Japanese Films at the Udine Far East Film Festival 2018

The Udine Far East Film Festival plays from April 20th to the 28th and it is the 20th year it has been in operation. There are over 80 films programmed with a strong contingent from Japan. Also at the festival are many films from across the rest of Asia, some of which got there world premieres at the Osaka Asian Film Festival last month – No. 1 Chung Ying Street. More interestingly, there’s a celebration of Brigitte Lin so that means screenings of Chungking Express and Dragon Inn!!!!

This is a film blog dedicated to Japanese cinema so I’m covering the Japanese films now but I will endeavour to get reviews for as many of these titles as possible!

What are the Japanese films programmed for the festival?

Udine Far East Film Festival Logo

The Scythian Lamb   The Scythian Lamb Film Poster

羊の木 Hitsuji no ki

Running Time: 126 mins.

Release Date: February 03rd, 2018

Director: Daihachi Yoshida

Writer: Masato Kagawa (Screenplay), Tatsuhiko Yamagami, Mikio Igarashi (Original Manga),

Starring: Ryo Nishikido, Fumino Kimura, Kazuki Kitamura, Yuka, Mikako Ichikawa, Shingo Mizusawa, Min Tanaka, Ryuhei Matsuda, Tamae Ando,

Website IMDB
Daihachi Yoshida of The Kirishima Thing fame us back with this interesting looking murder mystery which is supposed to have equal doses of drama and comedy. 

Synopsis: Thanks to a government program, the small seaside town of Uobuka gets six strangers into the community. They include a scary fisherman (Kazuki Kitamura), a methodical cleaning woman (Mikako Ichikawa), and a simple-minded deliveryman (Ryuhei Matsuda). All are under the supervision of local government official Hajime Tsukisue (Ryo Nishikido) who gets reports of suspicious behaviour. When he finds out who these people are and their criminal backgrounds, a body is discovered in the harbour and Tsukisue suspects one of the newcomers committed murder… 

The Blood of Wolves      The Blood of Wolves Film Poster

孤狼の血 Korou no chi

Running Time: 126 mins.

Release Date: May 12th, 2018

Director: Kazuya Shiraishi

Writer: Junya Ikegami (Screenplay), Yuko Yuzuki (Original Novel)

Starring: Koji Yakusho, Tori Matsuzaka, Yoko Maki, Tomoya Nakamura, Pierre Taki, Shido Nakamura, Yosuke Eguchi, Renji Ishibashi,

Website IMDB

F*CK YEAH! Crazy Koji Yakusho is fun Koji Yakusho. For the record, I’m a big fan of his mostly thanks to his work with Kiyoshi Kurosawa but his performance in The World of Kanako was some next level stuff. This film taps into a similar energy but it is directed by Kazuya Shiraishi who made two lacklustre crime films, The Devil’s Path and Twisted Justice. His Roman Porno, Dawn of the Felines was okay.

Synopsis: It is the summer of 1988 in the fictional city of Kurebara, Hiroshima. The disappearance of an employee of a financial company leads to squeaky-clean cop Shuichi Hioka (Tori Matsuzaka) getting paired with veteran detective and rumoured-to-be corrupt cop Shogo Ogami (Koji Yakusho) just as a war between yakuza clans heats up.

Mori, The Artist’s Habitat   Mori, The Artist_s Habitat Film Poster

モリのいる場所 Mori no Iru Basho

Running Time: 99 mins.

Release Date: May 19th, 2018

Director: Shuichi Okita

Writer: Shuichi Okita (Screenplay),

Starring: Tsutomu Yamazaki, Kirin Kiki, Ryo Kase, Ken Mitsuishi, Kitaro, Nobue Iketani, Mitsuru Fukikoshi, Munetaka Aoki,

Website IMDB

Shuichi Okita, director of A Story of Yonosuke and The Woodsman and the Rain brings a gentle dramedy about an elderly couple. It looks relaxing and you can’t go wrong with Kirin Kiki.

Synopsis from Nikkatsu International: He lays among the shrubs and trees in his garden and observes the scurrying ants. This 94-year-old bearded man is Morikazu Kumagai, aka Mori, and he is a painter. For the last 30 years he’s hardly left his property. Most of his day is spent tirelessly observing his garden and all living things in it, which he renders into paintings. He paints every evening in a studio he calls the “school.” While he goes about his business, his wife Hideko attends to a string of visitors. In the garden there are the critters and insects and on the porch, birds in cages overlook the garden. Mori and Hideko live peacefully, surrounded by the things they love. But then some developers decide to build a condominium next door which puts their small paradise at risk. It will block the sun and the garden will be uninhabitable. Mori and Hideko decide to take action to protect the garden they cherish… The film is a humorous depiction of a summer day in the life of an old couple who’ve been together 52 years, in the more affable social atmosphere of the 1970s.

Tremble All You Want

勝手にふるえてろ 「Katte ni Furue teroTremble All You Want Film Poster

Running Time: 117 mins.

Release Date: December 23rd, 2017

Director:  Akiko Ooku

Writer: Akiko Ooku (Screenplay), Risa Wataya (Original Novel)

Starring: Mayu Matsuoka, Daichi Watanabe, Takumi Kitamura, Anna Ishibashi, Kanji Furutachi, Hairi Katagiri,

IMDB Website

A person obsessed with ammonites? How quaint. However, I can’t ready the synopsis for this and not think about the Junji Ito manga Uzumaki. This was at last year’s Tokyo International Film Festival

Synopsis: Yoshika (Mayu Matsuoka) is 24-years-old with a fairly unique hobby: shelikes researching ammonite fossils and collects them. Perhaps this explains why she doesn’t have a boyfriend in her life. Or maybe the lack of a man is down to the fact that she pines for her first love, a guy from school named Ichi. One day, Ni, a guy who works at the same company, confesses his feelings for her.

One Cut of the Dead Kamera wo tomeru na! Film Poster

カメラを止めるな! 「Kamera wo tomeru na!

Running Time: 96 mins.

Release Date: November 04th, 2017

Director:  Shinichiro Ueda

Writer: Shinichiro Ueda (Screenplay),

Starring: Kazuki Nagaya, Manabu Hosoi, Tomokazu Yamaguchi,

Website

Great to see the ENBU Seminar guys are still going. Seven years on and there are two this weekend. The first looks like the Romero film Diary of the Dead. It will be released in the UK later this year.

Synopsis: A film crew shooting a zombie movie in the mountains finds that their work turns real when honest to goodness zombies start showing up and chowing down on the crew. Does the director stop? Hell no! He keeps on shooting.

The Name    The Name Film Poster

名前 Namae

Running Time: 114 mins.

Release Date: 2018

Director: Akihiro Toda

Writer: Yusuke Moriguchi (Screenplay), Shusuke Michio (Original Story)

Starring: Kanji Tsuda, Ren Komai, Miho Kanazawa, Mako Komaki, Akari Kakimoto, Noriko Kijima, Yohta Kawase, Mayuko Nishiyama, Mariko Tsutsui,

IMDB

The Name is a gentle dramedy film by the director Akihiro Toda who is known for Neko ni mikan. He is active as a theatre director, scriptwriter and producer. The film’s script was adapted from a story by Naoki Prize-winning author Michio Shusuke and the film stars Kanji Tsuda, a veteran actor who appears
in both mainstream and independent films, and Ren Komai. The cinematographer is Kenichi Negishi, who is a regular collaborator with Koji Fukada.

The Name Film Image

Synopsis: Moriya city in Ibaraki is a quiet place with residents who lead simple lives. Everyone, apart from a lonely angst-ridden bachelor named Masao Nakamura. Since losing his business and becoming penniless, he has adopted multiple identities to get by: Yoshikawa, a big businessman, Suzuki, the happy family man, Okubo, the doting husband who quit Tokyo to look after a sick wife. When his ruse about the sick wife is about to be exposed as a lie at work, a schoolgirl named Emiko Hayama steps in from out of nowhere and pretends to be his daughter.

Emiko is another person who loves to lie. Instead of facing a lonely home run by a single-mother, the girl hangs out with Masao and the pair strike up a friendship. It fills a gap in their lives but their lies hinder them from overcoming inner-turmoil. At some point a fake dad and a fake daughter will have to face their suffering in order to move on.

SIDE JOB      Side Job Film Poster

彼女の人生は間違いじゃない Kanojo no Jinsei wa Machigai Janai

Running Time: 119 mins.

Release Date: July 15th, 2017

Director: Ryuichi Hiroki

Writer: Ryuichi Hiroki (Screenplay/Original Novel)

Starring: Kumi Takiuchi, Ken Mitsuishi, Kengo Kora, Tamae Ando, Shuri, Tokio Emoto, Atsushi Shinohara, Misako Renbutsu, Eno Koshino,

Website IMDB

This is based on Ryuichi Hiroki’s first ever published novel Kanojo no Jinsei wa Machigai Janai (Her Life is Not at Fault) which uses his home prefecture of Fukushima for the setting. I still get emotional over Kimi no Tomodachi.

Synopsis: Miyuki (Kumi Takiuchi) works at Fukushima town hall and lives with her father Osamu (Ken Mitsuishi) in a temporary house. She lost her mother in the Great East Japan Earthquake. That’s what everyone knows about her. What they don’t know is that on the weekends, she takes a bus to Tokyo and works as a call girl in Shibuya, Tokyo. Can she and other survivors find a trace of happiness in their lives?

The 8-Year Engagement    The 8-Year Engagement Film Poster

8年越しの花嫁 8 Nen Goshi no Hanayome

Running Time: 199 mins.

Release Date: December 16th, 2017

Director: Takahisa Zeze

Writer: Yoshikazu Okada (Screenplay), Hisashi Nakahara, Mai Nakahara (Autobiographical Novel)

Starring: Takeru Satoh, Tao Tsuchiya, Hiroko Yakushimaru, Tetta Sugimoto, Kazuki Kitamura, Kenta Hamano, Yuri Nakamura, Keisuke Horibe, Kanji Furutachi,

Website IMDB

Synopsis: Three months before Hisashi (Satoh) and Mai (Tsuchiya) are due to marry, Mai becomes ill and falls into a coma. Hisashi remains by her side, praying for her recovery and the magic moment happens but when it does, it seems Mai has lost her memory. Will the two live happily ever after?

Yocho  (Foreboding)    Yocho Sanpo Suru Shinryakusha Gekijoban Film Poster

予兆 散歩する侵略者 劇場版  Yocho Sanpo Suru Shinryakusha Gekijoban

Running Time: 140 mins.

Release Date: November 11th , 2017

Director:  Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Writer: Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Hiroshi Takahashi (Screenplay), Tomohiro Maekawa (Original Stageplay),

Starring: Kaho, Shota Sometani, Masahiro Higashide, Ren Osugi, Taro Suwa, Yukino Kshii, Eriko Nakamura, Makoto Nakamura, Makiko Watanabe,

Website IMDB

Yocho is an edited version of the WOWOW drama series Yocho Sanpo Suru Shinryakusha and boils down the five 40 minute episodes into a film that lasts 140 minutes. It was shown in cinemas for 2 weeks and was made as a tie-in for the film, Before We Vanish (2017) which I quite liked.

Synopsis: When Etsuko Yamagiwa (Kaho) got involved in what seems to be an emotional crisis faced by co-worker Miyuki Asakawa (Yukino Kishii), little did she expect she could be facing the end of humanity. One day, Miyuki tells Etsuko that she has seen a ghost in her father, that the way the sky seems to be different and even the way people’s behaviour is changing are all signs of something. Etsuko is worried and arranges forMiyuki to be sent to the psychiatric hospital where her husband Tatsuo (Shota Sometani) works. There, Miyuki receives a diagnosis that she lacks the concept of “family.” It is also there that Miyuki becomes disturbed by the presence of Dr. Jiro Makabe (Masahiro Higashide) and Etsuko also has misgivings because the strangely unemotional man is working with TatsuoThe growing paranoia may not be unfounded because, one day, Etsuko hears Dr. Jiro Makabe state “I came to Earth to invade.” Before that takes place, he just needs to steal some concepts like “family” and “dignity”…

Inuyashiki   Inuyashiki Film Poster

いぬやしき Inuyashiki

Running Time: 127 mins.

Release Date: April 20th, 2018

Director: Shinsuke Sato

Writer: Hiroshi Hashimoto (Screenplay), Hiroya Oku (Original Manga)

Starring: Noritake Kinashi, Takeru Satoh, Kanata Hongo, Fumi Nikaido, Yuki Saito, Yusuke Iseya, Mari Hamada, Ayaka Miyoshi, Nayuta Fukuzaki,

Website IMDB

This is based on a manga series by Hiroya Oku, the guy who created the super-disturbing horror sci-fi Gantz. Inuyashiki was turned into an anime that turned out to be pretty good. The live-action version looks like it should be fun. Takeru Satoh (Rurouni Kenshin and Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno) stars as the bad guy.

Synopsis: Ichiro Inuyashiki (Noritake Kinashi) is a salary-man on his way out. Unappreciated at work and at home and freshly diagnosed with cancer, his life looks miserable but things take a drastic turn when he is involved in an explosion. When he regains consciousness, he discovers that he has been transformed into a cyborg. Far from freaking out, he has a new lease of life and decides to use his powers to help those in need. Meanwhile, Hiro Shishigami (Takeru Satoh), a high school student, was also involved in the very same explosion and has gained the very same the powers. He just wants to see the world burn. Two super-powered people do battle in Japan!

Documentaries

Ryuichi Sakamoto: CODA   Ryuichi Sakamoto Coda Film Poster

Running Time: 100 mins.

Release Date: November 01st, 2017

Director:  Stephen Nomura Schible

Starring: Ryuichi Sakamoto

IMDB   Website

This film has appeared at major festivals such as VeniceToronto, and Tokyo over the last three months. It gets a theatrical release in Japan this weekend.

Synopsis: We all know Ryuichi Sakamoto as a musician connected to Yellow Magic Orchestra, a composer of some of the most incredible film scores ever heard and an actor. His career is long and goes from classical music to eletro-pop but he recently had a scare with cancer and this has prompted him to become more aware of life. He has campaigned over issues such as nuclear power but there’s a new urgency to his work and this documentary captures it as well as the changes leading up to it. 

Ryuichi Sakamoto PERFORMANCE IN NEWYORK: async   Ryuichi Sakamoto PERFORMANCE IN NEWYORK async Film Poster

坂本龍一 PERFORMANCE IN NEW YORK: asyncSakamoto Ryuichi PERFORMANCE IN NEWYORK: async

Running Time: 70 mins.

Release Date: January 27th, 2018

Director:  Stephen Nomura Schible

Writer: N/A (Screenplay),

Starring: Ryuichi Sakamoto

Website

Synopsis: Stephen Nomura Schible, director of the documentary Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda (2017), captures a two-day live performance at Park Avenue Armory in New York.

Ramen Heads   Ramen Heads Film Poster

ラーメンヘッズ Ra-men Hezzu

Running Time: 93 mins.

Release Date: January 27th, 2018

Director:  Koki Shigeno

Writer: N/A (Screenplay),

Starring: Shota Iida, Kumiko Ishida, Katsuya Kobayashi, Yuki Ohnishi, Tom Takahashi, Osamu Tomita,

Website IMDB

Synopsis from IMDB: In ‘Ramen Heads,’ Osamu Tomita, Japan’s reigning king of ramen, takes us deep into his world, revealing every single step of his obsessive approach to creating the perfect soup and noodles, and his relentless search for the highest-quality ingredients. In addition to Tomita’s story, the film also profiles five other notable ramen shops, each with its own philosophy and flavour, which exemplify various different aspects the ramen world. Mixing in a brief rundown of ramen’s historical roots, the film gives viewers an in-depth look at the culture surrounding this unique and beguiling dish. This is a documentary record of 15 months in the lives of Japan’s top ramen masters and their legions of devoted fans.

SUKITA: The Shoot Must Go On  SUKITA The Shoot Must Go On Film Poster

SUKITA 刻まれたアーティストたちの一瞬 Suteki na Dainamaito Sukyandaru

Running Time: 115 mins.

Release Date: May 19th, 2018

Director: Hiromi Aihara

Writer: N/A

Starring: David Bowie, Miyavi, Hirokazu Kore’eda, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Masatoshi Nagase, Lily Franky, Jim Jarmusch, Paul Smith,

Website IMDB

Synopsis: Masayoshi Sukita is a photographer who, over the course of 40 years, has earned the respect of actors, rock and roll stars, and fashion legends. This documentary by Hiromi Aihara looks at his work with David Bowie, T-REX, Iggy Pop and other big-name artists. Expect lots of fascinating interviews!

Restored Classics

Tampopo   Tampopo Film Poster

タンポポ Tampopo

Release Date: November 23rd, 1985

Running Time: 115 mins.

Director: Juzo Itami

Writer: Juzo Itami (Screenplay),

Starring: Tsutomu Yamazaki, Nobuko Miyamoto, Koji Yakusho, Ken Watanabe, Rikiya Yasuoka, Hideji Otaki, Fukumi Kuroda, Mariko Okada,

IMDB

Synopsis: Two truckers, Goro (Tsutomu Yamazaki) and Gun (Ken Watanabe) stop by a rundown ramen noodle store owned by a widowed woman named Tampopo (Nobuko Miyamoto)Her business is struggling and she has to look after her son. The two are harassed by ne’er do wells in the local community who Goro takes on in a series of fights. Tampopo enlists Goro’s help for more important matters as she asks him to help her research the perfect noodle so she can rejuvenate the noodle bar. What ensues is a series comic vignettes as they try and succeed in their quest.

Blue Film Woman   Blue Film Woman Film Poster

ブルーフィルムの女 Buru- Firumu no Onna

Running Time: 80 mins.

Release Date: January, 1969

Director: Kan Mukai

Writer: Yutaka So (Screenplay),

Starring: Miki Hashimoto, Ichiro Furuoka, Mitsugu Fujii, Rika Koyanagi, Kumi Osugi, Takako Uchida, Reo Mizumori,

IMDB

Synopsis: When Mariko’s father Kenzo loses money on the stock market, he ends up in debt to a lecherous loan shark named Uchiyama who demands Kenzo’s wife sexually please him and also forces her to sexually comfort his mentally challenged son. A shocking incident leads to her dying in an accident and Kenzo, guilt-ridden, falls ill. When Mariko is dragged into the carnal chaos, he kills himself leaving Mariko vowing revenge for her family. Her revenge will be against all men who come to her for pleasure… 

Women Hell Song: Shakuhachi Benten   Women Hell Song Shakuhachi Benten Film Poster

おんな地獄唄尺八弁天 Onna jigoku uta: Shakuhachi Benten

Running Time: 70 mins.

Release Date: December 01st, 1970

Director: Mamoru Watanabe

Writer: Atsushi Yamatoya (Screenplay),

Starring: Tamaki Katori, Noriko Tatsumi, Rima Aoyama,

IMDB

A very badly translated synopsis: A woman who kills yakuza is on the look out for a one with a scarlet peony tattoo and she has a similar tattoo…

That’s it as far as I can tell.

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4 thoughts on “Japanese Films at the Udine Far East Film Festival 2018

  1. I must confess I was dreading a live-action Inuyashiki as the anime was my top pick for 2017 but the trailer does look annoyingly convincing – although some changes are naturally abound which may be the deal breaker….

  2. Happy to see 2 Sato Takeru films feature! I also quite like the Inuyashiki trailer and am looking forward to it. Still haven’t gotten the chance to see 8年越しの花嫁 though, sigh.

    1. The Blood of Wolves and The Scythian Lamb would be my two picks although I’m also looking forward to the rest!

      I’ll keep an eye out for your reviews of the Sato films. I don’t know how many will reach the West because I haven’t heard a peep about Ajin.

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