Japanese Films at the Cannes Film Festival 2013

Genki Cannes Film Festival 2013 Banner

The 66th Cannes Film Festival is taking place from May 15th to the 26th and its line-up of Cannes Film Festival 2013 Posterfilms was announced earlier this week and the line-up looks very promising.

The festival opens with Baz Luhrmann’s lavish looking adaptation of F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and, following their major success with Drive, Ryan Gosling and Nicolas Winding Refn pair up again to take the festival by storm with Only God Forgives (which also has fierce looking Kristin Scott Thomas (Leaving), a gangster thriller set in Bangkok which is In Competition and has a chance of winning the Palme d’Or. There are also two Japanese films In Competition and boy do they look so damn awesome!

Last year brought us a few treats in terms of Japanese films but this year Japan has made a major impact with two films in competition from two very special directors, Koreeda and Miike. People who watch contemporary Japanese films will know that they are two of the most talented filmmakers in Japan… heck, anywhere and if I were at Cannes I think I’d make these two films my priority.

Shield of Straw                           Shield of Straw Film Poster

Japanese Title: 藁 の 楯

Romaji: Wara no Tate

Release Date: April 26th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 124 mins.

Director: Takashi Miike

Writer: Kazuhiro Kiuchi (Original Novel), Tamio Hayashi (Screenplay),

Starring: Takao Osawa, Tatsuya Fujiwara, Nanako Matsushima, Kimiko Yo, KentoShield of Straw Film Poster 2 Nagayama, Goro Kishitani, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Hirotaro Honda, Masata Ibu

Oh wow, Cannes decided to get some balls and screen this action-packed film from Takashi Miike!

I find it brilliant that a chap who got his start making OTT V-cinema titles is on top of the world but it’s an indication of just how talented Takashi Miike is. He has been in fine form recently with a string of hits ranging from his exciting remake of the classic 13 Assassins, the amusing kids film Ninja Kids!!!, the cracked musical For Love’s Sake and an adaptation of a video game with Ace Attorney. His last film, Lesson of the Evil proved to be a return to violent and twisted territory similar to something like Cold Fish. Miike continues expanding into different genres and the mainstream with an all-out action title, a crime-thriller which is based on a novel by Kazuhiro Kiuchi.

Take a gander at the poster and then watch trailer and tell me you did not grin with excitement over the action!

As a fan of Miike who grew up watching his slightly older work like Audition and Visitor Q all I can say is that I love it and I hope (I really do hope) this tours the festival circuit and lands in London!

Kunihide Kiyomaru (Fujiwara) is a murderer. His victim is the granddaughter of a power-player in the political and financial world named Takaoki Ninagawa (Yamazaki).Three months elapse and Kiyomaru thinks he is in the clear until he sees that Ninagawa has placed full page ads in three of the biggest newspapers in Japan offering a 1 billion yen reward to the person who kill Kiyomaru. Fearing for his life, he turns himself in to Fukuoka Prefectural Police.

This case is potentially explosive so five elite detectives from the security section (SP) of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department travel to Fukuoka to escort Kiyomaru back. The distance between Fukuoka and Tokyo is 1,200 km and there are a lot of people who want to collect that reward including rogue police officers. The pressure is on and one of the SP officers, Mekari Kazuki (Takao) begins to show doubts about whether they should protect Kiyomaru but fellow officer Atsuko Shiraiwa (Matsushima) is determined to get the job done.

I had shivers running up and down my spine just writing that! Anyway it sound a bit like the Bruce Willis film 16 Blocks only on a larger stage and I loved 16 Blocks.

It stars Takao Osawa (Aragami, Ichi), Nanako Matsushima (Reiko Asakawa in Ringu), Tatsuya Fujiwara (Battle Royale, Death Note), Tsutomu Yamazaki (The Woodsman & the Rain, Tampopo), Kento Nagayama (Crime or Punishment?!?), Kimiko Yo (Departures, For Love’s Sake) and Hirotaro Honda (Zero Focus).

The film is released in Japan next week!

Like Father, Like Son                         Koreeda Drama Poster

Japanese Title: そして 父 に なる

Romaji: Soshite Chichi ni Naru

Release Date: October 05th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Hirokazu Koreeda

Writer: N/A

Starring: Masaharu Fukuyama, Machiko Ono, Yoko Maki, Jun Fubuki, Keita Ninomiya, Like Father Like Son Cannes PosterLily Franky, Jun Kunimura, Kiki Kirin, Isao Natsuyagi

Hirokazu Koreeda is another favourite director of mine ever since I watched his film After Life back in high school. Since then he has made tremendously moving family dramas like Nobody Knows and Still Walking. I am not the only fan since Koreeda has had two films screened at Cannes with Distance (2001) and Nobody Knows (2004). There are no trailers or teasers as of yet since the film is not released until October but the story sounds like potential tear fuel.

Succesful business-man Ryota (Fukuyama) and his wife Midori (Ono) have a happy family life with their six-year-old son Keita (Nonomiya) but a phone call from the hospital informing them of the fact that their child was mixed up with another at birth shatters their happiness. Ryota and Midori must decide whether to hand over the son they have carefully raised for the last six years and take back their biological son or not.

The film stars Masaharu Fukuyama (Suspect X), Machiko Ono (Eureka, The Floating Castle), Yoko Maki (Infection, The Grudge), Lily Franky (Afro Tanaka), Jun Fubuki (SéanceRebirth) Kirin Kiki (Kiseki) and Jun Kunimura (Outrage, Vital) Isao Natsuyagi (Warm Water Under a Red Bridge).

Like last year I will try and track what the critical reception of these films was. For a full list of all of the films In Competition, check out Bonjour Tristesse who always does a great job covering all of the films at the festivals! I cannot wait to see how the Japanese films perform!

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18 thoughts on “Japanese Films at the Cannes Film Festival 2013

  1. Tired Paul

    The 1 minute trailer for Shield of Straw had more of an impact on me than the longer one did……..felt like it got more to the meat and potatoes of the story with the gradual ramp up of intensity.

    As for Like Father, Like Son there’s no question that I want to see it, the mere mention of a new Koreeda movie means I want to see it. If I have to find a draw for the movie other than Koreeda, Lily Franky would be it….he blew me away in All Around Us and he hadn’t done much in terms of acting before that!

    1. Updated with the minute long trailer.

      I agree with seeing a Koreeda film based on his name alone. I’m going to order the box set that was recently released. I very rarely ever double-dip when it comes to movie purchases I already have but I’ll justify it by seeing I want it for Air Doll which I don’t have at the minute.

      I can’t say I have ever seen Lily Franky acting. His name is eye-catching.

      Time to finish my Japanese essay.

  2. Miike is very busy! The new movie sounds good but I am not that keen on Fujiwara, he is one of the actors that I dont get the appeal. in my opinion he failed as both Kira and Shuya Nanahara…the two are my fav charaters in the manga/book and he couldn’t deliver them well.

    It’s been a while since I saw Masaharu. I wuite like him and the movie looks good too

    1. Miike is always making films! Better him than many other directors! Ah, his Kira in Death Note was okay. He certainly had the look down but he didn’t seem haughty or callous enough. It just allowed Matsuyama to steal the show 😉

      1. For me…he is terrible. he couldn’t portray the Kira who had let go Ryuku. Both Kira (when he still has Ryuku and after he lets him go) are the same whereas they supposed to show a slight change between the corrupted mind and the one who is still innocent. Maybe because I always like Kira more than L, I can see his flaws straight away.

        I have seen him in 2 movies and 1 dorama…none shows me that he’s a great actor.

      2. He’s definitely expanded his range and worked with interesting directors and taken interesting roles so it might be a case of finding the right films.

        My problem with the Death Note films are that I found the atmosphere rather flat compared to the gradually OTT source. That written, it has been a long time since I last watched it so a re-watch is in order. I enjoyed the manga more.

      3. Well, maybe I should give him another try…if I ever come across another movie of his.

        Agree!! the movie was rather flat. I love to watch it again because Ryuku and L were fun to watch. I love the manga.

      4. Two movies trying to condense over ten manga which had increasingly insane situations and twists and turns was a bit of an ask. Good effort but not a patch on the manga 🙂

  3. Anne's Anime Blog

    Interesting that you’re a fan of Miike. His movies can be so scary! Audition traumatised me for real. I like to pretend that it was all a bad dream sequence for the poor main character.

    1. Oh come on! Traumatised? 🙂 It’s a great horror tale and so complex! That written, it is shocking. I still love the film 😉 I even read the book.

      You should definitely check out For Love’s Sake and 13 Assassins!

      1. Tired Paul

        “You should definitely check out For Love’s Sake and 13 Assassins!”

        @Anne You should check out Gozu :p

      2. The beginning and ending of Gozu are brilliant! I remember being in a cinema where half the audience walked out just before the end and I felt so sorry for them after the film.

  4. Thanks for the shout out!

    I have a good feeling about the Japanese titles this year. From the premise and the trailer, Miike’s film doesn’t seem like the type to be in contention for a Palme d’Or, but it must have something special to be selected to the main competition. And like you said, anything by Koreeda is going to be an intense emotional experience.

    1. You’re the go-to guy for film festival coverage!

      If I wanted to be very glib about Cannes then I’d say going on recent Palme d’Or winners, something from the slow-cinema category will win. I don’t think something like Shield of Straw will get the votes but you never know. I hope it does purely because the last time a Japanese film won was in 1997 when Shohei Imamura took the award with The Eel (sitting right next to my bed in its case) which stars Koji Yakusho. It would be nice if Miike won this year because (according to Wikipedia) his first film credit was as an assistant director on Imamura’s 1987 film Zegen.

      I remember that the lead actor in Koreeda’s film Nobody Knows took home an acting award from Cannes. That film is a real heart breaker.

      I voted for you in the LAMMY’s as well.

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