The Glasgow Film Festival (February 20th – March 03rd) will launch for its 15th edition in just under a month’s time and there are three Japanese films on offer and one Japan-China co-production. Two of the titles come from Third Window Films and two have not been licensed for the UK as far as I am aware so this might be your best chance to see them.
Naomi Kawase is one of the “4 Ks”, directors who dominate contemporary Japanese cinema (the others are Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Kitano and Kore-eda) and she is a film-maker whose ability to capture sensual experiences makes for transcendent films. This is something which masks the slightness of some of her stories but at the same time it lends them more power. With Radiance she looks at the transcendent nature of film itself and she does so through the realm of using words.
Misako Ozaki (Ayame Misaki) is a woman who is involved in a project providing audio description for films for the visually impaired. She watches films and writes down the best way to describe scenes and characters and then presents them to a panel of people who critique her work so she can tweak it for a wider release. Masaya Nakamori (Masatoshi Nagase) is one of those people on the panel. He is a genius photographer and he has the harshest criticisms. The two initially don’t get on because Masaya has a cold attitude but when Misako sees a photograph of a sunset shot by him, she is inspired to look into Masaya’s life and discovers that he is losing his sight and their relationship changes as she gets to know him.
The weather has gotten cold and I have been staying in a bit more and watching films. I’ve continued my exercise routines and trying to get my English language studies back in flow. Really, this is business as usual.
The first casualty of fame is typically friendship as changing personalities, lifestyles and goals tear apart relationships. It is a familiar subject in film and audiences will be able to spot jealousy and arrogance rearing their heads and causing ructions between characters before hoping that all problems will be solved and friendship healed by the end. Shigeaki Kato, a young idol with the boyband NEWS (signed to the label/idol factory Johnny’s Entertainment) wrote this type of story in his 2012 novel of the same name but it features a twist that gives it a little freshness and director Isao Yukisada (Crying Out Love in the Centre of the Earth, Go, Aroused by Gymnopedies).
The film opens with scenes from a ballet and a suicide. As the ballet climaxes we see a popular actor named Rengo Shiraki (Yuto Nakajima) hang himself. His best friend Daiki Kawata (Masaki Suda) enters the scene in the aftermath. Daiki is left facing a beautiful corpse and six wills that have been left on a nearby coffee table. An accompanying note written by Rengo apologises and informs Daiki that he must choose one will but before we know what the wills contain we are taken back in time to their first meeting.
The International Film Festival Rotterdam 2018 starts on January 23rd and ends on February 03rd. There are many Japanese titles, nearly all of them being indies and all but two in the Bright Futurestrand which is dedicated to supporting new artists such as Natsuka Kusano and Koki Tanaka. There is also the Voices strand which is a place for more established directors like Shinya Tsukamoto. The indies towards the end of this post look fascinating.
Proofing for that otome game script I was working on has now been completed. I did it in the space of twelve days or so. I’m going through it again to tighten things up. I have a month and a bit left before the deadline.
Not much done in terms of movie-watching but I did get a review done for a big title from last year.
I posted reviews for two Shinsuke Sato films, the first being I Am a Hero (2016) and the second Inuyashiki (2018). I really enjoyed these two films and highly recommend them. Please watch them if you get the chance because they are fun and have thrilling fights, super special effects and awesome acting.
I need to be a hero soon so I’ll be studying Japanese intensely.
Ever since his debut The Princess Blade (2001), director Shinsuke Sato has helmed action-packed films with a particular focus on live-action adaptations of manga. Titles in his filmography include Death Note: Light Up the New World, Library Wars, and I Am a Hero. He also sat in the directors chair for the two adaptations of Hiroya Oku’s manga Gantz which were released in the early 00s. Most are slick and solid and his style is improving all the time withInuyashiki, which is based on another of Oku’s works, being his best yet. This is like a coherent, sanitised, high-budget take on Tetsuo The Iron Man.
I Am a Hero is the best zombie film to have come out in a long, long time or at least since 28 Days Later (2002) when Danny Boyle sent fast-running infected across the streets of London. Much like the aforementioned title, I Am a Hero has zed-heads that tear across the screen and they are very scary to behold and much like the classic titles of the zombie genre such as George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968) and Dawn of the Dead (1978) it features some social commentary. Also, unlike tongue-in-cheek J-horror zom-comedies like Stacy: Attack of the Schoolgirl Zombies(2008) and Big Tits Zombie(2010), I Am a Hero is serious and rooted in our world and gleefully slaps it sideways in a gory horror film that does justice to its source.
I am currently nearing the end of a big proofreading job and it’s a month and a half ahead of the deadline and that was by doing it before work, on my commute to work, in work and after work. I intend to move on to really intensive Japanese practice so that will be after I wake up in the morning, during the day, and during the evening. I also intend to keep the reviews going by watching a couple of titles a week and exercise. Cannot forget about exercise. I’m packing as much in as possible.
In terms of reviews, I posted about Train to Busan and Seoul Station a week after my review of One Cut of the Dead. I will keep it up with the zombie movies with what I consider to be the best I have seen in a long, long time. Speaking as someone who watched Dawn of the Dead and Night of the Living Dead on VHS and then DVD multiple times, I was pleased to see how this particular movie shaped up. Okay. That’s enough disjointed hype.
Seoul Station is the animated prequel to Train to Busan (TtB). Both made in 2016, the animation was released a couple of months before its more famous live-action sibling according to IMDB. It features similar themes to TtB in its criticism of an unjust society but it does not have a drop of sentimentality. This is a bleak look at life at the bottom in Seoul as the city stands on the cusp of a zombie apocalypse.