Japan Cuts 2016 Preview

Japan Cuts 2016 Banner

Japan Cuts 2016 takes place from July 14th to the 24th and there are lots of familiar titles, many of which I’ll put as shorter entries to save space. However you cut it the line-up is really good with a diverse mixture of genres and stories. The guestlist is absolutely fantastic with the likes of Lily Franky, Atsuko Maeda, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Sion Sono, and so many more talented filmmakers descending upon the festival! Here’s hoping Adam Torel of Third Window Films gets to attend the festival to introduce three films he has helped come into being. There’s also Japan Cuts Microcinema which sees some of the best short films from the last ten years played throughout the festival. Each film lasts around 30 minutes and people can jump in and watch whichever title takes their fancy between films. There’s also an interesting talk which analyses the Japanese film industry and how films get made.

What is on the programme, then? This is a quick preview but there’s a lot. I’ll break it down into sections and you can view trailers and more details for each on the films by clicking on the links:

New Feature Films | Familiar Feature Films | Anime |  Sion Sono |   Documentaries

New Feature Films

 

A Road

あるみち「Aru michi 

Running Time: 85 mins.

Director: Daichi Sugimoto

Writer: Daichi Sugimoto (Screenplay)

Starring:  Daichi Sugimoto, Yuta Katsukura, Rika Sugimoto,

Website IMDB

Director Daichi Sugimoto is currently studying at Tokyo Zokei University, Department of Design as a film major but his film A Road has won a major award in the shape of the 2015 PIA Film Festival’s Grand Prize. It sounds like a fascinating dive into a person’s memory.

Synopsis: Daichi Sugimoto stars as himself, so to speak. His character is studying film at university but he misses the joys of childhood when he and his friends used to catch lizards. A university assignment in documentary film making leads him to look for the point when his childhood ended but despite his camera being able to capture the world, he finds that his memories of life, lizards and those he knows/knew and love/loved are harder to nail down.

 

Kako: My Sullen Past   

Kako My Sullen Past Film Poster
Kako My Sullen Past Film Poster

ふきげんな過去 「Fukigen na Kako」 

Running Time: 120 mins.

Director: Shiro Maeda

Writer: Shiro Maeda (Screenplay)

Starring:  Kyoko Koizumi, Fumi Nikaido, Kengo Kora, Mei Kurokawa, Yuki Yamada, Itsuji Itao,

Website IMDB

Synopsis from the festival site: Ah, the wistful summers of near adulthood—or, for high schooler Kako (the ever-amazing Fumi Nikaido), drudging through the humid months of caring for her young niece at her family’s sleepy restaurant in Kitashinagawa, Tokyo. However that all changes when her aunt Mikiko (Kyoko Koizumi), thought to have died 18 years ago in an explosive accident, suddenly returns, bringing with her rumors of anti-government terrorist plots, international intrigue and maternal drama. A follow-up to The Extreme Sukiyaki (JAPAN CUTS 2014) by acclaimed playwright, novelist and screenwriter Shiro Maeda, winner of the 52nd Kishida Drama Award and 22nd Yukio Mishima Prize, Kako: My Sullen Past finds Maeda in full control of his cinematic instrument, channeling his characteristic dialogue and parodic cynicism through his wonderful cast and engrossing tale of radical politics and quotidian angst.

 

 

Emi-abi    

Emi-Abi Film Poster
Emi-Abi Film Poster

エミアビのはじまりとはじまり 「Emiabi no Hajimari to Hajimari」 

Running Time: 88 mins.

Director: Kensaku Watanabe

Writer: Kensaku Watanabe (Screenplay)

Starring:  Ryu Morioka, Tomoya Maeno, Haru Kuroki, Hirofumi Arai, Mari Yamachi,

Website IMDB

Kensaku Watanabe will be in town to introduce the film

Synopsis from the festival site: Up-and-coming manzai stand-up comedy duo Emi-Abi has lost consummate funny man Unno (a surprisingly touching Tomoya Maeno) to an accident, leaving conceited straight man Jitsudo (Ryu Morioka) to contend with his diminished career prospects as a bland, pretty face entertainer. Guided by his manager Natsumi (Haru Kuroki), who demonstrates stronger comedy chops than her own star, Jitsudo comes to learn the circumstances of his friend’s passing, as well as the life-and-death stakes of a career in comedy. Demonstrating a careful balance of tone across tragedy and deadpan and gross-out humor, writer/director Kensaku Watanabe expands Emi-Abi’s hilarious premise into a strikingly assured meditation on artistic rivalry and self-actualization.

 

Ken and Kazu

Ken and Kazu Film Poster
Ken and Kazu Film Poster

ケンとカズ 「Ken to Kazu

Running Time: 98 mins.

Director: Hiroshi Shoji

Writer: Hiroshi Shoji (Screenplay),

Starring: Shinsuke Kato, Katsuya Maiguma, Kisetsu Fujiwara, Shuna Iijima, Haruki Takano

Website IMDB JFDB

Search for this drama and you will find old entries dating back to 2011 and that is because the director Shoji Hiroshi made a short film of the same name and it travelled to different film festivals. From that short came this feature about two friends who deal in drugs. This has been picked up by Third Window Films for world sales.

Synopsis from JFDB: Ken (Kato Shinsuke) and Kazu (Maiguma Katsuya) are partners in crime who use a car repair shop as their front for dealing stimulants. Ken tries to make a clean break after his girlfriend Saki (Iijima Shuna) gets pregnant, but Kazu has a secret…

Familiar Feature Films

Familiar films is a section dedicated to titles I have written about for trailer posts and previews of other festivals countless times. Japan Cuts has a carefully considered programme which brings together the filmmakers and at least one or two of their works for talks. 

Bitter Honey   

Mitsu no Aware Film Poster
Mitsu no Aware Film Poster

蜜のあわれ Mitsu no Aware

Running Time: 105 mins.

Director: Gakuryu Ishii

Writer: Takehiko Minato (Screenplay), Saisei Muro (Original Manga)

Starring: Fumi Nikaido, Ren Osugi, Yoko Maki, Kengo Kora, Masatoshi Nagase, Kiyohiko Shibukawa, Seiko Iwaido,

Website    IMDB

Gakuryu Ishii, that crazy indie director with punk sensibilities is back with what looks like an intriguing film and a more approachable mainstream one than he might normally make. I’ve reviewed two of his works, the brilliant Angel Dust and Isn’t Anyone Alive? but avoided his latest films because they didn’t appeal to me. This one does. It looks like fun and it’s full of great actors I really like: Fumi Nikaido (Himizu, Why Don’t You Play in Hell?, Watashi no Otoko), Ren Osugi (Hana-bi, Charisma, Exte, Eyes of the Spider), Yoko Maki (Like Father, Like Son), and Kengo Kora (A Tale of Yonosuke, The Drudgery Train, Norwegian Wood). The story is weird and the atmosphere shown in the trailer is delightfully dandyish with the great costumes and heightened acting. I want to see this film.

Synopsis: It is the Meiji era and that means writers like Ryunosuke Akutagawa (Kengo Kora) are busy making works of literature that will stand the test of time. Spare a thought for an old male writer (Ren Osugi) who would put pen to paper but is instead enthrailled with Akago (Fumi Nikaido), a red goldfish who is able to transform into a beautiful young woman. She possesses a pure and sensuous side and she uses it on the old man who she calls “Ojisama.” She has him wrapped around her little finger (flipper as well, I’m guessing) until, one day, the ghost of Yuriko Tamura (Yoko Maki) appears. She is a woman the writer knew in the past…

The early Gakuryu cyberpunk film Burst City 「爆裂都市, Dir: Gakuryu Ishii, 117 mins.」 plays at the same festival. Here’s more from the site: Sogo (Gakuryu) Ishii’s hugely influential film kicked off the Japanese cyberpunk movement of the late 1980s by taking Mad Max’s futuristic, dystopian biker gang aesthetic and smashing it together with the frenetic energy and antiauthoritarian sneering of the contemporary Japanese punk scene while foregrounding a hyper-inventive, groundbreaking visual style heavy on fast cutting, alternating film speeds, and concert documentary shooting. The loose, frenzied plot revolving around a violent confrontation between several gangs of punk musicians, yakuza, bikers and cops over the attempted construction of a nuclear power plant quite literally erupts into an explosive finale. A peerless punk cinema manifesto, Burst City remains as vibrant today as it did when it roared new life into Japanese cinema over 30 years ago.

The Actor

The Actor Film Poster
The Actor Film Poster

俳優亀岡拓次「Haiyuu Kameoka Takuji

Running Time: 123 mins.

Director: Satoko Yokohama

Writer: Satoko Yokohama (Screenplay), Akito Inui (Original Novel)

Starring: Ken Yasuda, Kumiko Aso, Shohei Uno, Yoshiko Mita, Shota Sometani, Hirofumi Arai, Youki Kudoh,

Website IMDB

This small character-driven drama was one of the more interesting looking films from last year’s Tokyo International Film Festival. It’s directed by Satoko Yokohama and it’s her second feature film after a career of shorts which has taken her to film festivals around the world. The film stars Ken Yasuda a man who many Japanese will recognise as a character actor with a colourful career but now he is coming into his own as a lead actor. The film has earned good reviews. There will be an introduction and Q&A with Satoko Yokohama.

Synopsis from the Tokyo International Film Festival: Takuji Kameoka (Ken Yasuda) is a 37-year-old bachelor whose occupation is a “miscellaneous actor”. His only interest is drinking. One day he falls in love with a bar owner (Kumiko Aso) and his boring life begins to change. The film is based on the book “Actor, Takuji Kameoka” by Akito Inui, a five-time nominee for Japan’s most prestigious literary prize, the Akutagawa Prize. Satoko Yokohama, a much-admired up-and-coming newcomer, directs the film and we can immediately tell that she is a special talent, with a unique understanding that flows through to her actors and crew.

A Cappella 「無伴奏, Dir: Hitoshi Yazaki, 132 mins. 」  is a drama which stars Riko Narumi (Shindo) as a high school girl named Kyoko living in 1969, a period when there was change in the air what with Japanese students involved in campus riots, anti-war rallies, and the growth of subcultures in music, cinema, literature, and theatre. Kyoko becomes influenced by these things and joins a rally at a university which gets violent. After she is wounded she shelters at a club called “A Cappella” and meets and falls in love with a college student, named Wataru (Sosuke Ikematsu). She undergoes a sexual awakening but the politics of the age puts their love in great danger…

Being Good「きみはいい子, Dir: Mipo O, 121 mins.」 Mipo O is a director/writer who tackles tough subjects as seen in The Light Shines Only There. Her latest film is the adaptation of the book Kimi wa ii ko (You’re a Good Kid). The book is by Hatsue Nakawaki which won the 2012 Tsubota Jōji Literature Award. The book is a collection of five stories about child abuse and people trying to prevent it, each story occurs in the same town and on the same rainy afternoon. The film adapts two stories into one: Santa no konai ie (The House where Santa Doesn’t Come) and Beppin-san (Pretty Girl). The first story sees Tasuku (Kengo Kora), an idealistic primary school teacher struggling to deal with his class and their parents especially when he discovers that one of his pupils is being abused by his parents. The second story is about Masami (Machiko Ono), a woman who appears to be a good mother, can’t help lashing out at her own child because of traumas she suffered as a child…

Director Mipo O is in town for a talk!

I Am a Monk

Boku wa Bosan Film Poster
Boku wa Bosan Film Poster

ボクは坊さん。Boku wa Bosan

Running Time: 114 mins.

Director: Yukinori Makabe

Writer: Kenya Hirata (Screenplay), Missei Shirakawa (Original Novel)

Starring: Atsushi Ito, Mizuki Yamamoto, Junpei Mizobata, Gaku Hamada, Miyuki Matsuda, Issey Ogata, Yoneko Matsukane,

Website IMDB

Synopsis: Koen Shirakawa (Ito) is shocked by the death of his grandfather, a priest at a local temple. This event makes him reassess life so he quits his job at a bookstore and becomes a monk at a temple.

Artist of Fasting

Artist of Fasting Film Poster
Artist of Fasting Film Poster

断食芸人Dnjiki geinin

Running Time: 104 mins.

Director: Masao Adachi

Writer: Masao Adachi (Screenplay), Franz Kafka (Original Short Story)

Starring: Hiroshi Yamamoto, Daizo Sakurai, Tomorowo Taguchi, Sakurako Kaoru, Juri Ihata, Takatsugu Iwama, Sankichi Kawamoto,

Website IMDB

This film also played at a film festival… two festivals to be precise. It was at the Rotterdam International Film Festival and the Osaka Asian Film Festival.

Synopsis: A nameless man sits down in a busy shopping street and says nothing. People are intrigued and interpret his silence in different ways and soon a crowd begins to gather. This crowd includes people handing him cash and food which yakuza steal, monks who see some religious aspect to his actions and pray by his side, the Street Performers’ Association who want him to join them and suicidal youths feel soothed in his presence; the press wants to know if he’s a victim of Abenomics. Eventually, the man is caged and given an army guard…

Lowlife Love 「下衆の愛 , Dir: Eiji Uchida, 110 mins.」comes from Eiji Uchida (Greatful Dead 2013) and takes a cunical look at the film industry in Japan through its leading character, a young indie director named Tetsuo (Kiyohiko Shibukawa) who had one big hit and, well… not much else. He now lives with his mother and scrounges off anyone he can. A potential second shot enters his life when he meets a talented scriptwriter and a girl fresh from the countryside who wants to be an actor. He thinks he can make something special…

Director Eiji Uchida, actor Denden and producer Adam Torel (owner of Third Window Films) will be at the screening to introduce the film.

Three Stories of Love

Three Stories of Love Film Poster
Three Stories of Love Film Poster

恋人たち Koibito-tachi

Duration: 140 mins

Director: Ryosuke Hashiguchi

Writer: Ryosuke Hashiguchi

Starring: Atsushi Shinohara, Toko Narushima, Ryo Ikeda, Ken Mitsuishi, Lily Franky

Website IMDB

Three Stories of Love has been topping the end of year lists for many critics who specialise in Japanese films. It looks like a heady combination of comedy and drama rooted in strong writing that gives us the everyday lives of three people experiencing romance and frustration.

Synopsis: Bridge inspector Atsushi is grieving for his wife, the victim of a cruel murder, housewife Toko is longing to escape her unsatisfying marriage, and gay lawyer Shinomiya fails to be as successful in his love life as he is in his job.

Hush! 「 ハッシュ!, Dir: Ryosuke Hashiguchi, 135 mins. IMDB」is the sophmore film from Ryosuke Hashiguchi and it has got great reviews as it takes in the lives of both gay and straight characters and the social pressures they face in critically succesful dramas. This story focusses on two adult gay guys named Naoya (Kazuya Takahashi) and Katsuhiro (Seiichi Tanabe) who are asked to help a slightly unhinged young woman (Reiko Kataoka) father a child.

The Magnificent Nine    

The Magnificent Nine Film Poster
The Magnificent Nine Film Poster

殿、利息でござる! Tono, Risoku de Gozaru! 

Running Time: 129 mins.

Release Date: May 14th, 2016

Director: Yoshihiro Nakamura

Writer: Yoshihiro Nakamura, Kenichi Suzuki (Screenplay), Michifumi Isoda (Original Novel)

Starring: Sadao Abe, Eita, Satoshi Tsumabuki, Karen Iwata, Yudai Chiba, Kitaro, Mitsukoo Kusabue,

Website   IMDB

I have reviewed many films by Yoshihiro Nakamura such as The Snow White Murder Case (2014) and it is clear that he has become the king of adaptations in recent years. This film is based on a novel from 2012 and stars Sadao Abe (Dreams for Sale), Eita (The Foreign Duck, the Native Duck and God in a Coin Locker, Wild 7) and Satoshi Tsumabuki ( For Love’s Sake).

 

Synopsis: Juzaburo Kokutaya (Sadao Abe) and his fellows are working to meet impossible taxes and labour demands. To overcome their problems they plan to lend large amounts of money to a han (historical term for the estate of a warrior) and distribute the interest annually to the residents, but if they’re caught breaching social etiquette like this they will lose their lives.

Nagasaki: Memories of My Son 「 母と暮らせば, Dir: Yoji Yamada, 130 mins.」Yoji Yamada is a stalwart of the Japanese film industry having worked with Yasujiro Ozu as an assistant director and then becoming a director himself. His films win awards and tend to feature family stories. This one is described as a sad but hopeful one. Its story sounds hard. Nobuko (Sayuri Yoshinaga) lives in post-war Nagasaki and works as a midwife. She survived the atomic bomb which killed her son Koji (Kazunari Ninomiya) three years earlier. She had already lost another son and her husband so she is alone. Then, one night, Koji appears again and gives comfort to his mother and they reminiscence about her painful past as well as pleasant times. Composer Ryuichi Sakamoto (Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence, Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise) is introducing this one!

Flying Colours

Biri Gal Film Poster
Biri Gal Film Poster

ビリギャル 「Biri Gyaru」

Running Time: 117 mins.

Director: Nobuhiro Doi

Writer: Hiroshi Hashimoto (Screenplay), Nobutaka Tsubota (Original Novel),

Starring: Kasumi Arimura, Atsushi Ito, Shuhei Nomura, Rie Minemura, Ken Yasuda, Airi Matsui, Yo Yoshida, Tetsushi Tanaka,

The film is based on the novel “Gakunen Biri no Gyaru ga 1 nen de Hensachi o 40 Agete Keio Daigaku ni Geneki Gokaku Shita Hanashi” by Nobutaka Tsubota (published December 26, 2013 by Kadokawa) and the novel is based on the true story of the author Nobutaka Tsubota, who runs a cram school, and his student Sayaka Kobayashi who went from academic zero to hero in the space of a year. This is a fun and revealing look at the Japanese education system with characters you come to love!

Synopsis: Blonde-haired “gyaru” Sayaka has always been more interested in fashion than her studies. Because of this, she now has the scholastic aptitude of a 4th grader as a second-year high school student. However, when she visits a cram school, lecturer Mr. Tsubota recognizes her innate intelligence. After an informal discussion, and with the support of her family, Sayaka becomes determined not only to improve her grades, but to spend her final year of high school working hard toward getting accepted into prestigious Keio University.

Bakuman   

Bakuman Film Poster
Bakuman Film Poster

バクマン。Bakuman

Running Time: 120 mins.

Director: Hitoshi One

Writer: Hitoshi One (Screenplay), Tsugumi Ohba, Takeshi Obata (Original Manga)

Starring: Takeru Satoh, Ryunosuke Kamiki, Nana Komatsu, Takayuki Yamada, Shota Sometani, Lily Franky, Kankuro Kudo, Hirofumi Arai,

Website   IMDB

Bakuman comes from Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, the creators of Death Note. It is very popular and has been collected in over compiled volumes of manga and has been the basis of three television series produced by J.C. Staff since it was first published in Weekly Shounen Jump back in August, 2008. It has a star-laden cast and a director who has worked on indies and bigger budgeted films. It stars Takeru Sato and Ryunosuke Kamiki who worked together on Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno. Reviews for this have been super positive!

Synopsis: Moritaka Mashiro (Satoh) is a talented artist but after the death of his uncle, a manga-ka who died because of exhaustion, he resents art and wants to become an office worker. Then he meets and falls in love with a girl at school named Azuki Miho, an aspiring voice actress. Azuki tells Moritaka they can marry, but only after they both achieve their dreams. Moritaka then teams up with fellow classmate Akito Takagi (Kamiki), a talented writer, and they aim to publish their first manga.

 

Sayonara      

Sayonara Film Poster
Sayonara Film Poster

さよなら「Sayonara

Running Time: 112 mins.

Director: Koji Fukada

Writer:  Koji Fukada, Oriza Hirata (Screenplay),

Starring: Bryerly Long, Hirofumi Arai, Geminoid F, Makiko Murata, Yuko Kibiki, Nijiro Murakami,

Website   IMDB

The first ever movie with an android as one of the stars. It is a collaboration between Japanese playwright Oriza Hirata and the leading robotics scientist Hiroshi Ishiguro who works at Osaka University and the film was directed by Koji Fukada (Hospitalité, Au revoir l’été).

Synopsis: The population of Japan is being evacuated due to radioactive contamination. Tanya (Bryerly Long) is a foreign refugee with an illness so she will be among the last to leave while healthier Japanese escape. She has an android named Reona (Geminoid F) who supports her in her final days as everyone around her leaves.

The Shell Collector   

The Shell Collector Film Poste
The Shell Collector Film Poste

シェルコレクター「Sheru Korekuta 

Running Time: 89 mins.

Director: Yoshifumi Tsubota

Writer: Yoshifumi Tsubota (Screenplay) Anthony Doerr (Original Short Story)

Starring:  Lily Franky, Ai Hashimoto, Sosuke Ikematsu, Shinobu Terajima,

Website IMDB

This is a solid looking drama with an impressive-looking cast. Lily Franky takes the lead and shares the screen with Ai Hashimoto (The Kirishima Thing), Sosuke Ikematsu (How Selfish I Am!) and Shinobu Terajima. Director Yoshifumi Tsubota and star Lily Franky are in town to do a Q&A.

Synopsis: A blind man (Lily Franky) works studying as a conchology scholar. He is now a world-renowned expert and lives a peaceful existence studying the shells on a remote island in Okinawa. All of that changes when a painter named Izumi (Shinobu Terajima), appears in front of the blind scholar and tells him she suffers from a rare disease. The scholar knows how to cure the woman’s disease by using poisons from certain shells and so when word of his medical skills spread people gather on the island to meet him…

 

Mohican Comes Home

Mohican Comes Home Film Poster
Mohican Comes Home Film Poster

モヒカン故郷に帰る「Mohikan kokyo ni kaeru

Running Time: 124 mins.

Director: Shuichi Okita

Writer: Shuichi Okita (Screenplay)

Starring: Ryuhei Matsuda, Atsuko Maeda, Akira Emoto, Jun Miho, Miu Tomita, Yudai Chiba, Masako Motai,

Website IMDB

This one was at the Osaka Asian Film Festival which I wrote about back in March. It has a great cast which includes Atsuko Maeda (Seventh Code) and Ryuhei Matsuda (The Great Passage, My Little Sweet Pea) and it’s directed by Shuichi Okita (The Story of Yonosuke, The Woodsman and the Rain).

Synopsis: Eikichi Tamura (Ryuhei Matsuda) left his hometown of Hiroshima and headed for the bright lights of Tokyo in the hopes of being a rock musician. While he made it as the lead singer of a death metal band, fame didn’t happen. Eikichi returns home several years later and tells his mother Haruko (Masako Motai) and father Osamu (Akira Emoto), that his girlfriend Yuka (Atsuko Maeda) is pregnant. His parents are simultaneously upset over the lack of preparation and excited to have a grandchild but things get difficult when Osamu collapses and is taken to hospital…

The Projects

Danchi Film Poster
Danchi Film Poster

団地 「Danchi」

Running Time: 103 mins.

Director: Junji Sakamoto

Writer: Junji Sakamoto (Screenplay),

Starring: Naomi Fujiyama, Ittoku Kishibe, Mari Hamada, Mayu Harada, Hikaru Horiguchi, Renji Ishibashi,

IMDB   Website

Synopsis: Hinako (Naomi Fujiyama) and Seiji Yamashita (Ittoku Kishibe) once owned a store that sold traditional Chinese herbal medicine but retired and moved into the local housing complex after selling their store. Old customers come calling and it provides something for Seiji to do until he runs in an election to select the next president of the housing complex. He shuts himself away under the floorboards of the apartment out of embarrassment and soon rumours spread that he has been killed by Hinako! Here’s a review at the Japan Times.

You can watch an early Junji Sakamoto film called Face「顔 , Dir: Junji Sakamoto, 123 mins.」which sees him on an earlier project working together with the cast from The Projects. Here’s more from the festival site: Face is a ripped-from-the-headlines tale of middle-aged seamstress Masako, set free from the emotional abuse and isolation of her family’s dry cleaning business in a shocking act of violence. Painfully shy and clumsy, she is an unlikely fugitive from the law when the nationwide manhunt for her is interrupted by the 1995 Kobe Earthquake. Masako’s life on the lam brings her in contact with a host of lonely characters, who see the face of this sympathetic killer change from humiliation to self-assurance. With Face, Junji Sakamoto sharpened his keen balance of violence and humor, moving from masculinist heroics to this unruly take on the fallen woman genre anchored by stage actress and comedian Naomi Fujiyama in her mesmerizing star debut.

Anime

Experimental Spotlight: Anime Vanguard

This part of the programme is dedicated to experimental anime shorts ranging from 3 – 14 minutes in length. Some are music videos, some have narratives and others are atmospheric surreal cascades of colours. You have major animators such as Mirai Mizue and more who regularly travel to other festivals such as Vancouver. The animator Onohana will be there to talk animation!

Sion Sono

There are three Sion Sono movies at the festival, two of which have been on the festival circuit while the third is a documentary released last month. Sion Sono and his wife Megumi Kagurazaka are in town so drop by and see a genius in Q&As!

The Sion Sono  

Sono Shion to iu ikmono Film Poster
Sono Shion to iu ikmono Film Poster

園子温という生きもの Sono Shion to iu ikmono 

Running Time: 97 mins.

Director: Shin Oshima

Writer: N/A

Starring: Sion Sono, Shota Sometani, Fumi Nikaido, Megumi Kagurazaka, Eri, Naoto Tanobe, Takuji Yasuoka,

Website    IMDB

Synopsis: A documentary about the man, the legend, Sion Sono. We get to hear about his background, his early films and his current ones like Shinjuku Swan and Whispering Star. This documentary was shot by Shin Oshima, son of Nagisa Oshima.

 

The Whispering Star 「ひそひそ星, 100 mins. IMDBwas originally created and screened as part of an art exhibition which had the theme of dystopia running through it. The film was shot in different locations in Fukushima prefecture, turning the depopulated and irradiated areas into a futuristic landscape that speaks of hopelessness, pollution, and abandonment. It stars people who live in the areas and Sion Sono’s wife.

Synopsis: A spaceship shaped like a Japanese bungalow careens through the galaxy. It carries a humanoid robot named Yoko (Megumi Kagurazaka), a sort of interstellar UPS delivery person. Her job is simple: to distribute packages to human beings scattered across sundry planets. But with so much spare time between deliveries, Yoko begins to wonder what’s in those packages.

Love and Peace「ラブ&ピース , 117 minsis supposedly based on a script that Sono wrote many years ago, around the time of Suicide Club. Taking the lead is Hiroki Hasegawa, the mad cinephile in the yakuza movie comedy Why Don’t You Play in Hell? and Kumiko Aso, the waif running around in Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s horror film Pulse. It’s getting a release in the UK at some point thank to the film distributor Third Window Films.

Love and Peace Film Image

Synopsis: The story is about a put upon salaryman who once had the dream of being a punk-rocker. He randomly buys a turtle and names it Pikadon. A series of events occur and Ryoichi’s dreams of being a rock star might be about to come true! However, it might also lead to the end of the world…

Documentaries

Three fascinating documentaries play out at the festival. I’d really like to see the first:

FAKE    

FAKE Film Poster
FAKE Film Poster

Running Time: 109 mins.

Director: Tatsuya Mori

Writer: N/A

Starring: Mamoru Samuragochi

IMDB   Website

 

Synopsis: A couple of years ago the deaf musician and composer Mamoru Samuragochi made the headlines when it was revealed that he wasn’t as deaf as he claimed after a series of articles drew doubts about his deafness and it was revealed that a man named Takashi Aragaki had served as a ghost writer for 18 years. This documentary looks at the man at the centre of the uproar and how he dealt with the press coverage. Here’s a fascinating article on the Japan Times website in which the director talks about the film.

 

A Room of Her Own – Rei Naito and Light   

A Room of Her Own – Rei Naito and Light Film Poster
A Room of Her Own – Rei Naito and Light Film Poster

あえかなる部屋 内藤礼と、光たち「ae ka naru Heya Naitō Rei to, kotachi

Running Time: 87 mins.

Director: Yuko Nakamura

Writer: N/A (Screenplay),

Starring:  Rei Naito, Hina Yukawa, Ran Yaniguchi, Keiko Oyama, Kyoko Tanaka,

Website IMDB

This was at the Aichi International Women’s festival last week and that’s where I got the synopsis from!

Synopsis: Contemporary artist Rei Naito is reputed for her work “Matrix” which is exhibited in Teshima Art Museum in Kagawa Prefecture on an island in the Seto Inland Sea. Highlighting the two-year communications between Naito, an artist who has never revealed her creating processes to the outside world, and director Yuko Nakamura, this film shows the quest of five women, all invariably enchanted by Naito’s art, as they explore her artistic world based on the question of whether it is in itself a blessing to be alive.

 

Mother, I’ve Pretty Much Forgotten Your Face   

Okaasan, iikagen anata no kao wo wasurete shimaimashita Film Poster
Okaasan, iikagen anata no kao wo wasurete shimaimashita Film Poster

お母さんいい加減あなたの顔は忘れてしまいました 「Okaasan Iikagen Anata no Kao wa Wasurete Shimaimashita」 

Running Time: 103 mins.

Director: Michiro Endo

Writer: N/A

Starring:  Michiro Endo, Mizuki Misumi, Takao Morishima, Takehara Pistol, Yoshihide Otomo

Website   IMDB

Synopsis:  The Stalin were a punk rock band formed in June 1980, by leader and vocalist Michiro Endo. It was disbanded in 1985 and Endo went on to make new bands but The Stalin remained very influential for many years. Endo turned sixty in 2011 and went on a tour. It was around the time that the Great East Japan Earthquake occurred. Michiro Endo is a native of Fukushima and a socialist activist according to Wikipedia and so he went back to his hometown and visited family to it, in the face of in Fukushima to survey the damage and was inspired to start the charity “PROJECT FUKUSHIMA!” This documentary chronicles his efforts.

One thought on “Japan Cuts 2016 Preview

  1. Pingback: A Road あるみち (2015) | Otaku Updates

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