Featured

We Are Little Zombies, To the Ends of the Earth, Don’t Cry, Mr. Ogre, For Whom the Alchemist Exists, Shiba Park, Junichi, Love Drives You Crazy, Uta no☆Prince-sama♪ Maji Love Kingdom Movie, Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya: Prisma Phantasm, Handling Method for Grumpy Woman, Rascal Does Not Dream of Dreaming Girl the Movie, Girlz und Panzer das Finale Part 2, Aitachi no Gakko, Toureppu “Kaiju no Kodomo” wo sagashite, Dance! Horror Restaurant, Moeyo! Shippai Joshi Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend!

The-Gangster-The-Cop-The-Devil-Detective-Jung

I hope you are all well.

This weekend’s trailer post is an epic one as lots of titles are released on Friday and Saturday. My week in blog posts started with a review of the Korean film The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil (2019) and then a review of Whole (2019) which I wrote back in March and then a preview of the films that have been programmed for Japan Cuts 2019 – a great selection!

What is released this weekend?

Continue reading “We Are Little Zombies, To the Ends of the Earth, Don’t Cry, Mr. Ogre, For Whom the Alchemist Exists, Shiba Park, Junichi, Love Drives You Crazy, Uta no☆Prince-sama♪ Maji Love Kingdom Movie, Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya: Prisma Phantasm, Handling Method for Grumpy Woman, Rascal Does Not Dream of Dreaming Girl the Movie, Girlz und Panzer das Finale Part 2, Aitachi no Gakko, Toureppu “Kaiju no Kodomo” wo sagashite, Dance! Horror Restaurant, Moeyo! Shippai Joshi Japanese Film Trailers”

Featured

A Preview of Japan Cuts 2019 (JULY 19–28)

Japan Cuts 2019 is back with its annual showcase of the latest in Japanese films carefully curated by its team of programmers. It is due to kick off in New York in a month’s time and runs from JULY 19–28. The selection looks good and there’s a handy trailer to build up anticipation by revealing a glimpse of all the films on offer!

There is a distinctly youthful and fresh feeling to the roster of directors and writers as well as the stories they tell. Lots of directors are, or were, making their debuts after cutting their teeth in various production roles or they are at the indie end of the spectrum and under-exposed on the festival circuit. Then there is a lot of youth-oriented stories with a lot of coming-of-age tales. That’s not to say that the older generations are forgotten as a documentary and some legendary filmmakers are also on board with Shinya Tsukamoto in New York to show Bullet Ballet as well as his latest film Killing and there is also a doc called I Go Gaga, My Dear about an elderly couple which is getting a lot of play at different fests so that’s a good sign. I’ve seen quite a few of these films, mostly at this year’s Osaka Asian Film Festival, and so I’ll put links to my reviews if you want to read them.

Some of these films are going to be accompanied by directors and actors and a full list plus bios can be found here. This year’s recipient of the CUT ABOVE Award for Outstanding Achievement in Film is Shinya Tsukamoto, one of the first directors I went and wrote a biography for and reviewed a whole bunch of his films (my favourite being Vital). He is just one of many guests so please check the official website to find out more.

All information comes from old trailer posts and the JAPAN CUTS website.

Here is what has been programmed!

Continue reading “A Preview of Japan Cuts 2019 (JULY 19–28)”

Featured

Whole Dir: Bilal Kawazoe (2019) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019

Whole

Duration: 45 mins.

Release Date: 2019

Director: Bilal Kawazoe

Writer: Usman Kawazoe (Screenplay),

Starring: Usman Kawazoe, Aoi Ibuki, Kai Hoshino Sandy,

Website IMDB   OAFF

This review was first published on V-Cinema on March 14th

In recent years, the rise of mixed-race Japanese has become a hot topic with “hafu”, a word which is taken from the English word “half”, becoming more visible thanks to sports and entertainment personalities like tennis champ Naomi Osaka and 2015’s Miss Universe Japan Ariana Miyamoto. Even if Japan is pretty ethnically mixed, hafu are visibly different and are often presented as glamorous and fashionable by advertising execs. This ignores the reality of discrimination and ostracisation they face, something which Bilal Kawazoe’s film, WHOLE examines as one of the few recent Japanese efforts to look at this issues surrounding being biracial in a homogeneous society.

Continue reading “Whole Dir: Bilal Kawazoe (2019) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019”

Featured

The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil 악인전 Dir: Lee Won-Tae (South Korea, 2019)

The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil    TheGangsterTheCopTheDevil_Poster

악인전  Akinjeon

Release Date: May 15th, 2019

Duration: 110 mins.

Director: Lee Won-Tae

Writer: Lee Won-Tae (Screenplay),

Starring: Ma Dong-Seok, Kim Moo-Yul, Kim Sung-Kyu, Yoo Seung-Mok, Choi Min-Chul, Kim Yoon-Sung, Heo Dong-Won, Oh Hee-Joon, Kim Gyu-Ri,

IMDB

“Don’t let the devil win!” reads the tag-line of the film and it’s down to two bad guys to catch the worst man in this glossy thriller where a gangster and a loose-cannon of a cop team up to catch a serial killer.

Apparently based on a true story, the film is set in 2005/6 (best shown by the flip-phones and stubby cameras) and opens with the Devil (Kim Sung-Kyu) cruising the streets of Cheonan city looking for a victim for his murderous impulses. We see his M.O. of rear-ending cars on lonely roads and viciously knifing the unsuspecting driver when pretending to check on their safety. The narrative then shuffles him into the background to quickly sketch out the rivalry between two rogues, hulking gang boss Jang Dong-Su (Ma Dong-Seok aka Don Lee) and loud-mouth Detective Jung Tae-Seok (Kim Moo Yul). Jang Dong-Su is seen amidst business negotiations and turf rivalries, usually settling things with his boulder-like fists, while Jung Tae-Seok is a brash character who refuses bribes and has keen detective skills as evidenced by the fact he is the only one to sense that a serial killer is on the loose.

Continue reading “The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil 악인전 Dir: Lee Won-Tae (South Korea, 2019)”

Featured

Children of the Sea, The Garden Apartment, Almost a Miracle, Erica 38, Rent A Friend, Saint Young Men Second Century, Voice Actor Bowling Grand Prix 3, 99-sai haha to kuraseba, Mangetsu no yoru ni wa omoidashite, Bad Women Good Job Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend!

We made it to another one!

I’m starting the post with a great AMV. I used to make those, once upon a time.

We had big news at the start of the week with the marriage of Yu Aoi to the comedian Ryota Yamasato. It caught everyone off-guard because their dates went under the radar but they’ve known each other for a long time. Her smiles say a lot so let’s hope they continue to be happy.

In terms of this blog, I wrote about the Japanese films at this year’s Annecy International Animation Festival and the Edinburgh International Film Festival. I also wrote about the Japan Foundation’s Pre-Summer Explorer’s film event where a selection of great titles including The Night is Short, Walk on Girl, Getting Any? and Fuku-chan of Fukufuku Flats are going to be screened.

What is released this weekend?

Continue reading “Children of the Sea, The Garden Apartment, Almost a Miracle, Erica 38, Rent A Friend, Saint Young Men Second Century, Voice Actor Bowling Grand Prix 3, 99-sai haha to kuraseba, Mangetsu no yoru ni wa omoidashite, Bad Women Good Job Japanese Film Trailers”

Featured

Japan Foundation’s Free London Screenings of “The Night is Short Walk on Girl” and More

The Japan Foundation in London have set up their annual Summer Explorers films season with a fun build-up of titles that feature titles from masterful directors both old – Takeshi Kitano and Seijun Suzuki – and new – Masaaki Yuasa. There is even a fun indie film thrown in. It’s really diverse and totally free! All you need to do is book your place!

Here’s some hype and information from the Japan Foundation:

“From wacky time-travel to ancient Rome (Thermae Romae) and a musical extravaganza set in feudal Japan (Princess Raccoon), to a slapstick twist on the film noir genre of the 60’s (Murder Un-Incorporated) – our annual Pre-Summer Explorers season aims to make you shake and cry with laughter while presenting the multi-faceted and unique sense of humour in Japanese cinema!”

Dates: 26 June 2019 – 30 June 2019
Venues:
Screen 1, The Soho Hotel, 4 Richmond Mews, W1D 3DH London

and

Prince Charles Cinema, 7 Leicester Place, WC2H 7BY London

See the Japan Foundation website for more information or click on the links below.

What are the films?

Continue reading “Japan Foundation’s Free London Screenings of “The Night is Short Walk on Girl” and More”

Featured

Japanese Films at the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2019

The Edinburgh International Film Festival takes place between 19th and 30th June. There are around 121 new features from 42 countries across the globe. Japan makes up a tiny fraction, perhaps the smallest. It could be that I have missed titles in the line-up but I did scour the catalogue. The films do look good, though.

Here they are:

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

Featured

Japanese Films at Annecy International Animation Film Festival 2019

annecy_home_1920x470px

“If I had to name one country with a true culture of animation, it would definitely be Japan.”

This quote was made by French director Georges Lacroix in 1999, the year when the Annecy Festival celebrated Japanese animation for the very first time. Since then, the fest has been packed with Japanese animation, many of which have often taken awards, and now, twenty years later, Annecy celebrates Japan again by packing in classics and new titles and giving space for much of the talent working today to shine.

The Annecy International Animation Film Festival is back from June 10th to the 15th and it’s packed with anime feature films, TV anime, and conferences because the organisers have chosen this year to celebrate 100 years of Japanese animated films (1917 – 2017). This celebration spans classic shorts never before seen outside of Japan to forthcoming works that are being pitched to producers and distributors around the world. Netflix has a presence here thanks to their positive contribution to anime and the student graduation works look equally enticing. With WWII propaganda films, adaptations of classic western novels, animated documentaries, 80s sci-fi, and more going to be screened, festival-goers are in for an exceptional and exciting collection of films that shows what Japan can do.

As per usual, titles contain links to the festival and sources used for information range from the festival site itself to My Anime List (MAL) and Anime News Network (ANN). Let’s start with…

Continue reading “Japanese Films at Annecy International Animation Film Festival 2019”

Featured

Orphan’s Blues, Jesus, Parallel World Love Story, Farewell Song, A Long Goodbye, Black Maiden: Chapter Q, Lupin the IIIrd: Mine Fujiko no Uso, Life on the Longboard 2nd Wave, Zubu nurete inukoro, Ninomiya Kinjirou Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, everyone!

I hope you are all well!

I have just completed a 12-day work week and have two days off so I’m going to spend this weekend watching films. I went out with work colleagues/friends to a Chinese restaurant and a bar, the first time I’ve done that in months, and it felt good. I’ll be going out more now that proofing work has died down and film work has gone back to various things I have watched although I still have reviews and interviews from the Osaka Asian Film Festival to go. No films watched this week, just a review for Shinjuku Tiger and an interview with its director, Yoshinori Sato.

Here’s what’s released this weekend.

Continue reading “Orphan’s Blues, Jesus, Parallel World Love Story, Farewell Song, A Long Goodbye, Black Maiden: Chapter Q, Lupin the IIIrd: Mine Fujiko no Uso, Life on the Longboard 2nd Wave, Zubu nurete inukoro, Ninomiya Kinjirou Japanese Film Trailers”

Featured

Interview with Yoshinori Sato, director of the documentary “Shinjuku Tiger” [Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019]

YoshinoriSatoOAFF19

I interviewed a number of people at the Osaka Asian Film Festival and these interviews are being published over at V-Cinema. This interview was the first to go online on March 28th.

Yoshinori Sato was born in Aichi, Japan on February 1975. After graduating from high school, he travelled to the US to study filmmaking at the University of Southern California. Since graduating, he has worked as a director in Japanese television while also making independent films. His film credits include Bad Child (2013) and Her Mother, which played at international film festivals including the 21st Busan International Film Festival and the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2017.

Sato returned to Osaka to give the world premiere of his documentary, Shinjuku Tiger, a fascinating look at a flamboyantly dressed and inspiring man who wears a tiger mask and, since the 70s, has practically lived in the bars and cinemas of Shinjuku as he pursues good films, beautiful woman, and delicious sake. It is all part of a fiction he has created to “spread love and peace” and the film shows the character in action as he works his normal job in newspaper delivery and goes on epic bar crawls that rope in celebrities and friends. This films borders on hagiography but gains depth as Sato uses the life of the man to examine the changes and events that Shinjuku has seen through the decades so we get some sense of the culture of one of Tokyo’s most famous wards.

Sato kindly gave an interview after the Q&A that followed the second screening of Shinjuku Tiger at the festival. The interview was conducted in English but we were joined by interpreter Keiko Matsushita who offered some interesting questions and insights.

Continue reading “Interview with Yoshinori Sato, director of the documentary “Shinjuku Tiger” [Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019]”

Featured

Shinjuku Tiger 新宿タイガー Dir: Yoshinori Sato (2019) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019

Shinjuku Tiger  Shinjuku Tiger Film Poster

新宿タイガー  Shinjuku Taiga-

Running Time: 83 mins.

Release Date: March 22nd, 2019

Director: Yoshinori Sato

Writer: N/A

Starring: Shinobu Terajima, Norito Yashima, Kiyohiko Shibukawa, Midori Suiren, Noboru Iguchi, Shinji Kubo

Website IMDB

http://www.oaff.jp/2019/en/program/if06.html

Receiving its world premiere at the Osaka Asian Film Festival (OAFF) 2019, Shinjuku Tiger (2019) is a return to the world of documentary filmmaking for director Yoshinori Sato. Although he has a background in television documentaries, he will probably be best known for his 2016 sophomore feature about capital punishment and guilt, Her Mother, an intense film where the mother of a murder victim seeks to prevent the execution of the murderer. It won plaudits for the acting at different festivals including Busan 2016 and OAFF 2017. After a fairly bleak and heavy drama about coming to terms with murder, Sato steps back into documentaries with a film about a flamboyant guy who is all about spreading love and happiness.

Continue reading “Shinjuku Tiger 新宿タイガー Dir: Yoshinori Sato (2019) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019”

Featured

RANDEN: The Comings and Goings on a Kyoto Tram, Violence Voyager, Monchan, Aircraft Carrier Ibuki, Musashi, Sadako, Little Love Song, Tannisho wo Hiraku, Promare, Seiyuu yururi tabi ~ Furukawa Makoto no ki nasse! Kumamoto, Portrait of Brothers, Sakubee-san to Nihon o horu, Hitori no Dansu Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend!

I hope everyone is fine!

I’m in the middle of a 12 day week after going back to doing fun overtime in work but I managed to do a lot of writing as well. I posted about a special screening of animated documentaries by female directors – World Animation Theatre 2019 – and also a preview for Nippon Connection 2019.

A real mixed bag of trailers this week.

Continue reading “RANDEN: The Comings and Goings on a Kyoto Tram, Violence Voyager, Monchan, Aircraft Carrier Ibuki, Musashi, Sadako, Little Love Song, Tannisho wo Hiraku, Promare, Seiyuu yururi tabi ~ Furukawa Makoto no ki nasse! Kumamoto, Portrait of Brothers, Sakubee-san to Nihon o horu, Hitori no Dansu Japanese Film Trailers”

Featured

A Preview of Nippon Connection 2019

Nippon Connection Logo

Nippon Connection returns to the German city of Frankfurt from 28th May to 2nd June and the organisers have programmed around 100 feature and short films as well as many cultural activities. It is a veritable feast of things to do and see and eat so I’m going to list things and offer some highlights, films that might be to find outside of the festival. Tickets are already on sale so, without further ado, here are the films on offer.

Continue reading “A Preview of Nippon Connection 2019”

Featured

World Animation Theater 2019: 13 Animated Documentary Films by Female Directors

Documentaries and animation meet in a special event called World Animation Theater (WAT2019).

13 animated documentary films by female directors from Japan, Korea and Sweden will be screened in a number of venues across Japan, starting in Tokyo before heading west throughout 2019/20. The stories cover a wide range of experiences from the deeply personal to global politics.

Continue reading “World Animation Theater 2019: 13 Animated Documentary Films by Female Directors”

Featured

According to Our Butler, The Confidence Man JP: The Movie, Children of the Sea, Iwane: Sword of Serenity, Fafner THE BEYOND, Masui, Saihate Risutorante, Moratorium, Boku to Keanin to obaachan-tachi to., Yukiko-san no Ashioto Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend!

Eyes of the Spider Nijima (Aikawa) the Office Drone

Get hyped!

Time to watch films. I have four Korean titles lined up for this weekend, one of which I watched well over a decade ago (The Host). I tried watching some films earlier in the week but didn’t get far into them before turning them off due to other demands. Anyway, a news story and an interview I did were published over at Anime UK News at the tail end of last week and two reviews I wrote for V-Cinema were also published – Minidoka and Alternative Facts: The Lies of Executive Order 9066. I also posted a review of the short film Slowly here and then an interview I did with the director and producer of that film, Momoko Fukuda and Jumpei Inoue.

What is released this weekend?

Continue reading “According to Our Butler, The Confidence Man JP: The Movie, Children of the Sea, Iwane: Sword of Serenity, Fafner THE BEYOND, Masui, Saihate Risutorante, Moratorium, Boku to Keanin to obaachan-tachi to., Yukiko-san no Ashioto Japanese Film Trailers”

Featured

Interview with “Slowly” Director Momoko Fukuda and Producer Jumpei Inoue [Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019]

I interviewed a number of people at the Osaka Asian Film Festival and these interviews are being published over at V-Cinema. Here was the first to go online on May 04th.

MomokoFukudaJumpeiInoueOAFF19

Momoko Fukuda hails from Ibaraki City, Osaka Prefecture. After studying at the Japan Institute of the Moving Image, her graduation work Goodbye Mother (2014) was selected by a number of Japanese festivals including the Yubari International

Oishii Kazoku Film Poster
Oishii Kazoku Film Poster

Fantastic Film Festival. In 2015, she took part in the New Directions in Japanese Cinema (NDJC): Young Filmmaker Development Project run by the Japanese government’s Agency of Cultural Affairs. It is designed to foster a new generation of directors who can bring new life to the Japanese film industry and Fukuda seems truly unique in her tastes. The resulting film, Dad’s Marriage (2016) (here’s my trailer post), was screened at international festivals such as Camera Japan in Holland where it stood out for its unique pacing and a story that challenges the norm of what people consider to constitute a family. She is turning it into a feature film, Oishii Kazoku, due for release in 2019. Her most recent works have been shorts, one a part of the omnibus film 21st Century Girl (2019) which appeared at last year’s Tokyo International Film Festival, and the other is the a rather offbeat Slowly which appeared at the 2019 Osaka Asian Film Festival.

Slowly is a slice out of the lives of two old friends. After their high school reunion, they drive back to some unspecified point, their conversation awkwardly hovering around questions about their past and future and the changes to their hometown. Their journey is stopped by a tennis umpire’s chair, which lies on the road. The two suddenly find themselves helping a third person carry the chair away and we watch as they lug the thing through a beautiful series of pastoral scenes and mundane small town shots while still talking about their lives. The film seems aimless and has a laidback rhythm because not much happens. But through conversation and behaviour, we can read a lot and it is interesting to wonder over the images and actors.

It reminded me of my 1990s childhood when a variety of European films from Rohmer or Aki Kaurismaki and stageplays by Beckett were on terrestrial television in the UK rather than squirreled away on some satellite channel. I ended up watching the film a few times and felt quite moved by the experience, sensing a certain longing, acknowledging the nostalgia for my past and some gaps in my present as I identified with the characters.

There were two screenings at OAFF and I caught the film’s first screening where the audience seemed to appreciate the experience. I was due to interview Fukuda and her producer Jumpei Inoue after the second screening. When I arrived at the cinema, I was told that one person had reacted negatively to the film at this second screening but, despite this, Fukuda and Inoue, along with two of their team, sat down with me. Undaunted and thoughtful, they kindly spent over 30 minutes talking about the making of the film and their inspirations.

Help with translation was provided by Keiko Matsushita while translation of the transcription of the interview was overseen by Takako Pocklington.

Continue reading “Interview with “Slowly” Director Momoko Fukuda and Producer Jumpei Inoue [Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019]”

Featured

Slowly ゆっくり Dir: Momoko Fukuda (2019) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019

Slowly  Slowly Film Poster

ゆっくり  Yukkuri

Running Time: 25 mins.

Release Date: 2019

Director: Momoko Fukuda

Writer: Jumpei Inoue (Screenplay),

Starring: Jyonmyon Pe, Ai Bitou, Takeshi Donguri,

IMDB

http://www.oaff.jp/2019/en/program/if08.html

Dates:

3/10 (Sun) 12:00 Cine Libre Umeda 4

3/11 (Mon) 14:50 Cine Libre Umeda 4

Momoko Fukuda is a director going places and quickly. Originally from Ibaraki City, Osaka Prefecture, she studied at the Japan Institute of the Moving Image and her graduation work Goodbye Mother (2014) was selected for big festivals such as the Yubari. In 2015 she took part in the NDJC: Young Filmmaker Development Project, a hotbed for young directors to grow in terms of their skills, and she made Dad’s Marriage (2016), a story where a make-up artist returns home on the occasion of her mother’s memorial to discover her father (played by actor and comedian Itsuji Itao) wants to become the bride of a local handyman. This was screened at international festivals and she is currently turning it into a feature. Recently she was tapped to create a short for the high-profile female led omnibus film 21st Century Girl (2018) and she appeared at the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019 with the world premiere of her film Slowly, a short drama which goes in a totally different aims to use absurdity to examine the human condition.

Continue reading “Slowly ゆっくり Dir: Momoko Fukuda (2019) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019”

Featured

Cheer Boys, Leaving the Scene, Toshimaen Haunted Park, Only the Cat Knows, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress: The Battle of Unato, Blue Cat Blues, 19 Nov, CNBLUE: FILM LIVE IN JAPAN 2011-2017 “OUR VOICES”, Geki × cine “Seven people of the skull castle” Season wind, Boku ni aitakatta, Futari Ecchi Double Love, Baaba ha, daijoubu, Cat’s Tail’s Tales Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, everyone!

Melancholic Film image

I hope everyone is doing great.

This week was marked by periods of procrastination. I worked on a couple of interviews (the final ones from Osaka) and one for an animation project but I only finished one review and watched three films. Being in work every day is not an excuse so I aim to do better. The reviews I completed last week went live over at VCinema: Okaasan (Mom) and Bed & Breakfast as did an interview with Momoko Fukuda and Jumpei Inoue of the film Slowly. I posted a review for the film Melancholic (2018) and a preview of the Cannes Film Festival.

What is released this weekend?

Continue reading “Cheer Boys, Leaving the Scene, Toshimaen Haunted Park, Only the Cat Knows, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress: The Battle of Unato, Blue Cat Blues, 19 Nov, CNBLUE: FILM LIVE IN JAPAN 2011-2017 “OUR VOICES”, Geki × cine “Seven people of the skull castle” Season wind, Boku ni aitakatta, Futari Ecchi Double Love, Baaba ha, daijoubu, Cat’s Tail’s Tales Japanese Film Trailers”

Featured

Melancholic メランコリック Dir: Seiji Tanaka (2018)

Melancholic      Melancholic Film Poster

メランコリック  Merankorikku

Running Time: 113 mins.

Release Date: N/A

Director: Seiji Tanaka

Writer: Seiji Tanaka (Screenplay),

Starring: Yoji Minagawa, Yoshitomo Isozaki, Mebuki Yoshida, Makoto Hada, Hiroko Shinkai, Keiji Yamashita, Takanori Minagawa

Website IMDB

Seiji Tanaka’s debut feature Melancholic won him a share of the best director prize in the Japanese Cinema Splash section at last years Tokyo International Film Festival (Masaharu Take also won for his film, The Gun (2018)) and one can see why as it manages to combine a number of tones and genres to create a film that feels fresh and original as well as socially conscious. Its tone has a litheness that makes it unpredictable. When I thought I had it figured as something along the lines of a hard-boiled crime film like Ken and Kazu (2016) after its opening, it switched up its style and continued to be unpredictable until the end.

Continue reading “Melancholic メランコリック Dir: Seiji Tanaka (2018)”

Featured

Japanese Films at the Cannes Film Festival 2019

Cannes Film Festival 2019 Poster

The 72nd Cannes Film Festival will run from May 14th until the 25th and themain programme was announced a couple of weeks ago. There are around 47 premieres at the fest with familiar names like Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction), Jim Jarmusch (Paterson, Ghost Dog), Ken Loach (Kes) and Pedro Almodovar (The Skin I Live In) walking on the Croisette along with a slight uptick in female directors – Jessica Hausner and Mati Diop are the names to watch – and there is a decent Asian contingent.

Prominent names for me are South Korea’s Bong Joon-ho, a masterful director with titles like Mother, Memories of Murder and The Host in his filmography. He is at Cannes with Parasite, which has a family tragi-comedy unfold as one “parasitic” family gets involved with a well-to-do one for nefarious reasons. The trailer looks brilliant. Then there is China’s Diao Yinan who made the electric neo-noir Black Coal, Thin Ice which won the Golden Bear at the 2014 Berlin Film Festival. He has a story of a biker and a desperate woman trying to escape their situations. What of Japan? Nothing much that can secure a Palm d’Or.

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

Following his success at last year’s Cannes, it looks like Hirokazu Kore-eda won’t be returning because his latest film, the France-set film The Truth won’t be ready in time. This is Kore-eda’s first film set outside Japan and it stars Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche, Ethan Hawke and Ludivine Sagnier. Kiyoshi Kurosawa does have a film due for release this year but it doesn’t look like it will be shown at Cannes. Thankfully, there is still a Japanese presence at the festival and it comes from Takashi Miike and a classic!

Continue reading “Japanese Films at the Cannes Film Festival 2019”

Featured

Jeux de Plage, Love in Parallel, Kakegurui The Movie, Rose and Tulip, Cyclops, Lupinranger VS Patranger VS Kyuranger, Nakajima miyuki `yakai koujou VOL. 2′ Gekijouban, Living with Cancer Prescription of Words, King of Prism: Shiny Seven Stars Ruwi × Shin ×Unknown Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, everyone!

Stray Dog Film Image

I hope you are all feeling good.

I have managed to get past a few big projects having completed reviews for four films appearing at CAAMFest and also having dealt with two interviews, one from the Osaka Asian Film Festival and the other from the director of The Depth of Yagen. I’m feeling a bit tired at the moment but I am maintaining my genki levels in public. I need to get my skates on and write about Cannes and Nippon Connection which both open this month!

This week I posted reviews for the films Jeux de Plage and Afternoon Breezes. What is released this week?

Continue reading “Jeux de Plage, Love in Parallel, Kakegurui The Movie, Rose and Tulip, Cyclops, Lupinranger VS Patranger VS Kyuranger, Nakajima miyuki `yakai koujou VOL. 2′ Gekijouban, Living with Cancer Prescription of Words, King of Prism: Shiny Seven Stars Ruwi × Shin ×Unknown Japanese Film Trailers”

Featured

Afternoon Breezes 風たちの午後 デジタルリマスター版 Dir: Hitoshi Yazaki (1980) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019

Afternoon Breezes    Afternoon Breezes Film Poster

風たちの午後 デジタルリマスター版 Kazetachi no nengo Digitaru rimasuta-

Running Time: 105 mins.

Release Date: December 11th, 1980

Director:  Hitoshi Yazaki

Writer: Shunichi Nagasaki, Hitoshi Yazaki (Screenplay),

Starring: Naomi Ito, Setsuko Aya,

Website IMDB  OAFF

People who attended Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018 (OAFF) had the chance to see the latest work of Hitoshi Yazaki, Still Life of Memories. It seems Osaka has become a favourite place for the man because he attended OAFF 2019 with Afternoon Breezes. It has been 40 years since it was released and its original 16 mm print has been given a digital remaster after being subject to a crowdfunding campaign. The film is a somewhat tragic tale of a one-sided lesbian romance. Due to its style and LGBT subject-matter, it broke boundaries because it was one of the first openly gay-themed films in Japan and it put Yazaki on the map and earned him comparisons with important directors from avante-garde cinema movements of the 60s and 70s like Chantal Akerman. In its black-and-white look and with its central protagonist who is disconnected from reality, it is sort of like Akerman’s Saute ma ville (1968) if you’ll allow the glib comparison

Continue reading “Afternoon Breezes 風たちの午後 デジタルリマスター版 Dir: Hitoshi Yazaki (1980) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019”

Featured

Jeux de Plage 浜辺のゲーム Dir: Aimi Natsuto (2019) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019

Jeux de Plage 

浜辺のゲーム Hamabe no Ge-mu

Running Time: 77 mins.

Release Date: May 04th, 2019

Director:  Aimi Natsuto

Writer: Aimi Natsuto (Screenplay),

Starring: Haruna Hori, Shinsuke Kato, Juri Fukushima, Otsuka Nanaho, Donsaron Kovitanitcha,

Website IMDB

http://www.oaff.jp/2019/en/program/c07.html

Following her directorial debut, “Spring-ing”, an entry in the omnibus film 21st Century Girl (2019), Aimi Natsuto graduates to features with Jeux de Plage, which received its world premiere in the Competition section of the 2019 edition of the Osaka Asian Film Festival. With her feature, Natsuto brings back two of the stars from her 21st Century Girl entry, Haruna Hori and Juri Fukushima. Having only read a synopsis, I cannot really comment on her earlier work but Jeux de Plage feels familiar, a Nouvelle Vague inspired comedy, which is par for the course for her collaborators here.

Natsuto’s past film experience comes, most notably, from collaborating with Kiki Sugino having acted alongside her in Chigasaki Story (2015) and worked as a script editor on Snow Woman (2017). Jeux de plage was produced under the auspices of Sugino’s production company, Wa Entertainment, and shares the outfit’s internationalism in terms of it being a co-production between Japan, Thailand, Malaysia and Korea, having a somewhat international cast, and of course its reverence of French cinema. While watching the film, I was reminded of Koji Fukada’s Au revoir l’ete (2013), also made by Wa Entertainment. However, I was much more entertained by Jeux de plage. While the two films share passions for various things Gallic, similar themes, a coastal setting and scripts with deconstructions of character and romance very reminiscent of Eric Rohmer’s oeuvre, Natsuto’s work is more focused and lively compared to the languid experience turned in by Fukada.

Continue reading “Jeux de Plage 浜辺のゲーム Dir: Aimi Natsuto (2019) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019”

Featured

The Peers, Lust in a Karaoke Box, Birthday Wonderland, HOMIE KEI Chika-no natta Nihonjin, TAKAYUKI YAMADA DOCUMENTARY 「No Pain, No Gain」, Dare ga tame ni kenpou wa aru, Yamafutokoro ni idakarete To Embrace the Heart of a Mountain, Licorice Recycle Zoo, Eiga Oshiritantei Kare- naru jiken, Eiga Bakutsuri Bar Hunter Movie: Nazono Barcode Trial! Bakutsure! Shinkaigyo Poseidon, Eiga Uchi no 3 Shimai Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, people!

Tag Film Image

I hope you are all well.

I think I’ve survived but I’m still on the move. It’s day 6 of my work week and I’m exhausted after running around every day at my day job. The upside is my hyperactivity has made people happy and one couple thanked me for being cheerful when leaving a gallery. Work tomorrow. Outside of my regular job, I’ve been ploughing on with exercise every morning and the interviews from the Osaka Asian Film Festival with a friend and we’ve got a lot done with one published this week – Akiyoshi Koba, director of Nunchaku and Soul. Also from OAFF was my post about Maggie (2018) and I’ve completed three out of four reviews for another film festival. I also posted about a Kickstarter campaign for a stop-motion horror anime. I’ve got a fresh new interview conducted with the director of that project waiting to be translated. So, yeah, this trailer post has been knocked together at short notice.

In terms of what I have watched this week, everything takes on a distinctly American indie bent with Patterson, The Limits of Control, Funny Haha, Mutual Appreciation. I also re-watched the Sono film Tag and the Hosoda film The Boy and the Beast.

What is released this weekend?

Continue reading “The Peers, Lust in a Karaoke Box, Birthday Wonderland, HOMIE KEI Chika-no natta Nihonjin, TAKAYUKI YAMADA DOCUMENTARY 「No Pain, No Gain」, Dare ga tame ni kenpou wa aru, Yamafutokoro ni idakarete To Embrace the Heart of a Mountain, Licorice Recycle Zoo, Eiga Oshiritantei Kare- naru jiken, Eiga Bakutsuri Bar Hunter Movie: Nazono Barcode Trial! Bakutsure! Shinkaigyo Poseidon, Eiga Uchi no 3 Shimai Japanese Film Trailers”

Featured

“The Depth if Yagen” Stop-motion Horror Anime Kickstarter

I recently had a news tip about an interesting Kickstarter for a stop-motion indie horror film from Japan called “The Depth if Yagen” by animator and author Shigeru Okada, an animator and educator who has a YouTube channel dedicated to the art of stop-motion animation. I reported it on Anime UK News (AUKN) and V Cinema. It looks like something really unique due to the style of animation and the story it tells. Here is the Kickstarter campaign trailer: 

The story draws upon Japanese history and mythology and mixes in themes of family and betrayal:

Once upon a time in Japan, there was a poor couple living with their only daughter. One day, the father, an avid gambler, sells his daughter to human traffickers in order to settle his gambling debts. The traffickers, on their way back to the village with the man’s daughter, decide to take a shortcut by entering the forbidden mountain. The girl’s mother pursues the traffickers into the mountain in a bid to reclaim her daughter. The mother begins a terrifying transformation as the curse of the mountain settles on her. Yet, she continues her pursuit to save her daughter…

As can be seen in the video, the transformation is really creepy and you can expect the model work to be exquisite in order to deliver the body-horror, a transformation that would make Junji Ito proud. What is the depth of a “yagen”, you may be wondering? Well the yagen is the mortar which the creature is seen using. How this plays into the story will have to be discovered.

Stop-motion animation is expensive and time consuming so a Kickstarter campaign will be needed to help finance everything and funds will need to be raised by June 10th. The money raised will be used on the production but will also be used to create a set of “making-of” materials ranging from a book to a film. This film will detail the fabrication of puppets and props, lighting, animation and editing processes, all of which Okada is doing. Both the film and the materials are something Okada hopes to use to inspire aspiring animators and he will do so by putting them online for people to access. There’s actually a demonstration video online to give people a taste of how in-depth it will be:

The anime Okada is working on will be split into five episodes. It will be animated in 2019 and released in 2020 in two versions, one a shorter, atmospheric version that forgoes any graphic images – each episode lasting three minutes and released for free on Okada’s YouTube channel NARIOMARUDARKSIDE – and the other version will be completely uncut and last 7-8 minutes. This one  will be made available on payable video viewing sites, such as VIMEO (One episode: 300JPY. All five episodes: 1,500JPY). Subtitles will be available in Japanese. English and Spanish.

Anybody who backs this project will get the chance to own it (either digitally or on DVD depending upon the tier you select) and, if you pledge enough, you can appear in the film as a model. This is a great way for Okada to use his skills as an animator to teach and get people involved in the project.

The minimum Kickstarter pledge is £3 and that gives a person access to all five episodes. After that, rewards keep increasing including access to a PDF version of the “Making-of Book”, a physical version of the “Making-of Book” and a DVD copy of the anime and the higher tiers include an invitation to the film’s cinema screening and the aforementioned model. 

Now, anime on Kickstarter tends to have a good reputation (at least, better than video games) and my experience with it is with Under the Dog and Mai Mai Miracle, both of which I got a film at the end of the process so I’m fairly confident you’re guaranteed to get a product and this guarantee is good because Okada is an experienced animator and is actually currently involved in the Netflix production of Rilakkuma which is making waves around the internet. He has a YouTube channel (NARIOMARUDARKSIDE) which shows examples of his works so you get an idea of what the end product will be like and, judging by the work.., he has the skills to deliver. 

As I stated in the AUKN report, stop-motion isn’t as common as 2D animation and horror stories told by stop-motion are even rarer. The last time I saw something like this was Junkhead which played at the Raindance Film Festival a few years ago.

This sounds good to me so I plan on contributing. There are 46 days left to help out so if you like the look of the work and want to get involved, head to the Kickstarter page.

Featured

Maggie 메기 Dir: Yi Ok-seop (2018) South Korea Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019

Maggie   

메기

Running Time: 88 mins.

Release Date: October 2018

Director: Yi Ok-seop

Writer: Yi Ok-seop, Koo Kyo-hwan (Screenplay),

Starring: Lee Ju-young, Moon So-ri, Koo Kyo-hwan, Lee Ju-yeong, Mun So-ri, Koo Gyo-Hwan, Myeong Gye-nam, Kim Kkobbi Flowerain,

IMDB

http://www.oaff.jp/2019/en/program/c09.html

Winner of the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019’s Grand Prix (Best Picture Award) as well as Busan International Film Festival 2018’s CGV Art House Award and Citizens’ Critic Award, Maggie heralds a new directing talent in Yi Ok-Seop, someone who brings a lively verve to her examination of how doubt can infect everything and how such an infection should be cured by seeking the truth. It’s a large topic tackled with a disparate range of elements from a talking catfish to mysterious seismic activities and audiences will be forgiven for having doubts of their own as to how everything links up and if it will be satisfying but it works in the end.

Continue reading “Maggie 메기 Dir: Yi Ok-seop (2018) South Korea Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019”

Featured

Just Only Love, Kingdom, Naminori Office e Yokoso, Crayon Shin-chan Movie 27: Shinkon Ryokou Hurricane – Ushinawareta Hiroshi, Hibike! Euphonium Movie 3: Chikai no Finale, Itsuka kagayaite ita kanojo wa, Chronos Jaunter, Godot of the Emotos, Centre line Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, people!

This is my first trailer post since being in Japan, travelling to Himeji and other cities in Hyogo Prefecture as well as places like Nara and Kyoto, working at the Osaka Asian Film Festival (OAFF) and then travelling to Kamakura, Tokyo and places in central Japan that I will probably never visit again because I like Tokyo and Kansai more and time is always short.

Apologies for the radio silence in terms of trailers but I have cranked out reviews from OAFF and I’m still working on interviews with a friend. When it’s all done, it will come to 24 or 25 pieces, which isn’t bad. I’m most pleased that I will be able to get everything released by mid-May. Most of it came out during the festival period back in March. It has been quick. I can see where further improvements can be made so if I get another shot at this, it’ll be better.

You can see the current reviews and one interview over at V-Cinema by clicking on this link.

For this blog, I have posted:

 A preview article, Nunchaku and Soul, Randen, Sisterhood, Hana, The CrossingStill Human, The Eternity Between Seconds, and Wild Tour.

As well as OAFF, I posted about the Japanese Film Festival Ireland , The Korea Independent Animation Festival, and Udine Far East Film Festival and, over at Anime UK News, an article for Kickstarter for a cool stop-motion animation that tells a supernatural tale called The Depth of Yagen. I’ll post more information on here at some point.

Rambling over. You’re here for the trailers for films released this week. Here they are:

Continue reading “Just Only Love, Kingdom, Naminori Office e Yokoso, Crayon Shin-chan Movie 27: Shinkon Ryokou Hurricane – Ushinawareta Hiroshi, Hibike! Euphonium Movie 3: Chikai no Finale, Itsuka kagayaite ita kanojo wa, Chronos Jaunter, Godot of the Emotos, Centre line Japanese Film Trailers”

Featured

Japanese Films at the Udine Far East Film Festival 2019 (April 26th to May 4th)

The Udine Far East Film Festival 2019 runs from April 26th to May 4th and has a lot to offer audiences eager for the latest in Asian cinema. This year’s edition has a special on retrospective on Korean cinema entitled ‘100 Years Of Korean Cinema’, which has 23 films programmed, and organisers are also going to hand Hong Kong star Anthony Wong the Golden Mulberry Award for Outstanding Achievement. Two of his film, Wong’s debut My Name Ain’t Suzie (1985) and the recent Still Human (2018), will also be screened.

Indeed, there are a few films I’ve already seen as part of work in Osaka with The Crossing and Still Human being my absolute must-recommends. From Japan, there are nine films in total, a few from the festival circuit such as a collection of political dystopian tales, Ten Years Japan, and Melancholic, an acerbic workplace comedy involving onsen and contract killers.

On top of film screenings, there’s also the industry side of things and Focus Asia 2019, a section where 15 projects are mainlined for international co-productions by a group of judges, has selected two Japanese projects, the first an offshoot of Ten Years Japan, Plan 75, by Chie Hayakawa and produced by Eiko Mizuno-Gray, and the second looks totally new. The Convenience Store features the film critic Mark Schilling (Japan Times), producer Emi Ueyama (Wasted Eggs, At the Terrace) and director Satoshi Miki (Adrift in Tokyo).

That was an unwieldy paragraph. On to the trailers!

Here is what on offer:

Continue reading “Japanese Films at the Udine Far East Film Festival 2019 (April 26th to May 4th)”

Featured

The Crossing Dir: Bai Xue (China) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019

The Crossing 

Running Time: 99 mins.

Release Date: March 15th, 2019

Director:  Bai Xue

Writer: Bai Xue (Screenplay),

Starring: Huang Yao, Sunny Sun, Carmen Soup, Ni Hongjie, Elena Kong, Kai Chi Liu, Jiao Gang,

Website IMDB

The Crossing is a coming-of-age film set to the background of a smuggling ring operating between Hong Kong and mainland China. It is a remarkably confident debut from writer/director Bai Xue and captures a new form of living what with the vagaries of living a transnational life and the opportunities travel affords.

Sixteen-year-old Peipei (Huang Yao) is a kid who lives in Shenzhen with her mother (Ni Hongjie) but attends a high school in Hong Kong, a privilege granted by her father (Kai Chi Liu) who comes from the island. As a result of her parent’s former union, Peipei can catch a train between cities, effectively crossing a border every day. Customs officials pay her little mind because of her school uniform, innocent face and quiet demeanour.

Continue reading “The Crossing Dir: Bai Xue (China) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019”

Featured

Still Human 淪落人 Dir: Oliver Siu Kuen Chan Hong Kong (2018) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019

Still Human 淪落人   

Running Time: 115 mins.

Release Date: Summer 2018

Director: Oliver Siu Kuen Chan

Writer: Oliver Siu Kuen Chan (Screenplay),

Starring: Anthony Wong, Crisel Consunji, Sam Lee, Cecilia Yip, Himmy Wong,

IMDB

http://www.oaff.jp/2019/en/program/c12.html

The city state of Hong Kong has been the setting for big emotions found in heroic bloodshed actioners, crime thrillers, romantic dramas, and martial arts extravaganzas. However, one of the most satisfying films to come out of the place in recent years is a small-scale drama about the friendship between a disabled man and his carer. Still Human is the debut feature film from Oliver Siu Kuen Chan and it has won accolades such as Best New Director at the 2019 Asian Film Awards, the Netpac Award at the Hawaii International Film Festival 2018 and the Audience Award at the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019. With a mixture of assured storytelling and great acting, it provides a moving drama that is sure to win over anyone who watches it. Just keep a hanky ready.

Continue reading “Still Human 淪落人 Dir: Oliver Siu Kuen Chan Hong Kong (2018) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019”

Featured

Hana Dir: Mai Nakanishi (2018) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019

Hana    Hana Film Poster

Running Time: 13 mins.

Release Date: 2019

Director: Mai Nakanishi

Writer: Mai Nakanishi (Screenplay), 

Cinematography: Jun-sang Lee 

Starring: Jeong-bi Lee, Hee-Jin Jean, Do-Eun Kim,

Website IMDB

This is a re-write of my review that was published on V-Cinema a month ago. Corrections and a bit more thoughtful analysis were made as well as references to favourite directors. I want to see more from Mai Nakanishi.

Hana is a Korea-Japan co-production from newbie director Mai Nakanishi. Originally from Tokyo, she has spent much of her career abroad working in various roles on a wide range of international projects including working as an assistant director for Eric Khoo and as producer for Sion Sono. Nakanishi has also worked as producer on the Japanese segments for the horror anthology ABCs of DEATH 2. Most tellingly, she is a founder and director of Scream Queen FilmFest Tokyo, the only female-centric genre film festival in Asia. In short, she is a horror fan, and when she was selected by the Busan International Film Festival to be a fellow at the Asian Film Academy 2016, she produced this short film under the mentorship of the world-renowned Taiwanese master Tsai Ming-Liang. The final product is very much rooted in horror, her favourite playground, and is an effective short.

A home is a reflection of who lives there and how it is decorated and lived in says a lot about a person and how they want to shape their lives (which is why it can be terrifying entering one if you stop and think about it long enough). Couple that idea with the existential one of how we can never truly know another person, pressures and desires and all, then someone seemingly normal can actually be stranger than imagined which is what happens in this neat horror short.

Continue reading “Hana Dir: Mai Nakanishi (2018) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019”

Featured

A Preview of of the Japanese Film Festival Ireland 2019

Ireland will get a slew of the latest cinematic delights from Japan when theJapanese Film Festival Ireland 2019 Image Japanese Film Festival Ireland gears up for its latest run. It all starts on April 6th and last until the 20th with screenings of a selection of films at venues in Dublin, Galway, Tipperary, Limerick, Cork, Sligo, Waterford and Dundalk.

There are many highlights, many of which have set screens ablaze at the likes of Japan Cuts 2018, three of the biggest titles to get a release in 2019 from Third Windows Films and the latest anime to be licensed Anime Limited. There is also a slew of indie films, only a couple of which have been screened at something like the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2019.

As is always the case, whether new or old, whether confirmed for a home format release or not, seeing these films on the big screen and sharing it with others is an exciting proposition and I hope you can find something that sparks your imagination.

Here are the films:

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

Featured

Korea Independent Animation Festival 2019 in Japan

For fans of Asian animation in the English-speaking world, Korea is a bit of an unknown quantity. Despite a few brave bloggers trying to keep track of various titles that get released, actually getting to see the films is pretty hard to do. So, if you are interested in Korean animation and are in Japan, this event will be perfect for you.

Korean Independent Animation Festival 2019 Image

With the onset of Spring, cherry blossom petals will shower the streets whilst on cinema screens will be the delightful sight of Korean animation. Throughout April, at three different locations, the Korea Independent Animation Film Festival will take place.

Osaka goes first from April 06th to the 10th at the Planet +1 cinema, which is located in the bohemian neighbourhood of Nakazakicho near Umeda,

Tokyo gets it from April 19th to the 21st at the Uplink Theatre in trendy Shibuya,

Nagoya is a bit later from July 06th to the 07th at the Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art, near Sakae station.

A collection of 29 films will be screened and there will be talks over the course of the festival. The films consist of two programmes dedicated to Korean animated shorts, a programme of shorts from creators based in Asia, and a feature film. These are mainly award films of “Indie-AniFest2018”, which took place in Seoul, and there’s a real variety to the techniques used in animation from stop-motion to 2D in various artistic styles, 3D, CG and even rotoscoping. Each of the shorts programmes and the feature clocks in at around an hour, making this an easily digestible series of screenings. Furthermore, the Osaka run has special guests and a special programme dedicated to the Kansai region – Kansai short program (62 minutes / 8 films) “Kansai Resident! Animator Special Feature”!

Continue reading “Korea Independent Animation Festival 2019 in Japan”

Featured

The Eternity Between Seconds Dir: Alec Figuracion (2018) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019

The Eternity Between Seconds    The Eternity Between Seconds Alec Figuracion (2018) Film Poster

Running Time: 83 mins.

Release Date: 2018

Director: Alec Figuracion

Writer: Alec Figuracion (Screenplay)

Starring: Yeng Constanino, TJ Trinidad,

Website IMDB

There is something about liminal spaces such as airports which allows the mind to wander loose from the moorings that reality keeps us grounded with. While there, free from commitments to family or work, it is possible to drift in a sea of strangers as we travel from one location to the next which is when we reassume responsibility. We can take a break from ourselves and be open, not just to a change in place but also thinking. This is an idea explored realistically and relatably in The Eternity Between Seconds, a Filipino film where two weary souls meet and offer respite from life’s worries.

Continue reading “The Eternity Between Seconds Dir: Alec Figuracion (2018) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019”

Featured

Wild Tour ワイルドツアー Dir: Sho Miyake (2018) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019

Wild Tour    Wild Tour Film Poster

ワイルドツアーWairudo Tsua-

Running Time: 67 mins.

Release Date: Summer 2018

Director:  Sho Miyake

Writer: Sho Miyake (Screenplay),

Starring: Honoka Ito, Ryutaro Yasumitsu, Osuke Kuribayashi, Takamasa Yamazaki,

Website IMDB

http://www.oaff.jp/2019/en/program/if10.html

Sho Miyake made waves with his 2012 sophomore feature Playback (2012), a time slip drama shot in monochrome which was officially screened at the 65th Locarno International Film Festival and won him international attention. Since then he has refused to conform to any one genre and dabbled in a myriad of projects with no common theme. 2014 saw him make the hip-hop documentary THE COCKPIT and that was followed by a 2017 period drama, The Courier. His most recent feature, the human drama And Your Bird Can Sing (2018), based on a novel by Yasushi Sato, was played at last year’s Tokyo International Film Festival and this year’s Berlinale. He has another film from 2018 and it goes somewhere else entirely as it combines a documentary about a scientific club with stories of first love.

Continue reading “Wild Tour ワイルドツアー Dir: Sho Miyake (2018) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019”

Featured

Sisterhood シスターフッド Dir: Takashi Nishihara (2018) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019

Sisterhood    Sisterhood Film Poster

シスターフッド  Shisuta-fuddo

Running Time: 87 mins.

Release Date: 2019

Director: Takashi Nishihara

Writer: Takashi Nishihara (Screenplay),

Starring: BOMI, Manami Usamaru, Nina Endo, Ryo Iwase, Mika Akizuki

Website IMDB

http://www.oaff.jp/2019/en/program/if07.html

The only constant in life is change and we are living through massive changes, not least with regard to the battle for gender equality which has been marked most recently by the #MeToo movement which has spread from America and gained traction in some of the most conservative of societies around the world. Channelling some of the momentum experienced in Japan is Takashi Nishihara, writer and director of Sisterhood. He graduated from the Department of Arts and Film at Waseda University with a focus on documentary and has created fiction films – Blue Ray (2011) and the lesbian love drama Starting Over (2014) – as well as documentaries – About My Freedom (2016) and Queer Asia, a series for GagaOOLala, Asia’s first LGBTQ streaming service. With Sisterhood, he mixes fact and fiction in a film that shows some of the voices asking for change to mainstream of Japanese society.

To capture the shifts going on in gender relations in Japan, Nishihara blurs the bounds between fiction and reality by merging footage from a documentary he has been shooting over the last few years and casting real life actors and models such as Nina Endo and Mika Akizuki (the two leads from Starting Over), SUMIRE and Manami Usamaru, as well as the musician BOMI, and making them play fictional variations of themselves. Each gives a portrayal of a young woman going about their lives. We see them modelling, studying, performing concerts, each desiring to be treated fairly as they chase their dreams and each question their role in society. These questions emerge thanks to a link character, a middle-aged male Tokyo-based documentary film director named Ikeda, played by Ryo Iwase, who interviews people for a documentary about feminism.

Continue reading “Sisterhood シスターフッド Dir: Takashi Nishihara (2018) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019”

Featured

RANDEN: The Comings and Goings on a Kyoto Tram Dir: Takuji Suzuki (2019) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019

RANDEN: The Comings and Goings on a Kyoto Tram  RANDEN The Comings and Goings on a Kyoto Tram Film Poster

嵐電 Randen

Running Time: 114 mins.

Release Date: May 24th, 2019

Director:  Takuji Suzuki

Writer: Takuji Suzuki, Hiroshi Asari, (Screenplay),

Starring: Arata Iura, Ayaka Onishi, Tamaki Kubose, Satoko Abe, Kenta Ishida, Hiroto Kanai,

Website

Opening the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019 is the world premiere of RANDEN: The Comings and Goings on a Kyoto Tram, a love-letter to the local tram that runs in the west of Kyoto City that links famous sites such as scenic Arashiyama to the ancient Koryu-ji temple and the exciting Toei Kyoto Studio Park where jidaigeki have been made over the centuries. It is beloved by many who ride it and the film’s story depicts the intersecting lives of three different couples whose love resonates throughout a narrative as fate, by way of the trams, deliberately bring people together.

Continue reading “RANDEN: The Comings and Goings on a Kyoto Tram Dir: Takuji Suzuki (2019) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019”

Featured

Nunchaku and Soul Dir: Akiyoshi Koba (2019) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019

Nunchaku and Soul

ヌンチャクソウル  Nunchaku Souru

Running Time: 25 mins.

Release Date: 2019

Director: Akiyoshi Koba

Writer: Akiyoshi Koba (Screenplay),

Starring: Masahiro Kuroki, Atsushi Takahashi, Jun Bay, Anju Kurosu, Yun Hayama, Michiko Hayashi, Shinichiro Osawa,

Website IMDB

http://www.oaff.jp/2019/en/program/if03.html

Director Akiyoshi Koba is a part-time lecturer at Nagaoka Zokei University and an indie filmmaker whose works feature a mixture of everyday settings dusted with a little sci-fi and tweaked with comedy. Titles include, Slippers and  a Midsummer Moon (2015) where two sisters travel between parallel worlds to find their missing father, the tokusatsu parody short Psychics Z (2016), and Tsumugi’s Radio (2017), a gentle comedy about mental illness and mistimed romance told with a lot of flashbacks. In each of the films, mundane locations are used for out of the ordinary events. This is probably driven by budget constraints but it has resulted in an oeuvre which celebrates the possibility of fun and DIY filmmaking in small-town Japan. Nunchaku and Soul is probably Koba’s most amusing work to date and continues in this vein.

Continue reading “Nunchaku and Soul Dir: Akiyoshi Koba (2019) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019”

Featured

Black Crow 1, Kibaiyanse! Watashi, Ramen Shop, Psycho-Pass: Sinners of the System – Case.3 On the Other Side of Love and Hate, Kimi to, tsuredure, Ultraman R/B The Movie: Select! The Crystal of Bond, Rise Dharuriser – The Movie New Edition, Geki × cine “Seven people of the skull castle” Season flowers, Japanese Film Trailers    

Happy weekend, everyone!

I hope everyone is doing well.

I am currently in Osaka working at the Osaka Asian Film Festival. I’ve written quite a few reviews already as I try and make more condensed and concise coverage that is effective. I have been able to do this because I wake up at around 02:00 or 03:00 in the morning and have difficulty getting back to sleep which leaves me falling asleep at 18:00. I hope I can get a handle on it because I’ve got interviews lined up with directors!

The festival opened yesterday with RANDEN: The Comings and Goings on a Kyoto Tram and my reviews have been getting published over on V Cinema, one a day! So far:

Preview    Hana  Wild Tour  Sisterhood  The Eternity Between Seconds    Demolition Girl

In order to get my Osaka coverage going, I finished up my reviews of Koji Fukada’s films Harmonium (2016) and also posted a preview of the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019. Expect reviews for the festivals films to start next Monday.

Before then… What is released this weekend?

Continue reading “Black Crow 1, Kibaiyanse! Watashi, Ramen Shop, Psycho-Pass: Sinners of the System – Case.3 On the Other Side of Love and Hate, Kimi to, tsuredure, Ultraman R/B The Movie: Select! The Crystal of Bond, Rise Dharuriser – The Movie New Edition, Geki × cine “Seven people of the skull castle” Season flowers, Japanese Film Trailers    “

Featured

A Preview of the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019 (March 08th – March 17th)

The Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019 (OAFF) is back for its 14th edition and it promises a wealth of cinematic experiences from across Asia with a healthy selection of local indies programmed alongside international award-winners, auteur works, modern classics and genre cinema. I’m working at the festival again so I’ve got a lot of writing to do and I originally wrote this for V-Cinema to introduce the films.

The festival runs at various locations in the city from March 08th through to March 17th and organisers have carefully created a programme consisting of 51 films from 17 regions including 10 world and 9 international premiere films. Over half the titles will be screened in Japan for the first time and there will be filmmakers travelling from across the world to join film fans and take part in Q&A sessions to give more information about their works.

Everything has been organised across multiple programmes including the Competition section as well as sections dedicated to Hong Kong and Taiwan and there is also the prestigious Osaka Asia Star Award which is given to a significant figure from the Japanese or Asian film industry and presented at an award ceremony which is followed by an in-depth talk event.

What’s on offer?

Continue reading “A Preview of the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019 (March 08th – March 17th)”

Featured

Harmonium 深田晃司 Dir: Koji Fukada (2016)

Harmonium  harmonium-film-poster 

深田晃司 「Fuchi ni Tatsu

Release Date: October 10th, 2016

Running Time: 118 mins.

Director: Koji Fukada

Writer: Koji Fukada

Starring: Mariko Tsutsui, Tadanobu Asano, Kanji Furutachi, Taiga, Takahiro Miura, Momone Shinokawa,

IMDB   Website

Koji Fukada’s Harmonium took the Jury Prize at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival and for good reason because it shows a director in precise control of his material. Story-wise, it follows in the footsteps of his debut feature Hospitalite (2011) wherein a stranger enters the lives of a family and disrupts things. While Fukada’s earlier title was light-hearted and poked fun at the social mores of Japan, this film is harsher with only a few dashes of hope beaming down in the final scenes.

Taking the lead is experienced thesp Kanji Futurachi, a familiar face from Fukada’s earlier films like Au Revoir l’ete (2015) and Human Comedy Tokyo (2012) and, crucially, Hospitalite (2011) where he was the stranger that forced a revolution on a family. In a role reversal he is the patriarch and a victim of sorts here as he plays Toshio, the owner of a small factory in the suburbs of some city or other. No location is given. It’s a nondescript and quiet place where he lives a quiet existence with his church-going wife Akie (Mariko Tsutsui) and their daughter Hotaru (Momone Shinokawa). It is she who plays the titular harmonium that gives the film’s soundtrack a funereal sense.

Harmonium Film Image

Continue reading “Harmonium 深田晃司 Dir: Koji Fukada (2016)”

Featured

Until I Meet September’s Love, Siblings of the Cape, Haman, Running Again, Sisterhood, Afternoon Breezes, Doraemon the Movie: Chronicle of the Moon Exploration, Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2202: Ai no Senshi-tachi Chapter 7 “Nova Chapter”, A Japanese Boy Who Draws, Goro no Shin Sekai, Umeko, Giwaku to Dansu, Fukushima wa Kataru, Yoake no takibi, Happy Island, Uchi uchi no men-tachi (tsura-tachi) wa., Last Judgement, Saigo no Shinpan, Sayonara Kazoku, Hazure Kazoku no Saaya, Kumori tokidoki hare Noise, KING OF PRISM: Shiny Seven Stars I – Prologue x Yukinojou x Taiga Japanese Film Trailers

Happy Weekend, everyone!

Au revoir l'ete Film Image 3

I hope you are all well!

I’ve written this the day after arriving in Japan. Yes, I am back in Osaka and getting ready for work at the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019. I hope to provide coverage of the Japanese films and interview the directors and others who make them. I also intend to review films from other countries. Expect a lot of cross-posting between this blog and V-Cinema.

I wrote this trailer post while suffering jet lag so there’s a lot of brevity. I’m surprised I got it done in two sessions over one day! It was completed after walking around Osaka for about four hours. 

This week, I reviewed Au Revoir l’ete and Human Comedy in Tokyo, two films from Koji Fukada. I intend to finish the mini Koji Fukada season with a fifth film, Harmonium, next Monday and then from Wednesday, it will be Osaka. I’m going to try and do it in a condensed time and not string it out.

Anyway, what’s released this weekend??? Continue reading “Until I Meet September’s Love, Siblings of the Cape, Haman, Running Again, Sisterhood, Afternoon Breezes, Doraemon the Movie: Chronicle of the Moon Exploration, Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2202: Ai no Senshi-tachi Chapter 7 “Nova Chapter”, A Japanese Boy Who Draws, Goro no Shin Sekai, Umeko, Giwaku to Dansu, Fukushima wa Kataru, Yoake no takibi, Happy Island, Uchi uchi no men-tachi (tsura-tachi) wa., Last Judgement, Saigo no Shinpan, Sayonara Kazoku, Hazure Kazoku no Saaya, Kumori tokidoki hare Noise, KING OF PRISM: Shiny Seven Stars I – Prologue x Yukinojou x Taiga Japanese Film Trailers”

Featured

Human Comedy in Tokyo 東京人間喜劇 Dir: Koji Fukada (2008)

Human Comedy in Tokyo    Human Comedy Tokyo Film Poster

東京人間喜劇 Tokyo Ningen Kigeki

Running Time: 139 mins.

Release Date: October 11th, 2008

Director:  Koji Fukada

Writer:  Koji Fukada (Screenplay),

Starring: Michitaro Mizushima, Misako Watanabe, Shoichi Ozawa, Shinsuke Ashida, Mari Shiraki, Akira Hisamatsu, Tatsuo Matsushita, Reiko Arai, Kotoe Hatsui,

IMDB

Having watched Fukada’s later works, Harmonium (2016), Sayonara (2015) and Au revoir l’ete (2013) (in that order), I was a fool to expect his feature-film debut Human Comedy Tokyo (2008) to actually be a comedy. What it has to say about human relations makes it one of the bleakest films I have seen in a while as we find that the title is super ironic because he depicts people in Tokyo as super isolated. Continue reading “Human Comedy in Tokyo 東京人間喜劇 Dir: Koji Fukada (2008)”

Featured

Au revoir l’ete ほとりの朔子 Dir: Koji Fukada (2014)

Au revoir l’ete          

Au revoir lete Film poster
Au revoir lete Film poster

ほとりの朔子 「Hotori no Sakuko」

Running Time: 125 mins.

Release Date: January 18th, 2014

Director: Koji Fukada

Writer: Koji Fukada (Screenplay)

Starring: Fumi Nikaido, Mayu Tsuruta, Kanji Furutachi, Taiga, Ena Koshino, Makiko Watanabe, Kiki Sugino

Website

Koji Fukada is a film-maker inspired by the cultures of France and Indonesia as best evidenced by him transplanting elements to his native Japan in his many works. His like of French New Wave cinema is made obvious by this film, Au Revoir l’ete, which means goodbye summer and plays like an Eric Rohmer film where relationships are unpicked in a nonchalant manner as we get to a deeper understanding of some human relationships. It’s the perfect title for a film that describes the quiet misadventures of a teenage girl who waves goodbye to her naivete and matures a little more while in the company of some childish adults.

It is late August and an eighteen-year-old Tokyoite Sakuko (Fumi Nikaido) is a ronin student who is preparing to take her university entrance exam after flunking her previous one. Studying is the perfect excuse for her to tag along with her aunt Mikie (Mayu Tsuruta) who is house-sitting for her sister, Sakuko’s mother, in a sleepy coastal town.

Au revoir l'ete Film Image 3

Continue reading “Au revoir l’ete ほとりの朔子 Dir: Koji Fukada (2014)”

Featured

Ano Hi no Orugan, The Island of Cats, Omaera Zenin Mendokusai!, Rin, Samurai Marathon 1855, Tonde Saitama, When Mother Died, I Thought That I Wanted to Eat Remains, Boku no kanojo wa mahoutsukai, Junction 29, Michikusa, Mirai no Atashi, Made in Japan, Sora no Hitomi to Katatsumuri, Chimamire sukeban chenso red: Kohen – Giko no kakusei, Chimamire sukeban chenso red: Kohen – Nero no fukushu Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, everyone!

I hope you are well!!

This is another truncated film trailer post and there are so many titles getting released over this weekend and the next! As far as film review go, I started a mini-season dedicated to Koji Fukada with reviews of Sayonara and Hospitalite.

What is released this weekend?

Continue reading “Ano Hi no Orugan, The Island of Cats, Omaera Zenin Mendokusai!, Rin, Samurai Marathon 1855, Tonde Saitama, When Mother Died, I Thought That I Wanted to Eat Remains, Boku no kanojo wa mahoutsukai, Junction 29, Michikusa, Mirai no Atashi, Made in Japan, Sora no Hitomi to Katatsumuri, Chimamire sukeban chenso red: Kohen – Giko no kakusei, Chimamire sukeban chenso red: Kohen – Nero no fukushu Japanese Film Trailers”

Featured

Sayonara さよなら Dir: Koji Fukada (2015)

Sayonara      

Sayonara Film Poster
Sayonara Film Poster

さよなら「Sayonara

Running Time: 112 mins.

Director: Koji Fukada

Writer:  Koji Fukada, Oriza Hirata (Screenplay),

Starring: Bryerly Long, Hirofumi Arai, Geminoid F, Makiko Murata, Yuko Kibiki, Nijiro Murakami,

Website   IMDB

Koji Fukada’s (Hospitalité, Au revoir l’été) 2015 movie Sayonara is billed as the first ever film with an android as one of the stars. As intriguing as seeing an artificial life-form act seems to be, the final result is a pretty lifeless affair in both acting and story terms but it does have some emotional impact.

It is based on a collaboration between Japanese playwright Oriza Hirata (a familiar collaborator with Fukada) and a leading robotics scientist named Hiroshi Ishiguro who works at Osaka University and has been developing different models of the Geminoid androids since 2005. Their team-up resulted in a 15-minute stage-play that travelled Japan with people being able to see the actor Bryerly Long conversing with the latest in android technology. With the two actors on stage and sat down it was a largely static affair in a story where a human woman comes to terms with her impending death through talking and the recitation of poetry. The film largely adopts the stage-play from what I have read and, despite looking good, suffers from relaying the content straight in an end-of-the-world tale that takes two hours but feels longer.

Continue reading “Sayonara さよなら Dir: Koji Fukada (2015)”

Featured

Another World, Fortuna’s Eye, Smiles Leading to Happiness, Tiger: My Life as a Cat, Dynamite Wolf, Psycho-Pass: Sinners of the System – Case.2 First Guardian, Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?: Arrow of the Orion, The Royal Tutor Film Version, FIGHTERS THE MOVIE Challenge with Dream, Bon Uta A Song From Home, Memories of a Dead End, Iron Girl Final Wars, Shota Sometani Films, Kiyosumi, Blank, Similar But Different, LAPSE, Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, people!Charisma Yabuki (Yakusho) at the Bus stop

I hope you are all well!

The next few weekend posts are going to be really brief and probably lacklustre because I am super busy. I have had my time packed with all sorts of things like proofing friend’s works, finishing a game script and trying to practice Japanese. Fortunately, I have a stack of reviews good to go for the next month and a bit so that takes the pressure off. This week’s review was for Destiny a Tale of Kamakura (2017) and there was news about Shinya Tsukamoto who will receive the Nippon Honor Award at the 19th Nippon Connection Film Festival in May.

What is released this weekend?

Continue reading “Another World, Fortuna’s Eye, Smiles Leading to Happiness, Tiger: My Life as a Cat, Dynamite Wolf, Psycho-Pass: Sinners of the System – Case.2 First Guardian, Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?: Arrow of the Orion, The Royal Tutor Film Version, FIGHTERS THE MOVIE Challenge with Dream, Bon Uta A Song From Home, Memories of a Dead End, Iron Girl Final Wars, Shota Sometani Films, Kiyosumi, Blank, Similar But Different, LAPSE, Japanese Film Trailers”

Featured

Shinya Tsukamoto will receive Nippon Honor Award at the 19th Nippon Connection Film Festival

Shinya TsukamotoShinya Tsukamoto will receive the NIPPON HONOR AWARD at the 19th Nippon Connection Film Festival in Frankfurt am Main, Germany (May 28th – June 02nd). Shinya Tsukamoto tweeted this news earlier in the month and it has been confirmed by a press release sent out on Tuesday this week. This is the fifth time the award has been bestowed on someone and it goes to a person who has made outstanding contributions to Japanese cinema. I can’t think of a better person at the moment!

Fans of Japanese films who have followed this blog for a while will know I am a big fan of the actor and director, editor and cinematographer. He was one of the first directors I went and wrote a biography for and reviewed a whole bunch of his films (my favourite being Vital). In fact, I met him at the Raindance Independent Film Festival a few years back and had my picture taken with him just before a screening of Fires on the Plain!

Anyway, according to the press release:

Continue reading “Shinya Tsukamoto will receive Nippon Honor Award at the 19th Nippon Connection Film Festival”

Featured

Destiny: The Tale of Kamakura DESTINY 鎌倉ものがたり Dir:  Takashi Yamazaki (2017)

Destiny: The Tale of Kamakura   DESTINY Kamakura Monogatari Film Poster

DESTINY 鎌倉ものがたり DESTINY Kamakura Monogatari

Running Time: 129 mins.

Release Date: December 09th, 2017

Director:  Takashi Yamazaki

Writer:  Takashi Yamazaki (Screenplay), Ryohei Saigan (Original Manga)

Starring: Masato Sakai, Mitsuki Takahata, Shinichi Tsutsumi, Sakura Ando, Min Tanaka, Tamao Nakamura, Mikako Ichikawa, Jun Kunimura, Tomokazu Miura,

Website IMDB

Kamakura is one of the old capitals of Japan and the most magical place in the country according to Destiny: The Tale of Kamakura. In this CG-heavy adventure, a young woman discovers her new husband’s titular home town is where the borders between life, death, fairytale and reality are blurred as she and her beloved embark on a magical fantasy adventure.

Continue reading “Destiny: The Tale of Kamakura DESTINY 鎌倉ものがたり Dir:  Takashi Yamazaki (2017)”