Visualized Hearts 可視化する心たち Dir: Akiko Igarashi (2017) Osaka Asian Film Festival Review

Visualized Hearts

可視化する心たちKajika suru kokoro-tachi

Running Time: 76 mins.

Director:  Akiko Igarashi

Writer: Akiko Igarashi (Screenplay),

Starring: Ryuichi Yoshida, Nanami Shirakawa, Yoshio Shin, Aoi Ibuki, Yukina Aoyama, Seishiro Ishida, Riku Tokimitsu, Ayaka Matsui,

JFDB IMDB OAFF

While attending the Osaka Asian Film Festival I saw a whole host of indie films from directors making their debuts or sophomore titles. The festival provided the perfect platform for these new directors to showcase their work, many of which were funded by grants from the Housen Cultural Foundation or the Cineastes Organization Osaka (CO2), or through crowdfunding sites like Motion Gallery. One particular project, Visualised Hearts caught my attention. This film and its director Akiko Igarashi are, in filmic terms, the very definition of the idiom, “a diamond in the rough” but there’s enough potential here to warrant viewing the film and supporting Igarashi, allowing her to polish her talent and shine as a new voice in Japanese science fiction.

Visualised Hearts is Igarashi’s debut feature-length film. She based it on her short film, Kokoro wo Kashikasuru Kikai which was developed as she studied at film school while holding down her company job. Her feature was made on a tiny budget with limited resources and actors recruited from the CO2 Actor Scholarship Project and yet its ideas are big: the benefits and complications of being able to visualise what the human heart feels.

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Suffering of Ninko 「仁光の受難」(2016) Dir: Niwatsukino Norihiro

Suffering of Ninko   

the-suffering-of-ninko-film-poster
the-suffering-of-ninko-film-poster

仁光の受難 Ninko no junan

Running Time: 70 mins.

Director: Niwatsukino Norihiro

Writer: Niwatsukino Norihiro (Screenplay)

Starring: Masato Tsujioka, Miho Wakabayashi, Hideta Iwahashi, Yukino Arimoto, Tomoko Harazaki, Qyoko Kudo,

IMDB  Website

Seeing someone suffer is rarely fun but this film all about a Buddhist priest who is cursed to be sexually irresistible to all around him is sure to amuse audiences.

Ninko (Masato Tsujioka) is a novice Buddhist monk living during the Edo period. He is based at Enmei-ji, a temple in the mountains. He is, in fact, a paragon of a monk, adhering to asceticism to learn his religion, dutifully cooking, cleaning, and praying every day.

The Suffering of Ninko Film Image 3

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Dawn of the Felines「牝猫たち」 Dir:  Kazuya Shiraishi 2016

Dawn of the Felines    dawn-of-the-felines-film-poster

牝猫たち Mesuneko Tachi

Running Time: 84 mins.

Director:  Kazuya Shiraishi

Writer: Kazuya Shiraishi (Screenplay),

Starring: Juri Ihata, Satsuki Maue, Michie, Takuma Otoo, Tomohiro Kaku, Hideaki Murata,

Website IMDB

Dawn of the Felines is another entry in the reboot of the Roman Porno series and it comes from Kazuya Shiraishi who has worked on the rather leaden dramas The Devil’s Path and Twisted Justice. The title is a signal to anyone who knows the Roman Porno movement since it seems to follow on from Night of the Felines, a somewhat light take on the sex lives of people in Tokyo as seen and felt by a group of sex workers in a bathhouse. Dawn of the Felines is the modern update set in the glimmering neon lights and shadowy back streets of Ikebukuro.

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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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CAMERA JAPAN to Screen Two Films at Shofukan in Rotterdam on April 07th

This year will be the twelfth that CAMERA JAPAN has been in operation and it is great that the festival is operating since it offers one of the most comprehensive collections of current Japanese cinema. The 2017 festival dates have already been announced:

September 21st-24th  Rotterdam
September 29th – October 01st Amsterdam

In the run-up to the festival, CAMERA JAPAN are screening a grip of films and this week’s titles are interesting. To find out more about each individual screening, click on the titles/links:

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Japanese Film Festival Ireland Full Programme Line-Up

It’s 23:49 in Osaka and I want to go to sleep but I have important news! The Japan Film Festival Ireland has reached its ninth year and this year’s addition features anime, dramas, and mediums. There are 21 in all and each movie I would like to see. The screenings take place in Dundalk, Cork, Galway, Maynooth, Sligo, Limerick, Dublin, and Waterford and so people in Ireland will get to see really great examples of Japanese cinema.

Here’s the lowdown on the various films being screened. Click on the titles to be taken to the festival page which has more information:

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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”

Third Window Films Release the Tetsuya Mariko film “Destruction Babies” on April 10th

The next home movie release from Third Window Films Destruction Babies,. It was released last year in Japan and cropped up in UK cinemas after it was secured a place on the programme at this year’s Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme. I haven’t seen this one but fellow movie bloggers have. Here’s a snippet of a review from Windows on Worlds, a site run by a writer named Hayley who knows a lot about Japanese cinema:

“Oblique, ambiguous, and soaked in blood, Destruction Babies is a rebel yell for a forlorn hope, as raw as it is disturbing.”

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