Entertainment, ideas, and art are vital for people. They become part of human instinct. It is seen in the way people dress, arrange their homes, and the way they respond to sounds and images so what happens when you take them away from people? This is the question explored by many stories perhaps the most famous being Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. Director Kenichi Ugana follows his debut Ganguro Gals Riot (2016) with his sophomore feature Goodbye Silence (2018) and addresses this issue in a dystopian tale that is a fitfully interesting indie film with some interesting ideas.
Japanese Films at the Edinburgh International Film Festival (June 20th to July 01st) and while compared to past editions of the festivals it’s disappointing, these are two top titles the event presents probably the best chance to see them in the UK.
Mamoru Hosoda’s new Mirai no Mirai (Mirai of the Future) was screened at Cannes in the Directors’ Fortnight section and it took a while for a bunch of reviews to be published online but they are there to be discovered and they are all full of praise for the film.
Synopsis:A family living in a small house in a corner of a Yokohama dotes on a spoiled four-year-old boy named Kun-chan. When he gets a little sister named Mirai, he feels that his new sister stole his parents’ love from him. Jealousy and resentment well up until he meets an older version of Mirai, who has come from the future and takes him on an adventure.
As previously written, great plaudits for the film. Universal praise. A lot of focus is placed on Hosoda’s own experiences of being a father in a family where a newborn girl took the attention of the parents away from the elder sibling, a boy, and this dose of reality gives the story its hearty content.
“…Hosoda turns life lessons into an exuberant and enriching story full of intriguing ideas…
…From the very start Hosoda nails the chaos and pure joy of family life.” Katherine McLaughlin – SciFiNow
Films based on families are what Hosoda tends to do and he tends to mix human drama with the fantastical to make it palatable. There were unconventional families showing the dedication and beauty of personal connections in Wolf Children,Summer Wars, andThe Boy and the Beast. The film is closer toThe Girl Who Leapt Through Time since it has time-travel with a coming-of-age story and we have time-travel again with all the familiar themes.
“Once Hosoda’s fantastical premise kicks in, Mirai unfolds into an episodic, almost plotless story of a child finding their place in the world, and discovering the responsibilities and relationships that help make up their developing identity.” Michael Leader – Little White Lies
The story sounds simple enough and easy to dive into, much like Hosoda’s other films. The real richness comes from the characters and family dynamics.
The film gets praise for its character design/animation as well as the design of locations such as the house. It shows the care and attention that Hosoda typically puts into his films. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Summer Wars really capture the imagination with their locations which are so rich with details, well, I have tried on a number of occasions hunting down an old post from a blogger which went into detail about specific rooms and the symbolism of decorations.
“…the character design walks the line with grace between big-eyed anime cutesiness and closely observed realism, capturing with insightful wit the way dogs and kids move and wiggle, especially given the fact that they have different centers of gravity compared to adults. There are also some finely timed slapstick moments, and altogether, the story lasts a comparatively sprightly and pleasant 98 minutes, displaying a brevity that would serve more cartoons from the region well.” Leslie Felperin – The Hollywood Reporter
I’ve been busy at work conducting Japanese language/culture classes as well as doing my regular job. On top of that, I’ve managed to squeeze in time to do some writing. I posted about Kore-eda Hirokazu winning the Palme d’Or at Cannes on Sunday and followed that with an interview I had with the incredibly talented Hayami Moet, director of Kushina, what will you be, at the Osaka Asian Film Festival. I then posted a review for the American indie film Columbus which I saw at the same festival. V-Cinema posted my interview with the team behind Bad Poetry Tokyoand the director Takayama Kohei, both of which were conducted at, you guessed it, the Osaka Asian Film Festival!!!
I’ll be continuing with the lessons in the next week but I have started a new anime, Golden Kamuy. It’s pretty freaking brilliant.
This had it’s Japanese premiere at the Osaka Asian Film Festival where I watched it and pretty much burst into tears at the end.
There are many artistic avenues available for taking audiences into the lives of others and film offers the most direct and intense of those experiences. You can enter another person’s life in ways that other art-forms cannot hope to achieve, talented film-makers getting audiences to parse the most complex of emotions with ease if the form they construct on screen is right. Columbus is a great example. The film is named after the titular town located in Indiana which is famous for having the largest collection of public buildings designed by Modernist architects such as I.M. Pei, John Carl Warnecke, and Richard Meier. Using the pleasures of architecture and pleasurable dialogue, director Kogonoda martials his sets and cinematic techniques to concisely get at the heart of complex set of relationships through great locations and a script full of neat symmetry for the main characters.
Moët Hayami is an indie filmmaker who was born in Shiga Prefecture. She began her career by graduating from Ritsumeikan University’s visual department and Waseda University graduate school. Since then, she has worked on many films and commercials in different positions from production design/management, art direction, costume design, and as an assistant director. Projects include West North West (2015), directed by Takuro Nakamura, and Ryutaro Nakagawa’s award-winning film Summer Blooms (2017). She has written and directed shorts of her own and with Kushina, what will you beshe has made her debut feature film.
Kushina tells the story of the inhabitants of a village of women hidden from the world in a forest somewhere in Japan. Their peaceful existence is disturbed when an idealistic anthropologist (Yayoi Inamoto) arrives and becomes attached to a girl named Kushina (Ikumi Satake). This connection deepens making tensions rise between Kushina’s mother Kagu (Tomona Hirota) and her grandmother Onikuma (veteran actress Miyuki Ono) who disagree over the future of the girl.
Hirokazu Kore-eda won the Palme d’Or at the 71st Cannes Film Festival for his latest film, Shoplifters.
Congratulations, Hirokazu Kore-eda!
This was his fifth time in the competition section and his win marks, to quote the critic Peter Debruge over at Variety,
“just the second time this century that an Asian film has claimed the festival’s top prize (the other being Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives” in 2010).”
This latest drama features an unconventional family living happily together on the margins of Japanese society through a mixture of grit and graft. Initially a gentle and heartwarming film, the tone changes as it shines a light on the failings of society and individuals. It marks yet another film where Kore-eda has worked with child actors and got amazing results as the different reviews have pointed out (round-up of reviews post).
Cate Blanchett, the Cannes Jury president said, “We were completely bowled over by ‘Shoplifters.’ How inter-meshed the performances were with the directorial vision”.
The film has already been picked up for US distribution thanks to Magnolia Films. The company’s president, Eamon Bowles said,
“In a long career of incredible peaks, Hirokazu Kore-eda has delivered one of his best works. ‘Shoplifters’ is an incredible story that deals with familial bonds in a way I’ve never seen before”. SOURCE
I spent this week writing when I said I wouldn’t because I need to focus on learning Japanese. I rounded up the better reviews of the Japanese films at the Cannes film festival with Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s Asako I&II and Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Shoplifters and I’m waiting for reviews of Mamoru Hosoda’s latest feature, Mirai to be published so I can collect them in one post. I also posted a preview of Nippon Connection 2018. I also posted my review of Kushina which was originally published on V-Cinema. My review for the film, Goodbye Silence was published on V-Cinema as well. Right, I’ll be doing work for some classes I have to deliver late next week!
The 18th edition of the Nippon Connection Film Festival (NCFF) runs from May 29th to June 03rd in Frankfurt am Main and it continues to be the biggest and best event to see Japanese films in the world. That’s no exaggeration because it has more than 100 short and feature length films ranging from documentaries to anime to indie films and there will be an incredible slate of supporting programmes aimed at a wide range of people. Not only that, there will be many Japanese and international filmmakers, musicians, and artists travelling to the event as guests who will introduce their works and talk about films. This year’s guest of honour is the renowned actress Shinobu Terajima who will receive the NIPPON HONOR AWARD 2018.
There are lots of films programmed and just as many events and with so much to see, I’ll try and cover everything in one post. To find out more about a film,click on section titles to be taken to the festival page. Here are some highlights of what’s on offer: