Sawako Decides DVD Release

Third Window Films are all set to release the wonderful Yuya Ishii film Sawako Decides next week on the 3rd of October. I highly recommend this brilliant comedy which stars the wonderful Hikari Mitsushima. It is a great observational comedy that examines the odder aspects of life in modern Japan with hilarious cracked personalities everywhere and it has Hikari Mitsushima (just thought I’d remind you!). The DVD comes with a nice choice of extras as well. You can order it from Amazon today.

 Sawako Decides

Sawako Decides DVD Case  (Japan 2009, 112 Mins, In Japanese with English subtitles, Colour 35mm)

Director: Yuya Ishii

Starring: Hikari Mitsushima as Sawako

Masashi Endo as Kenichi

Kira Aihara as Kayoko

Kotaro Shiga as Sawako’s father Tadao

Ryo Iwamatsu as Nobuo

Cert. 12

– 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

 

DVD BONUS FEATURES:

Special message from director Yuya Ishii

Exclusive interview with director Yuya Ishii

Theatrical Trailer

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Death Bell

“You will be taking another test. If you don’t answer students will die one by one. You must solve all questions.”

Death Bell Puzzle Solving Banner Death Bell InformationDeath Bell, the first release from Terracotta’s new horror imprint Terror-Cotta, is a mash-up of The Whispering Corridors, Battle Royale and Saw with nods to Carrie and Scream. The final result is a film that fails to synthesise any original or shocking horror but remains largely enjoyable due to strong visuals and performances.

A group of students at an elite high school, preparing for mid-term exams (goas) are held captive and forced into a series of sadistic games. The students find themselves plunged into a deadly test where they are picked off one by one and held in impenetrable traps where they must rely on the amazing intellects of their classmates to be released, every time a question is answered incorrectly, a classmate meets their torturous, grizzly death. When it emerges that the students are being picked off according to a pattern, pupil Kang Yi-na (Nam Gyu-Ri) discovers how much time she has to stay alive, and solve the puzzles to unmask their vicious killer, before the Death Bell rings for her.

Continue reading “Death Bell”

Quirky Guys and Gals サビ男サビ女 (2011)

Quirky Review Header

Quirky Guys and Gals Basic InformationQuirky Guys and Gals is a production from New Cinema Workshop where students learning to be producers handle making movies. With this production they give four directors a story outline to work with which results in four entirely different comic vignettes peeking at dark topics and celebrating the overcoming of accepted social boundaries through the unlocking of a quirky side. It could have been painfully unfunny but succeeds at being very amusing and original in most sections.

Quirky Guys and Gals (Sabi Otoko, Sabi Onna) ties together four stories of people searching for a spark in their lives. Yosuke Fujita (Fine, Totally Fine) leads off with “Cheer Girls,” an entertaining tale of a woman (Nanami Sakuraba) whose passion is to lead cheers—though not for sports teams. Rather, she finds common people and creates anthems to encourage them in everyday life. Tomoko Matsunashi’s “Boy? Meets Girl,” is a Tootsie remake in a high-school setting. Mipo O’s “Claim Night” sees the 30-something Mayuko (Tomochika) return home to find the electricity in her apartment turned off, yet when she finally gets a repairman to come over, their over-the-top confrontation gives rise to a wildly comedic situation. Lastly, Gen Sekiguchi (Survive Style 5+) offers up “The House Full of ‘Abandoned’ Businessmen” a quaint tale of a housewife who collects out-of-work salarymen to try and give them a fresh start.

Continue reading “Quirky Guys and Gals サビ男サビ女 (2011)”

Japanese Films at the BFI London Film Festival

The BFI London Film Festival kicks off next month (12th – 27th October) and amidst a lot of genuinely exciting international films is a selection of brilliant new Japanese titles which I’ll list here. I have yet to see them but the directors are very familiar to me so here’s a run-down of what’s on offer and you better be quick in booking your tickets!

Kiseki / I Wish

Hirokazu Kore-eda became a favourite director of mine when I watched a BBC Four screening of his quirky second film After Life and the emotionally shattering Nobody Knows. Since then he has dabbled in a samurai tale and a family drama with his last film, Still Walking, which had shades of Ozu. A lot of his skill comes from his documentary background which allows him to create scenes and foster performances that seem naturalistic. Kiseki has a lot of actors from Still Walking so I’m eager to see what the results are.

Two young brothers find themselves caught in the aftermath of a messy divorce between their parents. Now separated and at opposite ends of the island of Kyushu they hatch a plan to unite their parents through a miracle that the Kyushu Shinkansen (bullet train) can create.

There are two screenings at the Vue West End cinema in Leicester Square which will take place on Saturday the 15th of October at 18:00 p.m and Monday the 17th of October at 18:oo p.m.. Visit the page to book your tickets!

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

Loft ロフト (2005)

Loft - Review BannerLoft Basic InformationIt is probably no secret that I am a major fan of Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s work. His use of locations dredges up the creepiest buildings in Tokyo, his direction is impeccable in creating an unnerving atmosphere, his interest in characters disjointed from reality leads to getting hypnotic performances from his actors, his ability to weave the supernatural into everyday urban decay is convincing, all of this makes for compelling stories, modern nightmares that leave me grinning at the imagination and suggestions regardless of the sense of an encroaching apocalypse in every ending. So when Loft’s ending caused me to burst into laughter that should be a bad thing right?

 

Reiko Haruna is a popular prize-winning romance novelist who is suffering writer’s block and sickness causing her to hallucinate and vomit black liquid. She decides to leave Tokyo and agrees with a move to an isolated house in the countryside, a suggestion her editor Kijima (Hidetoshi Nishijima) comes up with in the hope it will get her to write faster. Unfortunately the house has faulty lights and the previous occupant left all of their stuff after suddenly disappearing, not to mention the fact that there is a spooky vacant building behind it which is supposedly a training centre part of Sagami University. One night she goes to balcony and spots her neighbour unloading what looks like a body from back of his 4×4, taking it to the building. Intrigued she digs around and finds out that he is Makoto Yoshioka (Etsushi Toyokawa), an anthropologist who became famous after discovering a thousand year old mummy named Midori in a nearby swamp. Reiko and Makoto find themselves drawn together, their problems facilitating contact with each other. These problems include Reiko being bullied by her increasingly aggressive editor and Yoshioka having serious misgivings about handling the mummy. Soon both find themselves plagued by disturbing visions as multiple dangers converge on them.

A spooky forest in Loft

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Cure キュア (1997)

Cure the Power of Suggestion

Cure Basic InformationI dislike serial killer films and the few I do find watchable are pretentious (Seven) or have great pantomime performances (Silence of the Lambs). Cure is the first I love. It is because of Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s interest and deployment of urban decay and malaise, and most importantly the supernatural and psychological.

Detective Takabe (Koji Yakusho) and psychiatrist Sakuma (Tsuyoshi Ujiki) are called to a crime-scene where a man named Kuwano has murdered a prostitute by slicing her open with a knife from throat to chest, carving a large cross and severing the carotid arteries. The police think that Kuwano has fled but Takabe finds him hiding nearby. The crime is one of three similar cases in two months where the culprits have no motive, are unrelated and are totally rational, hiding nearby and shell-shocked. Takabe is troubled at the emergence of a trend. Cut to Shirasoto Beach in Chiba where a teacher encounters a guy in the trench coat (Masato Hagiwara) who asks, “Do you know who I am?” He seems to have amnesia so the teacher takes the drifter home to alert the authorities and discovers Mamiya written on the drifter’s coat. Mamiya insists that the authorities shouldn’t be alerted and produces a lighter and starts asking the teacher the same questions over and over, “Who are you?”, “What do you do?” trying to pin down psychology. While this is happening Takabe is at home taking care of his wife who is mentally ill. The next morning Takabe interrogates the teacher who has murdered his wife. Takabe senses that there is a supernatural element, possibly hypnosis but Sakuma refuses to budge from his conventional theories until they encounter Mamiya themselves and realise he is connected with each of the killings. Takabe, increasingly distressed and angry with the crimes and having to take care of his wife struggles to get his theory of hypnosis accepted but while he is digging around in Mamiya’s past he discovers chilling evidence stretching back further in time than he could ever have imagined.

Gripping Viewing in Cure Continue reading “Cure キュア (1997)”

Underwater Love UK Premiere

Hello dear audience. Want some pink-film action?  I’m not normally interested in pink-films (soft-core porn) and I bet it’s not something you would normally watch but with Third Window Films hosting the UK premiere of a bizarre title named ‘Underwater Love’ in London you might just change your mind after seeing some details.

WARNING – Trailer contains nudity and musical numbers!

Underwater Love

Underwater Love Group

A Pink Musical

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Quirky Guys and Gals UK DVD

Third Window Films have announced that they are going to release Quirky Guys and Gals on the 3rd of October 2011. This is an anthology film from some interesting directors including Yosuke Fujita (Fine, Totally Fine) and Gen Sekiguchi who was the genius behind Survive Style 5+ a particular favourite of mine.

 

Quirky Guys and Gals

UK Release Date: 3rd of October 2011

Running time: 91 mins

Certificate: 12

Directors: Yosuke Fujita (Fine, Totally Fine), Gen Sekiguchi (Survive Style 5), Mipo O, Tomoko Matsunashi.

Starring: Kyoko Koizumi (Tokyo Sonata, Sakuran), YosiYosi Arakawa (Tokyo!, Kamikaze Girls), Keisuke Horibe (Love Exposure, Tokyo Gore Police), Yoshiyuki Morishita (Juon: The Grudge, Turtles are Surprisingly Fast Swimmers, Fireworks)

Synopsis

Quirky Guys and Gals (Sabi Otoko, Sabi Onna) ties together four stories of people searching for a spark in their lives. Yosuke Fujita (Fine, Totally Fine) leads off with “Cheer Girls,” an entertaining tale of a woman (Nanami Sakuraba) whose passion is to lead cheers—though not for sports teams. Rather, she finds common people and creates anthems to encourage them in everyday life. Tomoko Matsunashi’s “Boy? Meets Girl,” is a Tootsie remake in a high-school setting. Mipo O’s “Claim Night” sees the 30-something Mayuko (Tomochika) return home to find the electricity in her apartment turned off, yet when she finally gets a repairman to come over, their over-the-top confrontation gives rise to a wildly comedic situation. Lastly, Gen Sekiguchi (Survive Style 5+) offers up “The House Full of ‘Abandoned’ Businessmen” a quaint tale of a housewife who collects out-of-work salarymen to try and give them a fresh start.

Quirky Guys and Gals ImageDVD BONUS FEATURES:

Anamorphic widescreen transfer with optional English subtitles

Special messages from all four directors

Exclusive interviews with all four directors

Theatrical Trailer

Quirky Cheerleaders

I’m looking forward to this release because it has a cast who have been in some of my favourite films of all time (Tokyo Sonata being one) and some of the more interesting directors in Japan to (so that’s what Sekiguchi-san has been doing…). As is usually the case with Third Window Films the bonus features are awesome and the DVD case looks top notch. The DVD is released on the 3rd of October.

Quirky DVD Cover

Tokyo Sonata トウキョウソナタ (2008)

Genkinahito'sTokyo Sonata Review BannerTokyo Sonata Basic InfoI love Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s existential horror films like Cure and Pulse so seeing him depart into the mainstream with a family drama was bittersweet but ultimately rewarding because it resulted in a masterpiece that finally revealed the genius his fans have long-recognised.

When Ryuhei Sasaki (Teruyuki Kagawa) is laid-off from his admin job his life as a salary-man is over and his family life is put at risk. The shame of unemployment means that he keeps his situation a secret from everybody including his wife (Kyoko Koizumi) and two sons, Kenji (Kai Inowaki) who wants to learn to play the piano and Takashi (Yu Koyanagi) who he barely speaks to. This means that each morning he dons his suit, picks up his suitcase and heads off to look for work and eat free soup with the homeless and other unemployed salary-men. Soon the lies and suspicion begin to take its toll.

Synopsis wise it sounds like the perfect tale for the age of global recession. Ryuhei is the victim of corporate outsourcing of jobs and this fragments his identity on different levels. The film charts his increasingly desperate attempts to maintain his image of breadwinner and the authority over his family that comes with it.

Continue reading “Tokyo Sonata トウキョウソナタ (2008)”

Bright Future アカルイミライ (2003)

Bright Future Jellyfish Stare Banner

Bright Future InformationIn a departure from his traditional thrillers and supernatural films, Kiyoshi Kurosawa moves into the everyday with a drama that, although simple, is punctuated by moments of beauty and compelling performances from leads Jo Odagiri and Tadanobu Asano.

Friends Mamoru Arita (Tadanobu Asano) and Yuji Nimura (Jo Odagiri) are aimless young men working dead-end jobs in a dreary laundry factory in Tokyo. Yuji seems to be on a downward spiral, trapped in adolescence and gradually losing his bright dreams. Mamoru is antisocial with no hobbies except acclimatising a poisonous jellyfish to fresh water. “Could be a storm’s coming,” Mamoru says to Yuji and it seems that way as Yuji teeters on the brink of an act of violence against their boss, Fujiwara (Takashi Sasano). Mamoru beats him to it, committing an act of inexplicable violence. With Mamoru facing the death penalty Yuji is left to look after the jellyfish. Mamoru’s estranged father Shin-ichiro (Tatsuya Fuji) is devastated by the news and while looking for an explanation forms a bond with Yuji but Yuji’s confusion over his direction and his obsession with the jellyfish threatens his future and that of Tokyo.

Continue reading “Bright Future アカルイミライ (2003)”