I Am Not Madame Bovary (2016), Dir: Xiaogang Feng, China, Osaka Asian Film Festival 2017

I Am Not Madame Bovary   i-am-not-madame-bovary-film-poster

わたしは潘金蓮じゃない Watashi ha Pan jin-lian janai   

Running Time: 139 mins.

Director: Xiaogang Feng

Writer: Zhenyun Liu (Original Novel/Screenplay)

Starring: Bingbing Fan, Lixin Zhao, Yi Zhang, Tao Guo, Ziaogang Feng, Chengpeng Dong

IMDB

I Am Not Madam Bovary” is a Chinese film adapted for the screen by Liu Zhenyun from his own 2012 novel, “I Did Not Kill My Husband.” The use of the name of Gustave Flaubert’s 19th Century novel is to make thematic connections for audiences familiar with the tragic titular adulteress (the Chinese/Japanese title features the name of another fallen woman famous throughout East Asia) but it is also quite apt since it details one woman’s determined efforts to clear her name of adultery and seek legal justice. This story starts out as a seemingly little domestic spat in a provincial town but turns into a ten-year odyssey of absurd quantities that nearly reaches the highest level of state as the film turns into a mischievous critique cheekily challenging Chinese officialdom through satirising the legal system.

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Birdshot (2016) Dir: Mikhail Red, Philippines, Osaka Asian Film Festival 2017

Birdshot    birdshot-film-poster

バードショット Ba-do Shotto   

Running Time: 116 mins.

Director: Mikhail Red

Writer: Mikhail Red, Rae Red,

Starring: Mary Joy Apostol, Manuel Aquino, John Arcilla, Arnold Reyes,

IMDB

“Birdshot” is the sophomore film from writer/director Mikhail Red, winner of the best new director award at the 2014 Vancouver International Film Festival for his debut feature, “Rekorder,” an urban crime tale in the same vein as “Blow-Up” (1966) and “Blow Out” (1981) in which a cameraman who haunts night-time cinema screenings in tech-obsessed Manila accidentally records a murder and finds himself hunted. “Birdshot” is a similar tale of people being hunted but it is set in the sunny low-tech open spaces of the Philippine countryside.

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Osaka Asian Film Festival 2017 Program Part 1: Opening and Closing Films and Competition Films

oaff2017_posterart_english

The organisers behind Osaka Asian Film Festival (OAFF) released the full programme of every film that will be screened during its run from March 03rd until March 12th last week and it’s an impressive line-up.

The beginning of the year is always a busy one when it comes to international film festivals since Rotterdam and Berlin showcase their programmes and start screening things that will filter to the rest of the world at some point. Add the Osaka Asian Film Festival to that list because it is establishing itself as a platform for Asian filmmakers. This year demonstrates why it has a growing international reputation since there are many world and international premieres and a lot of filmmakers are going to attend the festival to talk about their work. On top of writing my usual previews for the aforementioned festival, I am working for Osaka as well.

Full disclosure, I am at the festival in the capacity as a writer, helping out with the event and watching some of the films. I will attempt to review as many as possible but for now, I’ll give previews.

I’m very excited to bring these previews to you not least because I wrote the synopses for each of them and I got a chance to watch some of the films already and the amount of talent I have seen is impressive. As a person based in the West, sometimes it’s difficult to see what the rest of the world produces in terms of cinema so this is a real education for me. The titles from the Philippines and Thailand have been really impressive and show local film industries that are producing daring and interesting works.

Here’s what has been programmed for the opening, closing and competition films. There is mention of guests but to get the full information about which screening they are attending, please visit the Event Page, the Guest Page or one of my earlier announcements. To find out more about each of the films, please click on the titles/links to be taken to the festival site. I have also included links to IMDB and the film’s websites where possible.

Here’s what’s going to be screened (the entire list I made into a sticky post on the main page of this site will be updated with some of this information):

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RUINED HEART: Another Love Story Between a Criminal and a Whore (2014)

RUINED HEART: Another Love Story Between a Criminal and a Whore 

Ruined Heart DVD Cover
Ruined Heart DVD Cover

UK Release Date: December 07th, 2015 via Third Window Films

Running Time: 73 mins.

Directors: Khavn

Writer: Khavn (Screenplay)

Starring: Tadanobu Asano, Nathalia Acevedo, Andre Puertollano, Elena Kazan, Vim Nadera

Website   IMDB

The latest release from Third Window Films is Ruined Heart: Another Love Story Between a Criminal and a Whore. That long title should give an indication that the audience is going to be given a familiar tale of forbidden love with archetypal characters but the way it is shot and the use of songs makes the film different.

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The Gift (2015)

The Gift   The Gift Film Poster

UK Release Date: August 07th, 2015

Running Time: 108 mins.

Directors: Joel Edgerton

Writer: Joel Edgerton (Screenplay)

Starring: Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall, Joel Edgerton, Wendell Pierce, Nash Edgerton,

When you meet the person of your dreams, the one you want to spend the rest of your life with, would you tell them about the less flattering moments in your history, the bad bits that make you ashamed? Or would you leave them out and make a future with them? I think we would all like to craft a new reality and leave out the bad bits even if it isn’t being totally honest.

The Gift is all about the differences between perception and reality. Through the way we speak, the way we cultivate our appearance, a few spoken sentences and the content we put into and omit from those sentences, we can create ideas of who we are and influence people’s perception of us. The characters all project their best selves to the world but when the past comes back to haunt one of them they find what they considered their reality shifting.

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Genkina hito’s Top Twelve Films of 2014

Better late than never! And why twelve? Because it’s hard to decide! This is my list of top twelve films I saw in 2014 so it covers movie releases both new and old. I watched a lot of films in 2014. I was going to the cinema nearly two or three times a month and renting/buying a lot of films so I have built up an impressive list that spans genres and eras ‘60s (Kuroneko, Female Convict Scorpion Jailhouse 41) and ‘80s (Blade Runner, Ghostbusters) and 2014s…

The World of Kanako TsumabukiMy cinematic year began not with a Japanese film but American Hustle, a nice distraction before I headed down to London for the 2014 edition of the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme. I came away from that film festival profoundly moved by the humanism and simple beauty of everyday life I saw in Kimi no Tomodachi, the perfect drama with a plucky protagonist in Shindo and the very dark existential drama Parade. I followed that with a trip to the Kotatsu Japanese Animation Film Festival where I cried buckets over Colorful and saw the future of anime in Patema Inverted. Despite loving these films so much it has taken me nearly a year to write/publish reviews of them because I was constantly going to the Belle (Mbatha-Raw) and Elizabeth (Gadon) in Bellecinema to see the likes of Blue Ruin, The Wind Rises, Deliver Us From Evil, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and Belle. Kotatsu was followed by the 2014 Terracotta Far East Film Festival in May which is where I met Akira Nagai, director of Judge!, the actors of Be My Baby, and I enjoyed watching The Snow White Murder Case. In September/October/November I was in London for the Raindance Film Festival and BFI London Film Festival where I met and interviewed/talked to even more directors. Out of all the films I watched between the two festivals it was Fuku-chan of Fukufuku Flats and The World of Kanako which impressed me the most.

Overall, 2014 was a good year for my Japanese film viewing but my final list contains a lot of western films. Here are my top films from 2014.

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Cold in July (2014)

Cold in July (2014)   Cold in July UK Poster

UK Release Date: June, 2014

Running Time: 109 mins.

Director: Jim Mickle

Writer: Jim Mickle, Nick Damici (Screenplay), Joe R. Lansdale (Story)

Starring: Michael C. Hall, Sam Shepard, Don Johnson, Nick Damici, Vinessa Shaw,

Director Jim Mickle and actor/writer Nick Damici have had a run of horror films with alternative zombie plague chiller Mulberry St (2006), downbeat and savage dystopian vampire film Stake Land (2010) and the remake of the Mexican cannibal film, We Are What We Are (2013), but here they trade genres opting to go for a pulpy thriller based on a novel by Joe R Lansdale.

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Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

Edge of Tomorrow (2014)  Edge of Tomorrow UK Film Poster

UK Release Date: May 30th, 2014 (seen at a cinema on the same day I watched Godzilla)

Running Time: 99 mins.

Director: Doug Liman

Writer: Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth (Screenplay), Hiroshi Sakurazaka (Original Novel)

Starring: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, Brendan Gleeson, Charlotte Riley, Noah Taylor, Franz Drameh, Madeleine Mantock,

Warning Spoilers for some of Tom Cruise’s earlier films in the opening paragraph:

Tom Cruise dies in this one. Not that revealing his character’s death spoils the movie. Edge of Tomorrow is based on a novel where the main protagonist dies quite a bit. That’s what makes the film surprisingly fun. Of course, A-list Hollywood actors can die and even Tom kicks the bucket in a number of his own films like The Last Samurai and Collateral but few films take great delight showing Tom get crushed, shot, impaled, drowned, blown up, and more in all manners of inventive and grisly ways over and over again in a smart and surprisingly vicious sci-fi war movie.

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Nightcrawler (2014)

Nightcrawler (2014)   Nightcrawler Film Poster

UK Release Date: June, 2014

Running Time: 109 mins.

Director: Dan Gilroy

Writer: Dan Gilroy (Screenplay),

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russon, Bill Paxton, Riz Ahmed, Michael Hyatt, Price Carson,

The film begins with soaring optimistic music that tends to play when you have stories about The American Dream but the visuals subvert the cliches we expect. Instead of scenes suffused with sunlight and filled with beautiful smiling people our first images are of L.A. at night, bright neon lights and billboards, wide roads that stretch endlessly and crushingly heavy-looking black skies.

There is potential out there, but it will come from somewhere unexpected.

We soon meet our main protagonist chasing The American Dream.

Nightcrawler Lou Bloom (Gyllenhaal) 2

Lou Bloom (Gyllenhaal), a gaunt ghoulish shadowy figure who is comfortable stalking the night. We catch him in the process of stealing manhole covers and other metal objects to sell for scrap. Within minutes of his introduction he will kill someone. By the end of the film many more will die as he tries to achieve his own success story through being a freelance crime journalist, recording death scenes from accidents and violent crime and selling them to TV news veteran Nina (Russo) so she can boost ratings for her middling local station.

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The Guest (2014)

The Guest (2014)   The Guest Film Poster

UK Release Date: September 05th, 2014

Running Time: 99 mins.

Director: Adam Wingard

Writer: Simon Barrett (Screenplay),

Starring: Dan Stevens, Maika Monroe, Sheila Kelley, Lance Reddick, Brendan Meyer, Leland Orser, Tabatha Shaun,

Mumblegore film You’re Next (2013) put director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett firmly on the map with its blend of classy visuals and genre-mixing as a family came under siege from brutal masked killers in a home invasion horror meets black comedy film. They do much the same here in The Guest, a film which feels like a take on 80s style thrillers complete with glorious synth soundtrack with an added dose of slasher horror.

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