Summer Lights 「なつのひかり」 Dir:  Jean-Gabriel Periot 2016

Summer LightsSummer Nights Film Poster

なつのひかり Natsu no Hikari

Running Time: 83 mins

Director:  Jean-Gabriel Periot

Writer: Jean-Gabriel Periot (Screenplay), Yoko Harano (Collaboration),

Starring: Akane Natsukawa, Hiroto Ogi, Yuzu Horie, Keiji Izumi, Mamako Yoneyama,

UniFrance   Website    IMDB

Summer Lights comes from the award-winning French filmmaker Jean-Gabriel Périot. His past work has focussed on non-fiction short films about war, human rights and political struggle. He continues to explore these issues here in his first fiction film about a documentary filmmaker in the company of a capricious young woman who guides him around the city of Hiroshima, the two discovering some of the stories and traumas of the past whilst life blooms around them.

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Aroused by Gymnopedies「ジムノペディに乱れる」 Director:  Isao Yukisada (2017)

Aroused by Gymnopedies   Aroused by Gymnopedies Film Poster

ジムノペディに乱れる 「Gymnopedies ni Midareru

Running Time: 83 mins

Director:  Isao Yukisada

Writer: Isao Yukisada, Anne Horizumi (Screenplay),

Starring: Itsuji Itao, Sumire Ashina, Izumi Okamura, Noriko Kijima, Yuko Miyamoto, Masaki Miura, Kenji Iwatani, Mayumi Tajima,

Website IMDB

Aroused by Gymnopedies is one of the five films commissioned by Nikkatsu to be part of its reboot of the Roman Porno genre. Isao Yukisada directs and co-writes a self-reflexive story about the craft of filmmaking involving a once-great director who finds himself on skid-row and carrying a sadness that seemingly not even sex with a series of beautiful women can relieve.

The has-been director is fifty-something Shinji Furuya (Itsuji Itao). He was once a rising star in arthouse cinema capable of making great works that won awards at places like the Venice Film Festival but over the course of time his taste for womanising ballooned and something happened to him that made him fall from the heavens of the film industry and into a hellish landscape of melancholy and self-pity. He is now reduced to directing pink films for money, a stony-faced chain-smoking presence on set and a silent solitary man juggling debts in private. His latest production has turned into a disaster because his lead actress Anri (Izumi Okamura) has dropped out and he’s going to lose a desperately-needed paycheck.

Aroused by Gymnopedies Film Image

Thrown deeper into his mire of depression and with bills to pay he shambles around Tokyo over the course of seven days he alternately looking for money and slumps from one female acquaintance’s bed to another. Alas, he seems to get no joy from the sex he has with beautiful woman and he even rejects their offers of comfort. He soldiers on in being miserable because he carries an emotional burden too great for others to solve and it seems to be connected to a woman who plays the Erik Satie piano piece Gymnopedies in flashbacks he experiences

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Wet Woman in the Wind「風に濡れた女 」 2017 Dir: Akihiko Shiota

Wet Woman in the Wind   Wet Woman in the Wind Film Poster

風に濡れた女 Kaze ni nureta onna

Running Time: 78 mins.

Director:  Akihiko Shiota

Writer: Akihiko Shiota (Screenplay),

Starring: Tasuku Nagaoka, Yuki Mamiya, Ryushin Tei, Takahiro Kato, Hitomi Nakatani, Michiko Suzuki, Yuumi Akagi,

Website IMDB

The Roman Porno label is back for a series of five films to celebrate 45 years since the Nikkatsu film studio launched the originals.

Over the last year or so this specific sub-genre of soft-core porn films has been resurrected and they have cropped up at various festivals such as International Film Festival Rotterdam and Nippon Connection. Audiences have been able to see these newer entries in the series celebrate their antecedents by following the same rules of creation laid out by their predecessors – a short shoot of about a week to create something lasting 80 minutes with sex scenes every ten minutes or so. Writers and directors were free to explore various themes and settings whether it be sexual politics to historical tales to self-reflexive comedies based on the film world.

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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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