Wishing Stairs

Genki Jason Wishing Stairs Review Header

Wishing Stairs             Wishing Stairs Film Poster                                                  

Hangul: 여고괴담 세 번째 이야기 : 여우계단

Romanisation: Yeogo goedam 3: Yeowoo gyedan

Release Date: 01st August 2003 (South Korea)

Running Time: 97 mins.

Director: YunJae-Yeon

Writer: Kim Soo-A, Lee Yong-Yeon, Lee Shin-Ae, Lee So-Youn

Starring: Song Ji-Hyo, Park Han-Byul, Jo An, Park Ji-Yeon, Hong Soo-A, Kwak Ji-Min, Moon Jung-Hee

The Wishing Stairs seeks to add to the Haunted Girl’s School franchise with an entry leaning away from the drama that has proven to be the strength of the series and more towards horror. It might have been an exciting and bloodthirsty reboot for a franchise that focusses but the horror is mishandled and the drama did little to move me thanks to distracting elements.

Kim So-Hie (Park Han-Byul) and Yun Jin-Seong (Song Ji-Hyo) are close friends at a ballet school but when the school holds a competition aimed at promoting one student to go to a national competition in order to gain a scholarship to a Russian ballet school, Jin-Seong finds herself seized by intense jealousy as So-Hie is being promoted above her. When she hears rumours of the wishing stairs from Eom Hye-Ju (Jo An), a girl who was once overweight but lost a lot of weight overnight, Jin-Sung decides to try her luck with the stairs. The staircase next to the school dorm only has 28 steps but if you believe hard enough a 29th step appears and a fox spirit grants your wish. What Jin-Seong does not realise is that the wish, once granted, has a sting in the tail.

Wishing Stairs Grip

The Wishing Stairs follows a similar pattern to the previous instalments where school life is detailed, a friendship is focussed upon and an inciting incident occurs to spark off a supernatural invasion for the final part of the film.

Continue reading “Wishing Stairs”

One Piece Film Z, Now, Going to Kill, Good Morning Everyone, Humanoid Monster Bem Trailers and the Japanese Movie Box Office Chart

IzakayaWell this week saw me start off my Genki Christmas Season with my look into the haunted girl’s school franchise with a review of the classic Whispering Corridors followed by (my personal favourite) Memento Mori. I had meant to post the third instalment yesterday but a combination of commuter nightmares (train delays meant I lost two vital hours) and a looming appointment at a Japanese restaurant with my class for a Christmas meal meant that I had to miss it out. I might have been disappointed but the Christmas meal had great food, great company and great conversation. It was wonderful. There is one Christmas party for work some time next week but I am actually ahead in reviews… which means I should be able to beef up my drafts and just hit post. I suspect that the reviews might pile up towards the end of the month if I want to keep reviewing Korean horror.

Anyway… what does the Japanese film chart look like today?

  1. Kamen Rider X Kamen Rider Wizard & Fourze: Movie War Ultimatum
  2. Skyfall
  3. Love for Beginners
  4. Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo
  5. Inazuma Eleven The Movie 2012
  6. Lesson of the Evil
  7. The Floating Castle
  8. Ninkyo Helper: Beautiful World.
  9. A Chorus of Angels
  10. Trouble with the Curve
  11. Crow’s Thumb

This happens too often… I ignore a Kamen Rider film one week and it tops the charts the next. It has happened again. Last week Kamen Rider X Kamen Rider Wizard & Fourze: Movie War Ultimatum was released and now it reigns supreme. I don’t watch these super sentai shows and have never liked them so I’m totally bemused by them and their popularity but kids love them. Anyway my prediction that Skyfall would still remain at the top was wrong as it falls to two and my prediction that Love for Beginners would hit the charts was right as it enters at three.

What are some of the Japanese movies released in Japanese cinemas today?

One Piece Film Z                                       One Piece Film Z

Japanese Title: Wan Pi-su Firumu Z

Romaji: ワンピースフィルム Z

Release Date: 15th December 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Tatsuya Nagamine

Writer: Osamu Suzuki (Script),Eiichiro Oda (original manga)

Starring: Mayumi Tanaka (Monkey D. Luffy), Cho (Brook), Kazuya Nakai (Roronoa Zoro), Akemi Okamura (Nami), Yuriko Yamaguchi (Nico Robin), Hiroaki Hirata (Sanji), Ikue Ohtani (Tony Tony Chopper),  Kazuki Yao (Franky), Kappei Yamaguchi (Usopp), Teruyuki Kagawa (Bins)

Everybody go home, the latest big screen adaptation of Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece is released today so expect it to dominate the charts for the next month or so. The film will cover the “Saigo no Umi Shinsekai Hen” or New World Saga arc of the manga which was launched in October 2010. The film has been written by Eiichiro Oda, the creator of the original manga who is also producing the film. He has been helped with the screenplay by Osamu Suzuki. It is directed by Tatsuya Nagamine who has worked on massive franchise movies like Dragonball and the Pretty Cure.

The familiar One Piece seiyuu are back with Mayumi Tanaka (Krilin in Dragonball) voicing Monkey D. Luffy, Akemi Okamura (Asuka Kaminogi in Noein) voicing the sexy Nami and Hiroaki Hirata (Tatsuji in Another, Benny in Black Lagoon, Wild Tiger in Tiger and Bunny) voicing the suave Sanji. They are joined by live-action actor Teruyuki Kagawa (Tokyo Sonata, Key of Life) and the singer Ryoko Shinohara (Kamikaze Girls, Summer of Ubume).

 

With the Straw Hat Pirates in the New World they face having to save it and pirates everywhere since a legendary ex-Navy admiral named Zetto is leading a group who want to destroy all pirates. Monkey D. Luffy will have to rally his crew to defeat their most powerful enemy yet!

 

 

Now, Going to Kill                                                    Ima Yari Poster

Japanese Title: いま、 殺り に ゆきます

Romaji: Ima, Yari ni Yukimasu

Release Date:  15th December 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 86 mins.

Director: Seiji Chiba

Writer:  Seiji Chiba (Screenplay),Yumeaki Hirayama (Original Novel)

Starring: Suzuka Morita, Misaki Momose, Kimito Totani, Mika Hijii, Mayu Sugano, Sayuri Otomo, Kensuke Ikeda, Yuichiro Hirose, Akiho Ohtsubo

This movie is based on a 2010 novel Ima, Yari no Yukimasu: RE-DUX Kyofu Jitsuwashū by Yumeaki Hirayama. Said novel was a collection of five horror tales. I have heard of some of the actors – Akiho Ohtsubo appeared in Vanished, Yuichiro Hirose appeared in Love Exposure – and some of Seiji Chiba’s works are familiar but for the most part I cannot judge it apart from what I read in the synopsis and it reads like something you would find on Japanese television, Tales of Terror for instance. It looks pretty awful.

Watashi no Shishuu

High school student Nao (Morita) buys a collection of poems from a homeless man which touches her. Despite warnings from her boyfriend Satoru (Totani), she tells the homeless man. Bad move because this homeless guy soon appears to be stalking Nao.

Omake

Orie (Momose) leads a normal life with her boyfriend Tomoki (Ikeda) until she buys a photobook with a DVD in the back. When she plays it on her television, she sees something horrific. 

Yaa, Kataoka!

When Chie (Hijii) receives a call about a lost pencil case from a stranger (Hirose) she is confused until she remembers that she once lost one all the way back in elementary school. Who might this caller be? Is it Ōtomo, a former classmate? This being a horror tale, she should probably duck collecting the pencil case.

Sayonara, O~Er

Natsumi (Sugano) is desperately in need of a public rest room and just as she finds one a girl (Ohtsubo) warns her that the place is dangerous. Natsumi ignores her…

Ima, Yari ni Yukimasu

Misuzu (Sugano) js threatened by a strange man but manages to escape. When she gets ome she reeives a call and hears a man telling her “now, I’m going to kill”.

 

 

Good Morning Everyone                                             Good Morning Everyone Movie Poster

Japanese Title: グッモーエビアン!

Romaji: Gumo Ebian!

Release Date:  15th December 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 106 mins.

Director: Toru Yamamoto

Writer:  Toru Yamamoto, Kenichi Suzuki (Screenplay),Toriko Yoshikawa (Original Novel)

Starring: Kumiko Aso, Yo Oizumi, Ayaka Miyoshi, Akira Takemura

This is the most promising film released today and it stars Kumiko Aso (Pulse, The Wolf Children, Kaidan, License to Live, Ayaka Miyoshi (Confessions), Yo Oizumi, a man who has turned up in a number of Ghibli movies like Spirited Away, The Cat Returns and Howl’s Moving Castle as well as the lead role in Phone Call to the Bar)

Aki (Aso) was once a guitarist in a punk band until she became pregnant at the age of 17 and became a single-mother to a daughter named Hatsuki (Miyoshi). The two of them live happily together until a man named Yagu (Oizumi) enters their lives. It turns out that he was once in the same band as Aki and he still has feelings for her. 

Humanoid Monster Bem                             

Humanoid Monster Bem Movie Poster
Humanoid Monster Bem Movie Poster

Japanese Title: 映画 妖怪 人間 ベム

Romaji: Eiga Yōkai Ningen Bemu

Release Date: 15th December 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Shunsuke Kariyama

Writer: N/A

Starring: Kazuya Kamenashi, Anne Watanabe, Akira Emoto, Anna Ishibashi, Fuku Suzuki, Arisa Muzuki

This is the latest adaptation of the popular Humanoid Monster Bem anime (1968-69). It follows the 2011 television series and stars Kazuya Kamenashi (Member of Kat-Tun), Anne Watanabe (Ninja Kids!!!), and Akira Emoto (Villain, Starfish Hotel).

Bem (Kamenashi) is a monster with a good heart. He and Bela (Watanabe) and Belo (Suzuki) are all monsters disguised as humans but their disguise drops when they get extremely excited or sad. They live to protect against a fearsome villain known as the Man with No Name (Emoto). 

Memento Mori

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Memento Mori                                                        Memento Mori Film Poster

Hangul: 여고괴담 두번째 이야기 /  여고괴담 II

Romanisation: Yeogo goedam II

Release Date: 24th December 1999 (South Korea)

Running Time: 98 mins.

Director: Kim Tae-Yong, Min Kyu-Dong

Writer: Kim Tae-Yong, Min Kyu-Dong

Starring: Kim Gyu-Ri, Park Yeh-Jin, Lee Young-Jin, Baek Jong-Hak, Ki Jae-In, Kong Hyo-Jin

A year after Whispering Corridors, Memento Mori continues the franchise with a bitter tale of love, rejection and isolation that causes an outbreak of supernatural craziness in another all-girl’s school.

Min-Ah (Kim Gyu-Ri) is late for class when she discovers a diary which records the strange and obsessive world of the writer who is at the same school and is in love with a fellow pupil. As Min-Ah reads the diary she discovers what she thinks are sweets. After taking one of them she reads a suicide pact and becomes ill. Min-Ah heads to the school clinic where she witnesses class nerd Hyo-Shin (Park Yeh-Jin) and athletic Shi-Eun (Lee Young-Jin) share an intense conversation before disappearing. With a physical exam due for her class, Min-Ah heads off to join her friends but the check-up is disrupted by the death of Hyo-Shin. What happened? Can the diary explain things? Is Min-Ah poisoned? What are Hyo-Shin and Shi-Eun hiding?

Out of the entire franchise Memento Mori has to be my favourite and not because of the lesbianism which caused a bit of a stir when it was released in Korea but because much like Whispering Corridors the film has a complex and emotionally moving story. (Minor character related spoilers ahead)

It opens with a beautiful and distinct visual of two school girls sinking in a pool of water, the red string of fate¹ tying them together by their ankles until one girl panics, unties herself and kicks away to the surface leaving the other to sink.

Memento Mori Red Thread

This intriguing opening leads to a tale with psychologically complicated and realistic characters which gives all of the actions an acutely personal and painful edge.

Wanna write a diary together?

Memento Mori takes place in an average school. For most of the film the viewer observes the goofy behaviour that school kids engage in from pulling faces at each other, pushing each other around, making embarrassing videos, general larking about and gossiping. Accompanying these mostly innocent actions is the intense feeling of togetherness felt by pupils and, for some, a burgeoning sexuality. It all means much more to two students who exchange meaningful glances and what seem like telepathic thoughts between each other but can their love be realised in such a hot house environment sharp tongues and conservative mindsets? Min-Ah stumbles upon this illicit love with the discovery of the diary and like her I was drawn into this world.

Memento Mori Min-Ah (Kim Gyu-Ri) Finds the Diary

While the film takes place over the course of a day the non-linear narrative distorts the temporal space of the film since it incorporates Min-Ah’s reading of the diary which allows past and present to co-mingle along with the obsessive fantasies of the writer. This leads to the director inter-cutting between events creating an off-kilter atmosphere which draws us into the diary and Min-Ah’s increasingly unhealthy curiosity about the love between the girls in the diary.

The relationship between Shi-Eun (Lee Young-Jin) and Hyo-Shin (Park Yeh-Jin) is given to us in fragments through the diary but remains moving thanks to the performances and the dedication to realistic characterisation. There is a sense of innocence and playfulness to the relationship but the lesbian aspect of it means that it becomes problematic in the lives of the two girls and one feels it more acutely than the other.

Memento Mori Intense Stare Shi-Eun (Lee Young-Jin) and Hyo-Shin (Park Yeh-Jin)

Park Yeh-Jin as Hyo-Shin gives a brilliant performance which reveals that she is used to being ostracised for being smarter than others. She is beautiful and elegant and intelligent but this is hidden because of the nature of (almost any) school is that anyone who stands out Memento Mori Hyo-Shin tries to Avoid Speaking (Park Yeh-Jin)becomes a target for bullies and gossips. The reluctance to stand out is shown aptly in one sequence where a teacher gets her up in class to recite poetry. In a medium shot she drags herself out of her seat and recites. While speaking we see it in a medium shot and are aware of other’s eyes on her as the soundtrack catches snatches of jealous whispers are caught behind her back. Behind the quiet façade is a girl surging with passion and invention and daring which she reveals to Shi-Eun.

“The world is made of sounds. People have their own tune. Together they can make harmony or dissonance.”

Whenever the two find themselves alone together they discover a mutual attraction but while Hyo-Shin becomes increasingly dedicated to Shi-Eun the feeling is not mutual as Shi-Eun seems to have doubts as to their relationship. As the film progresses Hyo-Shin’s passion becomes manic and almost stifling which drives Shi-Eun further away and into acting out harsh behavior.

Memento Mori Shi-Eun (Lee Young-Jin) Stares BackLee Young-Jin as Shin-Eun has a slightly more masculine look with her tallness, sharp features and athletic build. Her performance is mysterious and tough. She also has coolness and a slight teenage sullenness about her which makes her seem apathetic to reality. At her most open she has a warm and playful side but she wears a false mask and relies on a certain distance to protect herself. As the idea of illicit love becomes more threatening to her we see the character become more guarded, her smile does not come as easily as in earlier scenes and you see her wanting to physically pull away from others.

I found watching the two interact revealed something beautiful and something painful about teenage love and I shared Min-Ah’s growing curiosity although, thankfully, I avoided the supernatural activity. As the film played out I was distinctly moved by the unfolding events.

Complexity in character and script is matched in direction.

The same observation of the students I mentioned earlier also serves to chart the rejection and humiliation faced by the couple in the diary. In one horrendous scene there is a POV shot that show gossips staring directly at a character while another physically and emotionally intense scene has a camera circle 360 degrees to show the fallout of the action. Techniques get a lot more complicated, especially when the haunting starts.

Throughout the film the scares are mostly impressionistic and lack a visceral edge. There are glimpses of spectres in uniform, doors opening and closing, and ghostly laughter over the PA system but it is not as scary as it sounds but the interesting parts are the more hallucinatory experiences especially as Min-Ah comes under the influence of the diary which takes on a supernatural edge. There is one great sequence with Min-Ah where time lapse is used and everyone passing is sped up almost into a blur while she remains sitting, rooted to the spot by a supernatural force that has dragged her from her everyday surroundings into a supernatural bubble.

When supernatural chaos breaks out the film loses a degree of coherency as it cross-cuts between a lot of action scenes. There are lots of dolly shots as hundreds of extras dash about trying to escape some (light-weight) supernatural scares. I found that this did not detract from the overall story since the characters, actors and the way the story was filmed with its great direction, had moved me. When the final credits ran I admired it, including the ending, for its drama more than the supernatural elements. Take out the haunting and make it a psychological tale and it would still work. I had come to care about the characters and wanted them to be happy regardless of their gender.

5/5

¹Red thread of fate? They are destined to be lovers. It is a scene that is sexy until you watch the making-of.

Whispering Corridors

Genki Jason Whispering Corridors Review Header

Whispering Corridors                                     Whispering Corridors Movie Poster

Hangul: 여고괴담

Romanisation: Yeogo goedam

Release Date: 30th May 1998 (South Korea)

Running Time: 107 mins.

Director: Park Ki-Hyeong

Writer: Park Ki-Hyeong, In Jung-Ok

Starring: Lee Mi-Yeon, Kim Gyu-Ri, Choi Se-Yeon, Choi Gang-Hee, Kim Min-Jung, Kim Roe-Ha, Kim Yu-Seok, Park Jin-Hee, Yun Ji-Hye, Park Yong-Soo

Schools are a popular location for horror tales from Suspiria and Carrie in the 70’s all the way to Death Bell in 2010 and the anime/movie Another in 2012. South Korea has contributed some of the best titles specifically with Whispering Corridors which was made around the same time as The Ring and is one of the titles attributed to the Asian horror boom in the west. Heck, when I was in high school during this boom I was more than aware of Whispering Corridors but I only watched it for the first time while doing this season.

1998, South Korea. A 12th grade homeroom teacher named Mrs. Park is looking through records when she makes a startling discovery. She calls fellow teacher Eun-Young (Lee Mi-Yeon) about a person named Jin-Ju but before she can fully explain her discovery the phone is cut off and she is attacked. The next day a group of students including quiet girl Jae-Yi Yoon (Choi Se-Yeon) and artist Ji-Oh (Kim Gyu-Ri) are part of the class cleaning crew and see Mrs. Park’s corpse and are horrified. It looks like suicide but rumours spread about the ghost of Jin-Ju, a former student. A teacher named Mr. Oh (Park Yong-Soo) makes them promise not to spread rumours, promising severe punishment, but when another death occurs, a terrible mystery unfolds.

Before watching Whispering Corridors I was aware of its reputation and the fact that it had spawned something of a franchise with four sequels, each of which has the title Yeogo goedam which literally means Girl’s High School and is set in that location. What did I make of the original?

Pretty good.

This sounds like damning with faint praise but it reflects the fact that I had expected a horror film and got something which is less about scares and more about creating a complex ghost story with a believable set of characters.

Whispering Corridors New Friends Jae-Yi (Choi Se-Yeon) and Ji-Oh (Kim Gyu-Ri)

I hate going into an empty classroom. It’s creepy.

The whispering corridors of the film are located in a moss covered school surrounded by bracken choked greenery. It is shot under harsh light of daytime and in the darkest of blacks of night. The film has a chilly, wintry feel where life has been sucked out and the students feeling the pressure retreat into themselves.

Whispering Corridors Ji-Oh (GyuRi Kim) Faces Off Against Mr Oh (Park Yong-Soo)Indeed, the students attending school are less concerned with their surroundings and more concerned with their fellows and superiors. Teachers walk around with canes, meting out physical punishment and playing psychological mind-games designed to pit students against each other so they try and beat each other in grades. The most notable offender is Mr. Oh, a truly loathsome character who likes to pontificate and physically beats and molests his students. He sums up the brutal atmosphere with one line, “I know you are all excited about making friends. I advise you to get rid of that cheap sentimentality.”

If that sounds over the top it is for a reason.

I prefer ghosts

The film has real depth when you know the history of South Korea. Preceding the making of Whispering Corridors, South Korea entered a new period of democracy with the end of its authoritarian military dictatorship in the early 90’s. The subsequent liberalisation of the movie industry and of movie censorship allowed artists in the South Korea’s wave of new film schools to explore challenging subjects and themes including addressing the politically tumultuous years. The film’s director Park Ki-Hyeong and writer In Jung-Ok insert many scenes that criticise and challenge conformity and authoritarianism.

The authorities running the school can be seen as analogous to the dictatorship. The groping teacher, the heavy threat of violence, the conformity this engenders and the code of silence being enforced are all menacing and it was not long before the setting seemed less like a school and more like a prison camp where lectures feature group punishment and the beating of pupils in between quasi-political messages. It is no wonder that the students find the place horrific.

Whispering Corridors Prison Camp

The film is visually conventional but uses its conventionality to capture the way students are isolated, set against each other and the hatred that wells up. The camera pans between two former friends as they exchange the most surreptitious of glances. There will be the use of a high angle shot to suggest observation of the supernatural kind or judgement. The vicious behaviour of Mr. Oh is shot in uncomfortable close-ups.

The main character Ji-Oh has an air of believability as a teen with her spiky personality, burgeoning independence and the sense exasperation of having people rely on her. She is not quite the non-conformist but her dyed hair and rock music single her out. She is tough and defies teachers at points and as the film progresses, she shows real humanity by befriending a fellow student who is looked down upon by others. She is the new generation and is the one who tries to heal the wounds of the past and cure the problems with authority… as long as people can change.

Whispering Corridors Ji-Oh (Gyu-Ri Kim)

If the point of a film is for a story to introduce us to a world and find a way of allowing the audience to interpret reality then Whispering Corridors does it very well but despite all of this what matters most of all is the ghost story.

Like any good ghost story it has an air of mystery, guilt and sadness. The haunting and the unfolding tale of tragedy is linked to the harsh conditions of the school. It is believable, though slightly melodramatic, and sad in its telling. The ghost is sympathetic and more than justified in wanting vengeance as it strives to punish all those perpetuating the loneliness and misery of the school. There is not much gore but the palpable emotions felt by characters can be tough to wade through and while it has nothing comparable to the bravura scare scenes of The Ring or Audition the film is still compelling thanks to the complex characters and the dread atmosphere of the location.

Indeed, the moments of terror are relatively few and far between. There are a few jump-scares like exploding windows and a ghost which can transport itself from different places (via jump-cuts). There is also a lot of blood although it is quite tasteful and even beautiful in one scene. I would be lying if I said I found it scary but I did find it well handled and heartfelt which makes it quite an interesting title.

4.5/5

Love for Beginners, Chasing Santa Clause, MIS: Human Secret Weapon Trailer and the Japanese Movie Box Office Chart

Skyfall Character BannerLast week I was so busy trying to get a post out so I could attend an anime festival I posted the wrong trailer (Love for Beginners) and missed out the one I had originally intended to post (Inazuma Eleven). I apologise. すみません!This week I was back in work and so I skipped posting anything on Monday so I could concentrate on re-establishing a writing routine because I have a lot of reviews coming up as part of my Genki Christmas season which kicks off on Monday. The week did see some reviews. On Sunday I posted my thoughts on Skyfall (which I found to be awesome) before sitting down for some Chinese food and watching Insidious at home.

What does the Japanese film chart look like this week?

  1. Skyfall
  2. Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo
  3. Inazuma Eleven The Movie 2012
  4. Lesson of the Evil
  5. The Floating Castle
  6. Ninkyo Helper: Beautiful World.
  7. A Chorus of Angels
  8. Tug of War
  9. Trouble with the Curve
  10. Crow’s Thumb
  11. Smile Precure!
  12. Lockout
  13. Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away
  14. The Woman in Black

Skyfall is at the top spot after its release last week. The latest new Japanese film in the top ten movie box office chart is Inazuma Eleven at two. The Woman in Black was also released and it is at fourteen. The latest Evangelion movie drops down to two and Takashi Miike’s latest film is at four. That’s a strong top ten.

 

What are the most interesting Japanese films released this week?

 

Love for Beginners                                                 Love fo Beginners

Japanese Title: 今日¥、 恋 を はじめます

Romaji: Kyou, Koi wo Hajimemasu

Release Date:  08th December 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Takeshi Furusawa

Writer:  Kanan Minami (Original Manga)

Starring: Emi Takei, Tori Matsuzaka, Rin Takanashi, Fumino Kimura, Sho Aoyagi, Kento Yamazaki, Yua Shinkawa, Erina Dawkins, Reiko Fujiwara, Saki Takaoka, Ayane Sakai, Hiroaki Murakami, Yumi Asou, Hatsunori Hasegawa,

In an example of my ability to be lackdaisical I posted this a trailer a week early. Apologies. Love for Beginners is released today and it stars Emi Takei, who was one of the brilliant stand-out stars of For Love’s Sake, joins forces with an awesome cast of bright young things including Rin Takanashi (Goth: Love of DeathIsn’t Anyone Alive?), Reiko Fujiwara (About the Pink Sky), Kento Yamazaki (Control TowerAnother),  Tori Matsuzaka (The Wings of the Kirin) in an adaptation of Kanan Minami’s popular manga. The film is directed by Takeshi Furusawa who sounds familiar… assistant director to Kiyoshi Kurosawa on Pulse… That’s right! He directed Ghost Train and the recent live-action adaptation of Another! What the heck is he doing here and not on a J-horror? Earning a living, I suppose. Anyway, this is one of those silly films where an extremely beautiful girl dons glasses and everybody considers her plain. Unless everybody else at the school is fantastically beautiful. I have never read the manga. I’m also very unlikely to see the film. The soundtrack has hits by Perfume and Scandal.

Tsubaki Hibino (Takei) is a talented hair stylist with low self-esteem and a taste for old-fashioned clothes. Her fashion sense is the trigger for popular playboy male student Kyota Tsubaki (Matsuzaka) to tease her but then… they fall in love with each other. They will have to overcome his commitment issues first.

MIS: Human Secret Weapon                         MIS Poster

Japanese Title: 二つ の 祖国

Romaji: Futatsu no Sokoku

Release Date:  08th December 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 93 mins.

Director: Junichi Suzuki

Writer:  N/A

Starring: N/A

Junichi Suzuki has made a career out of charting the fortunes of Japanese-Americans who signed up for the US armed forces after Pearl Harbour. His previous film, 442: Live with Honor, Die with Dignits followed the 442nd Regimental Combat Team who fought in Europe. MIS: Human Secret Weapon documents the experiences of nearly 80 Japanese-Americans who speak about their wartime experiences including a soldier who found himself fighting against former class-mates and another soldier who witnessed the surrender of Japan and the aftermath of Hiroshima. This film is getting a limited screening at the Ginza Cine Pathos alongside Suzuki’s other wartime documentaries. Here’s the trailer which looks fascinating.

Chasing Santa Clause                                                      Chasing Santa Clause Poster

Japanese Title: サンタ クロース つかまえて

Romaji: Santa Kuro-su wo Tsukamaete

Release Date:  08th December 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 80 mins.

Director: Hiroki Iwabuchi

Writer:  N/A

Starring: N/A

This documentary charting the recovery of Sendai from the March 11th Earthquake and Tsunami is a personal work from documentarian Hiroki Iwabuchi since he hails from the city. It features footage shot just after the disaster and survivor accounts including Iwabuchi’s own mother! Why chasing Santa Clause for a title Well the title refers to an annual parade full of Santa’s and lights and Christmas magic and how Sendai managed to hold that parade even after being hit by the disaster.

Genki Christmas Season 2012

Genki Christmas Banner 2012

It is December and it is dark and it is cold and wet. One of the traditions in the UK around this time of year is to tell a ghost story. The BBC usually adapts an M.R. James story or a tale from Dickens. What will I be doing? Watching a lot of Korean horror movies. That sounds much better than going out, freezing to death and getting wet.

For the rest of December I will be reviewing K-horror classics like the first four entries in the Whispering Corridors series and Kim Jee-Woon’s A Tale of Two Sisters. I will also review other films like R–Point, Doll Master, The Cello, I Saw the Devil and Into the Mirror. My Korean movie list is about to get a major boost but I have been buying K-horror films like crazy for the last few months and I want to watch them!

In a venerable tradition (started last year), at the end of the month I will post my ‘best ofs’ in terms of video games, films and anime. My favourite game and anime TV series includes plenty of dead things but my favourite films, according to my Top Ten, is more life-affirming.

You can also expect a review of Berserk Golden Age Arc I: Egg of the King which I saw in a cinema last Saturday. Here is a quick review… ALMOST GOD TIER. OH GOD, THE RUSH OF ADRENALINE AS I RELIVED THE SAGA (which I only first tasted a few months back)! Here’s the intro of the film for you to get a taste:

There will be a lot of reviews this month.

Genki Berserk Christmas Season Banner

Reviews Added:

 

Whispering Corridors

Memento Mori

Wishing Stairs

The Doll Master

Berserk: Golden Age Arc I: The Egg of the King

The Voice

 

Skyfall

Genki Jason Skyfall Genkinahito Review Banner

Skyfall                                                        Skyfall US Theatrical Poster

Release Date:  26th October 2012 (UK)

Running Time: 143 mins.

Director: Sam Mendes

Writer: Robert Wade, Neal Purvis, John Logan, Ian Fleming (Original Characters)

Starring: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Naomie Harris, Bérénice Marlohe, Albert Finney, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Rory Kinnear

Skyfall comes at an interesting time as it marks the 50th year of the Bond franchise and it follows the disastrous Quantum of Solace which. Skyfall has to be good as it is under assault from modern spies like Jason Bourne who just feel more relevant. How good is it?

Magnificent!

Istanbul, James Bond (Craig) is on assignment with fellow field agent Eve (Harris) tracking down a computer hard drive which contains the identity of almost every NATO agent embedded in terrorist cells around the globe. Things go wrong when Bond is wounded and falls into a river leaving M (Dench), back in London, with an agent down and major security headache all while she is being pressured into retirement by the Parliamentary security committee chairman Gareth Mallory (Fiennes). Then MI6 headquarters is attacked during a cyber-terrorist assault on British Intelligence. With events spiralling out of M’s control Bond comes back, joining forces with the new Q (Whishaw), to track down the person behind the attack, first heading to Shanghai then to Macau where he meets Severin (Marlohe), a woman who knows about the plot and how it is linked to a man named Raoul Silva (Bardem).

I have to admit that I am not the biggest fan of Bond. Despite being British and having watched every film in the franchise I always found the fantasy elements and the thin characters rather dull. There was never any sense of jeopardy and the stories were increasingly irrelevant. I soon switched to the Bourne trilogy of films. When Casino Royale was released it introduced a new Bond in the form of Daniel Craig and it replaced the silly gadgets and outlandish plots with gritty realism and gripping character drama. I loved it. Then A Quantum of Solace was released, a film that had a lot on character but awful action, a boring villain and a dull plot. Once again I lost interest. Thankfully Skyfall manages to resurrect the franchise by bringing everything back to basics, back to M and MI6 and back to Bond himself.

Skyfall Bond (Craig)

The film feels more relevant than other Bonds. Gone are the invisible cars and exploding pens and in comes a cyber-terrorism plot linked to the characters and Britain’s history. While a bit fantastical it is less far-fetched than the franchise is used to.

Continue reading “Skyfall”

Skyfall and Inazuma Eleven The Movie 2012 Trailer and the Japanese Movie Box Office Chart

Clementine and Lee in the Walking Dead GameThis week I had a break from work and spent time doing… well I had hoped to do lots of writing but I ended up playing the last three episodes of The Walking Dead. I was almost in tears at the end. The journey that I embarked on with Clementine came to a fitting conclusion and I can confidently say it is my game of the year. As far as movies go… I watched Skyfall at a cinema and loved it (review tomorrow), Berserk Golden Age Arc I: Egg of the King and a lot of other films at home. As far as movies and this blog go… I started off with two trailers for forthcoming anime movies: Steins;Gate and Aura and I posted my review of For Love’s Sake, the final film I saw at the 56th BFI London Film Festival.

What does the Japanese movie chart look like this week?

  1. Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo
  2. Lesson of the Evil
  3. The Floating Castle
  4. Ninkyo Helper: Beautiful World.
  5. Trouble with the Curve
  6. Crow’s Thumb
  7. A Chorus of Angels
  8. Smile Precure!
  9. Lockout
  10. Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away

The latest Eva movie is killing everything out there. At $35 million in just two weeks, it looks set to be one of the biggest box-office hits of the year. Crow’s Thumb, which was released last week, is the only new Japanese film to enter the chart. For its third week, Takashi Miike’s Lesson of the Evil stays in second place. No surprise in the absence of Milocrorze.

What Japanese film is released today? A lot of small ones in an example of counter programming because Skyfall is released this weekend and I suspect distributors are scared to go up against it with anything major. That said, the latest Inazuma Eleven anime movie is released and suspect that will do well. Here’s the trailer for Skyfall and Inazuma Eleven.

Skyfall                                                        Skyfall US Theatrical Poster

Release Date:  26th October 2012 (UK)

Running Time: 143 mins.

Director: Sam Mendes

Writer: Robert Wade, Neal Purvis, John Logan, Ian Fleming (Original Characters)

Starring: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Naomie Harris, Bérénice Marlohe, Albert Finney, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Rory Kinnear

I saw this film earlier in the week and I loved it! Expect a review tomorrow!

Istanbul, James Bond (Craig) is on assignment with fellow field agent Eve (Harris) tracking down a computer hard drive which contains the identity of almost every NATO agent embedded in terrorist cells around the globe. Things go wrong when Bond is wounded and falls into a river leaving M (Dench), back in London, with an agent down and major security headache all while she is being pressured into retirement by the Parliamentary security committee chairman Gareth Mallory (Fiennes). Then MI6 headquarters is attacked during a cyber-terrorist assault on British Intelligence. With events spiralling out of M’s control Bond comes back, joining forces with the new Q (Whishaw), to track down the person behind the attack, first heading to Shanghai then to Macau where he meets Severin (Marlohe), a woman who knows about the plot and how it is linked to a man named Raoul Silva (Bardem).

Inazuma Eleven The Movie 2012                              Inazuma Eleven Poster                       

Japanese Title:  イナズマイレブンGO vsダンボール戦機W

Romaji: Inazuma Erebun Go vs Danbo-ru Senki W

Release Date:  01st December 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 90 mins.

Director: Yoshikazu Miyao

Writer:  Akihiro Hino

Starring: Jiro Shimono (Oozora Hiro), Kana Hanazawa (Hanasaki Ran), Megumi Kubota (Yamano Ban), Mitsuki Saiga (Shindou Takuto), Ryohei Kimura (Asta)

Inazuma Eleven is a popular franchise that merges spectacular powers and the sport of football. In this movie the team fight a terrorist organisation who launch a robot invasion. Ah Japan, so imaginative.