The full line-up for this year’s Terracotta Far East Film Festival has been revealed ahead of its run at The Prince Charles Cinema and The Institute of Contemporary Art in London between May 23rd and June 01st and I have already written two massive previews for this blog and Anime UK News where I reveal the films and events. This particular post focusses on the Japanese titles selected and, in my opinion, the best titles in the festival.
This will be the sixth Terracotta Far East Film Festival and it is the best place to see the latest in Asian cinema in the UK. This will be the second festival I will (hopefully) attend. I had the pleasure of being invited to the press conference while down in London for part of the Yoshitaro Nomura season. I’m glad I went to the media event because I met some cool fellow bloggers and saw the selection of Japanese films. These had me smiling and they are some of the latest and best looking titles I have written about in my weekly trailer posts. The titles that are top of my list are The Snow White Murder Case and Judge! which will get its international premiere. Furthermore, the director of Judge!, Akira Nagai, is going to be present and he will conduct a Q&A! Here’s a list of the films. To find out more, click on the link to get taken to the festival page.
Japanese Title: 悪 の 教典
Romaji: Aku no Kyoten
Running Time: 129 mins.
Director: Takashi Miike
Writer: Takashi Miike (Screenplay), Yusuke Kishi (Original Novel)
Starring: Hideaki Ito, Fumi Nikaidou, Shota Sometani, Kento Hayashi, Hirona Yamazaki, Kodai Asaka, Mitsuru Fukikoshi, Takayuki Yamada
Lesson of Evil is based on a novel written by Yusuke Kishi who has twice won the Japan Horror Associated Award. The outrageous action in the trailer is orchestrated by film maestro Takashi Miike (Audition, For Love’s Sake, Thirteen Assassins, and One Missed Call). It stars great actors like Hideaki Ito (The Princess Blade), Takayuki Yamada (MILOCRORZE, Thirteen Assassins), Mitsuru Fukikoshi (Cold Fish), Shota Sometani (Himizu) and Fumi Nikaidou (Why Don’t You Play in Hell?). The film is screened as part of the Terror Cotta All-Nighter.
Seiji (Ito) is a cool and charismatic and highly popular teacher among students at Shinko Academy, a private high school, and well respected by the faculty and the PTA. However, one of the students Reika (Nikaido) feels something menacing lurking beneath his shining reputation. Reika is uneasy about the man and together with Tsurii (Fukikoshi), an unpopular teacher at the school who despises the more popular Seiji, they start investigating his past and discover something scary.
Fumi Nikaido and Shota Sometani are names that would convince me to visit the film but it’s the idea of Fukikoshi’s character, the bitterly jealous teacher, which has me expecting some great character acting and even black comedy. and Lesson of Evil was given a theatrical release in Japan back in November 2012 and since then the film was screened at different film festivals like Rotterdam where it has garnered great reviews. It will be released by Third Window Films on September 29th of this year (DVD already pre-ordered).
Romaji: KILLERS KIRA-ZU
Running Time: 137 mins.
Release Date: February 01st, 2014
Director: Kimo Stamboel, Timo Tjahjanto
Writer: Kimo Stamboel, Timo Tjahjanto (Screenplay),
Starring: Kazuki Kitamura, Oka Antara, Rin Takanashi, Luna Maya, Mei Kurokawa, Denden, Ray Sahetapy
Okay, not strictly Japanese but a co-production between Indonesia and Japan executive produced by Gareth Evans, director of The Raid. This was released on a quiet weekend in February of this year and a review on Twitch makes it sound more like a fascinating rumination on violence, full of brutality and horror, rather than a gore fest. It will get a UK release thanks to Lionsgate UK.
Nomura (Kitamura) is a serial killer who records a murder of a woman and places it on the internet. Bayu (Antara) is a journalist in Jakarta who stumbles upon the video and becomes attracted to what he sees as the beauty in the cruel visuals. When he kills a robber in self-defence he records the robber’s dying moments and uploads his own video. Nomura sees the video and a connection is made! A competition is initiated.
Japanese Title: 恋の渦
Romaji: Koi no Uzu
Release Date: March 30th 2013 (Japan)
Running Time: 138 mins
Director: Hitoshi Ōne
Writer: Daisuke Miura (Original work/Screenplay),
Starring: Kenta Niikura, Naoko Wakai, Chihiro Shibata, Yuumi Goto, Kenta Enya, Hiroki Ueda, Daisuke Sawamura, Aya Kunitake, Sadaharu Matsushita,
This film comes from Cinema Impact, an example of the indie film production model where ‘workshops’ of actors working with veteran staff to create indie films. Be My Baby is a low-budget film that was shot in four days for under $10,000 in a couple of locations. It is directed by Hitoshi One, director of the big-budget Moteki which stared Kumiko Aso, Mirai Moriyama and Riisa Naka. It is based on a theatre play written by Daisuke Miura which was first staged in 2006 and screened in cinemas in March of last year. Daisuke Miura’s stage play has been on tour around the world and writer Miura declares it an insight into a generation that has everything but is still unsatisfied in spiritual terms. The review over at Variety is positively glowing which makes me curious about its potential!
Japanese Title: 白ゆき姫殺人事件
Romaji: Shira Yuki Hime Satsujin Jiken
Running Time: 126 mins.
Release Date: March 29th, 2014 (Japan)
Director: Yoshihiro Nakamura
Writer: Tamio Hayashi (Screenplay), Kanae Minato (Original Novel)
Starring: Mao Inoue, Gou Ayano, Misako Renbutsu, Nanao, Shihori Kanjiya, Nobuaki Kaneko, Erena Ono, Mitsuki Tanimura, Shota Sometani, Katsuhisa Namase, Dankan,
Quite possibly, the best looking film released in March, or at least the most eye-catching due to the glitzy trailer and cool posters, and the film I am gunning for! Its story is a contemporary suspense thrillerabout the dark power of social media and trends which looks ripe for analysis from pseudo-intellectual bloggers such as yours truly… It is based on a work by the novelist Kanae Minato who is the writer of the award-winning Confessions and it is directed by Yoshihiro Nakamura. I have reviewed two of his films and I remain agnostic about his directorial skills because I loved The Foreign Duck while I hated See You Tomorrow, Everyone, which I saw at last year’s Terracotta film festival. He teams up with his usual writer Tamio Hayashi (Shield of Straw) for a murder tale full of hot young actors like Gou Ayano (The Story of Yonosuke), Mao Inoue (Rebirth), and Shihori Kanjiya. And Dankan, who is neither hot or young but is totally amusing and game for a laugh as seen in his performances in Getting Any? and Eyes of the Spider.
The Show White Murder Case sees victim Noriko Miki (Nanao), the best looking girl at a cosmetics company, murdered and her dowdy co-worker Miki (Inoue) coming under suspicion due to a Twitter tip off received by newbie director Akahoshi (Ayano). The media frenzy begins as television shows play interviews with Miki’s friends, family and anybody even vaguely associated with her. Soon rumours of her being a wicked woman emerge. Are they true?
Hopefully, I’ll be at the screening and I can find out!
Japanese Title: ジャッジ！
Running Time: 105 mins.
Release Date: January 11th, 2014
Director: Akira Nagai
Writer: Yoshimitsu Sawamoto (Screenplay)
The final film of the festival is the hit comedy, Judge!, which gets its international premiere here. This was originally released in January and the culture clash and physical gags marked it out as an entertaining title. This is based on an original idea cooked up by a writer and director who are both veterans of the Japanese ad world which should make the post-screening Q&A with director Akira Nagai fascinating to sit in on. There’s a large cast of excellent actors like Satoshi Tsumabuki (For Love’s Sake), Denden (Cold Fish), Etsushi Toyokawa (Angel Dust, Loft), Kyoka Suzuki (Welcome Back, Mr McDonald), Lily Franky (Like Father, Like Son) and YosiYosi Arakawa (Fine, Totally Fine).
Kiichiro Ota (Tsumabuki) has just scored a job at an advertising agency and already he is sent to the world’s biggest TV advertising festival in Santa Monica by his almost-namesake boss with orders to secure victory for their company’s ad by any means necessary. Like scheming, bribery and so forth. Alas, Kiichiro’s English skills are nought and so he drags along his brilliant colleague Hikari Ota (Kitagawa). They get to pretend to be husband and wife due to their similar family names but they couldn’t be more different since she is serious and he is a bit of a geek (his Urusei Yatsura T-shirt is a giveaway) who loves to party. Kiichiro’s party soon ends when he finds out that unless his company’s commercial wins a prize he’ll be fired. Can he do it?
This is another film that I am aiming to see along with The Snow White Murder Case and The Face Reader, a Korean film.