Whiplash of the Dead, Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (4K Remaster), Ride or Die, The New Prince of Tennis: Hyotei vs Rikkai Game of Future Part 2, Detective Conan: The Scarlet Bullet, Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris and Other Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, everyone!

Happy Together Tony Leung Blurred

I hope you are all doing well.

Since it’s the 25th anniversary of Resident Evil, I’ve been replaying the original Resident Evil 2 and completed the “Leon A” and “Claire B”  storylines. Coming back to the game after so many years makes me appreciate the design and art that went into it and also the fantastic effort that was put into recapturing the spirit of the original and updating it with new graphics, sound, acting, and direction for the remake.

Resident Evil 2 Remake Image

Another thing I revisited was the world of Wong Kar-Wai by watching Days of Being WildAs Tears Go By, and Happy Together in order to discuss the latter film on episode 2 of the Heroic Purgatory podcast. Please have a listen. Wong Kar-Wai is one of my favourite filmmakers. Have you watched any of his works?

I’ve slowly been catching up on Osaka Asian Film Festival work with my interview with Satoko Yokohama, director of Ito, and a review of the Shinji Imaoka film A Rainbow-coloured Trip and also an interview with Masashi Komura, the director of POP!.

What is released this weekend?

Continue reading “Whiplash of the Dead, Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (4K Remaster), Ride or Die, The New Prince of Tennis: Hyotei vs Rikkai Game of Future Part 2, Detective Conan: The Scarlet Bullet, Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris and Other Japanese Film Trailers”

An Interview with Masashi Komura, Director of POP! [Osaka Asian Film Festival 2021]

For the last few years, Osaka Asian Film Festival has been screening MOOSIC LAB films. These works are the result of the pairing together of up-and-coming directors, actors, actresses, and musical performers into a unit to create a movie. The final products are almost always idiosyncratic in some way since they are the results of the combined talents of whoever has been grouped together. This year’s entry was POP!, a quirky drama featuring dry comedy and existential angst. It plays on the unique combination of director Masashi Komura (小村昌士), lead actress Rina Ono (小野莉奈), and DJ/producer Aru-2.

Rina Ono takes the lead role of Rin Kashiwakura, a 19-year-old who is on the cusp of turning 20, the official age of becoming an adult. With the approach of such a momentous occasion in her life one would expect excitement but what she feels is frustration and confusion as she struggles to understand how she fits in with others and the world at large, and just what she wants to do. An early dream of becoming an actress has become side-tracked and she works part-time as an official mascot on a struggling local TV charity program and part-time at a remote mountainside car park where nothing much happens. An encounter with a mad bomber leaving explosive packages around town gives her some impetus to move forward.

This description may seem full of random elements but they are deliberate and filmed in such a way by Masashi Komura that they form a collage of situations that form the entry point into Rin’s existential crisis – nothing seems to join together story-wise, long sequences happen in empty locations, and scenes can be devoid of propulsive action and sound and time. At its centre is a strong yet reticent performance from Rina Ono who keeps our attention. Overlaying everything is the downtempo lo-fi musical tracks of of Aru-2. Its lazy beats, samples, and various audio imperfections are indicative of both what a person Rin’s age might listen to and also how she feels. When combined, at times, this experience is frustrating, tiring, and confusing but there is also a lot of humour and heart as Rin struggles to make sense of things. These myriad of emotions reminded me of what I felt in my own adolescence. In short, the film had successfully made me feel Rin’s existential crisis as she tries to pull herself out of her stagnant life and move forward like the adults around her. The final result is a truly unique film (my review).

I wasn’t the only one, it seems. The film won the Grand Prix and Rina Ono also nabbed the Best Actress Award at the MOOSIC LAB awards, thus showing that quality of the film. Director Masashi Komura kindly agreed to take part in an interview to explain how the different elements of the film match up and he furnished many interesting answers.

A relatively new filmmaker, Komura has worked on a number of projects including co-writing the screenplay for The Man Who Was Eaten, which was featured at Osaka Asian Film Festival 2016, writing and directing the 2017 film LEO, and appearing in Ken Ninomiya’s The Matsumoto Tribe (2017). Komura talked more about POP!, how the project came together, his inspirations, his approach to manipulating time, and working with Aru-2 and gifting his sound to audiences.

Masashi Komura, director of POP! at Osaka Asian Film Festival 2021

This interview was done with the massive help of Takako Pocklington, who translated between English and Japanese to help bring director Komura’s answers to the page.

Continue reading “An Interview with Masashi Komura, Director of POP! [Osaka Asian Film Festival 2021]”