Happy Weekend, everyone.
I hope you are all well.
Due to the new State of Emergency in Japan, many films were pulled from theatrical runs (including TWO DARIO ARGENTO FLICKS!!!!). Some major chains have closed – such as TOHO cinemas in major metropolitan areas like Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. Some mini theatres are remaining open, most likely because the cost of closing would kill them off.
Wherever you are, stay safe and stay stoic. Movies and games can help you stay sane. When the next round of elections come up, vote out the appalling politicians.
In terms of myself, I watched Nomadland, The Sound of Metal, Without Remorse, Violent Cop, Out of the Shadows, and played the Resident Evil 8 demo. I wrote about the films Along the Sea and Koji Fukada’s gripping 10-episode drama The Real Thing.
What is released in Japan this weekend?
過去はいつも新しく、未来はつねに懐かしい 写真家 森山大道 「Kako wa itsumo atarashiku, mirai wa tsuneni natsukashī shashin-ka moriyama taidō」
Release Date: April 30th, 2021
Duration: 108 mins.
Director: Gen Iwama
Starring: Daido Moriyama, Satoru Machiguchi, Yutaka Kamibayashi,
Synopsis: A documentary about award-winning and world-renowned photographer Daido Moriyama, winner of the Hasselblad International Photo Award, which is said to be the Nobel Prize in the photography world in 2019. He is in his 80s and first got his start in the 1960s with his blurry, high-contrast, shoot-from-the-hip style and uncanny ability to find arresting compositions and subjects on Tokyo’s bustling streets. He still works today and the documentary tracks his work and glances back at past photos since it was recorded after the 50th anniversary edition of his ground-breaking book, Japan: A Photo Theater which was published in 1968.
愛のコリーダ 「Ai no Kori-da」
Running Time: 109 mins.
Release Date: September 15th, 1976 (France), October 16th, 1976 (Japan)
Director: Nagisa Oshima
Writer: Nagisa Oshima (Screenplay),
Starring: Tatsuya Fuji, Eiko Matsuda, Aoi Nakajima, Yasuko Matsui, Meika Seri, Kanae Kobayashi,
Nagisa Oshima was one of the key figures to emerge from the Japanese New Wave. He died back in 2013 but left a legacy of films that looked at social issues as well as told stories featuring the vicissitudes of interpersonal relations under the harsh social structures of Japanese society. This is seen with In the Realm of the Senses, which proved to be the most incendiary of his works and remains one of the most controversial films of all time.
Synopsis: In the Realm of the Senses retells the infamous real life case of Abe Sada (played here by Eiko Matsuda), a woman with a troubled background who became a restaurant worker. She fell in love with her married employer Kichi (played by Tatsuya Fuji) and the two fled their normal lives and stayed adrift in a hotel where they were sucked into a whirlpool of passionate sex and, ultimately, death.
Director Oshima pursued realism in this film which means that the sex scenes depicted were the subject of fierce arguments over censorship and the line between pornography and art. Knowing that this would happen, Oshima shot the film and sent the footage to France for editing before importing it back into Japan for screenings.
This will be the last large-scale road show of Nagisa Oshima’s works, as they are scheduled to be acquired by a national institution in 2023 (no further details).
海辺の彼女たち「Umibe no Kanojotachi」
Release Date: May 01st, 2021
Duration: 88 mins.
Director: Akio Fujimoto
Writer: Akio Fujimoto (Script),
Starring: Hoang Phuong, Anh Huynh Tuyet, Nhu Quynh
Akio Fujimoto has, so far, specialised in telling Asian stories that reveal profound connections between Japan and its continental neighbours. He previously travelled to Myanmar to make Passage of Life (2017), a film about a family dealing with the pressures of emigrating to Japan, and Bleached Bones Avenue (2019), which shows the process of recovering Japan’s war dead from the Battle of Imphal. I interviewed him about that film. With this movie, he re-assembles his team, including cinematographer Kentaro Kishi, and looks at the fate of three Vietnamese women who are in Japan on a technical internship programme but go on the lam.
You can see my review of this film here.
Synopsis: Phuong, An, and Nhu are Vietnamese women in their early 20s. The three become illegal residents in Japan after escaping from their workplace which has exploited them for the last three months. An has been in contact with a broker who help them find work and a place to stay in Hokkaido in the far north. They can afford to be a little happier because, as well as finding a job, they have a little more freedom but almost as soon as they start their work, Phuong suddenly falls ill, stricken with severe stomach pain. Worried, An and Nhu take Phuong to a hospital, but they are refused admission for not having an ID card. This is the start of their problems.
ファニーバニー 「Fani- Bani-」
Release Date: April 29th, 2021
Duration: 103 mins.
Director: Ken Iizuka
Writer: Ken Iizuka (Screenplay/Original Play)
Starring: Taishi Nakagawa, Amane Okayama, Megumi Seki, Kokoro Morita, Yutaro,
This is based on an original play from 2012 that was made by Ken Iizuka, director of Step, a film from 2020 which starred Takayuki Yamada, and Rainbow Days (2018) which starred Taishi Nakagawa, amongst others.
Synopsis: A self-proclaimed novelist named Satoshi Kenmochi (Taishi Nakagawa) has the ability to recognize suicidal people based on his own righteousness. Satoshi and his best friend Satoshi Urushibara (Amane Okayama) launch an assault on a local library dressed in rabbit costumes. A few years later, another incident, the “radio station hijacking,” occurs. Eventually, the mystery and sad truth behind the two incidents is revealed.
魔進戦隊キラメイジャーVSリュウソウジャー 「Mashin Sentai Kirameija VS Ryusouja-」
Release Date: April 29th, 2021
Duration: 70 mins.
Director: Koichi Sakamoto
Writer: Ayumi Shimo (Screenplay)
Starring: Rio Komiya, Rui Kihara, Yume Shinjo, Atomu Mizuishi, Mio Kudo, Kohei Shoji,
Synopsis: This is the 27th entry of the Super Sentai VS film series where new and old Sentai fight together. In this edition, the Mashin Sentai Kiramager (which aired in March 2020) and the Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger (from 2019) fight together as they end up trapped in a variety of movie worlds produced by Yodonna, the leader of the Dark Empire of Yodonheim. Various people are paired together, such as Sena and Toi who are in an action movie and Saya and Asuna who are in a ladies’ movie (whatever that is). Once this Yodon movie is complete and released in the world, the Earth will become the same environment as Yodonheim! The Kiramagers and Ryusoulgers team up to stop this plan!
中村壱太郎×尾上右近 ART歌舞伎 花のこゝろ 「Nakamura Kazutaro x Onoe Ukon ART Kabuki Hana no Koro」
Release Date: May 01st, 2021
Duration: 86 mins.
Director: Tomoya Nakai
Writer: Sho Asano (Screenplay)
Starring: Kazutaro Nakamura, Ukon Onoe, Genkuro Hanayagi, Ryotaro Fujima,
Synopsis: In July 2020, during the first state of emergency in Japan, a special performance called “ART Kabuki” was screened online as a response to the coronavirus pandemic, a time when live performances were being cancelled. It was created by a set of young kabuki actors, butoh dancers, and traditional Japanese instrumentalist. Costumes and make-up provided by those active in the fashion world. There were four performances, “Four Gods Descending,” “Good Harvest,” “Prayer Festival,” and “All the Flowers.” This performance gets a theatrical release in the latest state of emergency.