Featured

GEMINI 双生児 -GEMINI- (1999) Dir: Shinya Tsukamoto

This year’s Halloween movie review is back and I am returning to a familiar name for this year’s chosen film, Shinya Tsukamoto. There are slight spoilers in here.

Gemini   

双生児 -GEMINI- そうせいじ ジェミニ

Release Date: September 15th, 1999

Duration: 83 mins.

Director: Shinya Tsukamoto

Writer: Shinya Tsukamoto (Script), Edogawa Rampo (Original Story – Souseiji: Aru Shikeiin ga Kyoukaishi ni Uchiaketa Hanashi)

Starring: Masahiro Motoki, Ryo, Yasutaka Tsutsui, Shiho Fujimura, Akaji Maro, Masako Motai, Renji Ishibashi, Tomorowo Taguchi, Tadanobu Asano, Naoto Takenaka, Yuriko Hirooka,

IMDB

Gemini (1999) is an adaptation of the Edogawa Rampo story ‘The Twins’ by Shinya Tsukamoto. Now, tone down any expectations of hyper-stylised violence and prepare yourself for psychological horror as a doppelganger forces a doctor to confront class issues in Tsukamoto’s first period film.

It is Meiji-era Japan and as the country goes through growth pains Yukio (Masahiro Motoki) has been blessed with good fortune. Following his unscathed return from being a military surgeon on the bloody frontlines of an unspecified war, he has followed in his father’s footsteps and taken over the practice in his family’s beautiful home. He is handsome, highly educated and refined, a naturally talented doctor, and well-respected by those who can afford him. To cap things off, he has a beautiful wife, Rin (Ryo). The only wrinkle in his picture-perfect life is that Rin has no past for she has amnesia and nobody knows a thing about her and her social status, something which rankles his parents. Despite this, Yukio is happy.

Gemini 1

Continue reading “GEMINI 双生児 -GEMINI- (1999) Dir: Shinya Tsukamoto”

Featured

Sumou-do samurai o tsugu-sha-tachi, Closet (2020), Kichijoji Go-Go-, WAVE!! Surfing Yappe!!   Chapter 3, Tonkatsu DJ Age-Taro, The Voice of Sin, Cry, I’m Really Good, Mimicry Freaks Japanese Film Trailers

 

 

Happy weekend, everyone!

Notes on Monstropedia

I hope you are all feeling genki.

Throughout this month, I worked the Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival 2020. It seemed to go well. I worked as the press officer so I would write press releases and contact animation websites/animation lecturers and student newspapers, write SNS posts whilst I had personal control of Twitter. I’ve done it before in previous years but this year was different because it was all online.

Actually, since it was an online festival, Twitter proved to be the perfect way to talk about the fest since I could tweet links to the screenings. 40% of viewers joined streams directly from Twitter.

Whilst all that was going on, I wrote many things over the past month for this blog. This week, I posted my review for All the Things We Never Said and a preview of the Tokyo International Film Festival 2020 and the Third Window Films release of Gemini

I watched a lot of films: What Did You Do to Solange?CenturionGemini, The Purge, Inseminoid, Eat Drink Man Woman and a couple of others as I took advantage of Amazon’s Prime service which is awash with horror films.

Due to the large number of films, this trailer post has been split into two parts, one today and one on Sunday. Due to my tradition of posting a horror movie review on Halloween, you can find something spooky to watch for Saturday’s post.

What is released this weekend in Japan?

Continue reading “Sumou-do samurai o tsugu-sha-tachi, Closet (2020), Kichijoji Go-Go-, WAVE!! Surfing Yappe!!   Chapter 3, Tonkatsu DJ Age-Taro, The Voice of Sin, Cry, I’m Really Good, Mimicry Freaks Japanese Film Trailers”

Featured

Third Window Films Release Europe’s first Blu-ray and the UK’s first release of Shinya Tsukamoto’s “GEMINI” on November 02nd

Third Window Films are going to bolster their stable of  Shinya Tsukamoto films by issuing a (Region B) blu-ray release of Gemini, his 1999 horror title, on November 02nd.

It has a sparkling transfer that is pin-sharp and accentuates the colours and the extras, which the disc is packed full of, do a brilliant job of going into the background of the film. Here are the details:

 

 

Extra features
New HD transfer
Audio commentary by Tom Mes, author of Iron Man: The Cinema of Shinya Tsukamoto
Making of Gemini” featurette directed by Takashi Miike
Behind the Scenes
Make-up demonstration featurette
Venice Film Festival featurette
Original Trailer
First 1000 units come with slipcase featuring new artwork illustrated by Ian McEwan

Here’s the trailer and synopsis and a little extra info:

Continue reading “Third Window Films Release Europe’s first Blu-ray and the UK’s first release of Shinya Tsukamoto’s “GEMINI” on November 02nd”

Featured

A Preview of the Tokyo International Film Festival 2020

TIFF Logo

The 33rd Tokyo International Film Festival (TokyoIFF) runs from October 31st to November 09th and it is a physical event. Information on this page shows the various measures that will be taken by staff such as temperature checks, ensuring audiences wear masks, empty seats around viewers and other methods of ensuring physical distancing.

In terms of films, TokyoIFF has a pretty busy and diverse programme that pitches a lot of dramas alongside restored classics, animation and super sentai. On top of that, there are many interesting talks and other events scheduled with a range of guests.

Here is the festival’s trailer!

Like my last TokyoIFF post, I’ll keep this brief by writing in detail about films I haven’t covered before (or not that often) and I’ll also focus on titles from the indie end of the spectrum as well as utilising the main sections TokyoIFF has created to provide structure to this post.

Continue reading “A Preview of the Tokyo International Film Festival 2020”

Featured

All the Things We Never Said 生きちゃった Dir: Yuya Ishii (2020)

All the Things We Never Said Film Poster

All the Things We Never Said   

生きちゃった Ikichatta

Release Date: October 03rd, 2020

Duration: 91 mins.

Director: Yuya Ishii

Writer: Yuya Ishii (Script), 

Starring: Taiga Nakano, Yuko Oshima, Ryuya Wakaba, Park Jung-bum, Yuuno Ota, Miyu Yagyu, TOBI,

Website IMDB

In 2019 the Hong Kong International Film Festival Society and China’s Heaven Pictures launched a pan-Asian project called B2B A Love Supreme wherein six Asian auteurs were tasked with going back to basics and making a feature on a limited budget of approximately US$145,000. The filmmakers selected included Tsai Ming-Liang from Taiwan, Chinese-Korean Zhang Lu and Japanese director Yuya Ishii who contributed All the Things We Never Said.

The title for Ishii’s story proves to be apt as this 90 minute film finds its dramatic fluctuations based on a cycle of escalating tragedies derived from various character’s inability to communicate what they truly feel to others. This is down to the fact that expressing ones emotions and risking breaking the peace of a situation is difficult in a Japanese situation where social equanimity and cohesion is prized.

The opening is anything but grim. Boundless optimism radiates from the screen as we gaze upon three high schoolers, two guitar-wielding boys and a girl, who amble along an open road on a balmy summer’s day. An upbeat song gives us the perfect accompaniment to these sun-kissed scenes that are familiar from countless seishun eiga and sappy romances. These are hopeful kids however, amidst all of their joy, seeds of disharmony are sown as they are caught in an unspoken love triangle that will have consequences well into adulthood. 

Continue reading “All the Things We Never Said 生きちゃった Dir: Yuya Ishii (2020)”

Featured

GOZE, We Are Oh! & Yeah!!, Dancing in Her Dreams, Little Subculture Wars – Villevan! Counterattack, Saitan kyori wa mawarikudokute Ame to Soda Nizu, Just By My Side, Happy-Go-Lucky Days Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, everyone!

I hope you are all doing fine!

The Kotatsu Festival is underway and there will be two free film streaming sessions later today. My review for Yuya Ishii’s All the Things We Never Said went lives yesterday on V-Cinema. This is the follow-up post to yesterday‘s which details what was released in cinemas in Japan this weekend.

Continue reading “GOZE, We Are Oh! & Yeah!!, Dancing in Her Dreams, Little Subculture Wars – Villevan! Counterattack, Saitan kyori wa mawarikudokute Ame to Soda Nizu, Just By My Side, Happy-Go-Lucky Days Japanese Film Trailers”

Featured

Living in Your Sky, True Mothers, Your Eyes Tell, An Ant Strikes Back, Videophobia, Travel Nostalgia, Sorezore, Tamayura, JUST ANOTHER, Aoi, Instant Camera, Geki × Cine `Nise Yoshitsune Meikai Uta’ Japanese Film Trailers

 
Dreams Into Drawing

Happy weekend, everyone!!!

I hope you are all well.

This post is truncated due to time constraints. As has been the case for at least the past four years, I’m working as press officer/writer for the Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival and so I am caught up doing SNS as well as covering other things (one more day to go and everything is online and free to view).

This week I posted a preview of the Japanese films at Tokyo FILMeX and my review for the Kazuya Shiraishi film One Night. I’ve watched Italian horror giallo movies like Terror at the Opera and Deep Red (both by Dario Argento), Black Sabbath and Black Sunday (both by Mario Bava).

What is released this weekend? About 19 films, so I’ve split this post into two with the second part tomorrow. Some of these films are screening as part of Busan, others I have seen as part of Nippon Connection and the Osaka Asian Film Festival.

Continue reading “Living in Your Sky, True Mothers, Your Eyes Tell, An Ant Strikes Back, Videophobia, Travel Nostalgia, Sorezore, Tamayura, JUST ANOTHER, Aoi, Instant Camera, Geki × Cine `Nise Yoshitsune Meikai Uta’ Japanese Film Trailers”

Featured

One Night  ひとよ Dir: Kazuya Shiraishi (2019)

One Night    One Night Film Poster

ひとよ  Hitoyo

Release Date: November 08th, 2019

Duration: 123 mins.

Director: Kazuya Shiraishi

Writer: Izumi Takahashi (Screenplay), Yuko Kuwabara (Original Stage Play)

Starring: Takeru Satoh, Ryohei Suzuki, Mayu Matsuoka, Yuko Tanaka, Kuranosuke Sasaki, Mariko Tsutsumi, Hanae Kan, Megumi,

Website IMDB

Director Kazuya Shiraishi chronicles the darker aspects of Japan with true-crime stories featuring outlaws like The Devil’s Path (2013) and Twisted Justice (2016) mixed with depictions of damaged everyday people on the outermost fringes of society like Dawn of the Felines (2017) and Birds Without Names (2018). For One Night, his first family drama, he adapts a stage play by Yuko Kuwabara but leans too far into crime territory late in the proceedings for an unsatisfactory ending.

The film opens on a stormy night at the Inamoto Taxi company which is located in some nondescript town. Koharu Inamoto (Yuko Tanaka) runs over her abusive husband in a taxi in an act to free herself and her three children from his merciless violence. After confessing what happened to her kids, all of whom bear the bruises of a beating, Koharu tells them, “Nobody will ever beat you again. You can live however you want.” Just before departing into the rain and darkness to give herself up to the police, she promises she will meet them again in the future.

Cut to 15 years later and we see that Koharu’s selfless act that was supposed to set her family free to pursue their dreams has trapped them in a vicious circle of shame and self-loathing that has made their lives nightmarish. Koharu discovers this bitter disappointment as she keeps her promise and returns to her children and the family business. Her presence forces everyone to confront the scars from their traumatic background, how the kids have inherited the sins of the mother by living in shame, and how this has all warped their personalities in various ways. These differences lead to multiple angles of conflict between characters we sympathise with due to their shared history and that provides ample drama which is excellently delivered by the cast.

Displaying various degrees of emotional damage and toxic masculinity are Koharu’s boys. Eldest son Daiki is a nebbish-looking guy who is struggling badly with a failing marriage and meeting masculine norms. The slicker younger son Yuji is a cynical journalist for a sleazy tabloid who senses he can turn his tragic past into a brighter future through writing about it, even if this betrays his family. Screen heartthrob Takeru Satoh plays the more showy character of Yuji with provoking sneers and condescension fit for his character. More conventional but really harrowing is the plight faced by Daiki. Ryohei Suzuki is very sympathetic playing the bespectacled guy unable to process what happened to them. He is all huddled and quiet with a downcast gaze and stutter due to a lack of confidence and a lot of shame. His constant avoidance of conflict leads to a shock later in the story as he he slips into violence in a way that reminds audiences that children learn from their parents.

More welcoming is Koharu’s daughter Sonoko played by Mayu Matsuoka, a much-needed ray of sunshine whose bright personality and hard-knock smile lights up the dark narrative. Having been forced to give up her ambitions to be a hairstylist, she works at a snack bar where she belts out karaoke tunes with glee and has a cynical view of men that she is unafraid to show. This motivates her to push back against her brother’s wayward feelings towards their mother.

Veteran actress Yuko Tanaka plays Koharu as a woman with mighty resolve and a humane nature who is resigned to enduring whatever hardship she faces for the good of her children. Naturally the audience will be with her and there is the expectation that she will right whatever wrongs that are going on, from saving Daiki’s marriage to coming to peace with with Yuji. Except it doesn’t quite work out so simply and seeing the family members navigate their sense of betrayal and try to overcome their traumas provides gripping material that the performances keep us invested in. Throw in an examination of how society ostracises those connected to crime, other characters around them struggling with issues like senile parents and wayward children and there is enough material here for a fine family drama that depicts the problems faced by modern families.

While the pieces are all there, the story loses its thread in the final third as if the writer Izumi Takahashi lacked an interest in realistically evolving the story and bringing the characters to a natural catharsis. Instead, a subplot involving Michio Doushita (Kuranosuke Sasaki) as a taxi driver whose criminal past catches up with him drives the action. While his plight makes an interesting parallel to Koharu’s, his story hijacks the film and takes away any agency from the mother and it leads to a contrived ending which foists an unbelievable connection between himself and the children, whom we never really see interact with him, just for the sake of a resolution.

One Night really starts off as a deep, dark, and very difficult performance-driven drama as we watch an excruciating reunion ripe for theatrics but everything is kept in check as the cast deliver some very fine and realistic portrayals showing the ways domestic violence can affect people. With a better ending, the emotional of sticking it out rewards would have been greater.

The technicals are all impressive enough and help transcend the film’s stage origins by taking advantage of the taxi company to get out of the single location so it never feels boring and there is a sense of place and time so that this feels rooted in reality.

My review for One Night first appeared on VCinema on September 01st.

Featured

Japanese Films at Tokyo FILMeX 2020 (October 30th to November 05th)

Tokyo FILMeX 2020 runs from October 30th to November 05th. It’s the placeTokyo Filmex Poster to see arthouse films but, due to Covid-19, organisers have decided to shorten the duration of the fest and have it run alongside the Tokyo International Film Festival, although it’s still a physical event. This move positions the festival in a way to make it akin to Director’s Fortnight at Cannes. You can read a statement here which explains more.

Anyway, the festival has quite a few titles from Japan or set in Japan that are worth checking out.

Click on a title to be taken to the festival page:

Continue reading “Japanese Films at Tokyo FILMeX 2020 (October 30th to November 05th)”

Featured

Wife of a Spy, Mio’s Cookbook, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Movie: Mugen Train, Ainu Mosir, Beautiful Escape, Oni Garu!!, WAVE!! Surfing Yappe!!   Chapter 2, Twiceborn, Gekijouban hontou ni atta kowai hanashi 2020 norowareta-ka Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, everyone!

I hope you are all doing fine!

This week I posted about the Japanese films at the Raindance Film Festival and the OP Pictures + Fest going on throughout this month.

I will be recording the Halloween episode of the Heroic Purgatory podcast about the film Audition (1999) and watching some Japanese films from the 80s. Since it’s the season of scares, I’d like to highlight some of my older horror films reviews.

Carved – The Slit-Mouthed Woman

Tamami: The Baby’s Curse

Pulse

BAMY

Don’t Look Up

What is released this weekend?

Continue reading “Wife of a Spy, Mio’s Cookbook, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Movie: Mugen Train, Ainu Mosir, Beautiful Escape, Oni Garu!!, WAVE!! Surfing Yappe!!   Chapter 2, Twiceborn, Gekijouban hontou ni atta kowai hanashi 2020 norowareta-ka Japanese Film Trailers”