Today is a big day in Japan. Sadako 3D is released and you can bet that it’s going to dominate the Japanese charts for the next few weeks which is only to be expected but I hope that other films get a look in. By other films I mean Rent a Cat. Totally at the other end of the movie spectrum, ever since this indie film debuted at the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year it has interested me.
But first, what’s with the Japanese charts?
- Thermae Romae
- Space Brothers
- Detective Conan: The Mystery of the Eleventh Striker
- Kamen Rider X Super Sentai Super Hero Taisen
- We Were Here: Part 2
Last week’s newest release, Space Brothers, managed to get in at number two but was held off the top spot by Thermae Romae, another manga adaptation which is spending the second week at number one. Chronicle of my Mother dropped down two places to number 7 with SPEC: The Movie at 8 while Home remains at number ten. There’s only one American film in the top ten but since it stars Tadanobu Asano it’s not totally unreasonable.
Rent a Cat
Release Date: 12th May 2012 (Japan)
Running Time: 110 mins.
Director: Naoko Ogigami
Writer: Naoko Ogigami
Starring: Mikako Ichikawa, Reiko Kusamura, Ken Mitsuishi, Maho Yamada, Kei Tanaka
I first saw this title when I wrote my post rounding-up the Japanese films at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival where it garnered glowing reviews. Now that its Japanese release is here more critics have heaped praise on the film. I hope that someone in the UK picks it up for distribution. It stars Mikako Ichikawa (Memories of Matsuko) and Ken Mitsuishi (Himizu).
Sayoko (Ichikawa) walks along a river daily with a cart full of cats. Why? Well she rents cats to lonely people. Unfortunately Sayoko is lonely herself and finds it easier to deal with cats than people but things get interesting when a face (Tanaka) from her past turns up.
Japanese Title: Sadako 3D
Running Time: N/A
Director: Tsutomu Hanabusa
Writer: Koji Suzuki, Tsutomu Hanabusa
Starring: Satomi Ishihara, Koji Seto, Tsutomu Takahashi, Shota Sometani, Yusuke Yamamoto, Hikari Takara, Ryosei Tayama, Ai Hashimoto
The media hype surrounding this film has built up over the months with some rather impressive stunts including Sadako’s flooding Shibuya, Sadako throwing the first pitch at a baseball game, and Sadako making appearances in anime. People I talk to are genuinely excited about the prospect of seeing this in 3D and I guess it might be best to view this as a fun blockbuster as opposed to a nerve-shredding scarefest. Also out in May is Koji Suzuki’s tie-in novel named ‘S’.
High school teacher Akane Aikawa (Ishihara) has heard rumours of a video making the rounds on the internet. The video shows someone committing suicide. It is said to be cursed and viewers soon die after watching it. Then one of Akane’s students, Noriko, kills herself in mysterious circumstances. Hers isn’t the only death and although the police call the deaths as suicide Aikawa recognises that the reason people are killing themselves is because of that cursed video. Meanwhile Detective Koiso (Tayama) is on the hunt for Seiji (Yamamoto), a man who seems to be involved. He’s involved alright and he’s got an evil plan to bring someone out of retirement.
Japanese Title: Potechi
Running Time: 68 mins.
Director: Yoshihiro Nakamura
Writer: Kotaro Isaka (short story)
Starring: Gaku Hamada, Nao Omori, Fumino Kimura, Eri Ishida, Daiki Nakamura, Mayu Matsuoka, Ryohei Abe, Yoshihiro Nakamura, Kinzou Sakura
At 68 minutes it looks short but it’s based on a short story in a novel published in 2007 called Fish Story by Kotaro Isaka. Hamada is a familiar name since he is in Space Brothers, a movie that was released last week, while Nao Omori has appeared in some of the most interesting films like Ichi the Killer and Tokyo Playboy Club. Yoshihiro Nakamura has directed a number of films based on Isaka’s works so I guess he knows what he’s doing much like Merchant and Ivory with their adaptations of classic British novels. What is this one about?
Two men in Sendai (capital of the Miyagi prefecture which was part of the area hit by last year’s quake/tsunami) live two completely different lives. One is a baseball player, the other a burglar. When Imamura (Hamada) enters the home with a suicidal woman their lives will collide.
Step Up Love Story: Triple Love and Love Forever
Japanese Title: Step Eiga-ban: Futari Ecchi – Toripuru Rabu & Rabu
Release Date: 12th May 2012 (Japan)
Running Time: 93 mins.
Director: Kazuhiro Yokoyama
Writer: Aki Katsu (manga)
Starring: Yuri Morishita, Aya Kiguchi, Hikaru Okada, Rika Kawamura, Yuichi Tsuchiya, Bengal, Rina Akiyama, Rei Toda, Kirara Asuka, Motoko Sasaki, Akihiro Kawai
Based on Aki Katsu’s erotic/slice-of-life/comedy manga series Futari Ecchi and sequel to Futari H: Second Kiss, which was released at the end of last year, this looks absolutely terrible but then I don’t like sex comedies. Lots of actors I don’t recognise but Rina Akiyama is very foxy.
Yura (Morishita) and Makoto (Okada) were sexually inexperienced when they married but over the course of the first two films they explored intimacy with advice from those around them. They live a happy life together but when they move to Makoto’s hometown where he encounters a high school girl named Shiori (Kiguchi) who is about to get married and has had feelings for Makoto for a long time. One day Shiori decides to kiss Makoto and Yura sees.