Double Life is the debut feature-film from Yoshiyuki Kishi but it is done with such control you would have no idea. It is based on a novel by Mariko Koike and features a strong cast that bring audiences an interesting drama of a student who becomes obsessed with her neighbour ‘s life.
The student at the centre of the story is Tama (Mugi Kadowaki in her first lead role). She is a philosophy student who lives with her video game designer boyfriend Takuya (a low-key Masaki Suda) in a comfortable apartment.
When we first see her, she’s slogging through hermasters thesisand even questioning the meaning of her own life when her inspirational professor, Shinohara (Lily Franky playing his role in a physically and emotionally constricted manner), gives her some guidance by telling her to follow in the footsteps of the French writer Sophie Calle and follow, in turn, in the footsteps of some random stranger on the street to discover their life.
The London Film Festival is just around the corner and I’ve already got a post about that detailing things such as screenings and A Conversation with Takashi Miike. Here’s something really interesting that has just been announced by the Japan Foundation: Naoko Ogigami will be in conversation with Jasper Sharp during the festival.
The event will take place on October 14th, 2017 from 15:00 at La Médiathèque (Institut Français), 17 Queensberry Place, London SW7 2DT. This event is free to attend but booking is essential. To book a place, head over to the Eventbrite website.
Here are more details from the Japan Foundation:
Naoko Ogigami is an award-winning director and scriptwriter, and is considered one of the most commercially successful female filmmakers in Japan. An auteur with a huge domestic following, Ogigami writes and directs all her films with a renowned calming cinematic approach and her films feature recurring themes of culture clashes and characters thrown into unusual circumstances, epitomised in her hit dramas Kamome Diner (2006) and Glasses (2007). Outside of Japan, Ogigami’s work has also been recognised by many international film festivals and her debut feature, Yoshino’s Barber Shop (2004) was a winner at Berlin International Film Festival, inspiring many triumphant returns to the festival since.
In celebration of the UK premiere of her latest feature Close-Knit at the BFI London Film Festival, the Japan Foundation has invited Ogigami to reflect on her unique cinematic style and career to date. Having worked on a number of productions both in Japan and the United States, Ogigami will discuss how her experience of diaspora influenced her approach to filmmaking and the current climate for female filmmakers both in Japan and overseas. Ogigami will be joined in conversation by curator and writer Jasper Sharp.
This is an unruly and long review for a great film! You have been warned.
Seijun Suzuki’s (1923 – 2017) career as a director is split into two parts – as one of Nikkatsu studio’s stable of salaried directors, he was tasked with making rather generic low-budget yakuza films but Suzuki’s output was different because he had a keen sense of style and humour that subverted the genre products he was hired to write and direct. Brave use of dissonance in terms of arty visuals, sounds and music, and penning irreverent stories with outrageous twists made his films more memorable for audiences but less palatable for the guys running Nikkatsu who were not so enamoured with creating art and more interested in making a quick buck. This period came to an end with Branded to Kill which proved to be a critical and commercial flop and so the head honchos at Nikkatsu fired him for making, and I quote Suzuki-kantoku himself, “movies that make no sense and no money.” Suzuki successfully sued them for wrongful dismissal but successfully challenging industry figures tends to get a person blacklisted (just ask Kiyoshi Kurosawa after his run-in with Juzo Itami) and so he spent ten years in the movie making wilderness formulating ideas with other creatives.Continue reading “Zigeunerweisen ツィゴイネルワイゼン (1980) Director: Seijun Suzuki”→
I remember watching this film for the first time around five years ago and just being stunned at how monumentally unfunny it was after the Ghostbusters sketch. It’s undisciplined and tries to do too much, the humour hasn’t dated well and there’s little that’s funny to begin with. But then maybe that’s the point and there’s a lot more going on than I realised:
In an interview Kitano actually draws parallels to Kurosawa, who, in the hindsight of Kitano, should have made a total bullshit film, instead of attempting suicide after “Dodes Kaden”. To Kitano, “‘Getting Any?’ is a beautiful disastrous failure and “suicide”.
Whatever, of you’re a completionist or adventurous this is definitely for you. The material covers so much since it’s a send-up of the Japanese film industry and it certainly is memorable.Perhaps, after living in Japan, I might find more elements of this funny. It certainly has a good cast with Kitano leading familiar actors like Yurei Yanagi and Susumu Terajima astray and both Dankan and Ren Osugi appeared in the Kiyoshi Kurosawa movie Eyes of the Spider!
Eureka have scored a coup by getting Tag as part of their catalogue following on from Tokyo Tribe. The release will be on dual Format (Blu-ray & DVD) edition on November 20th 2017 after getting shown at festivals around the UK. One of those festivals is Nottingham’s Mayhem Film Festival (October 12th – 15th) on October 14th. The festival takes place at Nottingham’s Broadway cinema and there are a couple of other Asian films on show.
Here are the Japanese and Japanese-themed entries in the programme:
In this film, Japanese girls are mad. Justifiably so if you look at reality. Despite Japan being a country on the bleeding edge of culture and cool, the way women are treated leaves a lot to be desired. Shinzo Abe, the current Prime Minister of Japan (I’m dating this review with a reference to him), has pledged to make Japan’s economy boom again and one of his methods is to get more women into the workplace and not just in menial positions but in leadership roles – womenomics. Rather contradictorily, he wants this whilst also trying to persuade women to boost the birthrate of a country with workplace environments that often penalise people for taking time off to look after family matters. Unfortunately, his grand plans have faltered and women still find themselves trapped in lowly positions never mind other issues such as stalkers and whatnot. Japanese Girls Never Die, based on the novel Haruko Azumi Is Missing by Misaki Setoyama, manages to tackle many issues of that women face in a bright neon blaze of righteous anger and anime-inspired visuals that will drive home the injustices that women endure.
I have already retweeted this but I wanted to write a quick post about an Arrow Video Club presentation of Takashi Miike’s classic horror film Audition which will be screened at the Prince Charles Cinema at 20:45 on September 19th. Here’s a link to more information on the cinema’s site.
This film is incredible and I have already written a review full of praise so I want to hype this screening up because it deserves to be seen on the big screen! Also, scariest use of a sack in a film!
The Japanese Embassy in London is continuing to screen Japanese films from the ‘90s and this one sounds absurd because it involves a guy who sells rocks. It’s based on a manga of the same name. The event is free to attend but anyone interested in being part of the audience must book in advance to secure a place (which you can do through this link).
Third Window Films will add Shinya Tsukamoto’s last film, Fires on the Plain to their catalogue of titles further making their releases the definitive editions! Fires on the Plain is an astonishing war film because of its relentlessly dwells on death and destruction and shows the pointlessness of war and the way it dehumanises people through a series of gruelling actions (gory battle scenes, murder, suicide, and worse) broken up by suspenseful periods of non-action in the beautiful jungle environs of the Philippines.
The film is based on a semi-autobiographical novel by Shohei Ooka and Kon Ichikawa’s seminal 1959 war film and for director Shinya Tsukamoto it was a passion project he spent ten years bringing to life. It may be a war film but it fits in perfectly with his oeuvre since he has made films full of body-horror and he loves to explore the psychologically twisted aspects of human nature. Just watch his hyper-violent horror films like Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989) and dark dramas like Vital (2003) and A Snake of June (2003) and lets not forget Ichi the Killer and Nightmare Detective. Despite the fearsome reputation of the films… well…
I met Shinya Tsukamoto before this movie was screened and he was remarkably laid back. I didn’t get the chance to interview him but I did get my picture taken with him and an autograph which lies safely in a DVD case… I have reviewed a lot of his films and you can see which ones be looking at my profile of the director. I pulled this information from my review of the film and information from Third Window Films. I hope this helps!
The film Fires on the Plain takes place during the closing stages of the war. The Americans are invading Leyte Island in the Philippines and are hot on the heels of demoralised soldiers of the Japanese army, all of whom are looking to evacuate from the island. We see their increasingly desperate struggle from the perspective of an army conscript named Tamura (Shinya Tsukamoto) who is sick with tuberculosis.
He is forced into the field with a grenade by a commander who cannot waste resources on keeping a dying man alive and suggests Tamura blows himself up. Tamura doesn’t want to give up so easily and clings to life. He wanders around the jungle and bounces between broken platoons and brutal battles as everybody heads to the port at Palompon to be evacuated to Cebu but it is a journey that will lead him down a dark path where he will have to hold on to his humanity as he encounters betrayal, extreme violence, and worse…
Japan / 2015 / 87 Mins / In Japanese with English subtitles / HD / Colour
Out as a DUAL FORMAT DVD & BLURAY September 11th, 2017
Special Features: Dual format DVD & BLURAY
1 hour extensive making of
Audio commentary by Tom Mes, author of “Iron Man: The Cinema of Shinya Tsukamoto”
First 1000 copies come with LIMITED EDITION slipcase illustrated by Mathieu Bablet
On the day the Toronto International Film Festival launches, we get word from another great Canadian film festival! The Vancouver International Film Festival takes place from September 28th to October 13th and the organisers launched the programme today. The festival has long had a great love of East Asian cinema and supported various filmmakers both indie and mainstream and it continues to do so with this selection of films.