The final film I saw at the Terracotta Far East Film Festival 2014 was the international premiere of Judge! and it was a fantastic way to finish the event. Akira Nagai flew in to introduce the film and even took the time to talk to me.
Taking a break from an award-winning career in a Tokyo-based advertising company, director Akira Nagai makes his feature film debut with the 2014 comedy Judge! Both Akira Nagai and writer Yoshimitsu Sawamoto have careers in advertising which they both draw on to make a sleek, light-hearted, and hilarious satire on the international ad industry which made me roar with laughter.
Ah, I was very emotional on Wednesday. Since I had the day off work I went to see Belle in a cinema and I was bowled over by the film, the way it merged the issues of slavery together with a well-mounted costume drama and romance. It was a reminder that British film can hit so many right notes and so I will review it – it has been a few years since I have reviewed a British film here.
Director: Masaaki Yuasa, Original Creator: Taiyo Matsumoto, Character Design: Nobutake Ito,
Fukujuro Katayama as Yutaka “Peco” Hoshino, Kouki Uchiyama as Makoto “Smile” Tsukimoto, Masako Nozawa as Obaba, Shunsuke Sakuya as Ryuuichi “Dragon” Kazama, Subaru Kimura as Manabu “Demon” Sakuma, Yosei Bun as Kong “China” Wenga, Yuusaku Yara as Jo Koizumi
The summer is here and I’m feeling a little drained of energy. I’m trying to remember how I coped with all of these previews last year… Wow, this time last year there was that awesome weekend with great films. This weekend? Not so much greatness at first glance apart from the Lupin the III.
It was a movie-rich week because I watched the J-horrors Fuan no Tane, POV: A Cursed Movie and the UK vampire flick Byzantium. I also watched Oculus which was a fun horror movie starring Karen Gillan who I almost met at the Doctor Who premiere four years ago. Expect reviews for the Japanese films.
As far as the blog goes, I reviewed Be My Baby and Museum Hours. Apologies for the brevity of the trailer posts (although I bet some are breathing a sigh of relief).
Starring:Mary Margaret O’Hara, Bobby Sommer, Ela Piplits, Marcus O’Hara
Regular readers (however few you are) will know that I work in an art gallery so it might not come as a surprise that I would be drawn to this title from New York based filmmaker Jem Cohen. Museum Hours is an Austrian-US co-production set in Vienna, Austria. It is less about the inner-workings of a museum (although the details caught are dead on in my experience) and more a naturalistic travelogue in Vienna all about art, people and observation punctuated with what I consider to be misjudged forays into some of the dull aspects of the city that exposes the weakness of slow cinema.
Audiences used to the stereotypes of Japan where everything is kawaii and the people are all formality, blushing confessions, shyness and kindness, all the desu and degozaimasu heard in keigo (honorific language) will be in for a shock as Be My Baby exposes an unpleasant underbelly of J-pop culture with a bruising blue-black comedy about a group of fashion-conscious sex obsessed characters with more interest in carnal pleasures than their futures. Be My Baby is a razor-sharp satire of “gyaru” culture which sticks the camera into the steamy and chaotic love lives of a group of sleazy, emotionally damaged and desperate characters who betray each other with hilarious and scary ease.
E3 week! Yay! More hype about video games like Bayonetta 2 and The Evil Within! Also the World Cup started this week and I’m already sick of hearing about it. Football, please shut up!
Only one movie review this week and that was for The Snow White Murder Case on Monday. It turned out larger than expected and I enjoyed writing it and I’m glad to see that it’s getting comments. Be My Baby has been complete for at least a week and a half but that goes out next week Monday. Judge! the week after that. I also reported on Japan Cuts 2014 which looks awesome!
I’ve also update my summer 2014 anime picks with PVs for Space Dandy and the latest for Terror in Tokyo/Zankyou no Terror.
Tooru (Matsuyama) grew up on the Tateyama Mountain Range but rebelled against his strict father and moved to the city to take up a job as a financial trader. When he discovers that his father has died, he travels back to the mountains for the funeral and decides to stay. At first he finds the transition from city to wilderness tough but he finds the place good for him. Then, a strange man named Goro (Toyokawa) appears and claims to be a friend of Tooru’s late father…
New York, New York, what a wonderful town. I have never wanted to live in New York as much as I did after reading the line-up for Japan Cuts 2014.
The Japan Society will host a series of awesome Japanese films from July 10th to July 29th with titles like Sion Sono’s ultra-violent black comedy Why Don’t You Play in Hell? coupled with crime thriller The Devil’s Path and recent (controversial) World War II blockbuster The Eternal Zero. These are just some of the headline titles, there are even more listed, many of which were released in the last few weeks and some of which are crazy and bizarre and speak to the sharp and unique sense of cinema that the curators have – respect has to be paid for the programming of the documentaries on this list. There’s definitely something for everyone! Here’s a trailer:
I am blown away by the titles and the guests that have been announced with many actors coming over for Q&As (FUMI NIKAIDO!!!). For a fan of cinema in general and Japanese cinema in particular, this is a festival rich with great films and events!
Here’s a list of the films and trailers with comments from me. Click on the title for more info such as times and buying tickets. Tickets are already on sale!
This is based on a comedy manga by Noboru Takahashi and directed by Takashi Miike (For Love’s Sake). The film has a great cast of characters like Shinichi Tsutsumi (Why Don’t You Play in Hell?), Ren Osugi (Exte) and Mitsuru Fukikoshi (Cold Fish). It seems like a great way to open the film festival since it looks absolutely funny.
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!
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
Sion Sono blew my mind with this one. After a short run of issue films like the critically lauded Himizu and The Land of Hope, he made this hilarious and blood-thirsty film which was both entertainment and a love letter to cult films and yakuza classics. I found it absolutely hilarious and one of the best films of last year.
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 which 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 as a reward for Shizue’s loyalty and kidnaps 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 recruits the help of a mad-cinephile 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.
Introduction and Q&A with actressFumi Nikaido (I so want to be in her presence!!!)
Followed by the LET’S PLAY IN HELL Opening Night Party!
Yoshihiro Nakamura’s latest film is a twisting murder tale which is less about who-dunnit and more about tearing open the glossy façade of contemporary media and revealing the lurid rumour-fuelled tabloid culture that festers underneath. As a Twitter-addict at a TV company uses social media to investigate a shocking death, he finds himself gaining what could be a massive scoop. With every Tweet he becomes the preacher to a growing congregation of gossips ready to praise him but his audience can turn and in his enthusiasm and efforts to catch a big news story he blithely ignores the damage that spreading rumours can do to promote his career.