The Edinburgh International Film Festival takes place from June 17th to the 28th and yesterday it launched its programme revealing the films that will be playing over the course of the event. While there is no anime on the bill there are a number of interesting live-action titles which will be screened.
I started covering the festival in 2013 (Edinburgh 2013) and continued in 2014 (Edinburgh 2014) but I’ll be honest and say that I think that the festival will not have as good a Japanese line-up as it did in 2012 when Chris Fujiwara took over as artistic director and programmed the Shinji Somai retrospective. I didn’t begin covering the festival until 2013 and now Chris Fujiwara has stepped down so I don’t expect a major injection of Japanese films on that scale again for quite a while. What has been selected is an interesting mix of dramas with 100 Yen Love being the most attractive and Parasyte the first part of a big-budget sci-fi action double-bill. Why not programme the second one as well because fans will be left hanging on the cliff-hanger? I think it may have something to do with the UK distributor Animatsu acquiring the first film and giving it as much fanfare as possible. The second film may not be theirs yet but we do know that they will release the anime. That’s a minor complaint, though because there are still interesting titles to be found.
Tickets and more information on the films are available by clicking on the links:
Romaji: Hyaku-en no Koi
Running Time: 113 mins.
Release Date: December 20th, 2014
Director: Masaharu Take
Writer: Masaharu Take (Screenplay),
Starring: Sakura Ando, Hirofumi Arai, Miyoko Inagawa, Saori, Shohei Uno Tadashi Sakata, Yuki Okita,
This film was shown at the Tokyo International Film Festival last year to some great reviews with the lead actor Sakura Ando proving she is one of Japan’s finest acting talents as shown in the way she stole Love Exposure from the rest of the cast with her performance as a demented cult leader. She proves to be the star attraction in this movie with a performance that won lots of praise. She is supported by talented co-stars such as Hirofumi Arai who gave a powerful performance in the drama The Ravine of Goodbye.
Ichiko (Sakura Ando) is a hikikomori who lives at her parents’ home but that situation changes when her younger sister divorces and moves back with her child. Ichiko and her sister’s relationship is pretty rocky and the two fight which makes Ichiko move out and find a place of her own. She takes up a job in a 100 Yen shop but is still pretty miserable with her new life and stuck with unpleasant people for co-workers but while working at her store she keeps encountering a middle-aged boxer (Hirofumi Arai) who practices at a local boxing gym. She is attracted to him and the two start a relationship which will fuel the continuing change in her life.
Release Date: May 09th, 2015 (Japan)
Running Time: 86 mins.
Director: Kei Morikawa
Writer: Kei Morikawa (Screenplay),
Starring: Aki Morita, Beni Itoh, Riri Kuribayashi, Nanami Kawakami, Mariko Sumiyoshi,
This indie title was the big winner of Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival’s Grand Prix earlier this year and has been picked up by Third Window Films for UK distribution. It’s a low-budget comedy that looks like a similar deal to Be My Baby in the sense that it’s effectively stuck with a limited set and lots of actors talking. Said actors are real life AV performers.
Director Kei Morikawa draws from his experiences as a former adult-video director for this comedy which stars some AV actresses. The comedy revolves around a porn shoot and the antics that happen in the make-up room. Make-up artist (Morita Aki) does her best to keep things running and her actors looking good as cast, staff, and agents invade the room.
Japanese: 寄生獣 Part 1
Romaji: Kiseiju Part 1
Release Date: November 28th, 2014 (Japan)
Running Time: 109 mins.
Director: Takashi Yamazaki
Writer: Ryota Kosawa (Screenplay), Hitoshi Iwaaki (Original Manga)
Starring: Shota Sometani, Ai Hashimoto, Eri Fukatsu, Nao Omori, Pierre Taki, Hirofumi Arai, Kazuki Kitamura, Tadanobu Asano, Jun Kunimura, Kmiko Yo, Masahiro Higashide,
This is the first of two movie adaptations of Hitoshi Iwaaki’s sci-fi horror manga, Parasyte (Kiseiju), which was originally serialised in Kodansha’s Afternoon magazine from 1990-1995. It is part of a multimedia adaptation that includes a TV anime that was a brilliant and gripping watch fro the first to the last episode but I hear the movies don’t quite measure up. The cast is lead by Shota Sometani, who gave an amazing performance in the Sion Sono film Himizu (2011).
Mysterious worm-like aliens tumble from the sky and penetrate people through their ears, nose and mouth and head to the brain to live-off and control the invaded bodies! Shinichi Izumi (Sometani) was an ordinary high school student until he was attacked by a parasite and managed to fight it off. For the most part. The parasite still exists and lives in Shinichi’s right hand. Shinichi learns to co-exist with the parasite and because of this he discovers the presence of the other parasites around the world. This makes him a threat to the aliens and so they begin to monitor him by sending another parasite to inhabit the body of his teacher Ryoko Tamiya (Fukatsu). With only his best friend Satomi Murano (Hashimoto) to rely on, what can Izumi do?
Romaji: Misono Yunibasu
Release Date: February 14th, 2015 (Japan)
Running Time: 103 mins.
Director: Nobuhiro Yamashita
Writer: Tomoe Kanno (Screenplay),
Starring: Fumi Nikaido, Subaru Shibutani, Akainu, Sarina Suzuki, Shohei Uno, Shinji Imaoka, Takumi Matsuzawa, Suon Kan,
Nobuhiro Yamashita is the master of mixing melancholy and hilarity, his offbeat films ostensibly belong in one easy to describe genre like rom-coms but they end up flirting with misery and despair as demonstrated by The Drudgery Train (2012) which features a pretty unlikely hero. This one looks like another great title with Fumi Nikaido (Himizu, Watashi no Otoko) and idol guy Subaru Shibutani (he is a part of the boy band Kanjani Eight) forming an unconventional relationship based on rock music and amnesia.
In this oddball romantic-comedy a man named Shigeo (Subaru Shibutani) is released from prison and set upon by some pretty nasty characters. Following the attack he loses his memory. What he doesn’t lose is his singing voice which he displays when he rushes the stage at an outdoor concert held by a band and takes the mic. The band’s manager Kasumi (Fumi Nikaido) is blown away by his voice and decides to take him in and let him lead her band, letting him live with her and her grandfather and work in the studio her parents used to run. The young man soon becomes the singer for the band and makes a new life for himself, but when his memories start to return, he isn’t happy…
Japanese Title: ぼくたちの家族
Romaji: Bokutachi no Kazoku
Running Time: 117 mins
Release Date: May 24th, 2014 (Japan)
Director: Yuya Ishii
Writer: Kazumasa Hayami (Original Novel), Yuya Ishii (Screenplay)
Starring: Satoshi Tsumabuki, Mieko Harada, Sosuke Ikematsu, Kyozo Nagatsuka, Mei Kurokawa, Yusuke Santamaria, Shingo Tsurumi, Mikako Ichikawa
Yuya Ishii has rocketed from his indie roots (Sawako Decides, Mitsuko Delivers) to mainstream success and respectability following his success with The Great Passage which swept more than a few trophies at last year’s Japanese academy awards. His latest project is based on a semi-autobiographical book and deals with everything from disease to a stagnant economy and is very serious. It has a great line-up of actors including Satoshi Tsumabuki (Judge!, The World of Kanako, For Love’s Sake) and Sosuke Ikematsu (How Selfish I Am!).
Reiko (Harada) hasn’t been feeling good lately. She is getting forgetful and it looks like she may have Alzheimer’s… It’s worse. Cancer. Her family, split apart due to disputes unite around her. Husband Katsuaki (Nagatsuka), first son Kousuke (Tsumabuki), and second Son Shunpei (Ikematsu) rally around her when she finally starts to speak her mind and tells of her desire for everyone to get together again.
Japanese Title: マンガ肉と僕
Romaji: Manga Niku to Boku
Running Time: 94 mins
Release Date: May 24th, 2014 (Japan)
Director: Kiki Sugino
Writer: Shiki Asaka (Original Short Story), Kotaro Wajima (Screenplay)
Starring: Takahiro Miura, Kiki Sugino, Eri Tokunaga, Chisun, Shima Ohnishi, Taiga,
No trailer for this interesting title from Korean-Japanese Kiki Sugino but it has played at the 2014 Tokyo International Film Festival. Sugino has quietly been carving out an interesting career as a producer/actor with films like Au revoir l’ete on her resume. This is her directorial debut and it’s a film about outsiders and bullying.
A selfish university student named Watabe (Takahiro Miura) finds his life complicated by a trio of women including an overweight student named Satomi (Kiki Sugino) who is being bullied by other female students. She follows hm around all day which isn’t an annoyance until Watabe meets a girl named Nako (Tokunaga)…
And that’s it for this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival.