Sawako Decides 川の底からこんいちは (2010)

Sawako Decides     Sawako Decides Film Poster

Japanese: 川の底からこんいちは

Romaji: Kawa no Soko Kara Konnichi wa

Release Date: May 01st, 2010 (Japan)

Running Time: 112 mins.

Director: Yuya Ishii

Writer: Yuya Ishii (Screenplay),

Starring: Hikari Mitsushima, Masashi Endo, Kira Aihara, Kotaro Shig, Miyoko Inagawa, Maki Meguro, Ryo Iwamatsu,

To call this the funniest humanist film you will see this year runs the risk of underplaying just how funny the film is. From Yuya Ishii’s sharp script to a star performance from lead actress Hikari Mitsushima as the title character, Sawako Decides is probably one of the funniest films you will see this year.

Sawako and Kayoko

– Synopsis –

Sawako (Hikari Mitsushima) has lived in Tokyo for five years, is working her fifth office job, and is dating her fifth boyfriend, who is also her boss at the office. Her life with Kenichi (Masashi Endo), her boyfriend, and his daughter from a previous marriage, Kayoko (Kira Aihara), feels like a “compromise,” and she endures each day feeling distressed about her career and love life.

One day, she receives word that her father, Tadao (Kotaro Shiga), who runs a freshwater clam processing business in her hometown, has fallen ill. There is a reason why Sawako would rather not go back home so easily, but she reluctantly decides to return at Kenichi’s insistence. But Kenichi, who had actually quit his job shortly before Sawako, uses this opportunity to come along with Sawako to her hometown with his daughter in tow.

Thus Sawako’s ordeals continue. Still, she takes over her father’s clam processing company and begins to work there, though she slowly starts to take charge of the situation and form a new life for herself

Sawako at the Clam Factory Continue reading “Sawako Decides 川の底からこんいちは (2010)”

Trailers for A Dangerous Method, Quick, Killer Elite

A Dangerous Method

Release date: N/A

Running time: N/A

Director: David Cronenberg

Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender, Kiera Knightley

David Cronenberg has had magnificent career with classics like Shivers (1975) and The Dead Zone (1983) to his recent renaissance with his last few films – A History of Violence (2005) and Eastern Promises (2007) and now we see his latest film – A Dangerous Method. It is an adaptation of a Christopher Hampton stage play and is about the rivalry between Freud (Mortensen) and Jung (Fassbender). Although the two men will be poking around the head of a patient (Knightley) I suspect no heads will be blown up like they were in Scanners. Where’s Michael Ironside when you need him?


Release date:  July 2011 (South Korea)

Running time: N/A

Director: Jo Beom-Gu

Starring: Lee Min-Ki, Kang Ye-won

Despite watching South Korean movies since at least 2002, I have not heard of any of the people involved in this film therefore I cannot make any comparisons and must rely on the trailer to do the talking which is no problem because it’s reminiscent of the high-concept stuff Hollywood used to do so well.

A former motorcycle gang member named Ki-su is now a bike messenger. After making a delivery at an office building, it blows up but he doesn’t suspect that the package he delivered was a bomb. His next job sees him escorting A-rom, a singer and ex-girlfriend. As soon as she puts on her helmet, a timer is initiated and a stranger calls Ki-su informing him Ki-su that the helmet will explode if he doesn’t complete the series of deliveries.

Killer Elite

Release date: 19th of August 2011

Running time: 103 mins

Director: Gary McKendry

Starring: Jason Statham, Clive Owen, Robert De Niro, Yvonne Strahovski

Jason Statham has deliberately built up a career doing the sort of unpretentious and exciting action thrillers some high-brow critics sniff at (The Transporter) and he continues with his latest film, Killer Elite.

Based on a novel by Sir Ranulph Fiennes (the explorer/adventurer who is always on television), it takes in a conflict surrounding a group of hit men called The Clinic went about murdering members of the SAS. Jason Statham is part of a group of special ops chaps who fight back against The Clinic.

The cast looks stellar and it even has Yvonne Strahovski, she of the unfunny spy TV show Chuck.


Also we got sad news with the passing of Peter Falk. Like most people I know him through the role Columbo but he has been in classic movies like The Princess Bride and Wings of Desire.

AMV of the Week Enjoy the Silence

Silent Hill 2 is one of my top five videogames. I’ve played a lot so for the game to make it up there means that it’s something special. Indeed all of the entries in the series up until the fifth instalment are.

What I liked about it was the fact that it played with survival horror conventions such as making the player vulnerable physically and psychologically whilst the player wrestled with cumbersome controls that made navigation of the environment difficult. It also played around with sound and camera angles, thus affecting player perception of the environment and heightening the sense of the unknown and increasing fear. The series also made an attempt at tackling psychological issues – whole games being built out of an issue like mourning the loss of a loved one – far more interesting to me than the b-movie excesses of Resident Evil.

This AMV captures all of the darkness around the psychology of the characters and the horror of the game by weaving together all of the video cut-scenes, sometimes in order of the instalment. Furthermore the music compliments the images perfectly. I’ve never heard of Lacuna Coil and I don’t particularly feel like listening to any of their other work but their cover of Depeche Mode’s Enjoy the Silence is darker and grittier than the original.

With news of a new film, game and HD remakes of the second and third instalments of the Silent Hill series, this AMV is a timely reminder of what makes the series so good.

Stake Land

Vampires are everywhere so it takes something original and compelling to get noticed. Broken down into the simplest components, True Blood has sex, Twilight has sparkly vampires and repression, Let the Right One In has angst and horror, Stake Land has ferocious blood suckers and convincing end of civilisation feel.

When a vampire epidemic strikes the world, civilisation breaks down. One night Martin (Connor Paolo) and his family decide to leave home but are attacked, Martin only escapes death due to the intervention of a vampire hunter named Mister (Nick Damici) who takes Martin under his wing. The two travel north to Canada, avoiding cities in an attempt to get to New Eden a place too cold for vampires. Their journey is  fraught with danger not just from vampires but from humans who have taken to joining religious cults because they believe the plague is an act of God. Mister and Martin pick up a group of people including a nun (Kelly McGillis) a travelling singer named Belle (Danielle Harris) and a former marine but will they survive the journey?

Stake Land Boo

Continue reading “Stake Land”

Sawako Decides theatrical release from the 8th of July.

2011 has turned out to be a great year for seeing Japanese films in the cinema and there’s no sign that the trend is going to stop because Third Window Films offers Yuya Ishii’s comedy Sawako Decides which will get a UK theatrical release from the 8th of July.

 Sawako Decides

Sawako Decides

(Japan 2009, 112 Mins, In Japanese with English subtitles, Colour 35mm)

Director: Yuya Ishii

 Starring: Hikari Mitsushima (Love Exposure, Death Note, Villain)

Ryo Iwamatsu (Turtles are Surprisingly Fast Swimmers, Instant Swamp, Love Exposure)

UK RELEASE DATE:  8 July 2011,  Opening at ICA & selected regional sites

– Synopsis –

Sawako has lived in Tokyo for five years, is working her fifth office job, and is dating her fifth boyfriend, who is also her boss at the office. Her life with Kenichi, her boyfriend, and his daughter from a previous marriage, Kayoko, feels like a “compromise,” and she endures each day feeling distressed about her career and love life.

One day, she receives word that her father, Tadao, who runs a freshwater clam processing business in her hometown, has fallen ill. There is a reason why Sawako would rather not go back home so easily, but she reluctantly decides to return at Kenichi’s insistence. But Kenichi, who had actually quit his job shortly before Sawako, uses this opportunity to come along with Sawako to her hometown with his daughter in tow.

Thus Sawako’s ordeals continue. Still, she takes over her father’s clam processing company and begins to work there, though she slowly starts to take charge of the situation and form a new life for herself

Reasons to go see it? Well it’s directed by Yuya Ishii who is quickly establishing a reputation as one of the best film-makers in Japan whilst still in his twenties. The film has garnered praise from sites like Twitch as well as eminent film critics like Tony Rayns who described Sawako Decides as “a joyous, nuanced, comic drama about female empowerment.”

Oh and it stars Hikari Mitsushima, one of the most interesting actresses in Japan.

Hikari Love Exposure

She has starred in some of the most entertaining and provocative films to come from the country including Love Exposure and Death Note.  She will also be in the forthcoming Takashi Miike film Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai and Takashi (Ju-on) Shimzu’s Rabbit Horror 3D which has cinematography from legendary Wong Kar-Wai collaborator Christopher Doyle.

If you need any more convincing try the trailer out:

For more information, check out the page on the Third Window Films site.

The Grudge Ju-on Girl in Black and Old Lady in White 呪怨 黒い少女 呪怨 白い老女 (2009)

Ju-on The Girl Black  and The Old Lady in White were made in 2009 to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Takashi Shimizu’s Ju-on franchise which has resolutely stuck to the same idea: when a person is killed in an act of anger, the location where they died is cursed and anybody who goes into the area will be infected by the curse. These people will then go on to commit murders or are killed by malevolent spirits themselves.

Ju-on White Ghost Character Continue reading “The Grudge Ju-on Girl in Black and Old Lady in White 呪怨 黒い少女 呪怨 白い老女 (2009)”

Villain and The Last Circus Trailers

Only two trailers this week – although two is enough because these look to be really interesting and exciting.


Release date: 19th of August 2011

Running time: 103 mins

Director: Lee Sang-il

Starring: Eri Fukatsu, Hikari Mitsushima


Third Window Films have announced the acquisition of Japanese film Villain. Based on a novel written by Shuichi Yoshida, the film will be released on the 19th of August.

Starring Eri Fukatsu and Hikari Mitsushima, the film takes place in a dull fishing village where Yuichi, a construction worker, spends his time working and taking care of his grandparents. His life is a lonely one without friendship, his only joy is his car. He is also a suspect in a recent killing of a woman. Mitsuyo (Eri Fukatsu)is a young woman who is in a similar predicament. Working in a men’s clothing store and living with her sister in an apartment. When Yuichi and Mitsuyo meet when using an online dating site they instantly fall in love. The two take off in an attempt to avoid the police but the journey will reveal the darkness of the characters.

The Last Circus

Release date: Showing at the Edinburgh International Film Festival 19th and 20th June

Running time: 107 mins

Director: Alex de la Iglesia

Starring: Carlos Areces, Antonio de la Torre, Carolina Bang,

This one has snuck up on me. Released in Spain December last year, The Last Circus (Balada Triste de Trompeta) looks to be a gloriously vulgar exploitation flick mixing the politics of the Spanish Civil War and Spain under the rule of General Franco, sexy dames and violent clowns. All I know is that it looks far more interesting than Transformers.

1937, The Spanish Civil War is raging and a “Happy” clown is recruited by a militia to join battle. Still in his costume. He proves to be deadly as he massacres a platoon of National soldiers.

1973, the Clowns son, Javier, is living in the tail end of the Franco regime and wants to be a clown himself but has seen too much sadness and as a result, is not funny and can only play the “Sad” Clown. Although he joins a circus, he finds himself being humiliated by a “Happy” Clown named Sergio who has a much abused wife named Natalia. Javier falls in love with Natalia and tries to rescue her which puts him in a dangerous love triangle.


Cold Fish DVD and Blu-Ray Release

One of the names creeping up regularly on this blog a lot is Sion Sono because he is a prolific film-maker hard at work at making the provocative films with outrageous themes, scenes, violence, dark humour and gore. So it is understandable that I was very excited when I got information about the forthcoming release of Cold Fish by Third Window Films on the 27th of June:
Cold Fish DVD Case
‘Cold Fish’ – Director Sion Sono (Japan 2010, 145 minutes, Horror)

Third Window Films is pleased to announce the release of ‘Cold Fish’, Sion Sono’s grusome follow up to ‘Love Exposure’, as a 2 disc DVD set / Blu-ray on June 27th, 2011

Technical Details
Anamorphic Widescreen transfer with removable English subtitles

Blu-Ray with 5.1 DTS HD Sound / DVD with 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound

Exclusive interview with author Jake Adelstein, reporter on the original ‘Saitama Dog-Lovers Serial Murders’ case, the inspiration behind the film

Two exclusive interviews with scriptwriter Yoshiki Takahashi on the creation of both the film and original artwork

Trailer / Trailers of other Third Window Films releases

Inspired by and loosely based on the real-life exploits of serial killer couple Gen Sekine and his ex-wife Hiroko Kazama (the perpetrators of Tokyo’s notorious 1993 “Saitama serial murders of dog lovers” killings), ‘Cold Fish’ is a psychotic cavalcade of sex, violence and comedy

Shamoto runs a small tropical fish shop. His second wife, Taeko, does not get along with his daughter, Mitsuko, and this worries him. One day Mitsuko is caught shoplifting at a grocery store. There they meet a friendly man named Murata, who helps to settle things between Mitsuko and the store manager. Since Murata also runs a tropical fish shop, Shamoto establishes a bond with him and they become friends; Mitsuko even begins working for Murata and living at his house. What Shamoto doesn t know, however, is that Murata hides many dark secrets behind his friendly face. He sells cheap fish to his customers for high prices with his artful lies. If anyone detects his fraud or refuses to go along with his money-making schemes, they’re murdered and their bodies disposed of by Murata and his wife in grisly ways.

Shamoto is suddenly taken in by Murata s tactics, and by the time he realizes that Murata is insane, and a serial killer who has made over fifty people disappear, he is powerless to do anything about it. But now Mitsuko is a hostage at Murata s home, and Shamoto himself has become the killer s unwilling accomplice. Cruel murders gradually cripple his mind and finally the ordinary man is being driven to the edge of the abyss.

Based somewhat on a true story (read Jake Adelstein’s Tokyo Vice for insight into that particular case) Cold Fish follows Love Exposure and precedes Guilty of Romance, the three films forming Sion Sono’s Hate Saga. For any fan of Japanese cinema, Sono’s work has to be some of the most exciting to come out of the country and it seems like Cold Fish will continue this tradition as it looks to be another cult classic according to a stream of positive reviews and successful festival appearances.

This is the first DVD release of the film in the world even beating the Japanese release. The extras look brilliant, especially the interview with Jake Adelstein who wrote the excellent Tokyo Vice, so if you have any taste for provocative Japanese films go and buy this.

Cold fish can be pre-ordered from Amazon.

AMV of the Week Section 9 Sabotage

First up the music – If you don’t like The Beastie Boys… okay, not everybody likes classic hip-hop, just look at the garbage that sells. If you don’t like their song Sabotage, you’re mad.

Well, that’s just my opinion but I love this song. I know this song back to front. Whenever I hear it on the radio, whether I am at home by myself or in public with others, I have to sing it. I also love the music video. Directed by Spike Jonze, it captures the feel of 70’s cop-shows like Starsky and Hutch complete with outrageous facial hair and over-cooked directing.

The anime: Who doesn’t like Ghost in the Shell? I like the first one but the sequel captured my heart. I saw Ghost in the Shell Innocence in a cinema and it stands out as one of the best cinema experiences of my life. So I was excited with the television series Ghost in the Shell – Stand Alone Complex because it expanded on the fascinating and exciting universe. During the early 2000’s Neo magazine launched in the UK it heavily promoted the show and justifiably so because it is a genuinely good anime – cyber-punk cool combined with outrageous action and amusing Tachikomas.

What I like most about the AMV is that it bends this totally different anime into the cop-show that the original Beastie Boys music video complete with the intertitles including the swooping title and the credits that introduce characters, so instead of,

Sir Stewart Wallace as Himself

We get

Batou as Himself

And so forth. But it isn’t just this that makes me like it so much, it’s the fact that the imagery and music fit together so neatly from the moment that the car crashes through the glass walls to the Tachikomas dancing.

Tajomaru: Avenging Blade タジョウマル (2009)

Tajomaru   Tajomaru Avenging Blade Film Poster

Japanese: タジョウマル

Romaji: Tajomaru

Release Date: September 12th, 2009 (Japan)

Running Time: 131 mins.

Director: Hiroyuki Nakano

Writer: Morichi Ichikawa (Screenplay), Rynosuke Akutagawa (Original Story “Yabu no Naka”)

Starring: Shun Oguri, Kei Tanaka, Yuki Shibamoto, Hirotaro Honda, Kyosuke Yabe, Gou Ayano,

A case of “the concept is far more interesting than the execution”. Based on the story “Yabu no Naka” by Ryonusuke Akutagawa (best known for the tale “Rashomon“) , the film expands a short story with plenty of twists and turns but the execution made the film hard work despite the beautiful visuals.

Taking place in feudal Japan under the control of the Shogun, the story focuses on four characters: the brothers of the Hatakeyama clan, Naomitsu (Shun Oguri) and Nobutsuna (Hiroyuki Ikeuchi), pretty girl Ako (Yuki Shikamoto) and a young scoundrel named Sakuramaru (Kei Tanaka) who Naomitsu takes into the family after a fateful encounter. Nobotsuna is destined to become a retainer to the Shogun, whilst Naomitsu will get Ako who is daughter of a Great Councillor who has gold bullion. All the while, Sakuramaru plots to usurp the position of the brothers and become retainer to the Shogun (an ambition the Shogun nurtures), by turning the brothers against each other. In order to protect Ako, Naomitsu flees to the mountains with her but encounters the legendary bandit Tajomaru. After a fight with Tajomaru, Naomitsu loses the girl, gains the title Tajomaru and falls in with a bunch of bandits.

Continue reading “Tajomaru: Avenging Blade タジョウマル (2009)”