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

Happy weekend, people!!!

After the Storm Koreeda Kirin Abe

We made it to another one.

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

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

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

What is released this weekend in Japan?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dynamite Graffiti Film Image

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

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

Happy Weekend, people!

Thicker than Water Film Image

I hope everyone is well.

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

What is released in Japan this weekend?

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

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

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

Trailer!

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

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

Here is what has been programmed!

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

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

Bad Poetry Tokyo    Bad Poetry Tokyo Film Poster

東京不穏詩 Tōkyō fuon uta

Running Time: 114 mins.

Release Date: 2018

Director: Anshul Chauhan

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

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

Website    IMDB

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

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

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

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

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

Happy weekend!

Shuhei Morita Possessions Image

We made it through to another one!

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

Here’s what’s released this weekend.

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

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Yosuke Takeuchi Interview at the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018

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

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

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

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

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

The Sower      A1PosterAward2

種をまく人  Tane o maku hito」    

Running Time: 117 mins.

Release Date: 2016

Director: Yosuke Takeuchi

Writer: Yosuke Takeuchi (Screenplay)

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

IMDB           Website

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

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

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

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

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

The_Sower_1Chie

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

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

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

The_Sower_2Mitsuo

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

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

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

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

Happy weekend!

Goodbye Silence Sumire

We made it through to another one.

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

What is released this week?

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

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

Saraba Seijaku   Saraba Seijaku Film Poster

サラバ静寂 Saraba Seijaku

Running Time: N/A

Release Date: January 27th, 2018

Director: Kenichi Ugana

Writer: Kenichi Ugana (Screenplay),

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

Website

 

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

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

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

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

Mirai

Mirai of the Future Film Image

Mirai of the Future    Mirai of the Future Film Poster

未来のミライ Mirai no Mirai

Running Time: 100 mins.

Release Date: July 20th, 2018

Director:  Mamoru Hosoda

Writer: Mamoru Hosoda (Screenplay/Original Work)

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

Animation Production: Studio Chizu

Website ANN MAL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This film is going to be good!

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

Happy weekend, people!

Columbus Film Image 2

I hope everyone is fine and dandy!

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

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

What’s released this weekend in Japan?

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

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

Columbus   Columbus Film Poster

 Running Time: 114 mins.

Release Date: August 04th, 2017

Director: Kogonada

Writer: Kogonada (Screenplay)

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

IMDB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Congratulations, Hirokazu Kore-eda!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Weekend, people!

Shoplifters Film Image 2

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

What’s released this weekend?

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

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A Preview of Nippon Connection 2018

NC18_animation_The Night Is Short Walk on Girl_504

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

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

Continue reading “A Preview of Nippon Connection 2018”

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

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

Asako I & II

Asako I and II Film Image

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

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

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

SHOPLIFTERS

Shoplifters Film Image 2

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

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

KUSHINA, what will you be

クシナ Kushina

Running Time: 68 mins.

Release Date: 2018

Director: Moët Hayami

Writer: Moët Hayami (Screenplay),

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

Website

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

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

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

Happy weekend!

Night Working Film Image

I hope everyone is well!

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

What’s released this weekend in Japan?

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

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

Filled with Steam

湯気満ちて Yuge michite

Running Time: 30 mins.

Release Date: 2017

Director: Rina Tanaka

Writer: Ryota Kato (Screenplay),

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


And oh, after the love has gone

How could you lead me on

And not let me stay around?

Oh, after the love has gone

What used to be right is wrong

Can love that’s lost be found?

AFTER THE LOVE IS GONE / Earth,Wind & Fire

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

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

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

Night Working

夜間勤務 Yakan kinmu

Running Time: 27 mins.

Director: Kim Jung-eun

Writer: Kim Jung-eun (Screenplay),

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

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

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

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

Night Working Film Image2

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

“I want to go to the sea. With you.”

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

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Laplace’s Witch, D5 5 Detectives, Kokoro ni yorisou, Kamen Rider Amazons Season 1 the Movie: Awakening, Gekijouban PriPara & Kiratto Pri☆Chan ~Kira Kira Memorial Live~, Digimon Adventure tri. 6: Our Future, Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin Rise of the Red Comet Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, people!

Ordinary Everyday Film Image

I hope everyone is feeling fine.

This week has been one of clearing the decks in order to get going with research and studying for my day job so I got through my last Sono film review for this half of the year with Antiporno, which was released in the UK at the beginning of the week and then I started my month-and-a-bit-long catch-up on some of my work at the Osaka Asian Film Festival with a round-up post and then a review of Ordinary Everyday  (2017). That’s enough about me.

What’s released this weekend?

Continue reading “Laplace’s Witch, D5 5 Detectives, Kokoro ni yorisou, Kamen Rider Amazons Season 1 the Movie: Awakening, Gekijouban PriPara & Kiratto Pri☆Chan ~Kira Kira Memorial Live~, Digimon Adventure tri. 6: Our Future, Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin Rise of the Red Comet Japanese Film Trailers”

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Ordinary Everyday 優しい日常 Dir: Noriko Yuasa (2017) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018

Ordinary Everyday

優しい日常 Yasashii Nichijou

Running Time: 27 mins.

Release Date: October 14th, 2017

Director: Noriko Yuasa

Writer: Noriko Yuasa, Rie Mashiko (Screenplay),

Starring: Shinnosuke Abe, Tamae Ando, Karin Ono, Motohiko Kawano, Eito Suda, Shizuri Okayama, Sayuri Hosokawa,

Website IMDB

Ordinary Everyday is a 27-minute film featuring that idealised fantasy many people have: the perfect family. Is there such a thing? We all have hidden sides which we conceal, something which proves to be the case with one family in down-town Tokyo who suck in a naive outsider into their seemingly ordinary everyday lives in a tale where the ambiguous is mined for horror.

Continue reading “Ordinary Everyday 優しい日常 Dir: Noriko Yuasa (2017) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018”

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Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018 Round-Up

It’s the month of May!

I hope everybody is feeling top of the line!

After the chaos of April which turned out to be a bit of a Sion Sono month, I’m reaching back into March and my film work in Japan.

Thanks to the kindness of the organisers I worked at the Osaka Asian Film Festival as a writer/journalist again and I dove deep into finding out more about the Japanese indie film scene. To do this, I watched many films and interviewed directors, actors, and editors. It was a great experience meeting so many gifted people. Inspiring, uplifting, and fun!

I beat my last attempt and hit a new year’s resolution!

Continue reading “Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018 Round-Up”

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Antiporno アンチポルノ Dir: Sion Sono (2016)

Antiporno

アンチポルノ 「AnchiporunoAntiporno Film Poster

Running Time: 78 mins

Release Date: January 28th, 2017

Director:  Sion Sono

Writer: Sion Sono (Screenplay),

Starring: Ami Tomite, Mariko Tsutsui, Asami, Fujiko, Ami Fukuda, Honoka Ishibashi, Yuya Takayama,

Website IMDB

The Roman Porno Reboot is a celebration of the series of softcore films put out by Nikkatsu from the 70s to the late 80s. Roman Porno is a realm where writers and directors can exercise creative freedom in content so long as they adhere to tight shooting deadlines and insert a sex scene in the proceedings every so often. Sion Sono is one of the veteran directors who took part in this reboot and he has taken this freedom to creative extremes and made a challenging film, an overwhelming visual and aural assault on the senses that delivers a feminist diatribe against the subjection of women.

The story starts with Kyoko (Ami Tomite), a highly-strung celebrity novelist and artist who also considers herself a super whore exploring the furthest reaches of sex. She is feeling the nerves before an interview and photo shoot with a major magazine writer and fashion photographer so she decides to take her insecurities out on her older eager-to-please assistant Noriko (Mariko Tsutsui) whom she sadistically humiliates through various lewd acts. The intensity ratchets up through the actual interview as Noriko, in an effort to be a whore like Kyoko, allows herself to be violated by the photographer’s assistants whilst being denigrated by Kyoko.

Continue reading “Antiporno アンチポルノ Dir: Sion Sono (2016)”

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Oh Lucy!, My Little Monster, Marmalade Boy, Honto ni atta! Noroi no bideo BEST 10, Utopia Japanese Film Trailers

HAPPY WEEKEND, PEOPLE!

Okko's Inn Key Image

I hope everyone is having a great week!

I’ve been putting out more articles than ever before. Not just here but over on other sites. That doesn’t even include all of the stuff I do in my day job. What have I published here? A review of the Sion Sono documentary which is included as a double-feature with The Whispering Star, a preview of the Japanese films at the East Winds Film Festival, and my annual look at the Japanese Films at the Annecy International Animation Festival 2018. I also posted about the anime weekender at the BFI Southbank. I’ve also gone about updating some synopses and links that needed to be changed. BUSY BUSY!

I’m going to start publishing the reviews and interviews I have done for another site on here soon so brace yourself for a wave of indie movie information.

What is released in Japan this weekend?

Continue reading “Oh Lucy!, My Little Monster, Marmalade Boy, Honto ni atta! Noroi no bideo BEST 10, Utopia Japanese Film Trailers”

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Anime Weekender at the BFI Southbank in London in May

The BFI Southbank in London is running another “Anime Weekender” event in May with three days featuring some of the most recent anime releases. The tickets for the Weekender are on sale so just scroll down to see what is on offer. Dates and times have been put in as well as links to each film which will allow you to book tickets so just click on the titles.

Here’s what’s on offer:

In This Corner of the World Film Image

Continue reading “Anime Weekender at the BFI Southbank in London in May”

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Japanese Films at Annecy International Animation Film Festival 2018

Annecy 2018 Banner

The Annecy International Animation Film Festival is back from June 11th to the 16th and it’s packed with anime feature films, TV anime, and conferences. The Japanese presence is heavy this year and everything looks high quality from the student works to the feature films from the likes of Naoka Yamada (A Silent Voice) and Mamoru Hosoda (The Wolf Children)! Netflix has a presence here thanks to their positive contribution to anime and it’s an exciting TV anime. The student works look equally enticing with one from Tokyo University of the Arts. I feel glad to see so much diversity in content and approach!

Here are the titles:

Continue reading “Japanese Films at Annecy International Animation Film Festival 2018”

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The Sion Sono 園子温という生きもの Dir: Arata Oshima (2016)

Jonetsu tairiku Presents Sono Shion to iu ikimono    

Sono Shion to iu ikmono Film Poster
Sono Shion to iu ikmono Film Poster

園子温という生きもの Sono Shion to iu ikmono 

Running Time: 97 mins.

Release Date: May 14th, 2016

Director: Arata Oshima

Writer: N/A

Starring: Sion Sono, Shota Sometani, Fumi Nikaido, Megumi Kagurazaka, Eri, Naoto Tanobe, Takuji Yasuoka,

Website    IMDB

Third Window Films’ recent release of The Whispering Star (2016) was paired up with The Sion Sono, a documentary directed by Arata Oshima, son of legendary filmmaker Nagisa Oshima. Both films were originally released on the same day in Japan and prove to be the perfect partners for a home format release since they capture moments in the evolving career of Sion Sono, Japan’s most maverick multi-hyphante talent.

Sono is a poet, painter, writer, filmmaker, and rebel who decries convention and has taken on the role of subversive provocateur daring to tackle all manner of subjects and genres in his films. Gory horror, family drama, political and social diatribes, comedy, and everything in between have been mined to create a truly unique filmography of over 40 films and this documentary traces the origins of his work ethic, his love of films, and give a glimpse of the real character behind the cult figure.

Continue reading “The Sion Sono 園子温という生きもの Dir: Arata Oshima (2016)”

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Inuyashiki, Until the Day You Gain Freedom, Yassadaru Man, Liz to Aoitori. Ninagawa Yukio Theatre 2 `jajauma narashi'(aya no kuni Sheikusupia shirīzu) Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, people!

Until the Day You Gain Freedom Film Image

This week I posted a review for the release of The Whispering Star (2016) as well as info on its UK release thanks to Third Window Films, updated my post about Japanese films at the Cannes Film Festival with info on the Mamoru Hosoda anima, Mirai no Mirai which is the first anime to open in the Directors’ Fortnight section, and also about the Spring Explorers free film screenings.

Inuyashiki   Inuyashiki Film Poster

いぬやしき Inuyashiki

Running Time: 127 mins.

Release Date: April 20th, 2018

Director: Shinsuke Sato

Writer: Hiroshi Hashimoto (Screenplay), Hiroya Oku (Original Manga)

Starring: Noritake Kinashi, Takeru Satoh, Kanata Hongo, Fumi Nikaido, Yuki Saito, Yusuke Iseya, Mari Hamada, Ayaka Miyoshi, Nayuta Fukuzaki,

Website IMDB

This is based on a manga series by Hiroya Oku, the guy who created the super-disturbing horror sci-fi Gantz. Inuyashiki was turned into an anime that turned out to be pretty good. The live-action version looks like it should be fun. Takeru Satoh (Rurouni Kenshin and Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno) stars as the bad guy.

Synopsis: Ichiro Inuyashiki (Noritake Kinashi) is a salary-man on his way out. Unappreciated at work and at home and freshly diagnosed with cancer, his life looks miserable but things take a drastic turn when he is involved in an explosion. When he regains consciousness, he discovers that he has been transformed into a cyborg. Far from freaking out, he has a new lease of life and decides to use his powers to help those in need. Meanwhile, Hiro Shishigami (Takeru Satoh), a high school student, was also involved in the very same explosion and has gained the very same the powers. He just wants to see the world burn. Two super-powered people do battle in Japan!

Continue reading “Inuyashiki, Until the Day You Gain Freedom, Yassadaru Man, Liz to Aoitori. Ninagawa Yukio Theatre 2 `jajauma narashi'(aya no kuni Sheikusupia shirīzu) Japanese Film Trailers”

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

The Whispering Star    

The Whispering Star Film Poster
The Whispering Star Film Poster

ひそひそ星「Hiso Hiso Boshi

Running Time: 101 mins.

Release Date: May 14th, 2016

Director: Sion Sono

Writer: Sion Sono (Screenplay)

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

Website    IMDB

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

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

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

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Spring Explorers: Japan Foundation Shows Four Free Films in London

Spring Explorers Header Image

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

Here are the details:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Weekend, People!

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

What is released this weekend in Japan?

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

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Japanese Films at the Udine Far East Film Festival 2018

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

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

What are the Japanese films programmed for the festival?

Udine Far East Film Festival Logo

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

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

Lady Nosferatu Film Image

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

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

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

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

Hello, dear readers.

Only Yesterday Film Image 2

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

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

What’s released this weekend?

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

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

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

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

Here are the details:

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

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

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

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

Here are the films programmed:

The Sower      

種をまく人  Tane o maku hito」    

Running Time: 117 mins.

Release Date: 2016

Director: Yosuke Takeuchi

Writer: Yosuke Takeuchi (Screenplay)

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

IMDB           Website

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

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

Synopsis: Mitsuo was one of those brave souls who answered the call for volunteers to clear out the debris left behind by the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami. The strain of the task proved to be too much and he spent three years in psychiatric care. Upon his release, Mitsuo finds solace in reuniting with his brother and his nieces Chie and Itsuki. But a tragic accident soon disrupts the newly found happiness when the two girls are left in his care and Itsuki is killed. Though he had no direct involvement in the incident, Mitsuo is blamed and this causes him and the people around him to deal with the burden of guilt and the struggle for atonement.

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

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

Happy weekend, people!

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

What’s released this weekend?

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

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

Girl Returned

帰ってきた少女 Kaette kita shoujo

Running Time: 44 mins.

Release Date: 2018

Director: Satoru Hirohara

Writer: Satoru Hirohara (Screenplay),

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

Website

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

IF04_GirlReturned

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

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

CYCLE-CYCLE

Running Time: 18 mins.

Release Date: 2018

Director: Junichi Kanai

Writer: Junichi Kanai (Screenplay),

Starring: Jinto Yoshida, Haruki Yamazaki, Daichi Shiozaki

Website IMDB

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

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

IF02_cyclecycle

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

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

Happy weekend, people!

Eriko, Pretended Film Image

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here and Here Film Image

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

I hope everyone is having fun.

What was released last weekend?

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

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

Here and Here 

憧れ Akogare

Running Time: 20 mins.

Release Date: 2018

Director: Yoshimasa Jimbo

Writer: Yoshimasa Jimbo (Screenplay),

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

Website IMDB

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

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

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