Here and Here 憧れ Dir: Yoshimasa Jimbo (2017) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018

Here and Here 

憧れ Akogare

Running Time: 20 mins.

Release Date: 2018

Director: Yoshimasa Jimbo

Writer: Yoshimasa Jimbo (Screenplay),

Starring: Heo Rynn, Heo Min-kyung, Lee Yoon-sun, Lee Hae-soon,

Website IMDB

The South Korean city of Busan is most famous as a hotbed of cinema and politics and one of the many projects it hosts is a three-week film-making residency that allows directors to make a short film with a Korean cast and staff which will then be screened at the UNESCO sponsored Busan Inter-City Film Festival. Taking part in last year’s residency was Jimbo Yoshimasa whose high-quality work, “Here and Here” turns the camera on the city and its residents in a drama about a pregnant woman confronting her fears about giving birth.

Taking place over the course of one day, we follow Mina, a writer for B.Cent magazine. Despite being seven-months pregnant, she is stomping the streets of Busan for an article. Her assignment is collecting people’s first memories through a series of interviews. Old men and young girls, whoever catches her attention gets questioned and their answers are recorded. Behind her smiles, she is anxious about what giving birth feels like as is revealed through an underlying subtext of her fears that emerges during her interviews and phone conversations with someone from her personal life.

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NAGISA なぎさ Dir: Takeshi Kogahara (2017) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018


なぎさ Nagisa

Running Time: 18 mins.

Release Date: June 17th, 2017

Director: Takeshi Kogahara

Writer: Takeshi Kogahara (Screenplay),

Starring: Kenshin Endo, Himeka Asami, Shu Takaura, Namiko Ikeda, Ruri Ikeda, Minami Muroi,

Cinematic explorations of first love are seemingly a dime a dozen but each can be special if given a twist and Nagisa” is special. This is a tale of innocent love at the height of summer as a schoolboy tries to get closer to the titular Nagisa and what makes it special is that Takeshi Kogahara uses various cinematic techniques to show how a human connection and a moment in time can imprint itself in a person’s memory and heart and influence a life. 

It all starts on the edge of the school pool, Fuminao, sensitive and quiet, is sat next to his classmate, the playful and coy Nagisa.

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Transferring 転校生  Dir: Junichi Kanai (2012)


校生  「Tenkousei」    

Running Time: 20 mins.

Release Date: 2012

Director: Junichi Kanai

Writer: Junichi Kanai (Screenplay),

Starring: Aoi Morikawa, Riko Masuda, Tomoki Fujiwara,


Junichi Kanai’s short film, “Transferring” was the winner of the Sonje Award at the 2012 Pusan International Film Festival and Best Picture at the Skip City International D-Cinema Festival 2013. This is a touching and amusing comedy about two outsiders making a connection.

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Before We Vanish 散歩する侵略者 Dir:  Kiyoshi Kurosawa (2017)

Before We Vanish (English Title) / Strolling Invader (Literal Title)  Before We Vanish Film Poster

 散歩する侵略者 Sanpo suru Shinryakusha

Running Time: 129 mins.

Release Date: September 09th , 2017

Director:  Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Writer: Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Screenplay), Tomohiro Maekawa (Original Stageplay),

Starring: Ryuhei Matsuda, Masami Nagasawa, Mahiro Takasugi, Yuri Tsunematsu, Hiroki Hasegawa,

Website IMDB

Kiyoshi Kurosawa is often pigeon-holed as a horror director with ghosts lurking in the darkness but his latest title, Before We Vanish is his first alien invasion movie and features the threat in broad daylight. Based on a stageplay by Tomohiro Maekawa which was first performed in 2005, this film appeared at last year’s Cannes Film Festival and has had a dorama spin-off. A glib comparison might be Invasion of the Body Snatchers, as aliens travel to Earth and take human hosts but in this chat-pocalypse the tension is dialled down for a surprisingly effective examination of what it means to be human with surprising results that may or may not stop the end of humanity.

Somewhere in Shizuoka, freelance designer Narumi (Masami Nagasawa) and her salaryman husband Shinji Kase (Ryuhei Matsuda) are having problems of the marital sort. He is suspected of cheating and has recently disappeared so when Narumi is summoned to a hospital to pick him up she is furious. However, the man facing her in the doctor’s office seems like a totally different person, a blank slate with vague memories of his life and a problem knowing how to navigate social situations and even use his body properly. Things learned over time have been shorn away from him including the basic meaning behind various ideas such as possession, family, and love. He wants to learn these things and so he asks Narumi to be his guide. When she isn’t around, he likes to go for a walk and talk to random people and get their understanding of a situation or word. What happens next reveals his alien nature as he engages in a game of word association. He gently questions people until he actually sees the ideas visually forming in their head and, once that happens, he touches the person’s forehead and plucks the idea away, learning a new concept while erasing it from the speaker. Sinec he’s an alien, it is how he learns what makes humans work.

Before We Vanish Film Image

After so many relationship problems, Narumi is surprised by her kinder and gentler man who tries to understand her more. What she doesn’t know is that she has the easier alien to deal with.

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Love and Other Cults 獣道 Dir:  Eiji Uchida (2017)

Love and Other Cults   Love and Other Cults Film Poster

獣道 「Kemonomichi

Running Time: 95 mins

Release Date: March 26th, 2018

Director:  Eiji Uchida

Writer: Eiji Uchida (Screenplay),

Starring: Sairi Ito, Kenta Suga, Kaito Yoshimura, Hidenobu Abera, Antony, Denden, Hanae Kan, Leona Hirota, Tomoko Hayakawa,

Website IMDB

Not every romance is clean and tidy but the latest film from Eiji Uchida, director of Greatful Dead (2014) and Lowlife Love (2016) is the messiest and grimiest one you will see without Takashi Miike levels of gore and craziness involved. This story of star-crossed lovers is, however, everyday crazy as we see the lowest of Japanese society try and claw their way out of small town criminality and exploitation.

The film’s central couple are Ai (Sairi Itoh) and Ryota (Kenta Suga). The two meet in school and sparks start flying almost immediately but their passion is of the confrontational kind where arguments flare up. Unable to recognise love or express it, they part ways and meet up again at various points in their lives. The reason for their fractious relationship is that neither has had a stable home. We get Ai’s story for the most part and glimpses of Ryota’s while he also offers narration over the entire film which acts like a Greek chorus summing up what has gone wrong for the characters. Indeed, Ai’s story is one of constant tragedy and a search for a family.

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Destruction Babies ディストラクション・ベイビーズ Dir: Tetsuya Mariko (2016)

Destruction Babies   


ディストラクション・ベイビーズ 「Deisutorakushon Beibi-zu

Running Time: 108 mins.

Director:  Tetsuya Mariko

Writer: Tetsuya Mariko, Kohei Kiyasu (Screenplay),

Starring: Yuya Yagira, Masaki Suda, Nana Komatsu, Nijiro Murakami, Sosuke Ikematsu, Denden,

Website IMDB

Writer-director Tetsuya Mariko’s fourth feature film is a realistic take on the idea of anger begetting more anger with nothing to break the cycle as a teen named Taira terrifies Shikoku with a wave of violence that draws a variety of innocents and other outsiders into a twisted game.

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Our Blue Moment, River’s Edge, Cherry Boys, Sunny / 32, Kamen Rider Para-DX with Poppy, Kurueru sekai no tame no rekuiemu, Gure- no ko panda chiisana gure-to no seicho- nikki, Clairvoyance (Cicada), Raika, Raizu Dharuriser – The Movie, 9, N.Y. Maxman, Panda kopanda, Panda kopanda Rainy Day Circus Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, people!

I hope you are all well. I’m still spending a lot of my free time writing about lots of different things but I had more time to do the trailer post this week which is ironic because last weekend had the better batch of films that I wanted to pay more attention to. This weekend does have some appealing titles like Sunny 32 and that’s mostly because of the cast. I played catch-up by posting about the Japanese Films at the Glasgow Film Festival and posting a review for the wonderful ensemble comedy Room for Let. Also released was a lot of information for this year’s Osaka Asian Film Festival and the line-up of films is pretty fine!

What is released this weekend?

Continue reading “Our Blue Moment, River’s Edge, Cherry Boys, Sunny / 32, Kamen Rider Para-DX with Poppy, Kurueru sekai no tame no rekuiemu, Gure- no ko panda chiisana gure-to no seicho- nikki, Clairvoyance (Cicada), Raika, Raizu Dharuriser – The Movie, 9, N.Y. Maxman, Panda kopanda, Panda kopanda Rainy Day Circus Japanese Film Trailers”


Room For Let    貸間あり Dir: Yuzo Kawashima (1959)

Room For Let   貸間あり Film Poster

貸間あり Kashima Ari

Running Time: 112 mins.

Release Date: June 02nd, 1959

Director: Yuzo Kawashima

Writer: Giichi Fujimoto, Yuzo Kawashima (Screenplay), Masuji Ibuse (Original Novel),

Starring: Frankie Sakai, Nobuko Otowa, Ikio Sawamura, Etsuko Ichihara, Takeshi Kato, Chikage Awashima, Chieko Naniwa, Shoichi Ozawa,


This comedy gem was programmed by Britain’s Japan Foundation for their 2018 Touring Film Programme to celebrate the centenary of Yuzo Kawashima (1918 – 1963), a master Yuzo Kawashimaof satire who was little-known outside of Japan until around the 2010s when festivals like Berlin started programming restored prints of his films. The Japan Society in New York also recently screened a number of his films so his profile is rising. Closer to the UK it is hard to get many of his titles but we have one film at least, “Bakumatsu Taiyoden” (1957), which was released via Eureka’s Masters of Cinema label and it proved to be a funny ensemble comedy set during the Bakumatsu period when the shogunate was coming to an end. This historical setting is, according to experts, an outlier for what Kawashima was known for which was telling tales tragedy and comedy in the lives of ordinary people in post-war Japan, a nation in flux as people returned from colonies and front-lines, emerged from rubble-strewn streets and charred houses, to find a more liberal set of ideas taking root in the home islands with traditional social structures being modernised, cities being rebuilt, and everybody on the make. Indeed, it seems Room For Let is more representative of his output and some suggest it even goes as far as to act as a link between the formalised Golden Age of cinema and the New Wave as the chaotic sense of change and oddball personalities are captured on screen with class and plenty of ribald humour. Seeing it as part of the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2018 with a friend was great but having the privilege of seeing a rare 35mm print was fantastic as we were taken back in time to 1950s Osaka!

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Joy of Man’s Desiring 人の望みの喜びよ  Dir: Masakazu Sugita (2014)

Joy of Man’s Desiring   Joy of Man's Desiring Film Poster

人の望みの喜びよ  Hitono Nozomino Yorokobiyo

Running Time: 85 mins.

Director: Masakazu Sugita

Writer: Masakazu Sugita (Screenplay),

Starring: Ayane Omori, Riku Ohishi, Naoko Yoshimoto, Koichiro Nishi

Website    IMDB

Following the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, Director Masakazu Sugita put into production a film dedicated to the orphans left behind after natural disasters. It was something he had long planned since he himself was a survivor of the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake and was only 14 years old at the time. The result is Joy of Man’s Desiring, a gentle yet deeply powerful human drama which received Special Mention at the 64th Berlin International Film Festival, as well as being nominated for the Best First Feature Award in 2014.

The story revolves around two siblings, twelve-year-old Haruna (Ayane Omori) and her brother, five-year-old Shota (Riku Ohishi). When an earthquake strikes their town, their house collapses and buries their family alive. Haruna was able to escape but was unable to save her parents while Shota survived by some miracle.

Joy of Man's Desiring Film Image

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Sword of the Stranger ストレンヂア -無皇刃譚- Dir: Masahiro Ando (2007)

Sword of the Stranger    Sword of the Stranger Film Poster

ストレンヂア -無皇刃譚- Mukou Hadan

Running Time: 82 mins.

Release Date: September 29th, 2007

Director:  Masahiro Ando

Writer: Fumihiko Takayama (Screenplay),

Starring: Tomoya Nagase (Nanashi), Yuri Chinen (Kotarou), Atsushi Ii (Bailuan), Kouichi Yamadera (Luolan Rarou), Junko Minagawa (Mu-You),

Animation Production: STUDIO BONES

Website MAL ANN

Sword of the Stranger is an incredible action spectacle built around a good old fashioned chambara story brought to life with a flair and dedication to the details of the era and the characters in it through an incredible anime aesthetic that accentuates the physical world, a place of movement, passion, lies, loyalty, and action!

The story kicks off in Sengoku era Japan with intrigue and excitement as the first thing we see is a temple set ablaze and a boy named Kotaro (Yuri Chinen) and his loyal dog Tobimaru fleeing the scene. He is being pursued by the royal army of China’s Ming Dynasty. They have been hunting him for over a year and the net is closing as the boy and his dog run through the bleak wintry countryside and along the coast of the small state of Akaike. When Tobimaru is injured in an ambush, Kotaro reluctantly recruits a mysterious, nameless samurai as his bodyguard with the promise of payment. However, “No-name” (Tomoya Nagase) has a guilty past and his own inner demons to battle, all of which comes out in the open in an epic chase narrative. 

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