Japanese Films at the Leeds International Film Festival 2013 Part 2: Live-Action

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The 27th Leeds International Film Festival takes place from November 06th to the 21st and there are quite a few live-action films getting screened thanks to a Masaki Kobayashi retrospective and two more recent titles. There is also an international co-production based on a Japanese artist so that’s included. Here is the selection of films on offer. Click on the titles to find out more including how to book tickets which are on sale now!

The Masaki Kobayashi Retrospective looks to have a very respectable collection of titles from an important name in post-war Japanese cinema. People weaned on more modern Japanese films may be aware that Takashi Miike adapted two of his titles back in 2011. The festival gives audiences a chance to taste. Of all these titles I have only seen Kwaidan so if I were at the festival, I’d definitely see this selection.


Harakiri                              Hara Kiri Film Poster

Japanese Title: 切腹

Romaji: Seppuku

Running Time: 133 mins

Director: Masaki Kobayashi

Writer: Shinobu Hashimoto (Screenplay), Yasuhiko Takiguchi (Original Novel)

Starring: Tatsuya Nakadai, Akira Ishihama, Shima Iwashita, Tetsuro Tanba, Masao Mishima, Kei Sato

Of all Masaki Kobayashi’s attacks on the cruelty and inhumanity perpetrated by authoritarian power, perhaps none are more brilliant than his visceral, mesmerising Harakiri. In a stunning performance, Tatsuya Nakadai (who stars in all the Kobayashi films screening in LIFF27) plays a masterless down-and-out samurai who enters the manor of Lord Iyi, requesting to commit ritual suicide on his property. Suspected of simply fishing for charity, Hanshiro is told the gruesome tale of the last samurai who made the same request but Hanshiro will not be moved.


Kwaidan                          Kwaidan Film Poster

Japanese Title: 怪談

Romaji: Kaidan

Running Time: 125 mins.

Director: Masaki Kobayashi

Writer: Yoko Mizuki (Screenplay), Lafcadio Hearn (Original Novel)

Starring: Michiyo Aratama, Misako Watanabe, Rentaro Mikuni, Ranko Akagi, Fumie Kitahara, Otome Tsukmiya, Kenzo Tanaka, Tatsuya Nakadai

From the website: Four nightmarish tales in which terror thrives and demons lurk. Kwaidan’s tales are adapted from Greek-born Lafcadio Hearn’s classic Japanese ghost stories about mortals caught up in forces beyond their comprehension when the supernatural world intervenes in their lives. Breathtakingly photographed entirely on handpainted sets, the spellbinding Kwaidan is an abstract wash of luminescent colours from another world and one of the most meticulously crafted supernatural fantasy films ever made.


Samurai Rebellion                                    Samurai Rebellion Film Poster

Japanese Title: 上意討ち 拝領妻始末

Romaji: Jōi-uchi: Hairyō tsuma shimatsu

Running Time: 128 mins.

Director: Masaki Kobayashi

Writer: Shinobu Hashimoto (Screenplay), Yasuhiko Takiguchi (Original Novel)

Starring: Toshiro Mifune, Go Kato, Yoko Tsukasa, Tatsuyoshi Ehara, Etsuko Ichihara, Isao Yamagata, Tatsuya Nakadai

From the website: Toshiro Mifune stars as Isaburo, an ageing swordsman living a quiet life until his clan leader orders that his son marries the Lord’s ousted mistress. Reluctantly, father and son take in the woman, and, to the family’s surprise, the young couple (fall?) in love. But the Lord soon demands his mistress back. Isaburo and his son refuse, and they take a stand against the injustice of authority in an extraordinary and unforgettable final act.


The Human Condition Trilogy       The Human Condition Film Poster

Japanese Title: 人間の條件

Romaji: Ningen no jōken

Running Time: Part 1: 208 mins, Part 2: 181 mins, Part 3: 190 mins.

Director: Masaki Kobayashi

Writer: Masaki Kobayashi, Zenzo Matsuyama,  (Screenplay),  Jumpei Gomikawa (Original Novel)

Starring: Tatsuya Nakadai, Michiyo Aratama, So Yamamura, Ineko Arima, Koji Nanbara, Seiji Miyaguchi, Chishu Ryu, Kyoko Ishida, Reiko Hitomi,

Masaki Kobayashi’s humanist drama is controversial because it is set in Manchuria and offers an unflinching depiction of some of the wrongs/horrors perpetrated by the Imperial Japanese Army and the rigid authoritarian mind-set that allowed the oppression and mistreatment of people be they solider or civilian, to take place. According to the festival website:

The Human Condition is rarely screened outside of Japan and the nine-and-a-half hour film is presented at LIFF27 on 35mm prints in three epic parts. Adapted from Junpei Gomikawa’s six-volume novel, the film tells of the tragic journey of well-intentioned but naive idealist Kaji (Tatsuya Nakadai) from Japanese labour camp to Imperial Army soldier to Soviet POW during World War II.


Bushido Man                                     

Japanese Title: ブシドーマン

Romaji: Bushidō Man

Running Time: 88 mins.

Director: Takanori Tsujimoto

Writer: Takanori Tsujimoto (Screenplay)

Starring: Mitsuki Koga, Yoshiyuki Yamaguchi, Masanori Mimoto, Ema, Kensuke Sonomura, Takanori Tsujimoto, Hazuki Tsujimoto

From the website: Martial arts and niche cuisine action comedy Bushido Man could only have been made in Japan. It is a happy, sunlit day at the dojo of the Cosmic Way, a school of the martial arts whose sensei, Gensai, preaches a path of hard-earned wisdom and honour, and of knowing your opponent through what he eats. His prized student Toramaru has returned from a pilgrimage across Japan with tales of seven battles with legendary fighters, each masterfully-choreographed encounter preceded by a helping of his prey’s favourite dish.


HK Hentai Kamen                                         Hentai Kamen Film Poster

Japanese Title: HK 変態仮面

Romaji: HK Hentai Kamen

Running Time: 90 mins.

Director: Yuichi Fukuda

Writer: Yuichi Fukuda, Shun Oguri (Screenplay), Keishu Ando (Original Manga)

Starring: Ryohei Suzuki, Fumika Shimizu, Ken Yasuda, Tsuyoshi Muro, Jiro Sato Narushi Ikeda, Takashi Tsukamoto, Yoshinori Okada

This comedy film is an adaptation of Keishu Ando’s manga “Kyukyuko!! Hentai Kamen”, is the one where Ryohei Suzuki displays most of his body on screen as a superhero wearing a mankini, fishnet stocking and girl’s underwear for a mask. It came out earlier this year and what marks it out as something to watch, other than it looks funny, is that it was penned by Yuichi Fukuda and Shun Oguri (The Woodsman & the Rain). It also stars Fumoika Shimizu (Kamen Rider films) as the love interest. Ken Yasuda (The Cat ReturnsRakugo the Movie), Tsuyoshi Muro (After School, The Story of Yonosuke), Takashi Tsukamoto (Battle Royale) and Yoshinori Okada (Fine, Totally Fine) also co-star.


Kyosuke Shikijo (Suzuki) is a high school student and the most talented member of his school’s martial arts club. His late father was a detective and has passé on his sense of justice. On top of being a detective Kyosuke’s father was a masochist while his mother was a sadist which partly explains why Kyosuke love of wearing women’s underwear! When he does wear panties and what not he transforms into his alter ego “Pervert Mask” and gains superhuman powers. Said superpowers come in handy when he has to protect Aiko Himeno (Shimizu) from their dirty and evil teacher (Yasuda). Fortunately Aiko’s underwear gives Kyosuke super pervert techniques.


Breathing Earth Susumu Shingu’s Dream BReathing Earth Susumu Shingu's Dream Film Poster

Running Time: 93 mins.

Director: Thomas Riedelsheimer

Starring: Susumu Shingu, Yasuko Shingu

This is international co-production played at the Edinburgh Film Festival earlier this year. It focusses on the artist Susumu Shingu and the story of his move into architecture. which is inspired by wind and water and made into beautiful, lustrous imagery.  German trailer but you can get a sense of what the film will be like from it, a contemplative documentary where architecture and nature combined to make something beautiful.

 There is also quite a lot of anime so check out the first part of the preview on Japanese films at the Leeds International Film Festival.

3 thoughts on “Japanese Films at the Leeds International Film Festival 2013 Part 2: Live-Action

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