Reel Japan: Japanese Film Festival Preview

A new film festival called Reel Japan will take place at the end of April at The Yard Theatre, London. It is a two day event that takes place from Saturday 30th April 2016 to Sunday 1st May 2016 and its programme consists of eight films, all released in the UK by Third Window Films.

The festival is the latest event from the organisers of the Brick Lane Japan Film Festival which took place in January this year, an event that sold out quickly. Reel Japan’s artistic vision is to bring the best and most exciting Japanese cinema to the UK. This means that audiences get titles from Shinya Tsukamoto, Sion Sono, Takashi Miike and the others. The theme for this collection of films is “Twisted Love” and viewers will get the chance to explore the darker side of love and life through an exciting line-up of titles:

Saturday April 30th

12:00: A SNAKE OF JUNE Dir. Shinya Tsukamoto, 77 minsA Snake of June Asuka Kurosawa

Shinya Tsukamoto’s tale of a sexually repressed office lady unleashing her inner desires and being comfortable with them thanks to the intervention of a stalker (played by the director himself) is an absorbing psycho-drama with a fabulous lead performance from Asuka Kurosawa. Here’s my review.

13:45: BE MY BABY Dir. Hitoshi One, 139 mins

Be My Baby Party ImageBe My Baby is an indie feature shot on a miniscule budget with a script that offers a scathing black comedy about Japanese gyaru and youth culture parasites. The cast of characters, all of whom hop into and out of bed with each other and play power politics in relationships offer audiences an insight into life at the bottom of the ladder in Japan and it holds your attention because of the great actors committed to giving great performances. Here’s my review.

16:30: GREATFUL DEAD Dir. Eiji Uchida, 98 mins

I don’t see enough love for Greatful Dead. It’s story of a neglected child growing up
into a socially maladjusted figure who delights in the loneliness of others, particularly old men, starts dark and gets darker as you slowly uncover her characters psychological trajectory of abuse and cruelty and close your eyes waiting for the violent impact of her journey’s end. Love stories don’t get any more twisted than this although you won’t find out until its killer ending. This was a genuinely dark and subversive ride, enjoyable and tragic, the characters always sympathetic even when committing monstrous acts. Here’s my review.

18:40: HIMIZU Dir. Sion Sono, 129 mins

Here’s a love story with a bleak setting. Our main characters Yuichi and Keiko survive violence, child abuse, and despair but they hang on to each other and their love. Although it is based on a manga the film was made during the fallout of the 3/11 disaster and so it references the real world problems that occurred in Japan at the time. Those changes fit in perfectly because the big message of the film is that you must always hope. Things can change and do get better and love is always out there so long as you keep trying to live and find those possibilities. The film is powered by awesome performances, especially the two from Shota Sometani and Fumi Nikaido. Here’s my review.


Sunday May 1st

11:30: LALA PIPO Dir. Masayuki Miyano, 93 mins

Lala Pipo (A Lot of People) is full of… a lot of lonely, horny and lost people all Lala Pipo Film Imagedesperately searching for love, sex and relationships in the love hotels of contemporary Japan. The thing with these people in the cast is that they are made up pimps, pornographers, AV stars gangsters and losers all hooked on porn. There is sexual salvation on offer for all but this cast of characters have to scramble up slippery slopes, past sweaty encounters, and through sticky situations that will leave them panting with exhaustion.

13:30: MEMORIES OF MATSUKO Dir. Tetsuya Nakashima, 130 mins

This stars Miki Nakatani (Ring 2, Loft) as the titular Matsuko, a woman found Memories of Matsuko Film Imagebeaten to death. It seems like a life wasted and tragically lost since she is estranged from her family and seems to have accomplished nothing but when her nephew, a bored college student, explores her personal effects he finds an extraordinary life of emotional highs and lows as Matsuko spent her entire life searching for her prince charming who would return her limitless love. This is a dark story of human drama given offbeat comedy and musical interludes to create a fairy-tale tragedy.

16:00: ISN’T ANYONE ALIVE Dir. Sogo Ishii, 113 mins

Isn’t Anyone Alive? is full of little love stories even amidst the onslaught of ironic and absurdist mass death seen in the film. A selection of great actors brings to life the story of the last days of the world, or at least a small Japanese university campus, beset by some disaster. The ultimate take-away from the film is that all human actions are meaningless when you take metaphysical constructions out of the picture. This is why a concept like love is important since it gives the world meaning. Here’s my review.

18:30: LESSON OF EVIL Dir. Takashi Miike, 129 mins

End the festival with a bang with this dose of violence and black humour from Takashi Miike. Lesson of Evil is all about student teacher and parent relations gone awry when popular English teacher Seiji Hasumi reveals how he runs his school – extreme violence. Adapted from Yusuke Kishi’s horror novel, Aku no Kyouten, this a commentary on tough high school life seen through the lens of a horror film. It features plenty of black humour, Cronenbergian fantasy and absurd violence.

There is a limit of 100 seats available for each screening and tickets are available now. It is possible to buy weekend tickets at £25 and day tickets for £15 but these are only available in limited numbers. Tickets for individual screenings are available at £5 each. All unsold tickets for screenings will be available on the day and the availability of these will be reported on The Yard’s Twitter feed.

The venue can be found at this address:

The Yard Theatre, Unit 2A, Queen’s Yard, White Post Lane, Hackney Wick
London. E9 5EN

3 thoughts on “Reel Japan: Japanese Film Festival Preview

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