Don’t Look Up (1996) 女優霊 Dir: Hideo Nakata

Happy Halloween! This is the time of year when people celebrate the supernatural and ghoulish aspects of popular culture and national myths. I do my part by highlighting horror movies on Halloween night. So far I have reviewed Nightmare DetectiveStrange CircusShokuzaiPOV: A Cursed Film and Charisma. This is the fifth year of this strand
and I am doing it in Tokyo, Japan. The last two weeks has seen the city go into img_1496Halloween overdrive and I am told it is a recent phenomenon. For my part I have viewed things from afar (such as from on top of Roppongi Hills and down onto a parade) rather than get stuck in what looks like a proper melee in jam-packed crowds (boring, I know, but I want to eat my ghost cakes and pumpkin Kitkats and drink my Halloween juice).

Anyway, this year’s film is from the ‘90s and it came from a young director who is now a familiar name thanks to a scary person who curses people via VHS. This isn’t Ringu, it’s an earlier film…

Don’t Look Up   jyoyurei poster

女優霊Joyu-rei

Release Date: March 02nd, 1996

Running Time: 75 mins.

Director: Hideo Nakata

Writer: Hiroshi Takahashi (Screenplay), Hideo Nakata (Original Story)

Starring: Yurei Yanagi, Yasuyo Shirashima, Kei Ishibashi, Ren Osugi, SABU, Daisuke Iijima, Naomi Kojima, Reita Serizawa,

IMDB

We are in Japan in the ‘90s. A promising young director Toshio Murai (Yurei Yanagi) and his beautiful lead actors Hitomi Kurokawa (Kei IshibashI) and Saori Murakami (Kei Ishibashi) and the film staff are working hard on a film in a studio that has been around since the Second World War. It’s a huge place with a set that is built like a traditional house from the 1940s, props and scenery and other feature both modern and from the time of the studios construction as well as a lot of film canisters containing rolls of films from forgotten television shows and movies. It is an ideal location for the war drama being filmed and also place with a lot of memories. There is nothing so out of the ordinary at first glance and with so many people on set it looks like a lot of fun. Unless one looks up.

jyourei-2

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Third Window Films Release “Lowlife Love” on DVD/Blu-Ray on November 21st

Lowlife Love has been reported on here multiple times. I tracked it from its inception as a Kickstarter Project (which I backed) and then I wrote about it four img_0827times when it featured at a number of prestigious film festivals and got it’s theatrical release in Japan. It has been a long road and I got the chance to watch it at the Tollywood Cinema in Shinjuku after being invited by the film’s producer, the ever-cool Adam Torel. The film was an interesting ride to say the least. I was expecting a comedy but it is dark, a rather grimy expose of some of the horrible things that go on in the world of cinema in Japan. Despite having seen the director Eiji Uchida’s previous film, Greatful Dead, I was taken aback by this. It’s a must-see for anyone who wants a dose of reality. Thankfully it has a veneer of comedy and some great performances to keep it from being unbearable.

I am still in Tokyo and still writing about films and still getting press releases so here’s the information for its UK release on Blu-Ray and DVD.

Here’s the press release:

The first 100% Third Window Films production!
Third Window films team up with GREATFUL DEAD director Eiji Uchida to produce a darkly comic satire of Japan’s no-budget film industry!

Dual format bluray & dvd set out November 21st
Featuring a Making Of, Cast interviews, Deleted Scenes, Alternate ending, Music video, Theatrical Trailer

“A nasty peek at the underbelly of the Japanese independent film scene.” – Screen Anarchy
“Lowlife Love is a fantastic piece of Japanese indie cinema, and a bold offering from the talented and creative Eiji Uchida.” – Eastern Kicks
“Presents uncomfortable truths in sharp, funny ways.” – The Japan Times

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Japanese Author Mitsuyo Kakuta (Rebirth, Pale Moon) in London on October 26th

Ah, being in Japan means I get to miss so many cool Japan-related events in the UK such as this talk with the writer Mitsuyo Kakuta that will take place in London. She is a name that film fans may know of thanks to the adaptations of her works Pale Moon and Rebirth. She is a highly respected author who is visiting London on October 26th for a talk hosted by the Japan Foundation which sent an email out to alert anybody interested about the event. I’m in Tokyo right now but I know a few people who will be interested. Here are the posters for the film adaptations and the details of the talk:

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A Road あるみち (2015)

I have been reviewing films for V-Cinema but when it came to Japan Cuts I had a car-crash moment when my computer suffered a breakdown during a teaching course. Problem solved but two months late, here’s the review… and I’m publishing it from Japan…

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

Aru Michi Film Image Daichi Sugimoto

A Road is the debut feature-length film directed, produced by and starring Daichi Sugimoto. He is a young tyro still at university but already making a name for himself based on this film which has toured major international film festivals such as Berlin and Japan Cuts and it has won major awards such as the 2015 PIA Film Festival’s Grand Prize. Taking inspiration from his own life Sugimoto has made what is essentially a mixture of documentary and drama, asking the questions of at what point on the road to adulthood do we stop trembling with excitement at the prospect of the mundane things and greet the world with a sigh of indifference and is this change in feelings inevitable?

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Veteran (2015)

Veteran   Veteran Film Poster

Release Date: August 05th, 2015

Running Time: 123 mins.

Director: Ryoo Seung-Wan

Writer: Ryoo Seung-Wan (Screenplay)

Starring: Hwang Jung-Min, Yoo Ah-In, Yu Hae-Jin, Oh Dal-Su, Jang Yoon-Ju, Kim Shi-Hoo, Jung Woong-in, Cheon Ho-Jin, Jeong Man-Sik,

Ryoo Seung-Wan follows up The Berlin File (2013) with this much more light-hearted action romp taking aim at the Chaebol, family-run mega-conglomerates that dictate much of the financial and business side of Korea. There is little sophistication in terms of its story which uses broad brushstrokes to illustrate a world where a dedicated team of cops take on an extremely violent, criminally corrupt and callous corporate playboy who abuses his powers in ludicrous ways.

Veteran Bad Guys 3

The playboy in this film is the baby-faced Cho Tae-Oh (Yoo Ah-In), an executive at Sin Jin Trading who dresses sharply and has a smile to die for. As the son of the CEO’s second wife he is battling his siblings for control of the company and must be seen to be doing a good job if he wants the glory. While most people can accept being denied something or having to work hard, Tae-Oh’s family connections see him treated like a prince and so when he doesn’t get what he wants, oh boy.  Beneath the cute exterior lies a cocaine-fuelled sadistic psycho who trashes his office, beats up his bodyguards, threatens his staff. His biggest problem is his hair-trigger temper which is unleashed whenever he doesn’t get his way in business and life. Normally, he is a spoilt brat who has no problem humiliating people in order to dominate them and likes to throw parties where underage girls and hard drugs are passed around by politicians, plastic surgeons and pretty boys looking to go wild for a night. Nobody is untouchable in his world…apart from him. This leads to him putting a man in a coma.

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The Yellow Sea (2010)

The Yellow Sea   The Yellow Sea Film Poster

Release Date: December 22nd, 2010

Running Time: 156 mins.

Director: Na Hong-Jin

Writer: Na Hong-Jin, Hong Won-Chan (Screenplay)

Starring: Ha Jung-Woo, Kim Yun-Seok, Cho Seong-Ha, Lee Cheol-Min, Jeong Man-Sik, Jung Min-Sung,

Director Na Hong-Jin followed up his astounding debut, The Chaser (2008) with this film which proves to be even more macho, nihilistic, and violent as if inspired by the absurd cruelty of the split suffered by Koreans since the Korean War’s ceasefire. It is all played out through the misfortune of a simple taxi driver who finds himself caught between ethnic Korean Chinese and South Korean gangsters after he crosses the eponymous Yellow Sea on a mission to kill.

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The Chaser (2008)

The Chaser   

The Chaser Film Poster
The Chaser Film Poster

Release Date: February 14th, 2008

Running Time: 123 mins.

Director: Na Hong-Jin

Writer: Na Hong-Jin, Hong Won-Chan, Lee Shinho, (Screenplay)

Starring: Kim Yun-Seok, Ha Jung-Woo, Seo Young-Hee, Park Hyo-Joo, Jung In-Gi, Kim You-Jung, Ko Bon-Woong, Min Kyung-Jin,

South Korea has produced a number of high quality serial-killer films like I Saw the Devil (2010) and Memories of Murder (2003) but The Chaser is one of the darkest and most thrilling. It is based on a real life case where a murderer named Young-chul Yoo struck fear in Seoul by murdering rich old men and then prostitutes before being brought to justice in 2005. He was convicted of the killing of 20 people and was caught thanks mostly to pimps and prostitutes rather than the police. Apparently he was inspired by films like Public Enemy. That case is replicated here in a story where the characters and the world are so brilliantly crafted that you are plunged into the middle of this drama which turns into a relentless tale of brutality.

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Third Window Films will release Takeshi Kitano’s “Kids Return” on Blu-ray on October 24th

Third Window Films will release Takeshi Kitano’s brilliant coming-of-age drama Kids Return (1996) at the end of October. This is the latest film to be released on Blu-ray by Third Window Films thanks to Office Kitano updating their titles with 2K masters.

Regular readers will know that I have reviewed Hana-bi and Kikujiro and Dolls, but I missed the last release, A Scene at the Sea.  This is the second film he directed but does not star in after A Scene at the Sea (1991) and much like that one, it is one of his best as it charts the relationship between two friends at high school who face tough choices in life. It has an excellent story and a fantastic soundtrack by Joe Hisaishi. Here’s a track.

kids-return-film-image

Here’s some information from the press release:

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Japanese Films at the 2016 London East Asia Film Festival

The London East Asia Film Festival debuted last year with a preview event, an episode 0 london-east-asian-film-festival-posterif you will, which marked out its territory and lived up to its name by showcasing films from East Asia. With a focus on bringing directors over and premiering the latest titles to emerge from Japan, Korea, China, and Hong Kong, this festival is an exciting addition to London’s line-up of film-related events.

This year’s event takes place from October 20th to the 30th.

The Korean part is super-strong with a retrospective dedicated to the films of Park Chan-Wook who will be in attendance for Q&As but there are also a number of great Japanese films with the directors coming for Q&As as well!

Here’s the festival trailer:

Here’s the line-up:

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