Unforgiven, Taka no Tsume GO Utsukushiki Eriēru Shōshū Purasu , ATARU The First Love & The Last Kill, Miss Zombie, Code Geass: Akito the Exiled Second Volume: Wyvern Torn Apart, Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions The Movie, Venetia’s Garden of the Four Seasons and Other Japanese Film Trailers

Masayoshi Sukita David Bowie in Japan 1980How have you lot been? All’s well? Plenty of films and anime to watch like me? A good week at work? Great weather? Perfect. Yet today is going to be even better because I have a lot of time set aside for the thing I like most… gazing at gravure idols… I mean, writing reviews! By the time this is posted I will be finishing reviewing a lot ofMasako Natsume films the process of which started at 5am this morning. It’s a good thing too because after posting about the Japanese films at Raindance I launched into my Kiyoshi Kurosawa Season and then a review of Serpent’s Path. Right after this I will watch Gatchaman Crowds. This week I watched Insidious 2 and The Drudgery Train and my heart was torn to shreds by the latest episode of Watamote.

I have also discovered great soundtrack to write reviews to with some 80’s inspired music. My day is set for fun with more films and anime. Enjoy the trailers for the Japanese films released this weekend!

Unforgiven                                           Unforgiven Japanese Film Poster     

Japanese Title: 許されざる者

Romaji: Yurusarezaru Mono

Release Date: September 13th, 2013

Running Time: 119 mins.

Director: Lee Sang-Il

Writer: Lee Sang-Il  (Screenplay),

Starring: Ken Watanabe, Jun Kunimura, Eiko Koike, Yura Yagira, Koichi Sato, Akira Emoto, Shiono Kutsuna, Kenichi Takito, Youkiyoshi Ozawa, Takahiro Mirua, Sjiori Kutsuna

This is the remake of the 1992 Clint Eastwood film of the same name. It swaps out the US and cowboys for Japan in the late 1800’s and samurai. I have reviewed one Lee Sang-Il film and that was Villain where he got a fantastic performance from lead actor Satoshi Tsumabuki. This is his first film since Villain and he gets a star-studded cast with Ken Watanabe (Letters from Iwo JimaInceptionTampopo), the grizzled Akira Emoto (A Woman and WarStarfish Hotel), Koichi Sato (Infection), and two of my favourites, Eiko Koike (RebirthPenanceKamikaze Girls2LDK) and Jun Kunimura (Outrage,VitalAudition). It played at the Venice Film Festival.

Jubei Kamata (Watanabe) was once a loyal samurai for the Edo shogunate government. Famous for being a skilled and deadly fighter he killed many and became infamous in Kyoto but disappeared during the battle of Goryoukaku. Ten years later and he is living with his child, looking after his wife’s grave in peace after vowing never to pick up his sword again but being in poverty forces him to do just that as he accepts the assignment of being a bounty hunter.

Website

Continue reading “Unforgiven, Taka no Tsume GO Utsukushiki Eriēru Shōshū Purasu , ATARU The First Love & The Last Kill, Miss Zombie, Code Geass: Akito the Exiled Second Volume: Wyvern Torn Apart, Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions The Movie, Venetia’s Garden of the Four Seasons and Other Japanese Film Trailers”

Serpent’s Path 蛇の道 (1998)

Genki The Serpents Path Film Review Header

I’m a big Kiyoshi Kurosawa fan but when Third Window Films announced they had two Japanese films made by Kurosawa in the 90’s I had no idea what they could be and I had little to guide me but posters and a brief plot synopsis. Less than a year on from that announcement and Third Window Films has released the two films in a set. I have watched them and I have to admit that these are two excellent crime films.

The films originate from a single offer. Kurosawa was offered the chance to make two low-budget V-cinema films in two weeks with the same cast and so he came up with Eyes of the Spider and Serpent’s Path. Both have many similarities not least the cast and story about a about a man seeking revenge for the murder of his daughter but the similarities end there as Kurosawa’s execution of both films differ. This review covers Serpent’s Path.

Serpent’s Path                             Serpent's Path Poster

Japanese Title: 蛇の道

Romaji: Hebi no Michi

Release Date:  February 21st,  1998 (Japan)

Running Time: 85 mins.

Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Writer:  Hiroshi Takahashi

Starring: Sho Aikawa, Teruyuki Kagawa, Yurei Yanagi, Shiro Shitamoto, Hua Rong Weng

The film starts with two men travelling by car in a bland urban environment. The two couldn’t be more different. The calm one who is driving is Nijima (Aikawa), a physics tutor, while his passenger who is tense and on edge is Miyashita (Kagawa) a former yakuza. The two pull up in their car outside an anonymous house. Pretending to be a deliveryman, Nijima forces his way into the house of a middle-aged man and kidnaps him, taking him to a warehouse, where he and Miyashita chain him to a wall and proceed to mistreat the man and threaten him with violence.

As Nijima hovers in the background with an air of indifference, Miyashita looks about ready to explode as he howls and paces about. He soon drags a television in front of the increasingly angry and defiant man and plays footage of a girl in a playground.

Eyes of the Spider Television

The man watches the footage incredulously but begins to get really scared when Miyashita paws at the video image of the girl and reveals she is his daughter then tells him she was brutally murdered and he wants a confession of guilt. The man is horrified and starts blaming others. Nijima and Miyashita have no choice but to continue down the path of vengeance.

Continue reading “Serpent’s Path 蛇の道 (1998)”

Kiyoshi Kurosawa Season and Biography

Genki Kiyoshi Kurosawa Season Banner

Regular readers will know that I keep ranting about four directors: Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Sion Sono, Takashi Miike. and Shinya Tsukamoto. The reason these four men are always mentioned is that they have made a lot of my all time favourite live-action films. I’ve grown up watching a lot of Japanese films from classics to the most contemporary but it’s these four who have blown my mind with their imagination and use of the medium of film. There are few other directors out there who can match them, in my opinion. Sion Sono and Shinya Tsukamoto have had a season dedicated to them but my most favourite of all, Kurosawa, has not… UNTIL NOW!!!

This is going to be a short season dedicated to the maestro, Kiyoshi Kurosawa because I have reviewed most of his films that are available in the west already. It has come about because I have recently watched three of his lesser known works and two of them are going to be released in the UK this time next week! We start with a biography! A long and boring and incoherent biography! WAIT, COME BACK! There are pictures!

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Japanese Films at the Raindance Film Festival 2013

Genki Raindance Film Festival 2013 Banner

The films for the Raindance Film Festival (September 25th – October 06th ) have been announced and there are a lot of Japanese titles on offer in the Way Out East strand. There are some I have reviewed, some I have viewed and a lot that have come up in Saturday trailer posts I do every week. There are enough that I am willing to attend the festival. I will be heading down to London and watching Shindo, The Kirishima Thing, Shady and Remiges.

Here’s a trailer for the festival:

Here’s the line-up of titles:

Soul Flower Train            Soul Flower Train Film Poster

Japanese Title:  ソウル フラワー トレイン

Romaji: Souru Furawa- Torein

Running Time: 97 mins.

Director: Hiroshi Nishio

Writer: Miyuki Uehara, Hiroshi Nishio (Screenplay), Robin Nishi (Original Manga)

Starring: Mitsuru Hirata, Saki Seishi, Kensuke Owada, Mio Otani, Kaoru Kusumi, Megumi Wada, Shoichi Asano, Marin Sayoko

Robin Nishi, the mind behind the manga/anime Mind Game has another of his works adapted. It’s a road-trip movie with a soundtrack by Shounen Knife. This trailer was featured just last weekend and I liked it a lot but the screening date is a little too early for me so I’ll have to miss it.

In this tale, a father named Amamoto leaves his small village and heads to Osaka to track down his estranged daughter Yuki. He hooks up with a friendly young woman who helps him but ends up getting lost and caught up in a surreal adventure on the island before he finds her and discovers she is keeping secrets.

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Space Pirate Captain Harlock, 009-1: The End of the Beginning, Backwater, Hameln, Ultraman Galaxy Theatre Special, Usotsuki Paradox, Saesaete Naho Kokkeina Tsuki and Other Japanese Film Trailers

Hey thereThis week was all about festivals! It began with a post about the Scotland Loves Animation Festival 2013 and was followed by a post about the announcement that Hayao Miyazaki will be retiring from directing feature films (here’s a more in depth article about his decision which makes my post look silly. I totally want him to take a break now!) which was broken at this year’s Venice Film Festival. Then there was that post about the line-up of Japanese films at the BFI London Film Festival. Tomorrow there will be a post about the Raindance Film Festival. Those last two festivals… I’ll be attending them! There will be two more festivals I will write about before the year is out, the East Winds Film Festival and the Vancouver Film Festival. In the year when I resolved to cover more festivals I can safely say that I did it.

What’s released this weekend in Japan?

Space Pirate Captain Harlock                         Space Pirate Captain Harlock Film Poster

Japanese Title: キャプテン ハーロック

Romaji: Kyaputen Harokku

Release Date: September 06th, 2013

Running Time: 115 mins.

Director: Shinji Aramaki

Writer: Harutoshi Fukui (Screenplay), Leiji Matsumoto (Manga)

Starring: Shun Oguri, Haruma Miura, Yu Aoi, Arata Furuta, Ayano Fukuda

Leiji Matsumoto is a big deal in Japan and his manga/anime keep getting remade. This year sees the big budget CG movie adaptation of his 1977 manga¹/1978 TV Asahi anime. The film is directed by Shinji Aramaki who has been in the anime industry for a long time with involvement in titles like Bubbegum CrisisMegazone 23Wolf’s Rain and Gundam. He knows how to make CG films having directed the recent Appleseed movies. The seiyuu (voice actors) are impressive with live-action film stars Shun Oguri (The Woodsman & the Rain) voicing the heroic Harlock, Yu Aoi (PenanceHana and AliceMushishi), Arata Furuta (Thirteen Assassins,Ninja Kids!!!) and Ayano Fukuda voicing some of Harlock’s crew and Haruma Mirua (Tokyo Park) voicing an assassin. There are also full-time seiyuu like Maaya Sakamoto, Chikao Ohtsuka and Kiyoshi Kobayashi on the cast.

 

In the year 2977, mankind has become complacent and stagnant because machines perform all manner of tasks while humans indulge in entertainment. This is the moment when mysterious invaders from space invade the Earth. Rebelling against Earth’s inept government, Harlock (Oguri) and his crew of 40 use his space battleship to fight for humanity. This fight comes with risks beyond space battles as a young man named Yama (Miura) is ordered to kill Harlock.

Website

Continue reading “Space Pirate Captain Harlock, 009-1: The End of the Beginning, Backwater, Hameln, Ultraman Galaxy Theatre Special, Usotsuki Paradox, Saesaete Naho Kokkeina Tsuki and Other Japanese Film Trailers”

Japanese Films at the BFI London Film Festival 2013

Genki BFI London Film Festival 2013 Banner

The 57th BFI London Film Festival is running from Wednesday 09th October to Sunday 20th October, a mere week after the end of the Raindance Film Festival. The London Film Festival programme was announced earlier today and the Japanese selection is rather good. The big news for me is that Sion Sono’s latest film, Why Don’t You Play in Hell? has been selected to play! Other entries include Yuya Ishii’s Great Passage and Hirokazu Koreeda’s Like Father, Like Son. The latter was probably the most obvious choie for inclusion but it’s great to see Ishii getting noticed.

Here are the films (click on the titles for more info like dates and times):

Why Don’t You Play in Hell?           Why Don't You Play In Hell Film Poster

Japanese Title: 地獄 で なぜ 悪い Why Don’t You Play in Hell?

Romaji: Jigoku de Naze Warui Why Don’t You Play in Hell?

Running Time: 126 mins

Director: Sion Sono

Writer: Sion Sono (Screenplay),

Starring: Jun Kunimura, Shinichi Tsutsumi, Fumi Nikaido, Tomochika, Hiroki Hasegawa, Kotou Lorena, Gen Hoshino, Tak Sakaguchi

Why Don’t You Play in Hell? is coming to the UK? OHMYGOD! YES! SONOOOOOO is here and the day is won. So does this prove that if I cry loud enough and often enough about something, some big festival will pick it up? Because I posted about three different versions of the trailer before it was screened at Venice and then Toronto and finally London. I’m a Sion Sono fan and while I may not be the most eloquent, handsome or talented, I at least try to keep track of what he’s doing and covering his titles so it’s gratifying to see that in the year of release I get to see it and on the big screen.  I get to see the blood slide on screen!

Genki-Why-Don't-You-Play-in-Hell-Blood-Slide-with-Mitsuko-(Nikaidou)

He has had a short run of issue films. The critically lauded Himizu and The Land of Hope are serious dramas that look at the after-effects of the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami and radiation in Japan. Now he’s back making entertainment films like Love Exposure and Strange Circus , films that play with cinematic techniques, genre tropes, the audience and are bloody fun. The festival page has this descriptive line: “ingenious slice of high-octane insanity that is both a fresh take on the yakuza film and an affectionate tribute to the death of celluloid.” It forgot to mention the blood slide and the fact it’s probably God-tier entertainment as other reviewers have noted. Check out Bonjour Tristesse’s coverage of the critical reaction from the Venice Film Festival for more. Let’s go!

Muto (Kunimura) and Ikegami (Tsutsumi) are rival gangsters who despise each other especially since Muto’s wife Shizue (Tomochika) butchered a boss in Ikegami’s gang. She gets sent to prison and jeopardises her daughter’s acting career. Ten years later and days before Shizue is due to be released, Muto is desperate to make his daughter a big-screen star and recruits Koji (Hoshino), a timid passer-by who is mistaken for being a film director.

When dealing with gangsters you don’t mess about so Koji gets a cinephile friend named Hirata (Hasegawa) who dreams of being a movie director and has a ragtag film crew named The Fuck Bombers. Hirata seizes his chance and loses his mind as he casts Mitsuko in a fictional gang war but it soon goes wrong when it turns real.

Continue reading “Japanese Films at the BFI London Film Festival 2013”

Hayao Miyazaki Retires From Directing Feature Films

Hayao Miyazaki Retires PictureToday was supposed to be the start of a Kiyoshi Kurosawa season but news that Hayao Miyazaki is retiring from making feature films broke yesterday and I have to post about it. According to an NHK report as seen on Anime News Network, during a press conference at the Venice Film Festival on Sunday, Studio Ghibli President Koji Hoshino announced that “studio founder and world-renowned anime filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki will “retire from the production of feature-length films.””

I wrote about this briefly yesterday on the Scotland Loves Animation post but a sentence doesn’t seem fitting for a person who has achieved so much and made so many films I love. At 72-years-old and as one the most critically and commercially successful anime directors (the most successful?), Miyazaki has had a huge impact. He brought so many great works to the screen and was able to connect with both children and adults. His impact can be considered larger because thanks to the appeal of his films he has made anime more exportable. People come to the medium thanks to titles like My Neighbour Totoro.

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Scotland Loves Animation 2013 Festival Line-Up

Genki Scotland Loves Animation 2013 Banner

On the day that Hayao Miyazaki’s retirement from the production of feature-length films has been announced, I report about this year’s Scotland Loves Animation takes place in Glasgow (October 11th-13th) and Edinburgh (October 14th-20th). If the former bit of news is sad for the loss tat the film and anime world will suffer then the line-up offers positivity because these titles have so much imagination and originality that, even with the Miyazaki-sized hole in anime, great works will still be made.

The line-up features a lot of the biggest anime films released in Japan over the last two years. There are some genuinely lovely surprises like Fuse: A Gun Girl’s Detective Story, Garden of Words, and Gusko Budori and some great surprises like Hal and Patema Inverted. Some of these films already have UK distribution deals and some are classics that are getting re-released.

I have already covered a lot of the titles in previews and even reviewed one so here’s the list titles by location then that will be followed by the trailers:

  Continue reading “Scotland Loves Animation 2013 Festival Line-Up”