynamics of a country where tradition, social mores and people’s bonds are seemingly degrading as society adapts to new ways of thinking about work and family and people live atomised lives. Shoplifters tells the story of a most unconventional family by normal Japanese standards and, in so doing, it offers some quite stringent critiques of the exploitation of labour, the indifference of authorities and the resulting breakdown of relationships. It is a refreshingly open politicisation of content for a Japanese mainstream film and it feels akin to the social realist films of Ken Loach. This political bite could partly be the reason why the film went on to wow critics and net the prestigious Palme d’Or at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival but, as in all Kore-eda films, it is the performances that sway hearts and make audiences cry.

Continue reading “Shoplifters 万引き家族 Dir: Hirokazu Kore-eda (2018)”

Featured

The Third Murder 三度目の殺人 Dir: Hirokazu Koreeda (2017)

The Third Murder    The Third Murder Film Poster

三度目の殺人Sandome no Satsujin

Release Date: September 09th, 2017

Duration: 124 mins.

Director:  Hirokazu Koreeda

Writer: Hirokazu Koreeda (Screenplay),

Starring: Masaharu Fukuyama, Koji Yakusho, Suzu Hirose, Yuki Saito, Kotaro Yoshida, Mikako Ichikawa, Izumi Matsuoka,

Website IMDB

This film from Hirokazu Kore-eda feels like a departure from his usual interests of family dynamics because it is an exploration of the Japanese justice system but it still features his familiar interest in the atomisation of Japanese society.

Set in the snowy northern island of Hokkaido, this is an almost coldly analytical tale of a public defender taking on what should be an open and shut case and discovering that the truth is hard to pin down and that those who mete out justice sometimes aren’t interested in truth at all.

Shigemori (Fukuyama) is an elite lawyer who has been given the task of defending a man named Misumi Mikuma (Yakusho), an ex-con only just released from prison after serving a term for a murder he committed in 1986. Misumi has been arrested and charged with murdering the manager of the canning factory he works at. Misumi seems guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt because he was caught with the victim’s wallet and has confessed to the murder. A violent background, circumstantial evidence and confession. That is enough to warrant the death penalty. Shigemori has been drafted in to save Misumi.

Continue reading “The Third Murder 三度目の殺人 Dir: Hirokazu Koreeda (2017)”

Featured

Last War of Heavenloids and Akutoloids, In This Corner (and Other Corners) of the World, My Hero Academia the Movie 2: Heroes: Rising, Go To Okinawa, Kamen Rider: Reiwa The First Generation, FOR REAL    Modoranai shunkan, nokosa reru mono., Sasori to Kaeru, Mipo Rin, Witness to the Gegenmiao Massacre Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, everyone!

Forest of Love Joe Murata 2

Just a few days more until Christmas.

I’ve been helping my mother with Christmas preparations and buying presents whilst also watching lots of Japanese indie films. I saw one revelatory title which had me in tears and a couple of interesting ones. I have also managed to sneak in some horror movies.

This week I reviewed Sion Sono‘s latest movie, The Forest of Love, which cynics might see as a retread of Cold Fish. I also posted a preview of next year’s Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme which has many interesting titles.

What is released this weekend?

Continue reading “Last War of Heavenloids and Akutoloids, In This Corner (and Other Corners) of the World, My Hero Academia the Movie 2: Heroes: Rising, Go To Okinawa, Kamen Rider: Reiwa The First Generation, FOR REAL    Modoranai shunkan, nokosa reru mono., Sasori to Kaeru, Mipo Rin, Witness to the Gegenmiao Massacre Japanese Film Trailers”

Featured

Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2020 Preview – Joy and Despair in Japanese Cinema

The Japan Foundation announced the details of their Touring Film Programme for 2020. The tour lasts from January 31st to March 29th and the theme that connects them all is “love”. The films look at the emotions of joy and despair and, presumably, there will be every other emotion in between as people seek happiness. According to the organisers, there are stories of “love, social inclusion, the resilience of humankind through times of hardship, and unconventional paths to achieving and maintaining joy”.

Here are the films:

Continue reading “Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2020 Preview – Joy and Despair in Japanese Cinema”

Featured

The Forest of Love 愛なき森で叫べ Dir: Sion Sono (2019)

The Forest of Love    Forest of Love Film Poster

愛なき森で叫べ  Ai naki mori de sakebe

Release Date: October 11th, 2019

Duration: 151 mins.

Director: Sion Sono

Writer: Sion Sono (Script) 

Starring: Kippei Shiina (Joe Murata), Shinnosuke Mitsushima (Shin), Kyoko Hinami (taeko), Eri Kamataki (Mitsuko), Young Dais, Natsuki Kawamura, Denden, Hiroko Yashiki,

Website IMDB

American streaming services like Netflix have given a new lease of life to Japanese creatives who have access to greater financial muscle and creative freedom and a wider audience so that means the fetters of the traditional Japanese system are off for the visionaries and the sky is the limit. That Sion Sono, simultaneous enfant terrible and wunderkind of Japanese cinema, was tapped to make a movie for Netflix was exciting news especially after his heart attack this year. What he turns in is a long and ornate tale of murder that sometimes plays like a greatest-hits of his previous work but is delivered with such aplomb and dexterity as well as some special performances it remains entertaining.

Sono channels a rather horrific series of real-life murders into a film much like he did with Cold Fish but makes the most of the budget to craft a rather rambling and highly theatrical story split into chapters.

Continue reading “The Forest of Love 愛なき森で叫べ Dir: Sion Sono (2019)”

Featured

Talking the Pictures, Yokai Watch Jam the Movie: Yokai Academy Y – Can a Cat be a Hero?, Dai kanran-sha, Woozoo be Alright?, book-paper-scissors, Seven Days War, Murder at Shijinso, Tunguska Butterfly, Necktie, Seventeen Motors, and other Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, everyone.

Tag Film Image

We are closer to Christmas.

This week I reviewed two Sion Sono movies, Tag and Virgin Psychics, both from 2016 and while the former is more meaningful than the latter, both are worth watching.

Get past what we all know is inevitable and let’s make a start dealing with this stuff and making a change for the better in society.

What is released this weekend?

Continue reading “Talking the Pictures, Yokai Watch Jam the Movie: Yokai Academy Y – Can a Cat be a Hero?, Dai kanran-sha, Woozoo be Alright?, book-paper-scissors, Seven Days War, Murder at Shijinso, Tunguska Butterfly, Necktie, Seventeen Motors, and other Japanese Film Trailers”

Featured

The Virgin Psychics 映画みんな!エスパーだよ Dir: Sion Sono (2015)

The Virgin Psychics    The Virgin Psychics Film Poster

映画みんな!エスパーだよ「Eiga Minna! Esupa- Dayo!」

Release Date: September 04th, 2015

Duration: 114 mins.

Director: Sion Sono,

Writer: Sion Sono, Shinichi Tanaka (Screenplay), Kiminori Wakasugi (Original Manga),

Starring:  Shota Sometani, Elaiza Ikea, Erina Mano, Makita Sports, Anna Konno, Motoki Fukami, Ai Shinozaki, Tokio Emoto, Megumi Kagurazaka,

Website IMDB

This is directed by Sion Sono one of the world’s great contemporary directors who built a career on existential drama/horror like Suicide CircleStrange Circus, and Noriko’s Dinner Table. 2015 saw the release of six of his films, three of which were froma  franchise including this one. This is based on a TV dorama that is based on a manga written by Kiminori Wakasugi, creator of the hilarious Detroit Metal City. After a first viewing I was tempted to write it off as an insincere cash-in on a smutty comic book and Tenga sex toys but I will be generous and say that the film is an unashamed celebration of raging hormones and naive love (as well as Tenga sex toys) wrapped up in a knowingly stupid story.

We’re not watching Akira Kurosawa’s Ikiru, we’re watching the misadventures of Yoshiro “Yocchan” Kamogawa (Shota Sometani), ordinary (virgin) high school boy in Toyohashi. It is a city with more good-looking women than anywhere else in the world, apparently, but he can’t get laid because he’s a bit of a nerd. He finds his life literally changes overnight when he wakes up with the ability to read other people’s minds. Sounds awesome! But he cannot use it effectively since he is caught up in an obsession with the idea that a classmate named Sae (Erina Mano) is his destined girl. He has a dream that they formed a mental connection while their mothers sat next to each other in the hospital when they were both still in the womb. Destiny does seem to have a hand in their meeting because she is the daughter of a travelling scientist (Ken Yasuda) who is in town to discover psychics!

Continue reading “The Virgin Psychics 映画みんな!エスパーだよ Dir: Sion Sono (2015)”

Featured

Tag リアル鬼ごっこ Dir: Sion Sono (2015)

Tag    

Tag Film Poster
Tag Film Poster

リアル鬼ごっこ  「Riaru Onigokko

Release Date: July 11th, 2015

Duration: 85 mins.

Director: Sion Sono

Writer: Sion Sono (Screenplay), Yusuke Yamada (Original Novel)

Starring:  Reina Triendl, Mariko Shinoda, Erina Mano, Yuka Sakurai, Maryjun Takahashi, Rin Honoa Cyborg Kaori, Mao Mita, Izumi, Mika Akizuki,

Website   IMDB

Kinetic and balletic. Bullets and buckshot fly. Hit bodies. Blood and body-parts splatter the sets. People drop to the floor amidst blood and gore. By people, I mean young females. A high-school girl named Mitsuko (Reina Triendl) is our first protag. Pretty much stunned and helpless, she flees scenes of carnage every few minutes. She runs the same gauntlet ad infinitum: a scene is established, a feeling of grue overcomes her and gratuitous violence erupts. As she escapes she dodges a number of antagonists: a supernatural scythe-like wind that decapitates busloads of schoolgirls and dismembers random passers-by at first, and then she flees a massacre orchestrated by teachers carrying military-grade weapons that cause ridiculous damage. Over the course of her escape, she transforms into… a bride named Keiko (Mariko Shinoda) who has a wedding from hell as it devolves into a mass brawl full of kung-fu kicking and jagged glass bottles for people to get stuck with. And then she turns into a marathon runner named Izumi (Erina Mano) who has to sprint away from danger. These ladies have all become involved in a fatal game of “tag” where they narrowly avoid death with every step. But can they break the cycle by making it to the end and what is awaiting them at the finishing line?

Continue reading “Tag リアル鬼ごっこ Dir: Sion Sono (2015)”

Featured

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”

Featured

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)”

Featured

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”

Featured

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”

Featured

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)”

Featured

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)”

Featured

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”

Featured

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]”

Featured

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”

Featured

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”

Featured

Penguin Highway  ペンギン・ハイウェイ Dir: Hiroyasu Ishida (2018) [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 17th, 2018

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 (2018) [Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival 2019]”

Featured

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.

Continue reading “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]”

Featured

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”

Featured

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.

Featured

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.

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

Featured

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   “

Featured

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]”

Featured

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]”

Featured

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”

Featured

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)”

Featured

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”

Featured

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)”

Featured

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”

Featured

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”

Featured

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”

Featured

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”

Featured

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”