Japanese Films at the London East Asian Film Festival 2019

The London East Asian Film Festival announced its programme last month and there will be a lot of films to see from October 24th to November 03rd and there is a great slate of films from Korea to Hong Kong and Japan.

Here are some of the non-Japanese titles I’ve reviewed:

The Crossing (festival link) and Still Human (festival link) The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil (festival link)

The Japanese selection features titles both old and new, fresh off the festival circuit and dragged out of the vaults.

Here are the details:

LEAFF Official Selection

To the Ends of the Earth      To the Ends of the Earth Film Poster

旅のおわり世界のはじまり  Tabi no Owari Sekai no Hajimari

Release Date: June 14th, 2019

Duration: 120 mins.

Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Writer: Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Screenplay),

Starring: Atsuko Maeda, Ryo Kase, Shota Sometani, Tokio Emoto, Adiz Rajabov,

Website     IMDB

Kiyoshi Kurosawa teams up with a great cast to make a movie which is a co-production between Japan and Uzbekistan to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. Two of the leading actors have worked in his films, Atsuko Maeda being the lead in Seventh Code and Shota Sometani having a supporting role in Real.

Synopsis: Yoko (Atsuko Maeda) is a reporter for a TV variety program and her assignment is to find a mythical fish in a huge lake in Uzbekistan, a country that once flourished as the centre of the Silk Road. Things don’t quite go according to plan for Yoko and her crew and, one day, drawn by a mysterious voice, she departs from their company and loses herself in the wonders of the country…

A Girl Missing        A Girl Missing Film Poster

よこがお  Yokogao

Release Date: July 26th, 2019

Duration: 111 mins.

Director: Koji Fukada

Writer: Koji Fukada, Kazumasa Yonemitsu (Screenplay),

Starring: Mariko Tsutsui, Mikako Ichikawa, Sosuke Ikematsu, Mitsuru Fukikoshi, Hisako Okata, Ren Sudo, Miyu Ogawa,

Website     IMDB

Back in March when I was in Japan I posted a clutch of reviews for Koji Fukada’s films:

Human Comedy Tokyo (2008)

Hospitalite (2010)

Au revoir l’ete (2013)

Sayonara (2015)

Harmonium (2016)

The latter won the Prix du Jury in the Un Certain Regard section at the Cannes Film Festival of that year. It stars Mariko Tsutsui who has been doing stellar work as seen in Jam (2018) and Antiporno (2016) and she returns here with a bonkers cast including Mikako Ichikawa (Rent-a-cat (2012)), Mitsuru Fukikoshi (Cold Fish (2011)) and two newbies both in NDJC 2019 films, Ren Sudo (Last Judgement) and Miyu Ogawa (Quiet Hide-and-Seek). This has awards potential as it lets Tsutsui off the leash and looks like it has decent direction but Fukada will have to present a reigned-in story!

Synopsis: Ichiko (Mariko Tsutsui) is a visiting nurse who has earned the trust of her patients. She has been helping Motoko (Mikako Ichikawa) study for the purpose of becoming a care worker. Ichiko is the only person with whom Motoko is open with. One day, Motoko’s younger sister Saki (Miyu Ogawa) disappears. A week later Saki returns hom unharmed, but the person arrested for her kidnapping is an unexpected person and Ichiko is suspected of being involved in the abduction. This causes Ichiko to collapse…

Competition

Erica 38    Erica 38 Film Poster

エリカ38  Erika 38

Release Date: June 07th, 2019

Duration: 103 mins.

Director: Yuichi Hibi

Writer: Yuichi Hibi (Screenplay),

Starring: Miyoko Asada, Miu Suzuki, Kirin Kiki, Nahana, Juri Manase, Hajime Yamazaki, Shizuo Yamazaki, Hinako Saeki, Takehiro Hira,

Website IMDB

This, I believe, is the last role we will see Kirin Kiki after her passing and it’s an interesting looking drama.

Synopsis: Satoko Watabe (Miyoko Asada), a 60-year-old con woman, and her new lover Ikuo Hirasawa (Takehiro Hira) defraud people in an investment scam and make a lot of money but the deceiver is deceived when she discovers that her boyfriend has other girlfriends. Satoko Watabe ups and leaves with the cash and goes to Thailand and passes herself off as a 38-year-old woman named Erica before returning to Japan where she cons an elderly man out of a large house and calls her mother (Kirin Kiki) at a nursing home to live with her but Erica cannot continue her crooked ways…

Halloween Horror Special

Under Your Bed    Under Your Bed Film Poster

アンダー・ユア・ベッド  Anda- Yua Beddo

Release Date: July 19th, 2019

Duration: 98 mins.

Director: Mari Asato

Writer: Tatsuya Ishii (Screenplay), Kei Ohishi (Novel)

Starring: Kengo Kora, Kanako Nishikawa, Kenichi Abe, Ryosuke Miyake, Yugo Mikawa,

Website IMDB

Kengo Kora takes on a daring role that in this film directed by Mari Asato, someone who specialised in horror films like Bilocation prior to this. My favourite Kora roles are in The Drudgery Train and The Story of Yonosuke.

Synopsis: Naoto (Kengo Kora) was ignored by other people growing up. Whether at home or at school, he was ignored. The first person to call his name was a classmate named Chihiro (Kanako Nishikawa) and that sealed her fate as his dream girl. Naoto becomes obsessed with her and spends 11 years searching with nothing but her sweet memory during his school days as a reference until he finds her and discovers she is a different person. Naoto discovers how different by sneaking into her house and staying under her bed and tracking her every move…

The Woman Who Keeps a Murderer  The Woman Who Keeps a Murderer Film Poster

殺人鬼を飼う女  Satsujinki wo Kauonna

Release Date: April 12th, 2019

Duration: 83 mins.

Director: Hideo Nakata

Writer: Kaori Yoshida (Screenplay), Kei Ohishi (Novel)

Starring: Rin Asuka, Shoka Oshima, Airi Matsuyama, Hitomi Nakatani, Kenji Mizuhashi, Toshie Negishi, Mutsuo Yoshioka,

Website IMDB

Hideo Nakata of the Ringu franchise and Don’t Look Up teams up with the writer of Apartment 1303, Kei Ohshi to make this psycho-sexual thriller.

Synopsis: To escape sexual abuse at the hands of her step-father, Kyoko (Rin Asuka) retreated into a fantasy land and developed multiple personalities. As an adult, she lives with three women, one of whom, Naomi (Shoka Oshima), is attracted to her. At the same time, she gets involved with a novelist living next door. All of these complicated emotions disturb her precarious mindset and when a series of murders occur in the area, Kyoko begins to wonder if one of her split personalities could be responsible.

Samurai Season

13 Assassins   13 Assassins Film Poster

十三人の刺客 「Juusan-nin no shikaku」

Release Date: September 25th, 2010 (Japan)

Duration: 141 mins.

Director: Takashi Miike

Writer: Daisuke Tengan, Kaneo Ikegami (Screenplay),

Starring: Koji Yakusho, Takayuki Yamada, Yusuke Iseya, Sousuke Takaoka, Hiroki Matsukata, Tsuyoshi Ihara, Ikki Sawamura, Arata Furuta, Seiji Rokkaku, Kazuki Namioka, Koen Kondo, Yuma Ishigaki, Ken Mitsuishi, Goro Inagaki, Masataka Kubota, Mitsuki Tanimura, Takumi Saito, Kazue Fukiishi

IMDB

I proclaimed this my favourite film of 2011. It’s a bloodthirsty battler where 13 rogue samurai brawl with a small army. It’s freaking amazing. A remake of an earlier film of the same name by Masaki Kobayashi but this one is helmed by Takashi Miike (Audition) at the helm. I saw it twice at the cinema and here’s my review from nearly a decade ago!!!

Synopsis: 1844, Japan. In the last decades of the Shogun and before the reforms of the Meiji era there is a moment of fragile peace. Unfortunately this peace will be shattered with the promotion of the Shogun’s half-brother, the depraved and psychopathic Lord Naritsugu (Goro Inagaki) who uses his status to commit acts of depravity and evil against the people of Japan. In an effort to preserve order, high ranking official Sir Doi calls upon noble samurai Shinzaemon Shimada (Koji Yakusho) to carry out an assassination. Waiting for Naritsugu to leave Edo with his personal army, Shinzaemon recruits twelve others to carry out a daring ambush in a remote village.

Harakiri    Harakiri 1962 Film Poster                              

切腹 「Seppuku」

Release Date: 1962

Duration: 135 mins

Director: Masaki Kobayashi

Writer: Shinobu Hashimoto (Screenplay), Yasuhiko Takiguchi (Original Novel)

Starring: Tatsuya Nakadai, Akira Ishihama, Shima Iwashita, Tetsuro Tanba, Masao Mishima, Kei Sato

Synopsis: Of all Masaki Kobayashi’s attacks on the cruelty and inhumanity perpetrated by authoritarian power, perhaps none are more brilliant than his visceral, mesmerising Harakiri. In a stunning performance, Tatsuya Nakadai plays a masterless down-and-out samurai named Hanshiro who enters the manor of Lord Iyi, requesting to commit ritual suicide on his property. Suspected of simply fishing for charity, Hanshiro is told the gruesome tale of the last samurai who made the same request but Hanshiro will not be moved.

The Lone Wolf and Cub double-bill can be seen at a discounted ticket price of £10!

Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance    Lone Wolf and Cub Sword of Vengeance Film Poster

子連れ狼 子を貸し腕貸しつかまつる 「Kozure ookami: Ko wo kashi ude kashi tsukamatsuru

Release Date: January 15th, 1972

Duration: 83 mins.

Director: Kenji Misumi

Writer:  Kazuo Koike, Goseki Kojima (Screenplay/Manga),

Starring: Tomisaburo Wakayama, Akihiro Tomikawa, Tomoko Mayama, Fumio Watanabe, Keiko Fujita,

IMDB

The classic Lone Wolf & Cub manga was adapted into a long-running movie series that went on to become a cult classic especially when the five films were re-edited into one called Shogun Assassin. This is the first entry in the film series and it is a brilliant title that will leave you craving for more. The manga is brilliant so give that a try as well.

Synopsis: Ogami Itto is the shogun’s special executioner. He has taken the heads of hundreds of men. However the shogun is scared of him and when the Yagyu Clan frame him for treason the shogun orders his death. Ogami’s family is attacked by three ninjas, his wife Asami is killed but his son Daigo lives and both father and son wander Japan, father pushing the baby cart as he heads from town to town working as an assassin for hire as he treads the path of vengeance…

 

Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx Lone Wolf and Cub Baby Cart at the River Styx Film Poster

子連れ狼 三途の川の乳母車 「Kozure ookami: Sanzu no Kawa nou  Baguruma

Release Date: April 22nd, 1972

Duration: 83 mins.

Director: Kenji Misumi

Writer:  Kazuo Koike, Goseki Kojima (Screenplay/Manga),

Starring: Tomisaburo Wakayama, Akihiro Tomikawa, Kayo Matsuo, Akiji Kobayashi, Minoru Oki,

IMDB

The second in the Lone Wolf & Cub series.

Synopsis: Ogami Itto and Daigo are still being hunted by the remnants and allies of the Yagyu clan and in this instalment they take the form of female ninjas. This is when the duo meet a group of cloth dyers who hire them to assassinate a former member of their guild to prevent the secrets of their trade from falling into the hands of the shogunate. Ogami’s target is protected by a trio of assassin brothers nicknamed ‘The Gods of Death’.

 

Sword of Doom    Sword of Doom Film Poster

大菩薩峠  Dai-bosatsu Touge

Release Date: February 25th, 1966

Duration: 120 mins.

Director: Kihachi Okamoto

Writer: Shinobu Hashimoto (Screenplay), Kaizan Nakazato (Novel)

Starring: Tatsuya Nakadai, Michiyo Aratama, Yuzo Kayama, Yoko Naito, Ichiro Nakatani, Toshiro Mifune, Kunie Tanaka, Hideyo Amamoto,

IMDB

This is a stone-cold classic and should be seen in a cinema.

Synopsis: Ryunosuke Tsukue (Tatsuya Nakadai) is an emotionless, sadistic, and seemingly unbeatable samurai with an unorthodox style who roams the countryside like a spectre, leaving a trail of destruction and fateful vendettas in his wake, slowly going insane as he racks up an impressive kill count…

 

Film & Art

Short films can be found in this section.

Beethoven – Mama (Dir: Tatsumi Orimoto, 2012, 13 mins)

Grandmother’s Lunch (Dir: Tatsumi Orimoto, 2017, 4 mins)

Flower Bed (Tsuneko Taniuchi, 2011, 14 mins)

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