Love and Goodbye and Hawaii 恋とさよならとハワイ Dir: Shingo Matsumura (2017) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2017 Film Review

Love and Goodbye and Hawaii Love and Goodbye and Hawaii Film Poster

恋とさよならとハワイKoi to sayonara to Hawai

Running Time: 94 mins.

Director:  Shingo Matsumura

Writer: Shingo Matsumura (Screenplay),

Starring: Aya Ayano, Kentaro Tamura, Momoka Ayukawa, Risa Kameda, Aoi Kato

Website IMDB Eiga

This might sound like damning a film with faint praise but, Love and Goodbye and Hawaii is a nicely shot simple tale about a woman slowly coming to the realisation that a relationship with her ex-boyfriend may well and truly be dead and she faces the decision of whether to resurrect it or move on.

The aforementioned woman is Rinko (Ayu Ayano), a bespectacled twenty-something who works in an office. She has been living with her ex-boyfriend Isamu (Kentaro Tamura), a graduate student, for three years. Indeed, the two have chosen to live together even after they broke up because their situation is comfortable. Although they separate their shared bedroom with a rack of clothes and sleep in different futons on opposite sides of the room, they interact with each other like a regular couple.Love and Goodbye and Hawaii Film Image Race of Love Continue reading “Love and Goodbye and Hawaii 恋とさよならとハワイ Dir: Shingo Matsumura (2017) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2017 Film Review”

Parks Film Review パークス Dir: Natsuki Seta (2017) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2017 Review

Parks        

parks-film-poster-2
parks-film-poster-2

パークス Pa-kusu

Running Time: 118 mins.

Director:  Natsuki Seta

Writer: Natsuki Seta (Screenplay),

Starring: Ai Hashimoto, Mei Nagano, Shota Sometani, Shiro Sano, Reiya Masaki, Ryu Morioka, Shizuka Ishibashi,

Website IMDB

Tokyo is home to many world famous parks such as Yoyogi and Ueno but when I lived in the mega-metropolis I developed a soft spot for Inokashira Park out in the fashionable area of Kichijoji. It may not be as big as the others but I found it an equally wonderful serene green space with lots of interesting features. It recently reached its 100th anniversary and the film “Parks” was commissioned to commemorate the special occasion. Since parks are public spaces that invite a multitude of visitors who form their own stories and memories, the challenge of making a film about the park would be paring down a huge number of ideas and interpretations of the area into a coherent narrative but writer/director Natsuki Seta and her team have managed it by creating an off-beat and charming drama with music at its heart that spans the decades and fully encompasses why parks are treasured by so many people.

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BAMY (2017) バーミー Dir: Jun Tanaka, Osaka Asian Film Festival 2017

Bamy       bamy-film-poster

バーミー Ba-Mi-   

Running Time: 100 mins.

Director: Jun Tanaka

Writer: Jun Tanaka

Starring: Hironobu Yukinaga, Hiromi Nakazato, Misaki Tsuge, Toshi Yanagi, Yuki Katsuragi,

Jun Tanaka’s film, “Bamy” (2017) plays with the myth of the red string of fate – an unbreakable bond that ties people destined to be together – but posits that instead of this being something romantic or joyful, it is nothing but a curse because it reveals that people have no control over their own lives. The string is forced upon individuals who cannot escape what has been preordained by some larger transcendental entity. The film follows this thread of an idea to its natural and almost absurd conclusion in a film that raises itself from being a semi-pastiche of Kurosawa’s modern-day horror classic, “Pulse” (2001), to an entertaining jaunt into a twisted set of romances where not even horrifying ghosts can sever predestined connections between people.

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At the Terrace (2016) テラスにて Dir: Kenji Yamauchi

I have been a bit quiet lately because I have embarked on a new project on another website (more on that) and I have moved to another city in Japan for a couple of weeks. I have also been hanging out with friends who took me to an onsen and then a maid cafe. Despite a hectic schedule I managed to watch one film, At the Terrace. My review for the film At the Terrace is up over at V-Cinema. Here’s a preview with trailer and images following:

At the Terrace

Terasu ni te テラスにて

Release Date: October 2016 (Tokyo International Film Festival)

Running Time: 95 mins.

Director: Kenji Yamauchi

Writer: Kenji Yamauchi (Screenplay),

Starring: Kei Ishibashi, Kami Hiraiwa, Ryuta Furuta, Kenji Iwaya, Hiroaki Morooka, Takashi Okabe, Atsushi Hashimoto,

JFDB

Playwright and director Kenji Yamauchi premiered his film At the Terrace during the 2016 edition of the Tokyo International Film Festival where it garnered positive buzz from critics for its mix of sensuous and caustic comedy. Based on one of his plays, Trois Grotesques, Yamauchi refuses to cleave away too far from his source and keeps things simple with a film shot in a single location with a cast of seven actors, all of whom were players in the preceding play itself. Perhaps because of their familiarity with the material, the director and his cast bring about a film that, while not being particularly cinematic, proves to be awfully amusing and painfully funny as it explores some bitter feelings and bad behaviour bubbling away underneath polite Japanese exteriors of a group of acquaintances.

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Don’t Look Up (1996) 女優霊 Dir: Hideo Nakata

Happy Halloween! This is the time of year when people celebrate the supernatural and ghoulish aspects of popular culture and national myths. I do my part by highlighting horror movies on Halloween night. So far I have reviewed Nightmare DetectiveStrange CircusShokuzaiPOV: A Cursed Film and Charisma. This is the fifth year of this strand
and I am doing it in Tokyo, Japan. The last two weeks has seen the city go into img_1496Halloween overdrive and I am told it is a recent phenomenon. For my part I have viewed things from afar (such as from on top of Roppongi Hills and down onto a parade) rather than get stuck in what looks like a proper melee in jam-packed crowds (boring, I know, but I want to eat my ghost cakes and pumpkin Kitkats and drink my Halloween juice).

Anyway, this year’s film is from the ‘90s and it came from a young director who is now a familiar name thanks to a scary person who curses people via VHS. This isn’t Ringu, it’s an earlier film…

Don’t Look Up   jyoyurei poster

女優霊Joyu-rei

Release Date: March 02nd, 1996

Running Time: 75 mins.

Director: Hideo Nakata

Writer: Hiroshi Takahashi (Screenplay), Hideo Nakata (Original Story)

Starring: Yurei Yanagi, Yasuyo Shirashima, Kei Ishibashi, Ren Osugi, SABU, Daisuke Iijima, Naomi Kojima, Reita Serizawa,

IMDB

We are in Japan in the ‘90s. A promising young director Toshio Murai (Yurei Yanagi) and his beautiful lead actors Hitomi Kurokawa (Kei IshibashI) and Saori Murakami (Kei Ishibashi) and the film staff are working hard on a film in a studio that has been around since the Second World War. It’s a huge place with a set that is built like a traditional house from the 1940s, props and scenery and other feature both modern and from the time of the studios construction as well as a lot of film canisters containing rolls of films from forgotten television shows and movies. It is an ideal location for the war drama being filmed and also place with a lot of memories. There is nothing so out of the ordinary at first glance and with so many people on set it looks like a lot of fun. Unless one looks up.

jyourei-2

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A Road あるみち (2015)

I have been reviewing films for V-Cinema but when it came to Japan Cuts I had a car-crash moment when my computer suffered a breakdown during a teaching course. Problem solved but two months late, here’s the review… and I’m publishing it from Japan…

A Road

あるみち「Aru michi」 

Running Time: 85 mins.

Director: Daichi Sugimoto

Writer: Daichi Sugimoto (Screenplay)

Starring:  Daichi Sugimoto, Yuta Katsukura, Rika Sugimoto,

Website IMDB

Aru Michi Film Image Daichi Sugimoto

A Road is the debut feature-length film directed, produced by and starring Daichi Sugimoto. He is a young tyro still at university but already making a name for himself based on this film which has toured major international film festivals such as Berlin and Japan Cuts and it has won major awards such as the 2015 PIA Film Festival’s Grand Prize. Taking inspiration from his own life Sugimoto has made what is essentially a mixture of documentary and drama, asking the questions of at what point on the road to adulthood do we stop trembling with excitement at the prospect of the mundane things and greet the world with a sigh of indifference and is this change in feelings inevitable?

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Dreams for Sale 夢売るふたり (2012) Dir: Miwa Nishikawa

Dreams for Sale                                  Dreams for Sale Movie Poster

夢売るふたり  Yume Uru Futari

Release Date: September 08th, 2012

Running Time: 137 mins.

Director: Miwa Nishikawa

Writer: Miwa Nishikawa (Screenplay/Original Novel)

Starring: Takako Matsu, Sadao Abe, Lena Tanaka, Sawa Suzuki, Tamae Ando, Yuka Ebara, Tsurube Shoufukutei, Tae Kimrua, Teruyuki Kagawa, Yusuke Iseya, Kanji Furutachi,

Website    IMDB

“Dreams for Sale” is the award-winning fourth feature film from Miwa Nishikawa and it was released in 2012 after having travelled around international film festivals such as the London Film Festival and the Toronto Film Festival. It follows on from her previous film by being a tale of a family riven by deceit and compromised morals but it is far darker than “Wild Berries” and “Dear Doctor”, this feels more akin to “Sway”, tougher.

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Dear Doctor ディア ドクター (2009) Miwa Nishikawa

Dear Doctor    Dear Doctor Film Poster

ディア・ドクター  Dea Dokuta-

Release Date: June 27th, 2009

Running Time: 127 mins.

Director: Miwa Nishikawa

Writer: Miwa Nishikawa (Screenplay/Original Novel)

Starring: Tsurube Shofukutei (Dr. Osamu Ino), Eita (Keisuke Soma), Kimiko Yo (Akemi Ohtake), Teruyuki Kagawa (Masayoshi Saimon), Kaoru Yachigusa (Kaduko Torikai), Haruka Igawa (Ritsuko Torikai), Ryo Iwamatsu (Lieutenant Yoshifumi Okayasu), Yutaka Matushige (Sergeant Hatano),

Website    IMDB

Miwa Nishikawa follows up her perfect twisted Tokyo-based family drama Wild Berries with this title about a countryside doctor who may not be what he appears to be. Despite the bucolic setting replacing Tokyo the themes are much the same as in her debut film, deception and desperation.

Dear Doctor takes place in a remote town in the middle of the countryside. It’s nighttime and creatures lurking in the rice fields croak and murmur in the darkness.  A man riding into town on a bicycle along a poorly lit road stops and puts on a doctor’s coat he finds lying on the ground. He continues cycling all the way to the clinic where a cluster of elderly villagers and police officers question him. Where did he find the coat? Where’s the doctor it’s normally attached to?

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Wild Berries 蛇イチゴ (2003) Miwa Nishikawa

Wild Berries    

Wild Berries FIlm Poster
Wild Berries FIlm Poster

蛇イチゴ Hebi Ichigo

Release Date: September 06th, 2003

Running Time: 119 mins.

Director: Miwa Nishikawa

Writer: Miwa Nishikawa (Screenplay),

Starring: Hiroyuki Miyasako, Miho Tsumiki, Sei Hiraizumi, Naoko Otani, Toru Tezuka, Moeko Ezawa, Susumu Terajima, Matsunosuke Shofukutei, Shota Sometani,

Website    IMDB

 

This is a huge review because I really like the film. It goes into detail without spoiling anything but you may want to watch the film before reading any further. A quick summation of the review: this is a debut movie? It’s perfect! Miwa Nishikawa is a genius!

Continue reading “Wild Berries 蛇イチゴ (2003) Miwa Nishikawa”

The Bride of Rip Van Winkle リップヴァンウィンクルノ花嫁 (2016) Dir: Shunji Iwai

I recently landed a role as contributor to V-Cinema and I have reviewed a number of films for the website. I have been something of a fan and enjoyed listening to their podcasts when they have covered Japanese cinema so I’m pretty excited to be a part of the team and helping to highlight Japanese cinema. Writing reviews is something I enjoy doing and I hope people enjoy reading my reviews!

A Bride for Rip Van Winkle Nanami (Haru Kuroki)

Here’s a snippet of my review of the film A Bride for Rip Van Winkle (2016), the latest from the auteur Shunji Iwai. It is one of three films directed by him at the New York Asian Film Festival which is where he will pick up a lifetime achievement award. You can find more images plus a trailer and a link to the full review further down the post.

Continue reading “The Bride of Rip Van Winkle リップヴァンウィンクルノ花嫁 (2016) Dir: Shunji Iwai”