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

Happy weekend, everyone!

Miss Hokusai Gruff

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

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

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

What is released in Japan this weekend?

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

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

Bullet Ballet                                                  Bullet Ballet Film Poster

バルットバレエ 「Barutto Baree

Release Date: March 11th, 2000

Duration: 87 mins.

Director: Shinya Tsukamoto

Writer: Shinya Tsukamoto

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

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

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

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

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Japanese Films at the London East Asian Film Festival 2019

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

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

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

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

Here are the details:

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

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

Welcome to the weekend, everyone!

I hope you are all safe and well.

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

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

What’s released this weekend?

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

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A Preview of Japan Cuts Hollywood 2019

Japan Cuts Hollywood Header 2

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

Here’s what is programmed:

Continue reading “A Preview of Japan Cuts Hollywood 2019”

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

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

What was released last weekend???

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

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

Happy weekend!

I hope you are all well!

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

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

What’s released this weekend?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are the events and dates:

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

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Ad Astra Dir: James Gray (2019) (USA)

Ad Astra   

アド・アストラAdo Asutora

Release Date: September 18th, 2020

Duration: 123 mins.

Director: James Gray

Writer: James Gray, Ethan Gross (Screenplay),

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

Website IMDB

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

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

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

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

Happy weekend, everyone!

Chichi no Kekkon Film Image
Chichi no Kekkon Film Image

I hope you are all well!

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

What is released in cinemas across Japan this weekend?

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

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

Busan International Film Festival Logo

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

Here are the titles!

The Opening Film is:

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

オルジャスの白い馬Oruhasu no Shiroi Uma

Release Date: January 18th, 2020

Duration: 84 mins.

Director: Yerlan Nurmukhambetov, Lisa Takeba

Writer: Yerlan Nurmukhambetov (Screenplay),

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

Website IMDB

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

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

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

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

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

Orphan’s Blues      Orphans Blues Film Poster

オーファンズ・ブルース O-fanzu Buru-su

Release Date: May 31st, 2019

Duration: 89 mins.

Director: Riho Kudo

Writer: Riho Kudo (Screenplay),

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

Website

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

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

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

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

Happy weekend, everyone!

The Best if Youth New Generation

I hope you are well!

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

What’s released this weekend?

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

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

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

きみの鳥はうたえる Kimi no tori wa utaeru

Release Date: September 01st, 2018

Duration: 119 mins.

Director: Sho Miyake

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

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

Website IMDB

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Samurai Marathon 

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

Duration: 104 mins.

Release Date: February 22nd, 2019

Director:  Bernard Rose

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

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

Website IMDB

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

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

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

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

The Best of Youth    The Best of Youth Film Poster

La meglio gioventù

Release Date: June 22nd, 2003

Duration: 366 mins.

Director: Marco Tullio Giordana

Writer: Sandro Petraglia, Stefano Rulli (Screenplay),

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

IMDB

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

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

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

Happy weekend, everyone!

Judge! Kiichiro (Tsumabuki)

I hope you are well.

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

What’s released this weekend?

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

ある日本の絵描き少年 Aru Nihon no ekaki shonen

Release Date: March 02nd, 2019

Duration: 20 mins.

Director:  Masanao Kawajiri

Writer: Masanao Kawajiri (Screenplay),

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

Website

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

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

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

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

Sayounara    Sayounara Poster

左様なら Sayounara

Running Time: 86 mins.

Release Date: 2019

Director: Yuho Ishibashi

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

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

Website IMDB

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

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

Sayounara Manga Image

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

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

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

Welcome to the weekend, everyone.

The Gift Simon (Bateman) Reads the Note

I hope you are well.

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

What films are released this weekend?

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

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A Preview of the Kotatsu Japanese Animation Film Festival 2019

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

Penguin Highway Key Image

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

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

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Japanese Films at the BFI London Film Festival 2019

BFI London Film Festival Logo

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

Here’s what is programmed:

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

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

Happy weekend, everyone!

I hope you are all feeling good.

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

What is released this weekend?

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

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

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

Release Date: August 14th, 2019 (UK)

Duration: 161 mins.

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Writer: Quentin Tarantino (Screenplay)

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

Website IMDB

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

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

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Japanese Films at the Vancouver International Film Festival 2019

Vancouver International Film Festival 2013 Logo

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

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

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

Happy weekend, everyone.

Dear Doctor Ino Two

Autumn is approaching!

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

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

What films are playing this weekend?

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

Toronto International Film Festival 2014 Post Header

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

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

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A Preview of Summer of Horror Hiho 2019

Summer of Horror Hiho is an event running from August 23rd to September 06th where horror flicks get screened in cinemas in east, central and western Horror Hiho Film Festival PosterJapan – Tokyo: Kineka  Oomori in Shinagawa ward; Nagoya: Cinema SKHole in Nakamura ward; Osaka: Theater Seven in Yodogawa ward. Can you remember Vampire Clay? That horror movie was featured as part of this horror movie festival and since then it has travelled around the world and is easily available on legal streaming services so it’s worth keeping an eye on this festival to see what other discoveries there are. This weekend sees another edition of the fest and some of the films have already been shown at western festivals.

What are the film’s in this year’s line-up?

On top of having seminal 70s horror flicks Driller Killer (1979) and The Crazies (1973) there are these films:

Continue reading “A Preview of Summer of Horror Hiho 2019”

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Dance With Me Black Maiden: Chapter A, Aesop’s Game, Cherry Blossoms and Demons, Matsunaga Tenma Murder Case Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, everyone.

Patema Inverted Patema and Age Work Together

I hope you are all well.

I’m midway through a 12-day week and I’ve cushioned each day with films – an 80s horror in the morning and a yakuza movie in the evening. I’ve finished writing initial PR for a film festival that will launch in October and now it’s a case of practising Japanese for guests who will be attending.

This week I posted a review of the film Lying to Mom and a preview of l’Etrange Festival.

What is released this weekend?

Continue reading “Dance With Me Black Maiden: Chapter A, Aesop’s Game, Cherry Blossoms and Demons, Matsunaga Tenma Murder Case Japanese Film Trailers”

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Japanese Films at L’Etrange Festival 2019

The L’Etrange Festival runs for its 25th edition from September 04 to 15 in Paris L'Etrange Festival 2019 Posterand it continues in its mission to show genre cinema and exult in strange delights from some of cinema’s greatest minds. The Japanese focus features familiar live-action films and some animation, some of which I have reviewed. The biggest film here is the newest Takashi Miike, Hatsukoi, which was at Cannes earlier in the year and will be released in Japan next year, and there’s also Branded to Kill, the super hitman film from Seijun Suzuki.

What Japanese films are programmed at L’Etrange this year?

Continue reading “Japanese Films at L’Etrange Festival 2019”

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Lying to Mom 鈴木家の嘘 Dir: Katsumi Nojiri, Japan, (2018) [New York Asian Film Festival 2019]

Lying to Mom  The Suzuki_s Family Lie Film Poster

鈴木家の嘘 Suzukike no Uso

Release Date: November 16th, 2018

Duration: 133 mins.

Director:  Katsumi Nojiri

Writer: Katsumi Nojiri (Screenplay),

Starring: Hideko Hara, Mai Kiryu, Ryo Kase, Ittoku Kishibe, Nao Omori, Kayoko Kishimoto, Nahoko Yoshimoto, Shohei Uno, Chiaki Kawamo, 

Website IMDB

Katsumi Nojiri has had a long career working as an assistant director on a diverse array of films such as the comedies Seto and Utsumi (2016) and Thermae Romae II (2014) as well as dictionary drama The Great Passage (2013). For his directorial debut he harnesses a touch of comedy to craft a heartfelt film that is sadly inspired by the death of his own brother. In Lying to Mom, he unpacks all of the difficulties surrounding suicide felt by one suburban family and captures some of the difficult dynamics that play in addressing sensitive topics.

The suburban family at the heart of the story are the Suzuki clan which consists of father Sachio (Ittoku Kishibe), mother Yuko (Hideko Hara), son Koichi (Ryo Kase) and daughter Fumi (Mai Kiryu). They seem normal with Sachio being a bit of a hands-off patriarch, Yuko running the household as a devoted mother and Fumi being a university student but Koichi is a hikikomori and, apart from brief spells in odd jobs, has struggled to step outside of his room after graduating from university. One day, whatever is weighing him down finally becomes too much to bare and he hangs himself in his room.

Continue reading “Lying to Mom 鈴木家の嘘 Dir: Katsumi Nojiri, Japan, (2018) [New York Asian Film Festival 2019]”

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Demolition Girl, Tsumugi’s Radio, One Piece Stampede Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, everyone.

I hope you are all well.

Summer has been flowing nicely and it is now stormy and rainy. I’m at the end of a 12 day work week so I can relax a little. I’ve posted news on the Japanese films playing at the Venice Film Festival this year and a review for the action film The Fable.

What is released this weekend?

Continue reading “Demolition Girl, Tsumugi’s Radio, One Piece Stampede Japanese Film Trailers”

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The Fable ザ・ファブル Dir: Kan Eguchi (2019) [New York Asian Film Festival 2019]

The Fable    The Fable Film Poster

ザ・ファブル  Za Faburu

Release Date: June 21st, 2019

Duration: 123 mins.

Director: Kan Eguchi

Writer: Yusuke Watanabe (Screenplay), Katsuhisa Minami (Original Manga)

Starring: Junichi Okada, Fumino Kimura, Koichi Sato, Mizuki Yamamoto, Kai Inowaki, Jiro Sato, Sota Fukushi, Ken Mitsuishi, Yuya Yagira, Ken Yasuda,

Website IMDB

Katsuhisa Minami’s seinen manga The Fable has been serialised in Weekly Young Magazine since 2014 and it won the general category of the 41st Kodansha Manga Awards in 2017. Its straight shooting story of a hit-man’s travails is mostly down-to-earth in art style and narrative for a manga. Its hard-boiled nature is supported by characters drawn with natural proportions engaging in fisticuffs and gunfights, the seriousness subverted by dashes of satire thanks to unique personality traits harboured by different people. A movie version is a natural progression but to make it engaging it will need a cast and crew to capture the comedic and action parts of the story.

The Fable (Junichi Okada) is actually the name of a contract killer operating in the Tokyo underworld. His ability to kill is almost preternatural and it is shown with visual pizzazz in the bombastic opening where he takes out two gangs in a fancy sky-rise restaurant. Efficient shooting and movement, short and sharp physical strikes and an aura of something unstoppable is what defines him and overpowers his opponents. All tumble down before him in action scenes excitingly delivered by director Kan Eguchi who favours quick editing, kinetic camerawork and exploding sets to bolster the slick action choreography. Eguchi doubles-down on the style by showing the mental calculations Fable makes through cute on-screen text and illustrations that get shattered by the bullets the killer sends flying.

Continue reading “The Fable ザ・ファブル Dir: Kan Eguchi (2019) [New York Asian Film Festival 2019]”

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Japanese Films at the Venice International Film Festival 2019

Venice Film Festival 2019 Image

The Venice International Film Festival is here for its 76th edition and it will run from August 28th to September 07th. There are a couple of features and four VR experiences as Venice continues to go down the VR route. Without further ado, here are the films!

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

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Melancholic, Dragon Quest: Your Story, Emoshonaruremon tabidachi wa itsumo remon no aji ga suru, anata wa don’na aji ga suru?, Yasashī shatsu kanatasoutarou no tabi, Give Me the Sun, Tokyo Trial – International Military Tribunal for the Far East 4K Digital Restoration, Dear Mr. Yasuo Otsuka, Summer Girl, Watashitachi ha, Japanese Film Trailers

Welcome to the weekend.

I hope everyone is feeling good.

My coverage of some of the festival films screened in New York is over so I’ve got time to do other things like read books and practice Japanese. Well, instead of doing that, I watched a bunch of Seijun Suzuki films!

Anyway, here the week started with the publishing of an interview I did with Takuji Suzuki, the director of the film Randen: The Comings and Goings on a Kyoto Tram. I did it at the Osaka Asian Film Festival. It was also published on VCinema. I then followed that up with news on Naomi Kawase coming to the UK in September to take part in the Open City Documentary Festival where she will present her films and an extended talk and Q&A. The final post of the week was a review of The Gun which screened at the New York Asian Film Festival.

What is released this weekend?

Continue reading “Melancholic, Dragon Quest: Your Story, Emoshonaruremon tabidachi wa itsumo remon no aji ga suru, anata wa don’na aji ga suru?, Yasashī shatsu kanatasoutarou no tabi, Give Me the Sun, Tokyo Trial – International Military Tribunal for the Far East 4K Digital Restoration, Dear Mr. Yasuo Otsuka, Summer Girl, Watashitachi ha, Japanese Film Trailers”

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The Gun 銃 Dir: Masaharu Take (2018) [New York Asian Film Festival 2019]

The Gun       The Gun Film Poster

Juu

Release Date: November 17th, 2018

Duration: 97 mins.

Director:  Masaharu Take

Writer: Masaharu Take, Hideki Shishido (Screenplay), Fuminori Nakamura (Original Novel)

Starring: Nijiro Murakami, Alice Hirose, Lily Franky, Kyoko Hinami, Risa Niigaki, Junpei Goto, Moemi Katayama, Amane Okayama,

Website IMDB

Masaharu Take has a knack of making good character-driven dramas as exemplified by 100 Yen Love (2015) which cemented Sakura Ando as a real headlining acting talent after she spent years impressing auds with steady work in smaller semi-comedic roles (For Love’s Sake, Love Exposure) and indie dramas (Our Homeland, 0.5mm). This film, an adaptation of a novel, offers Nijiro Murakami (Destruction Babies) a meaty role to make a name for himself.

“Last night, I found a gun.”

The film opens with what appears to be a suicide one rainy night. Blood pours out of a shattered skull onto a rain-sodden riverbank. The titular gun, a .357 Magnum Lawman Mk III, is lying next to the body. The camera caresses its smooth, short, shiny and curved form and soon someone will lavish the same attention on it.

Continue reading “The Gun 銃 Dir: Masaharu Take (2018) [New York Asian Film Festival 2019]”

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Naomi Kawase in London in September for: Naomi Kawase: In Focus – Open City Documentary Festival 2019

Naomi Kawase¹ (website) is in London in September for the Open City Documentary Festival 2019 where she will take part in three screenings and will introduce a selection of her works and take part in a Q&A and extended talk. Called, “Naomi Kawase: In Focus”, this particular festival strand, organised with the help of the Japan Foundation, is a unique opportunity to see some of the early films that helped make Naomi Kawase a major presence in world cinema as these self-documentaries show her nascent skull which developed while she recorded some of the most intimate details of her life as she searched for her identity on screen. Most prominent amongst the films is the influence of her adoptive mother, Uno Kawase, which is a bond that is put on screen in a moving set of films which have been highly lauded.

Here are the details. Just click on the titles to access the festival page and booking information:

Continue reading “Naomi Kawase in London in September for: Naomi Kawase: In Focus – Open City Documentary Festival 2019”

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Randen: The Comings and Goings on a Kyoto Tram Interview [Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019]

If you travel to Kyoto then it is recommended you try travelling from scenic Arashiyama to the bustling city centre by the Randen trams. They cut through many areas and they prove to be the perfect setting for three intersecting stories in a film.

Randen: The Comings and Goings on a Kyoto Tram (review) features a writer named Eisei Hiraoka (Arata Iura) has travelled from Kamakura to Kyoto to research supernatural stories but, instead, relives memories of time spent in Kyoto with his wife; Kako Ogura (Ayaka Onishi), a shy local woman helps an actor from Tokyo named Fu Yoshida (Hiroto Kanai) practice speaking with Kyoto dialect; Nanten Kitakado (Tamaki Kubose), a high school girl from Aomori, who falls for a local train otaku (Kenta Ishida).

Quite unlike many other films screened in 2019, Randen revels in creating a magical atmosphere of heightened romance and folktales that could only take place in Kyoto. It was the opening film of the 2019 edition of the Osaka Asian Film Festival and it will play on the final day of Japan Cuts 2019 in New York. I had the chance to interview the director of the film, Takuji Suzuki, at Osaka and he revealed how the film was a put together with love and care by his team which included Kyoto University film students and local people living along the Randen line.

Continue reading “Randen: The Comings and Goings on a Kyoto Tram Interview [Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019]”

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Paradise Next, Beach Memory, Kisu wa inochigake!, Yakusoku no Jikan, A Girl Missing, The Great War of Archimedes, Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger the Movie: Time Slip! Dinosaur Panic!!, Kamen Rider Zi-O: Over Quartzer, Athlete: Ore ga kare ni oboreta hibi, Fujino Kids theater presents – Indigo Children -, Xu Fook 〜Looking for Eternal Life〜, A Journey Following the Model Masako / Masako mon ange, Amanojaku Shishunki, Kyokasho ni nai! 5, Kyokasho ni nai! 6, Hama no kioku Japanese Film Trailers

Welcome to the weekend, everyone.

I hope everyone is safe and well.

We’ll start the post with some sad news: Dutch actor Rutger Hauer has died. I came to know of his work through his roles in Blade Runner and The Hitcher when I was a teen and I can quote lines from both movies. It is as Roy Batty that I’ll always remember him as he gave his replicant character a fierce humanity and a black sense of humour and played him so hard he ended up being more human than the humans. 

A week has passed since the deadly fire at Kyoto Animation and I’m trying to arrange a special screening of some kind for the anime fest I work for to pay tribute to the studio and those harmed on that awful day. I’ve also donated to one of the funds set up to help Kyoto Animation heal after the disaster – here are two links, one to Anime News Network and a report on a way to do direct bank transfers to Kyoto Animation and another to Sentai’s GoFundMe campaign.

In terms of films, I published a post about the two Japanese films at the Locarno Film Festival and reviews for films at Japan Cuts 2019, all of them made in 2018 – The Kamagasaki Cauldron War and The Miracle of Crybaby Shottan on this blog and my reviews for And Your Bird Can Sing, Orphan’s Blues, A Japanese Boy Who Draws and the New Directions in Japanese Cinema films which were published on V-Cinema.

Festival coverage will continue for both  Japan Cuts and the New York Asian Film Festival and that will take me into the autumn festival season. Expect a post about Venice, and the Open City Documentary Festival rather soonish.

What is released in Japan this weekend? 

Continue reading “Paradise Next, Beach Memory, Kisu wa inochigake!, Yakusoku no Jikan, A Girl Missing, The Great War of Archimedes, Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger the Movie: Time Slip! Dinosaur Panic!!, Kamen Rider Zi-O: Over Quartzer, Athlete: Ore ga kare ni oboreta hibi, Fujino Kids theater presents – Indigo Children -, Xu Fook 〜Looking for Eternal Life〜, A Journey Following the Model Masako / Masako mon ange, Amanojaku Shishunki, Kyokasho ni nai! 5, Kyokasho ni nai! 6, Hama no kioku Japanese Film Trailers”

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The Miracle of Crybaby Shottan    泣き虫しょったんの奇跡 Dir: Toshiaki Toyoda (2018) [Japan Cuts 2019]

The Miracle of Crybaby Shottan   The Miracle of Crybaby Shottan Film Poster

泣き虫しょったんの奇跡 Nakimushi Shottan no Kiseki

Release Date: September 07th, 2018

Duration: 127 mins.

Director: Toshiaki Toyoda

Writer: Ayako Kato (Screenplay), Shoji Segawa (Autobiographical Novel)

Starring: Ryuhei Matsuda, Yojiro Noda, Shota Sometani, Satoshi Tsumabuki, Takako Matsu, Kiyohio Shibukawa, Kaoru Kobayashi, Jun Miho, Jun Kunimura, Tatsuya Fujiwara, Itsuji Itao, Shizuka Ishibashi, Issey Ogata, Kento Nagayama,

Website IMDB

Considering Toshiaki Toyoda made his entry into Japanese films with low-budget punk titles about outsiders like Pornostar (1998) seeing him take on a film about shogi, or Japanese chess, is something of a surprise until you find out that he initially trained in shogi as a child. That, and the lead character of this biopic, the titular crybaby Shoji (Shottan) Segawa, was an outsider and trailblazer himself when he became a shogi professional well past the age when it is acceptable.

Continue reading “The Miracle of Crybaby Shottan    泣き虫しょったんの奇跡 Dir: Toshiaki Toyoda (2018) [Japan Cuts 2019]”

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The Kamagasaki Cauldron War 月夜釜合戦 Dir: Leo Sato (2018) [Japan Cuts 2019]

The Kamagasaki Cauldron War  The Kamagasaki Cauldron War Film Poster

月夜釜合戦 Tsukiyo kama gassen

Release Date: March 09th, 2019

Duration: 115 mins.

Director:  Leo Sato

Writer: Leo Sato (Screenplay),

Starring: Naomichi Ota, Yota Kawase, Kiyohiko Shibukawa, Kazu, Makoto Nishiyama, Shoji Omiya, Naori Ota, Tsumugi Monko, Maki Nishiyama, Marie Decalco, Susumu Ogata, Masao Adachi

Website IMDB

Kamagasaki is a slum-like part of Osaka’s Nishinari district which is notorious for having a high concentration of day labourers, homeless and a history of civil unrest, not to mention its proximity to the Tobita Shinchi red-light district. When I lived in Japan and moved from Tokyo to Nishinari I was given warnings and advice from friends. The way some people talked about the history of Kamagasaki made it sound anarchic and dangerous. By the time I got there things had become tamer thanks to gentrification driven by the boom in tourism and my experience was positive. Indeed, as soon as I was off the train a day worker with a sunny disposition struck up a conversation and offered to buy me a drink before my landlady rescued me from the surprise invitation and showed me around the district. They were the first of quite a few residents who took the time to talk to me and dispelled myths by telling me different stories of a poor but proud community who have had to fight for their human rights and dignity. The history and feel of Kamagasaki is strong and director Leo Sato has managed to bring it to life in his debut feature fiction film which creates a feel for the place.

Continue reading “The Kamagasaki Cauldron War 月夜釜合戦 Dir: Leo Sato (2018) [Japan Cuts 2019]”

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Weathering With You, Tokyo Ghoul ‘S’, 5 Million Dollar Life, Walking Meat, Under Your Bed, Moonless Dawn, Nerima Zombie Night, I Don’t Want to Run Anymore, Robinson’s Garden Japanese Film Trailers

Welcome to the weekend.

A Silent Voice Image

I hope you are all well.

I want to start this trailer post by offering my condolences to the people at Kyoto Animation studio for the terrible tragedy they suffered with the arson attack.

It sounds so awful. I’ve used artwork from series made by them on this blog since it started and I work for an animation festival so I’ve come to watch and appreciate their works. One of the best screenings we had was for A Silent Voice where the audience was profoundly moved by the human drama on screen. Near all of us were in tears at the end. I think back on that screening and want to thank the folks at Kyoto Animation for making films and shows that help people connect with their shared humanity and I hope they can recover as best they can.

At the start of the week I posted about a series of special screenings orchestrated by the Tanabe Benkei Film Festival in Shinjuku. I then posted my review for the Nobuhiro Yamashita film Hard-Core, a tragi-comedy about outsiders and then a review for the super-excellent NDJC short film Last Judgement which plays in a free screening at the Japan Cuts festival of Japanese film in New York. I’ve been busy writing reviews for Japan Cuts. Three have been published on VCinema: The Kamagasaki Cauldron War, The Miracle of Crybaby Shottan, and the 2019 NDJC shorts. One of today’s Japan Cuts screenings is for the film Whole which I saw at the Osaka Asian Film Festival.

What is released in Japan this weekend?

Continue reading “Weathering With You, Tokyo Ghoul ‘S’, 5 Million Dollar Life, Walking Meat, Under Your Bed, Moonless Dawn, Nerima Zombie Night, I Don’t Want to Run Anymore, Robinson’s Garden Japanese Film Trailers”

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Last Judgement / Saigo no Shinpan 最後の審判 Dir: Shinya Kawakami [Osaka Asian Film Festival / Japan Cuts 2019]

Last Judgement / Saigo no Shinpan    Saigo no Shinpan Film Poster

最後の審判 Saigo no Shinpan

Release Date: March 02nd, 2019

Duration: 29 mins.

Director:  Shinya Kawakami

Writer: Shinya Kawakami (Screenplay)

Starring: Ren Sudo, Miru Nagase, Asuka Kurosawa, Kiyomi Aratani,

Website     IMDB

New Directions in Japanese Cinema (NDJC) is a programme that has been in operation since 2007, it’s purpose being to help foster talented young filmmakers through workshops and the production of 30-minute narrative shorts, shot on 35mm film, with the help of experienced professionals. The resulting works are given screenings across Japan and at major festivals. I had covered their films in old trailer posts¹ but had never seen a whole programme until this year…

It was coming up to the end of the 2019 edition of the Osaka Asian Film Festival and there was a screening of this year’s NDJC titles early one morning. I was quite eager to see them and was truly thrilled by the final title, Final Judgement (Saigo no Shinpan) by Shinya Kawakami which is, hands down, the best of the bunch.

Inaba (Ren Sudo) is a talented artist who has tried and failed the entrance exam to Tokyo Art University many times. He is on his sixth attempt and has decided to make this year his final challenge. As he prepares to paint a portrait to pave his way into the institution, a very gifted rival named Hatsune (Miru Nagase) appears amidst the students and her unconventional methods and tremendous vision creates a work which roars with energy and snares the attention of everybody including their tutors. Inaba is incensed by this girl (who is still in school, no less!) but, at the height of his anger he takes a left turn and invites Hatsune to a cafe to find out how she is such a great artist…

Continue reading “Last Judgement / Saigo no Shinpan 最後の審判 Dir: Shinya Kawakami [Osaka Asian Film Festival / Japan Cuts 2019]”

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Hard-core ハード・コア Dir: Nobuhiro Yamashita (2018) [New York Asian Film Festival 2019]

Hard-core    Hardcore Film Poster

ハード・コア Ha-do Koa

Release Date: November 23rd, 2018

Duration: 124 mins.

Director: Nobuhiro Yamashita

Writer: Kosuke Mukai (Screenplay), Marley Carib Takashi Imashiro (Original Manga),

Starring: Takayuki Yamada, Takeru Satoh, YosiYosi Arakawa, Kei Ishibashi, Suon Kan, Takako Matsu, Kisetsu Fujiwara,

Website IMDB

Nobuhiro Yamashita is a director who has a particular forte for downbeat stories, whether they are slacker comedies or dramas, most of which contain misanthropic and misaligned characters who make for uncomfortable yet interesting leads (think The Drudgery Train). Here, he adapts an obscure manga from the early 90s by writer Marley Carib and illustrator Takashi Imashiro where the characters and the story are sometimes bizarre, sometimes sorrowful but secretly gentle, all of which plays out in a slow and uneven story.

Continue reading “Hard-core ハード・コア Dir: Nobuhiro Yamashita (2018) [New York Asian Film Festival 2019]”

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What A Wonderful World, Banzai! Here is Lover Road and Other Tanabe Benkei Film Festival 2019 Screenings

Over the past month, a number of indie films have been played at Theatre Shinjuku. I have placed them in various trailer posts and have now rounded them up into this one because they all look interesting and will hopefully turn up at other festivals. They are part of the Tanabe Benkei Film Festival 2019 screenings where notable titles have been selected for more screenings and there are two films left for screening and they are the first two in this post:

Continue reading “What A Wonderful World, Banzai! Here is Lover Road and Other Tanabe Benkei Film Festival 2019 Screenings”

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Tourism, Tokyo Higata, Crab Planet, Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution, Karappo tokubetsu zoho-ban, Caniba, Okazu-kun in the Ad Agency’s Men’s Dorm: The Movie, 17-year-old Cinderella Tokyo Boys Collection Episode 2, Kofuku no Me, Shianosu Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, people!

Sadako (Hirosue) in Zero Focus

I hope we are all good!

I have reached the end of another 12-day work run and I’m finally catching up on my rest. In that time, I am watching Japanese films!

My review for Lying to Mom (2018) was published over at V-Cinema which wraps up my coverage of the New York Asian Film Festival there, however, it continues on this blog. I posted reviews for the Sabu film Jam (2018) and the Japanese drama 5 Million Dollar Life (2019). Expect more film reviews soon as I catch up with other titles.

What is released this weekend?

Continue reading “Tourism, Tokyo Higata, Crab Planet, Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution, Karappo tokubetsu zoho-ban, Caniba, Okazu-kun in the Ad Agency’s Men’s Dorm: The Movie, 17-year-old Cinderella Tokyo Boys Collection Episode 2, Kofuku no Me, Shianosu Japanese Film Trailers”