Third Window Films delivered a devastatingly brilliant one-two of news with the announcement that they have acquired Sion Sono’s Himizu and Yuya Ishii’s Mitsuko Delivers. I have been following Himizu for a while now and I am a recent convert to the school of Yuya Ishii’s humanistic comedies after watching Sawako Decides a witty and charming satire of modern Japanese society so let me put out what is known about the films so far.
Japanese Theatrical Release: 5th November, 2o11
UK DVD Release Date: May 2012
Running Time: 109 min.
Director: Yuya Ishii
Starring: Riisa Naka, Aoi Nakamura, Ryo Ishibashi, Shiro Namiki, Miyoko Inagawa, Miyako Takeuchi, Momoka Oono, Yoshimasa Kondo, Yukijiro Hotaru, Keiko Saito
I only heard about this when I did a little coverage of the BFI London Film Festival where the film was playing. It stars Ryo Ishibashi, a familiar face from many Miike Takashi works including Audition, as well as Takeshi Kitano films like the brilliant Kids Return and Brother. I’m familiar with the lead actress through her work in the anime Summer Wars and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time Aoi Nakamura was one of the actors in the Third Window Films release Quirky Guys and Gals.
Mitsuko (Riisa Naka) is a young woman who is nine-months pregnant, broke and alone in Tokyo. Her parents think that she’s in America with her boyfriend but she’s actually in dire straits as she is forced to move out of her apartment and yet she remains positive and believes that things will turn out alright. She doesn’t know where she will go but decides to revisit her past including a boy who had a crush on her (Aoi Nakamura).
Japanese Theatrical Release: January 2012
UK DVD Release Date: April 2012
Running Time: 129 min.
Director: Sion Sono
Starring: Shota Sometani, Fumi Nikaido, Tetsu Watanabe, Mitsuru Fukikoshi, Megumi Kagurazaka, Denden, Asuka Kurosawa, Jun Murakami
Third Window Films has released the best of Sion Sono’s work in the UK in Love Exposure and Cold Fish (which I will get around to reviewing when I finish my J-horror season) and they are going to continue that trend by releasing Himizu. It received its premiere at this year’s Venice Film Festival.
Based on Minoru Furuya’s manga about a high school kid named Sumida who has been abandoned by his parents. That’s not strictly true, as his mother comes home, but with different men, and his drunken, hate-filled father pays him visits but only when he needs money. Living alone he carries on running the family rental-boat business, ignoring the love of a class-mate and undergoing a crisis as he desires to be a normal kid. Then one day his father shows up and unable to control his anger Sumida kills him. The film involves a lot of tough subject matter like child abuse, murder and other traumatic incidents in an exploration of life through a teenager’s cynical view.
Arakawa Under the Bridge
Release Date: February/March 2012
Running Time: 109 min.
Director: Ken Iizuka
Starring: Kento Hayashi, Mirei Kiritani, Shun Oguri, Nana Katase, Yuu Shirota, Takayuki Yamada, Natsumi Abe
Kou Ichinomiya is the son of a wealthy family and has been brought up to believe that he must never be in debt to anybody but after falling into the Arakawa River and almost drowning he finds he owes his life to a mysterious girl named Nino saves him. In order to repay his debt he must love her and live with her under the bridge which is also home to all manner of strange people.
Hikaru Nakamura’s ‘Arakawa Under the Bridge’ has already been turned into a hilarious anime and a whimsical live-action television drama which I’m part of the way through. Both the TV show and the movie share the same cast with Mirei Kiritani, who will next be seen in Takashi Miike’s forthcoming Phoenix Wright adaptation, portraying the cute but bizarre Nino, Kento Hayashi portraying Kou and Shun Oguri, star in Sukiyaki Western Django and the rather dull Death Tunnel/Ghost Train playing the Village Chief (the green Kappa chappy).
Isoroku Yamamoto, the Commander-in-Chief of the Combined Fleet
Release Date: 23rd December 2011
Running Time: N/A
Director: Izuru Narushima
Starring: Koji Yakusho, Mitsugoro Bando, Toshiro Yanagiba, Akira Emoto, Teruyuki Kagawa, Rena Tanaka, Mieko Harada, Hiroshi Abe
A film based on the life of Isoroku Yamamoto who was the Commander-in-Chief of the Combined Fleet of the Japanese navy and orchestrated Japan’s efforts in major battles like Pearl Harbour. It has a stellar cast (with two of my personal favourite actors from Japan!):
Akira Emoto who has been in Villain, Starfish Hotel, Zatoichi (2003), and Hana.
Teruyuki Kagawa who has been in Tokyo Sonata, Sukiyaki Western Django, and the underrated Tales from Earthsea.
Hiroshi Abe who has been in Survive Style 5+, Kore-eda’s brilliant film Still Walking and Summer of Ubume and a Japanese remake of the French classic Elevator to the Gallows.