Ah, after the snow of last week it is all over and the only thing left is ice. I did not miss a day of work. I spent the week watching anime in the form of Cuticle Detective Inaba which is actually pretty funny in a surreal Bobobo-bobobo/Excel Saga sort of way. In blogging terms… this week I posted an obituary for Nagisa Oshima and then rounded up my preview of the Japanese films at the Rotterdam International Film Festival (lots of short films and two television shows) and coverage of the Japan Foundation’s Touring Film Programme which I will be attending in its London run next month. I’ll have two reviews lined up for next week.
What does the Japanese film chart look like for this week (January 19/2o)
- Les Miserables
- Tokyo Family
- One Piece Film Z
- Gekijouban Hunter x Hunter
- Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters vs. Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger: The Movie
- Taken 2
- The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
The chart is dominated by a lot of western films this week with the likes of Ted, Looper and Skyfall but two of the Japanese films released last week enter the top ten with Tokyo Family and Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters vs. Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger.
What is released in Japan this week? Lots of films!
Japanese Title: さよなら ドビュッシ
Romaji: Sayonara Dobyusshi
Release Date: January 26th 2013 (Japan)
Running Time: 131 mins.
Director: Tsuyoshi Toshishige a.k.a. Go Riju
Writer: Keisuke Makino, Tsuyoshi Toshishige (Screenplay), Shichiri Nakayama (Original Novel)
Starring: Ai Hashimoto, Shinya Kiyozuka, Yu Yoshizawa, Mickey Curtis, , Keiko Toda, Akiko Aitsuki
Writer/Actor/director Tsuyoshi Toshishige (Vital, SPEC: The Movie, Eureka) adapts Shichiri Nakayama’s Kono Mystery ga Sugoi! Prize winning novel Goodbye Debussy! Rising star Ai Hashimoto (Another, Control Tower) takes the lead role of a girl scarred by a mysterious crime. She had a busy 2012 and there looks to be no let up in 2013 with plenty of projects waiting to get screened. She acts opposite pianist Shinya Kiyozuka who makes his film debut here. They are supported by Yu Yoshizawa (One Missed Call 2, Sunshine Ahead), Keiko Toda (Angel’s Egg, The Magic Hour, A Wind Named Amnesia, Kiki’s Delivery Service)
16-year-old Haruka (Hashimoto) lost her parents, grandfather and cousin in a fire that left her emotionally and physically scarred. Despite this she holds on to her dream of becoming a pianist and win a contest. However, when a string of ominous events occur around her, music student Yosuke (Kiyozuka) who teaches piano to Haruka tries to solve the problems.
Japanese Title: ストロベリーナイト
Release Date: January 26th 2013 (Japan)
Running Time: 127 mins.
Director: Yuichi Sato
Writer: Makoto Hayashi, Yukari Tatsui (Screenplay), Tetsuya Honda (Original Novel)
Starring: Yuko Takeuchi, Takao Osawa, Tomokazu Miura, Hidetoshi Nishijima, Takashi Ukaji, Renji Ishibashi, Keisuke Koide, Kenichi Endo, KAtsuhisa Namase, Masahiko Tsugawa, Tetsuya Takeda
Tetsuya Honda’s popular police novel series had a TV adaptation that has spawned a movie. Both the TV series and this movie are directed by Yuichi Sato who was the chap who helmed Waterboys back in 2003. Yuko Takeuchi (A Ghost of a Chance, Tomoko from Ringu? My how you’ve grown!) is acting alongside her Midnight Eagle co-star Takao Osawa who was a voice in The Wolf Children and will be seen in Takashi Miike’s next film Straw Shield. There is a lot of talent in the support with the likes of Tomokazu Miura (Adrift in Tokyo, Outrage) and Hidetoshi Nishijima (Zero Focus, Licence to Live) and Kenichi Endo (The Happiness of the Katakuri’s, Azumi, One Missed Call).
Reiko Himekawa (Takeuchi) has worked her way through to the homicide squad and is investigating the murder of a gangster. Reiko believes the killing was gang related but there is little evidence and so the case grinds to a halt but when a phone call is received with the caller claiming to know who the killer is, Reiko’s superior officer tells her not to investigate. Not that this stops Reiko who continues investigating and meets a high ranking gangster named Isao Makita (Osawa) who is also investigating. The two join forces and their attraction to one another grows.
Japanese Title: つやのよる ある 愛 に かかわった、 女たちの物語
Romaji: Tsuya no Yoru Aru Ai no Kakawatta, Onna-tachi no Monogatari
Release Date: January 26th 2013 (Japan)
Running Time: 138 mins.
Director: Isao Yukisada
Writer: Chihiro Ito, Isao Yukisada (Screenplay), Areno Inoue (Original Novel)
Starring:Hiroshi Abe, Kyoko Koizumi, Maho Nanami, Jun Fubuki, Yoko Maki, Shiori Kutsuna, Shinobu Otake, Yuichi Haba, Keiko Oginome, Goro Kishitani, Eiji Okua, Tomojo Tabata, Hitomi Takahashi Izumi Fujimoto
Oh my God… Look at all of those hot Japanese actresses on that poster… Er. I mean… Ahem. All joking aside it is based on Areno Inoue’s 2010 novel Tsuya’s Night and despite the synopsis the trailer makes it look like it could be very entertaining. The cast is full of big names which is another draw.
Taking the lead role as the perfect man who is handsome, sensitive and ready to forgive his wife everything is the brilliant Hiroshi Abe (Thermae Romae, Still Walking, Summer of Ubume, Survive Style 5+). He is joined by Kyoko Koizumi (Tokyo Sonata, Adrift in Tokyo), Jun Fubuki (Séance, Rebirth), Maho Nonami (Scarecrow, 2LDK), Yoko Maki (The Grudge, one of the foxy nurses in Infection), Shinobu Otake (Welcome to the Quiet Room) and the totally foxy Tomoko Tabata (The Cowards Who Looked to the Sky, The Hidden Blade).
Matsuoi (Abe) is married to Tsuya and they live in Oshima City. He is a devoted husband. She is a woman who has numerous affairs. When Tsuya is diagnosed with cancer and falls into a coma Matsuoi informs the men she had affairs with about her condition. The women in the lives of these men are shocked and begin to re-examine their relationships.
Japanese Title: みなさん、 さようなら
Romaji: Minasan, Sayonara
Running Time: 120 mins.
Director: Yoshihiro Nakamura
Writer: Tamio Hayashi, Yoshihiro Nakamura (Screenplay), Takehiko Kubodera (Original Novel),
Starring: Gaku Hamada, Kana Kurashina, Kento Nagayama, Kei Tanaka, Nene Otsuka, Bengal, Haru
The director of The Foreign Duck, the Native Duck & God in a Coin Locker reunites with Gaku Hamada, one of the leads from that film. This is their fifth time working together and, as stated in my preview of releases for 2013, Third Window Films will release it later this year. Gaku Hamada acts alongside Kana Kurashina (Dreams for Sale), Kento Nagayama (Crime or Punishment?!?), Kei Tanaka (one of the school pupils on the roof in Suicide Club), Bengal (Boiling Point) and Nene Otsuka (Film Noir, Bashing). This is yet another adaptation of a book and it is written by Takehiko Kubodera. It deals with loneliness and change. If this were a British film it would most likely be directed by Mike Leigh or Ken Loach and have sections which are totally miserable but there looks to be a decent amount of well-observed comedy with a serious aspect behind it in this film. And some crying.
Satoru Watari (Hamada) lives in an apartment complex. After graduating from elementary school he decides to stay in the complex for the rest of his life. True to his word he stays at home instead of going to middle school and gets a job in a cake shop in the complex and gets engaged to a friend. His other friends have other ideas and one by one they leave.
Japanese Title: ユダ
Running Time: 109 mins.
Director: Izumi Odomi
Writer: Izumi Odomi (Screenplay), Kurumi Tachibana (Original Biography),
Starring: Ayame Misaki, Sho Aoyagi, Kenji Mizuhashi, Yusei Tajima, NorA, Itsuji Itao, Noriko Aoyama, Hikari Kajiwara, Taashi Nagase, Keiko Odagiri, Ryohei Suzuki
Izumi Odomi makes her feature-length theatrical debut as a director by adapting the biography of the actress Kurumi Tachibana who was once a hostess. Expect foxy ladies to be entertaining men and making them pay for expensive wine/gifts. It stars Ayame Misaki (Bungo Sasayakana Yokubo), Sho Aoyagi (Konshin, Love for Beginners), Kenji Mizuhashi (Pulse), Itsuji Itao (Love Exposure, One Missed Call Final), Noriko Aoyama (Paranormal Activity 2: Tokyo Night) and Hikari Kajiwara (Cold Fish).
Erika (Misaki) is 19-years-old and has feelings of loneliness. To overcome these feelings she starts working as a hostess in Shinjuku. She is a major hit and becomes a major attraction and, in the process, begins manipulating the men around her to make more money. Despite this Erika is still lonely.
Japanese Title: ナイトピープル
Romaji: Naito Pipuru
Running Time: 90 mins.
Director: Hajime Kadoi
Writer: Minato Takehiko (Screenplay), Go Osaka (Short Story),
Starring: Eriko Sato, Kazuki Kitamua, Tetta Sugimoto, Mayumi Wakamura, Masanori Mimoto, Masanobu Sakata, Ryuzo Tanaka, Hiroko Isayama, Ryuzo Tanaka, Toshihiko Ito
This is my film of the week simply because it sounds like action-packed fun! It’s a criminal caper involving a sexy woman (Eriko Sato) with a bad past and some tough, cool guys (Tetta Sugimoto, Kazuki Kitamura, Masanori Mimoto) on the hunt for her. Eriko Sato appeared in Crime or Punishment!?! and was the cutie in Cutie Honey while Tetta Sugimoto was in fine form in Takeshi Kitano’s Outrage, Zero Focus and in small roles in Takashi Shimizu’s second greatest horror film Reincarnation and the funny Blonde Kwaidan.
Shinji Kimura (Kitaura) runs a wine bar which is enough to occupy anyone but when a woman named Moeko Sugino (Sato) appears, things get a hell of a lot complicated because she stole 2 billion yen from a member of the National Assembly and the police led by detective Sone (Sugimoto) are on her trail.
Japanese Title: ひまわり ―沖縄 は 忘れない、 あの日の空をー
Romaji: Himawari – Okinawa wa Wasurenai, Ano Nichi no Sora o-
Running Time: 110 mins.
Director: Yoshihiro Oikawa
Writer: Sadatoshi Oshiro, Kota Yamada (Screenplay)
Starring: Kyozo Nagatsua, Suga Kenta, Saki Fukuda, Hiroki Suzuki, Yuya Tokumoto, Ayata Toshiki, Taeko Yoshida,
The placement of US troops on Japanese soil has long been a hot-button issue for the people of Okinawa who feel they bear too much of the burden. As a regular reader of Japanese news sites the stories of US service personnel and their behaviour have caught my attention and a recent issue has been the safety of Osprey helicopter. Maybe this is what the writers had in mind when they made this film…
When a U.S. helicopter crashes into a University classroom in Okinawa, Ryota Yamashiro (Nagatsuka) remembers a similar incident from 1959 when a friend of his died after a jet fighter crashed into his school. Ryota’s grandson Ryuichi (Suga) attends the university and so, inspired by his grandfather’s story, decides to report on the 1950 incident and finds that people still have issues relating to that incident.
Japanese Title: しあわせ カモン
Romaji: Shiawase Kamon
Running Time: 118 mins.
Director: Daisuke Nakamura
Writer: Daisuke Nakamura (Screenplay)
Starring: Sawa Suzuki, Yuma Ishigaki, Kazuyuki Asano, Kento Takahashi, Shion Takahashi, Shinya Owada, Masayuki Imai
Sawa Suzuki (Loft, Summer of Ubume, Space Travellers) and Yuma Ishigaki (Azumi, Thirteen Assassins, Ninja Kids!!!) in a tale of drugs and parenthood with the parent being the one who takes the drugs… It is based on the autobiography of the musician Tetsuya Matsumoto which sounds even more dramatic than this!
Fumie (Suzuki) marries a yakuza named Tetsuo (Imai) and they have a son. Their lives re full of ups and downs but times get very tough when she becomes addicted to drugs. After receiving treatment for her addiction she moves back to her parents’ house with Tetsuya but she suffers withdrawal symptoms and he is sent to an orphanage. When Tetsuya (Ishigaki) leaves the orphanage he tracks down his mother and finds that she has a new life with a new man.
Japanese Title: 東京 トワライト
Romaji: Toukyou Towaraito
Running Time: 72 mins.
Director: Takao Nakano
Writer: Takao Nakano, Hideaki Nishiyama (Screenplay)
Starring: Minase Yashiro, Rin Natsume , Yuuki Masuda, Risa Narita, Hidetoshi Kageyama
Minase Yashiro, the lead in Machine Girl is back in this low-budget horror film which also stars Yuuki Masuda (Battle Royale) in an omnibus horror film that takes place in Tokyo and Risa Narita formerly of AKB48. I could take being haunted by a cute Japanese woman but that sumo looking chap was pretty scary!
Japanese Title: Blankey Jet City [Vanishing Point]
Romaji: Blankey Jet City [Vanishing Point]
Running Time: N/A
Director: Hiroshi Onaga
Writer: Hiroshi Onaga (Planning)
Starring: Kenichi Asai, Toshiyuki Terui, Tatsuya Nakamura
This is a movie documentary about the band Blankey Jet City with footage from their final tour with interviews with the band. The director Hiroshi Onaga was the chap who helmed a lot of the music videos for the band.
Next we have a series of short films that also get a theatrical release:
Shibata and Nagao
Japanese Title: しば田とながお
Romaji: Shibata to Nagao
Running Time: 18 mins.
Director: Yang Ik-June
Writer: Yang Ik-June (Scenario),
Starring: Chihiro Shibata, Takuma Nagao, Masato Aragaki, Kenta Niikura, Yoshio Kojima
Cinema Impact is a project that allowed young filmmakers, producers and actors the chance of working with a more experienced filmmaker. This is the second phase of the project and in this phase five short films were made and two are at the Rotterdam International Film Festival. Here we have Yang Ik-June (Breathless, King of Pigs) who directs a short film inspired by actor’s workshops but is a much more comedic affair.
Japanese Title: タコスな夜
Romaji: Tacosu na Yoru
Running Time: 28 mins.
Director: Masashi Yamamoto
Writer: Masashi Yamamoto (Scenario),
Starring: Takafumi Saito, Yuko Ihhihashi, Kohei Ainoatsu
This is another of Cinema Impact’s short films. It is directed by Masashi Yamamoto who has helped produce the others. He is an experienced actor with stints in a Mike Yokohama film and being having directorial credits for six films. This one relates the story of an employee who snaps after being put under pressure by a demanding boss and a group of thugs.
Focus on a Common Tape Live
Japanese Title: ありふれたライプテープにFocus
Romaji: Arifureta Raipu Te-pu ni Focus
Running Time: 44 mins.
Director: Nobuhiro Yamashita
Writer: Kosuke Mukai (Scenario),
Starring: Hisashi Hosokawwa, Masashi Kuroda, Takeshi Hosokawa, Aya Momiji Kitagawa, Tami Maeda, Mariko Sugio, Ami Goto, Takuma Nagao
This is the third of Cinema Impact’s short films. It is directed by a bright star of the Japanese film industry Nobuhiro Yamashita (The Drudgery Train, Linda). What is this one about? Students help a woman from the Philippines to look for her mother in Shinjuku.
Japanese Title: サンライズ サンセット
Romaji: Sanraizu Sansetto
Running Time: 44 mins.
Director: Ryosuke Hashiguchi
Writer: Ryosuke Hashiguchi (Scenario),
Starring: Ken Nakamura, Daisuke Fujisawa, Miyazono Yasuhide, Haruno Watanabe, Ryo Sato, Kayo Tachibana, Miwa Hashimoto
This is the third of Cinema Impact’s short films. The director is Ryosuke Hashiguchi who wrote and directed All Around Us (review over at Otherwhere) and Hush!, a film which played at Cannes and won numerous awards. This short is set in a film production company and follows a series of events.
Japanese Title: Sawada
Running Time: 50 mins.
Director: Tetsuaki Matsue
Starring: Satomi Kageyama, Yasuko Goryeo Hiromi Kobayashi, Momoko Maekawa, Yuri Kitamura, Kanako Yamaguchi
This is the fourth of Cinema Impact’s short films and it is directed by Tetsuaki Matsue who released a documentary entitled Flashback Memories 3D last week. This short use six camera to record a group of people who gather on the first anniversary of the death of a director.