Cinema Angel, Grasshopper, Gekijouban Mozu, Terminal, Tsugaku Densha, Iroasete Colorful, 7’s, Duel, Wasure yuki, Vomit Love from Rancid Town and Other Japanese Film Trailers

Hello, dear readers.

Charisma Yabuki (Yakusho) and Mitsuko (Fubuki) Talk

I have been terribly lazy about writing films this week. I have spent more time working and more time practicing Japanese and less time watching films. I did see the latest James Bond movie, Spectre, in a cinema and it was BLOODY FANTASTIC. I walked out of it feeling utterly satisfied, striding out of the cinema with a gleeful smile on my face. I might write a review of it (and Sicario). If I do it won’t be until the week after next. I may not write a review and may get back to watching Japanese films.

The last film I watched/reviewed was Charisma (1999), a thoroughly brilliant existential horror movie from my favourite director Kiyoshi Kurosawa.

What’s released this weekend in Japan?

Continue reading “Cinema Angel, Grasshopper, Gekijouban Mozu, Terminal, Tsugaku Densha, Iroasete Colorful, 7’s, Duel, Wasure yuki, Vomit Love from Rancid Town and Other Japanese Film Trailers”

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Doctor Who 50th Episode The Day of the Doctor

The War Doctor (John Hurt): “Hello”         Doctor who 50th Episode Poster

Doctor Who (David Tennant): “I’m the Doctor”

Doctor Who (Matt Smith): “Sorry about the Dalek”

Clara: “Also the showing off”

Spoilers (slight ones, at least)

I used to write about Doctor Who (and even the Sarah Jane Adventures) here when I first started this blog but stopped because there was little that grabbed my attention (okay there was the Van Gogh episode and last season’s one about the haunted manor) and I wanted to focus on films and anime. All that changed with last night’s episode celebrating the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who. It is worth writing about because this episode was really well done.

This episode was meant to be big. The last episode of the last season ended on this stunning revelation:

Doctor Who Season 12

News and trailers and one-off mini episodeswere steadily released by the BBC. David Tennant and Billie Piper were coming back. Ace actor JOHN HURT was going to play The War Doctor in the heart of the Time War. It was going to play in a cinema as a 3D feature.

Continue reading “Doctor Who 50th Episode The Day of the Doctor”

Penance Shokuzai 贖罪 (2012)

Penance Eiko Koike Banner

Penance                   Shokuzai Drama Poster

Romaji: Shokuzai

Japanese Title: 贖罪

Running Time: 300 mins.

Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Writer: Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Script), Kanae Minato (Original Novel)

Starring: Kyoko Koizumi, Eiko Koike, Sakura Ando, Chizuru Ikewaki, Yu Aoi, Mirai Moriyama, Ryo Kase, Teruyuki Kagawa, Hirofumi Arai

For the last few years I have reviewed a J-horror film or something twisted for this blog for Halloween. Well, I was reviewing lots of J-horror anyway but I would only write about something really good, usually from my favourite directors like Nightmare Detective (Shinya Tsukamoto) and Strange Circus (Sion Sono). This year I will review Penance directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa.

kurosawa-penance

It was originally broadcast on the Japanese TV station WOWOW in five parts. A shorter version running at 270 minutes toured western film festivals like Venice and the East End Film Festival so it could be watched in one go. It has picked up for distribution by Music Box Films for release in the UK/Canada and US some time next year. I have watched the original episodes made for Japanese TV.

Penance is a five-episode TV drama based on Kanae Minato’s 317 page novel of the same name (Minato also wrote the novel which the film Confessions is based on) and is Kurosawa’s follow-up to the magnificent Tokyo Sonata.

Penance Emiri in School

Emiri Aachi is an elementary school student whose family have moved from urban Tokyo to sleepy Ueda due to her father’s work. She makes friends with four girls named Sae, Maki, Akiko and Yuka. Emiri is the fashionable one who has all of the latest things and she brings some excitement into the lives of the girls but strange things are going on including the theft of French dolls. One day when the five girls are playing volleyball at school they are approached by a man dressed in work-clothes. He has been watching them intently and asks for their help in repairing the ventilation system in the school gym.

Penance Inciting Incident  Continue reading “Penance Shokuzai 贖罪 (2012)”

Torchwood Miracle Day Quick Post

Torchwood Miracle Day which is currently airing on BBC One and I am enjoying it.

Speaking as a fan of Doctor Who, I respect Russell T. Davies for dragging Doctor Who from the deepest darkest pit of science fiction and back into the mainstream. (That said I am more of a fan of the Steven Moffat era which is darker.)

When Davies left Doctor who to work on Torchwood I was intrigued but it never really caught my imagination. It was meant to be a more adult spin-off from Doctor Who but came across as a low-rent X-Files. The ideas were mostly good but the execution was occasionally lacking, dialogue could sometimes waver on terrible and the tone was uneven and they needed a bigger budget. Re-reading that I feel I’m being too mean because it was far more original than a lot of stuff on television.

When I heard it was moving to America courtesy of Starz network I was a little cynical about how it might work but with American money and the visions in Russell T. Davies’s head have a big enough canvas to be explored and enjoyed.

I think a lot of this comes down to the hiring of Jane Espenson. All of those criticisms I made earlier about the writing, gone. She’s a veteran of genre TV in America having worked on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Battlestar Galactica and she has smoothed the transition and now the show is set-up and the forces are in place I can’t wait to see the resulting fireworks. What has gone down so far has been a mix of the gruesome and the action-packed with a tone that is far more familiar from big-budget American sci-fi shows but with the originality that Russel T. Davies brings.

The Torchwood GangActing is brilliant and the tone they get fits well for what I think Davies has always aimed for. John Barrowman is as charming as ever playing Captain Jack and Eve Myles plays her Welshness up well as Gwen Cooper. The new cast of Mekhi Phifer (from E.R. and the brilliant Spike Lee film Clockers) as C.I.A. Agent Rex Matheson and Alexa Havins as Esther Drummond gel in nicely. The American characters fit in rather well and moving the show to the US has been well handled. Although I’ll miss Cardiff as a location the bigger scope offered by the US is welcome.

Big name Bill Pullman (Space Balls, Lost Highway, The Grudge) is the only one who doesn’t sit as easily… I can’t say I really buy into Oswald Danes, a heinous murderer, becoming the new messiah of a world without death because his crime is just too great for the public to forget but this is more a problem with the plotting. Pullman should be praised for putting in a good performance – the man really does loathsome well.

So with the Walking Dead imploding with Frank Darabont’s departure, Torchwood remains the one bright genre TV spot for me.

For more information visit the BBC’s website!

Royal Wedding

As much as I didn’t intend to submit to the event I have the Royal Wedding playing in the background. I’m sort of watching the BBC coverage of Prince William and Kate Middleton whilst writing a Shōwa Day post and news articles .

Prince William and Kate Middleton

Seeing all of the pomp and ceremony on display with Huw Edwards and Simon Schama commentating is fascinating (apart from the dresses which are bizarre). The images of various social strata – royals from around the world (Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, Monte Carlo, Tonga, Brunei), military types including household cavalry and the crowds of people from all four corners of the earth – American, Australia, Canada, China, Japan, South Africa – makes one appreciate just the magic (and tourists) brought to Britain thanks to the Royal family.

Congratulations to Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Now I’m going to post about Shōwa Day and then watch television series Rubicon.

Hello Sweetie!

The first episode of the new season and I’ve fallen for Doctor Who all over again. Where the Christmas special was a gothic fairytale that was Dickensian and played with the timeline, this opener is hardboiled sci-fi with all the monster trimmings and history manipulation that played with the timeline.

Doctor Who sat in the Oval Office

Taking us from 2011 back to 1969, the plot includes Apollo 11 astronauts, the FBI and President Nixon. Moffat’s writing is as sharp as ever – both comedy and plot –

Why would anyone want to capture us?

I don’t know, I was going to wait for somebody to start trying to kill us and work back from there.

The monster is entirely creepy – slipping in and out of places and memory, turn around and you’ll forget it. It has a memorable first glimpse appearance where it blocks the sun and is indistinct but when it is seen in its full glory, it’s creepy. The fact it was also capable of violence on innocent bystanders helped a lot.

The acting is that usually assured brilliance that manages to capture the light and the dark, the extremes of emotions especially when confronting the extraordinary.

Mark Sheppard as an FBI agent in Doctor Who

A great character actor named Mark Sheppard (The X-Files, Firefly, Warehouse 13, Supernatural) is also in the episode.

All in all I’m eager to see episode two.

Awards Season: Golden Globes Results

The awards season has already begun for the collective global film industry and everybody will be engaging in an awful lot of back-slapping for the next couple of weeks. How many are worth watching? Well none of them really. Award ceremonies live and die over their nominations and results but can never encompass the entire output of the medium and can never be the final word on anything.

Continue reading “Awards Season: Golden Globes Results”

Doctor Who Christmas Special

Let me start by saying that this is the best Doctor Who Christmas Special in like… ever. Which is why I just have to post. If you haven’t seen it, watch it before reading this entry.

Matt Smith and Michael Gambon

Consider all of the Doctor Who Christmas specials so far. They tend to focus on over the top alien invasions and throw in a Christmas tree.  THIS Doctor Who, by contrast, is exactly what the Christmas season calls for. Observe…

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Halloween Viewing

It’s the week of Halloween and to get in the spirit of things, I’m colour coding stuff, replaying Project Zero: Crimson Butterfly and there’s a new (somewhat messy) background for my blog which will be revealed on the day (no new header because I like this one). But what is there on television for the horror fan? A lot, thanks to the BBC.

Continue reading “Halloween Viewing”