The programme of films for this year’s Edinburgh Film Festival was announced on Wednesday and there’s a decent selection of Japanese films. No real surprises since most of these have been at various film festivals (most at Rotterdam) around the world and I have written about ALL of them at some point so I know which I’d want to watch if I had the choice.
For people interested in seeing some of the latest Japanese films who can’t make the Terracotta Far East Film Festival, they would do well to attend Edinburgh which shares Be My Baby an example of the latest trend in Japanese indie filmmaking. Anatomy of a Paperclip got an excellent write-up from Tony Rayns when it was at last year’s Vancouver International Film Festival. One title that has me super-intrigued is Miss Zombie by Sabu, a film director whose works I first became acquainted with when in high school and reacquainted myself with when I asked a friend to help me procure some of the 90’s titles. This is another title which got critics talking, an original take on the zombie genre.
Here are the Japanese films:
Japanese Title: 恋の渦
Romaji: Koi no Uzu
Screened: 22 June at 20:10, 28 June at 15:00
Running Time: 138 mins
Director: Hitoshi One
Cast: Kenta Niikura, Naoko Wakai, Chihiro Shibata, Yuumi Goto, Aya Kunitake, Hiroki Ueda, Daisuke Sawamura, Kenta Enya,
This Japanese film is a product of the ‘workshop’ indie films that are released nearly every weekend in Tokyo. Be My Baby is a low-budget film shot I four days for under $10,000 in a couple of locations. It is based on a play by award-winning dramatist Daisuke Miura (which was screened at cinemas) and it’s directed by Hitoshi One, director of the big-budget Love Strikes!. It’s a very adult film about the aftermath of a party attended by a group of drop-out twenty-somethings who are all flawed and caught up in damaging relationships. It got its UK premiere at the Terracotta Far East Film Festival and Third Window Films are backing this.
Japanese: ほとり の 朔子
Romaji: Hotori no Sakuko
Screened: 24 June at 18:15, 26 June at 18:00
Running Time: 125 mins.
Director: Koji Fukada
Writer: Koji Fukada (Screenplay)
Starring: Fumi Nikaido, Mayu Tsuruta, Kanji Furutachi, Taiga, Ena Koshino, Makiko Watanabe, Kiki Sugino
Fumi Nikaido takes the lead as a girl named Noriko who is preparing to take her university entrance exam and on the advice of her aunt Kie (Tsuruta) stays over at a relative’s house where she meets her aunt’s childhood friend Usagikichi (Furutachi), his daughter Tatsuko (Sugino) and his nephew Takashi (Taiga) who is from Fukushima. A great cast of actors and an intriguing trailer have me interested in this one.
Japanese Title: 山守クリップ工場の辺り
Romaji: Yamamori Kurippu Koujou no Atari
Screened: 22 June at 16:15. 28 June at 13:15
Running Time: 99 mins.
Director: Akira Ikeda
Writer: Akira Ikeda (Screenplay),
Starring: Sakae Tomomatsu, Kazutoshi Kato, Yukari Hara, Toshiyuki Takahashi, Akiko An, Hirofumi Shiba, Wani Kansai, Shu Ono.
This is a droll, deadpan-comedy fantasy story about a man named Kogure who has a McJob on the production line of a small workshop which makes paperclips by hand. His boss is a bully, and Kogure is also bullied by two thugs, one tall, one short, who keep ambushing him on the street and routinely steal his clothes. The butterfly shows up in his room one night, and when he releases it back into the wild it returns as a woman speaking an unknown language and consuming unknown food and drink. Soon the woman’s father settles in Kogure’s apartment as well. Through the relationship with the girl he finds his life improving and liberation is not far away.
Japanese Title: Miss Zombie
Romaji: Miss Zombie
Screened: 22 June at 20:10, 28 June at 20:30
Running Time: 85 mins.
Writer: SABU (Screenplay),
Starring: Ayaka Komatsu, Makoto Togashi, Riku Ohnishi, Taro Suruga, Tateto Serizawa, Takaya Yamauchi, Toru Tezuka
SABU, a man who made quirky gangster films in the 90’s, is back and with an original take on the zombie movie thanks to the script. The film’s trailer has crisp visuals thanks to the use of black and white and the interesting camera movements. Gravure idol Ayaka Komatsu plays a zombie named Sara (resists urge to Google her name) and she has a cast including Makoto Togashi (Cure), Tateto Serizawa (Isn’t Anyone Alive?) and Toru Tezuka (Noriko’s Dinner Table,The Land of Hope).
Sara (Komatsu) rocks up at a in a town in a cage wth numerous scars on her body and glazed eyes. She’s a zombie. Also in the cage is a gun and a note that reads “Do not give it meat”. The people around her are disgusted and treat her cruelly but a doctor takes her in. His son bonds with the zombie but the doctor has other plans…
There’s also a Chinese film which has Japanese (and French) backers called ‘Til Madness Do Us Part which documents the inhabitants of a mental asylum which the Chinese state uses to get rid of people who might not have psychological problems. It seems like some choose to live there as well.