Why Don’t You Play in Hell? 地獄でなぜ悪い (2013)

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?

Release Date: September 28th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 119 mins.

Director: Sion Sono

Writer: Sion Sono (Screenplay),

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

This has been a long time coming. I saw Why Don’t You Play in Hell? at last year’s BFI London Film Festival and I had huge expectations. In the months leading up to the screening I had posted trailers and made posts full of Gifs. It was my final festival film of the year and walking into the cinema I was tingling with excitement. Why? Because Sono is one of my two favourite Japanese directors and this looked awesome. I can confirm that it was God-tier awesome. 

The film opens on a teenage director named Hirata who, along with his amateur film crew The F*ck Bombers, is busy shooting a gang fight between some Yankees. The main ambition of The F*ck Bombers is to make the most miraculous movie ever with realistic action! These guys will come into play later as the film switches to Muto (Kunimura), a yakuza crime boss who is the top target of a rival gang.


A hit-squad from the rival gang head to Muto’s home. Except he’s not there. His wife Shizue (Tomochika) is. What results is a bloodbath as Shizue defends her home from the gangsters… 


Meanwhile, as mother dearest is chasing one of the few survivors of her rage, Muto’s daughter, the angelic child actress Mitsuko, arrives home to find herself wading in a sea of blood. Lying on the kitchen floor and bleeding out is lone survivor Ikegami (Tsutsumi) who is charmed by Mitsuko so much that he develops a bit of an obsession. He stumbles out of the crime scene where he runs into Hirata and The F*ck Bombers who realise he is an honest to God blood-covered yakuza and begin to film him.

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The Great Passage 舟を編む (2013)

Genki The Great Passage Review Header

The Great Passage                We Knit Ship Film Poster

Japanese Title: 舟を編む

Romaji: Fune wo Amu

Release Date: April 13th, 2013 (Japan)

Seen at the BFI London Film Festival 2013

Running Time: 133 mins.

Director: Yuya Ishii

Writer: Shion Miura (Original Novel), Kensaku Watanabe (Screenplay),

Starring: Ryuhei Matsuda, Aoi Miyazaki, Joe Odagiri, Haru Kuroki, Misako Watanabe, Kumiko Aso, Shingo Tsurumi, Chizuru Ikewaki, Hiroko Isayama, Kaouru Kobayashi, Go Kato, Kaoru Yachigusa, Ryu Morioka, Shohei Uno, Kazuki Namioka

The year is 1995 and the place is the Dictionary Editorial Department of the publisher Genbu Books. The staff include Matsumoto (Kato), a veteran editor in chief of dictionaries who is assisted by his key right-hand man Araki (Kobayashi), a skilled editor who is on the verge of quitting because his wife is ailing and he wants to be by her side. Also in the department are Sasaki (Isayama), the oil for the team ensuring that word entries are logged on computers and filed away and young blade Nishioka  (Odagiri) who, while not as is good at defining words, is a pro at getting more up to date definitions and examples because he has skill with human contact.

And that’s it for the dictionary team. All dedicated to the beauty of words but considered weird by the rest of the staff at the publisher. Fact of the matter is that compiling dictionaries is not hot shot work in publishing terms because such things are boring and costly in an age when digital technology is coming to prominence and everybody else would rather work on glossy magazines.

With Araki seeking to retire it places great strain on the department at a time when Matsuoka wants to initiate a new project called The Great Passage, a 240,000 word dictionary that will capture everything from the most current youth slang to the most technical terms of different fields like theatre and literature making it the most comprehensive and representative dictionary in the country.


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Refugee in Tokyo, Train Heroes the Movie, Ikeshima Ballade, Bodacious Space Pirates Abyss of Hyperspace, Hello Supernova, ‘Shun ka’ to wa, nandatta no ka? Japanese Film Trailers

ffxiiiWhat a week!  The focus was on Japanese classes and getting to grips with constructing complex sentences with clauses embedded here, there and everywhere. In between that I’ve started clearing out 20 years worth of stuff – old magazines, video games, letters and cards. Very busy.

In live-action movie terms I wrote my review for 12 Years a Slave and then an announcement from Third Window Films for their forthcoming release of Shady. I started watching the dorama Double Face and… that was it. More anime than live-action. Yesterday was the trailer post. Next week I will post the final two reviews from last year’s BFI London Film Festival.

What about today’s trailers? Yesterday had a nice mix of titles but my true favourites lie in today’s post with Hello Superova and ‘Shun ka’ to wa, nandatta no ka? both bringing a more experimental edge to cinema screens.


Refugee in Tokyo  Refugee in Tokyo Film Poster

Japanese: 東京難民

Romaji: Tokyo Nanmin

Running Time: 130 mins.

Release Date: February 22nd, 2014

Director: Kiyoshi Sasabe

Writer: Takeshi Aoshima (Screenplay),  Tetsuzo Fukuzawa (Original Novel)

Starring: Aoi Nakamura, Chihiro Otsuka, Sho Aoyagi, Mizuki Yamamoto, Akiyoshi Nakao, Jun Inoue, Nobuaki Kaneko

Shu Tokieda (Nakamura) was a college student in Tokyo but when he is kicked out for failing to pay his tuition fees, he soon falls down the social ladder and survies near the bottom working part-time at an internet café. Shu makes the decision to become a successful host…


Continue reading “Refugee in Tokyo, Train Heroes the Movie, Ikeshima Ballade, Bodacious Space Pirates Abyss of Hyperspace, Hello Supernova, ‘Shun ka’ to wa, nandatta no ka? Japanese Film Trailers”

Wonderfull!!, Giovanni’s Island, Nakajima Miyuki Girls’ Festival, Red x Pink, Kamen Teacher The Movie, Buddy Fight Presents World Wrestling 3D eighth edition 1.4 Tokyo Dome 2014, GameCenter CX: The Movie – 1986 Mighty Bomb Jack, Aragure II Roppongi v.s. Shibuya Japanese Film Trailers

12 Years a Slave Epps (Fassbender) and Solomon (Ejiofor) Clash over Patsey (Nyongo)Lots of films get released this weekend and there is a wide variety of genres and mediums! In this trailer post there are many action films, a concert and wrestling matches and anime. The only title that stands out to me is Red X Pink and that’s for obvious reasons: sexy kick ass girls. This is what a live-action Dead or Alive video game should look like. More trailers (really interesting ones) follow tomorrow with the week’s round-up.

Aragure II Roppongi v.s. Shibuya   Aragure Roppongi vs Shibuya Film Poster

Japanese Title: アラグレ II Roppongi v.s. Shibuya

Romaji: Aragure II Roppongi v.s. Shibuya

Running Time: 75 mins.

Release Date: February 22nd, 2014

Director: Hajime Gonno

Writer: Masao Ikegaya (Screenplay),

Starring: Nobuyuki Suzuki, Tamiyasu Cho, Yuya Endo, Shizuka Nakamura, Shingo Kawaguchi, Hiroaki Kitami, Shuhei Nogae

This follows on from the last Aragure film where Seiya (Suzuki) from Roppongi  has no tried his hand at normal life and taken a job at a store in Shibuya but feels the call of the streets and the urge to fight. He soon gets involved in underground fighting but this starts a conflict between Roppongi and Shibuya…


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Third Window Films Release Shady

Third Window Films have a great line-up of films from Korea and Japan getting a release this year but the one that I think everybody should be looking out for is Shady.

Shady DVD Case


Japan / 2012 / 94 Mins / In Japanese with English subtitles / Colour

Starring:  Mimpi*β, Izumi Okamura

Out on DVD March 24th, 2014

DVD Special Features
Anamorphic Widescreen transfer with 5.1 Surround Sound
Interviews with director Ryohei Watanabe and actresses Mimpi*β & Izumi Okamura


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12 Years a Slave

12 Years a Slave  12 Years a Slave Film Poster

Running Time: 106 mins.

Release Date: February o8th, 2014

Director: Steve McQueen

Writer: John Ridley (Screenplay), Solomon Northup (Original Book)

Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong’o, Sarah Paulson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, Brad Pitt, Alfre Woodard

12 Years a Slave is based on the true story of Solomon Northup, one of many free blacks kidnapped and forced into slavery and one of the few to escape back to freedom. He soon turned his exploits into a book and stage play which abolitionists in the north of America used to help bolster their cause against slavery. Solomon’s story fell into obscurity after the American civil war but was discovered by Bianca Stigter, the wife of British Turner Prize winning artist of Steve McQueen who was seeking to make a film about slavery but struggling to find a narrative. McQueen is a man who has successfully made the leap from art to film with his first two features Hunger (2008) and Shame (2012) and now the critically acclaimed 12 Years a Slave which is an incredible adaptation of an incredible story.

12 Years a Slave Solomon Freeman in New York

Saratoga Springs, New York, 1841. Solomon Northup (Ejiofor) is a free black man. He earns a living as a skilled carpenter and violinist and resides in a comfortable house with his wife and two children. In New York he is relatively safe from slavery which is the biggest and most commerically important industry in the world and is generally respected by his neighbours. Two musicians invite Solomon on a two-week tour as a musician but behind the smiles are ruthless kidnappers who drug Solomon and sell him into slavery. He is beaten repeatedly and given the name Platt before being resold to a plantation owner named Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch). Solomon earns the respect of Ford but the ire of the overseer Tibeats (Dano) who threatens his life. Ford decides to resell Solomon to a slave-breaker named Edwin Epps (Fassbender) to avoid any bloodshed but Solomon is far from safe from this vicious drunk who exercises his reign of terror on his slaves and Solomon’s years of captivity become even more brutal and dangerous.

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Hello! Junichi, Ryusei, Murakami Kazuo Dokyumento `SWITCH’ Idenshi ga Mezameru Shunkan, Hōmuresu Riji-chō Taigaku Kyūji Saisei Keikaku, Metamorphosis, Fukushima Rokkasho Mirai E no Dengon, Taekwondo Soul REBIRTH Japanese Film Trailers

Haru Kuroki Silver Bear Berlin Film FestivalI want to start this post by congratulating Haru Kuroki who won the Silver Bear for Best Actress at this year’s Berlin Film Festival for her performance in Yoji Yamada’s Little House. Head over to the BBC website to see her reaction in a video which is adorable and very Japanese.

This week was all about getting information about the Japanese films playing at the Berlin Film Festival out to the wider world and putting up the review of the first new film I saw in 2014, All is Lost. I hope to have my review for 12 Years a Slave up next week and get the rest of the BFI London Film Festival reviews posted (two large ones which I’ll try and edit down to something more accurate, brief and concise) and start in on the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme.

The second trailer post of the week rounds up the trailers and the documentaries. Hello! Junichi is the big drama here and it is surrounded by lots of 3/11 documentaries. Here they are! Let’s go!

Hello! Junichi   Hello Junichi FIlm Poster

Japanese Title: ハロー! 純一

Romaji: Hallo! Junichi

Running Time: 91 mins.

Release Date: February 15th, 2014

Director: Katsuhito Ishii, Kanoko Kawaguchi, Atsushi Yoshioka

Writer: Atsushi Yoshioka, Kanoko Kawaguchi (Screenplay), Noriko Ishii (Original Novel)

Starring: Hikari Mitsushima, Amon Kabe, Ryushin Tei, Chizuru Ikewaki, Tatsuya Gashuin, Yoshiyuki Morishita

Hello! Junichi is a film that follows the lives of a group of people in a small village including 6 elementary school students and a university student (Mitsushima) apprenticing as a teacher in their school.


Continue reading “Hello! Junichi, Ryusei, Murakami Kazuo Dokyumento `SWITCH’ Idenshi ga Mezameru Shunkan, Hōmuresu Riji-chō Taigaku Kyūji Saisei Keikaku, Metamorphosis, Fukushima Rokkasho Mirai E no Dengon, Taekwondo Soul REBIRTH Japanese Film Trailers”

The Mole Song: Undercover Agent Reiji, The Tale of Iya, Fankī Katō My Vu~oisu Fan Mon kara Aratana Mirai E, Exte Girl The Movie, `Taberu koto’ de Miete Kuru mono, Dear Girl Stories THE MOVIE2 ACE OF ASIA Japanese Film Trailers

An Actors Revenge Film ImageThe first trailer post of the week features all sorts of different films but the most impressive is The Tale of Iya. Watch the trailer and tell me you aren’t impressed by it. I’m so impressed that I’m tempted to attend a UK screening. It’s a temptation that is hard to resist much like women, meat, and uniforms (that’s a Wooser reference, by the way, and Wooser continues being funny). It looks better than The Mole Song, Takashi Miike’s latest title, the big-budget release of the week. The rest of the trailers include documentaries and awful J-hora. There are more films tomorrow.

The Mole Song: Undercover Agent Reiji  The Mole Song Film Poster

Japanese Title: 土竜の唄 潜入捜査官 REIJI

Romaji: Mogura no Uta Sennuu Sosakan REIJI

Running Time: 130 mins.

Release Date: February 13th, 2014

Director: Takashi Miike

Writer: Kudo Kankuro (Screenplay), Noboru Takahashi (Original Manga)

Starring: Toma Ikuta, Ren Osugi, Shinichi Tsutsumi, Riisa Naka, Takayuki Yamada, Mitsuru Fukikoshi

When I first read the synopsis I thought of the Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs but this is based on a manga by Noboru Takahashi. The trailer is crazy but that’s par for the course with Takashi Miike (For Love’s Sake). The film has a great cast of characters like Shinichi Tsutsumi (Why Don’t You Play in Hell? – review coming next week), Ren Osugi (Exte) and Mitsuru Fukikoshi (Cold Fish). The film was at this year’s Rotterdam Film Festival!

Reiji Kikukawa (Ikuta) has a strong sense of justice but graduates at the bottom of his class from the police academy. He is so useless his superiors send him on what should be a suicide mission. First the police chief fires him for disciplinary issues and then sets him up as a mole in the Sukiyaki gang, the largest crime group in the Kanto area. His target is Shuho Todoroki, the boss, and so Reiji goes through hell to get his man!


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All is Lost

All is Lost  All is Lost Film Poster

Running Time: 106 mins.

Release Date: February o8th, 2014

Director: J.C. Chandor

Writer: J.C. Chandor (Screenplay),

Starring: Robert Redford (Our Man)

All is Lost is the second feature from J.C. Chandor whose Oscar nominated debut, Margin Call (2011) was a star-studded, dialogue heavy Wall Street drama about the recent financial crisis. The two could not be more different…

“I’m sorry. I know this means little at this point, but I am. I tried. I think you would all agree that I tried. I am sorry. To be true, to be strong, to be kind, to love, to be right. But I wasn’t. All is lost here, except soul, and body. I fought till the end. I will miss you. I’m sorry.”

The film starts in the Indian Ocean where Our Man (Redford) is alone on a yacht 1,700 nautical miles from the Sumatra Straits. He awakes one morning to find water rushing into his cabin. Upon investigation he discovers that a cargo container has struck his boat and gouged a hole in the hull. Damage has also been done to his communication systems, which means that Our Man cannot contact anyone. He is alone and so he sets about repairing the damage under a clear sky and blazing sun but there is a storm on the horizon and he is racing to fix the damage to his ship and communications systems but new problems keep emerging…

all is lost

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Japanese Films at the Berlin Film Festival 2014

Berlin Film Festial 2014 Post Header Image

The 2014 Berlin Film Festival is underway and there are lots and lots of films. Enough from me, here’s the line-up.

New Features

Forma                Forma FIlm Poster

Japanese: 小さい おうち

Romaji: Chiisai Ouchi

Running Time: 145 mins.

Director: Ayumi Sakamoto

Writer: Ryo Nishihara (Screenplay), Ayumi Sakamoto (Original Story)

Starring: Emiko Matsuoka, Ken Mitsuishi, Ryo Nishihara, Seiji Nozoe, Nagisa Umeno

Ayumi Sakamoto has been in the film industry for a spell having Forma Film Photoworked as an actress and in the camera and electrical department of a number of films like Vital and other Shinya Tsukamoto films where she learned directing and cinematography skills. Shot in a muted palette of greys, blacks and beiges in perfect tandem with the colourless lives of its protagonists, Ayumi Sakamoto’s striking debut has a keen grasp of friendship’s grey areas and linguistic cadences. A slow-burning thriller whose long, rigorously composed shots demand closer scrutiny: never disregard the unspoken and the unseen.

One day, Ayako Kaneshiro is reunited with her former classmate Yukari Hosaka. She invites her to join her company, and she accepts. However, Ayako begins to treat Yukari coldly and act strangely around her. Yukari feels increasingly pressured, but Ayako has her reasons. The pent-up hatred within her deepens the darkness in her heart. To confirm her own feelings, Ayako confronts Yukari. Their conflicting emotions intertwine… What lies at the end of this cycle of hatred?


Little House  Little House Film Poster

Japanese: 小さい おうち

Romaji: Chiisai Ouchi

Running Time: 136 mins.

Director: Yoji Yamada

Writer: Yoji Yamada, Emiko Hiramatsu (Screenplay), Kyoko Nakajima (Original Novel)

Starring: Takako Matsu, Haru Kuroki, Hidetaka Yoshioka, Takataro Kataoka, Satoshi Tsumabuki, Chieko Baisho, Fumino Kimura,

Yoji Yamada regularly features at Berlin and so the lucky audience get to see his first romantic film in his long career. It stars Takako Matsu (Dreams for Sale), Haru Kuroki (The Great Passage) and Satoshi Tsumabuki (For Love’s Sake).

Takeshi (Tsumabuki) finds several notebooks left by his recently deceased spinster aunt Taki Nunomiya (Baisho) which tells of her life before and during World War II.

As a young woman, Taki (Kuroki) worked as a housemaid in a little house with a red triangular roof in Tokyo. She served a family which consisted of a husband Masaki Hirai (Kataoka) who works at a toy factory his wife Tokiko (Matsu) and their son Kyoichi. Taki longs for her employer Tokiko but both women find themselves intrigued by a young artist Hirai brings home. However, the war takes a turn for the worse and so do the relationships in the house.


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