Yoji Yamada’s “A Class to Remember” Screening at the Japanese Embassy in London on May 23rd

The Japanese embassy in London regularly screens films that are hard to find in the West and they are an eclectic bunch. The latest one programmed is one from the venerable director Yoji Yamada. It’s called A Class to Remember and it’s from the 1996 and was Japan’s submission to the 69th Academy Awards for the Best Foreign Language Film category but it was not accepted as a nominee (source: Wikipedia).

Here’s the information and here’s the link to the embassy’s page:

A Class to Remember 2: The Learning Circle   Gakko II Film Poster

学校IIGakko II

Running Time: 122 mins.

Release Date: October 19th , 1996

Director: Yoji Yamada

Writer: Yoji Yamada (Screenplay),

Starring: Toshiyuki Nishida, Hidetaka Yoshioka, Masatoshi Nagase, Ayumi Ishida, Pinko Izumi, Takashi Sasano, Ayumi Hamasaki,

IMDB

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“Woman in the Dunes” Screened at the Barbican on May 14th

The Barbican are running an exhibition about Japanese homes and domestic architecture called The Japanese House: Architecture and Life after 1945. It began on March 23rd and lasts until June 25th. As part of the exhibition there will be films screened. The first film in this exhibition is:

Woman in the Dunes   Woman in the Dunes Film Poster

砂の女Suna no Onna

Release Date: February 15th, 1964

Running Time: 124 mins.

Director: Hiroshi Teshigahara

Writer: Eiko Yoshida, Kobo Abe (Screenplay), Kobo Abe (Original Novel),

Starring: Eiji Okada, Kyoko Kishida, Hiroko Ito, Koji Mitsui, Sen Yano, Ginzo Sekiguchi,

IMDB

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“Tampopo” Screening at London’s Picturehouse Cinema on May 17th

Movie fans in London will have the chance to see the film on the big screen at Picturehouse Central for one night. The screening takes place on 17th May at 18.30pm and tickets are already on sale over at the Picturehouse website.

Tampopo Film Image

There are a small group of films which have almost universal praise and go down in cinema history as they transcend borders, languages, and cultures. Tampopo is one of them. It was written and directed by Juzo Itami just as he was entering the height of his creative powers. After an early career as an actor, he shifted to roles behind the camera and made a series of fondly remembered and critically acclaimed films starting with Tampopo and including A Taxing Woman.

Tampopo is all about the glories of food, the sexiness and spirituality that goes into making something as simple as ramen and while that may sound like one for foodies, it transcends that particular category to become a hilarious comedy thanks to its funny character-filled script which parodies and creates new tropes and genres. Everywhere I have been in Japan, the moment I mention Tampopo, people’s faces light up. “Ah! You know that one!” It seems to be universally loved.

I am guilty of throwing the word classic around with abandon but if you want to be convinced about this particular film’s greatness then here’s a paragraph from an excellent review from the excellent writings of Roger Ebert:

“Tampopo” is one of those utterly original movies that seems to exist in no known category. Like the French comedies of Jacques Tati, it’s a bemused meditation on human nature in which one humorous situation flows into another offhandedly, as if life were a series of smiles.

The 4K restoration of Juzo Itami’s classic ramen western Tampopo was released on blu-ray in the UK on May 01st of this year thanks to The Criterion Collection. Here’s the trailer:

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The Korean Cultural Centre Will Screen the film “Scenery” on May 11th

Scenery (2013) is a documentary film by Chinese-Korean director Zhang Lu. He has many features to his name and has toured the international film festival circuit including Europe. One of the director’s other films, A Quiet Dream (2016) was recently reviewed over on Windows on Worlds.

Here’s information on the latest film as pulled from the website:

Scenery Film Image

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The Korean Cultural Centre Will Screen the film “Bandhobi” on May 04th

Bandhobi is a film by Dong-il Shin, a Korean filmmaker who I had the chance to meet and talk to at the Osaka Asian Film Festival when he brought over his latest title, Come, Together (2017). His films cover a variety of social issues and Bandhobi looks at issues of racism, illegal immigration and the stresses faced by young people in education and work and those from broken homes and he does this through two sensitively drawn characters.

Here’s information on the latest film as pulled from the website:

Bandhobi Film Image 2

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The Japanese Embassy in London Will Screen “Night Train to the Stars” on May 18th

The Japanese embassy in London regularly screens films that are hard to find in the West and they are an eclectic bunch. This one features the story of the Japanese literary giant Kenji Miyazawa and has animation. It’s from the 1990s but despite its vintage there were no trailers.

Here’s the information on the embassy’s film website:

Night Train to the Stars    Night Train to the Stars Film Poster

わが心の銀河鉄道 宮沢賢治物語 Waga kokoro no ginga tetsudou miyazawa kenji monogatari

Running Time: 111 mins.

Release Date: October 19th , 1996

Director: Kazuki Omori

Writer: Machiko Nasu (Screenplay), Kenji Miyazawa (Life Story),

Starring: Naoto Ogata, Tetsuya Watari, Maki Mizuno, Yoshihiko Hakamada, Ryuji Harada, Yuriko Hoshi, Sayaka Osawa, Yuki Saito, Kippei Shina,

IMDB

Synopsis from the embassy’s site: A biographical film of Kenji Miyazawa, Japan’s most popular fantasy novelist.

Night Train to the Stars Film Image

Kenji is an idealist from an early age, forming a utopian vision with his friend Kanai Hosaka that inspires them to work for the happiness of farmers, although his pawnbroker father, Masajiro, objects to such idealism. Kanai is expelled from school for outlining his revolutionary plans in an essay. Meanwhile, Kenji develops a devotion to the Nichiren sect of Buddhism and goes to Tokyo. While proselytising on a voluntary basis, he continues writing his fantasy stories at night. Kenji urges Kanai to join his group but Kanai refuses, saying that it will not benefit the farmers, and makes a decisive break from Kenji. On top of this, the death of his biggest supporter, his beloved sister Toshi, hits Kenji hard. Subsequently he regains contact with Kanai, who is now farming in Yamanashi prefecture and has gone a long way toward realising their original vision. Encouraged by what Kanai has achieved, he returns to Iwate prefecture to start his own experimental school in the family summer house. A tragic rainstorm hits the northern area of Japan and ruins most of the crops as well as many of those at Kenji’s school. His efforts to develop new farming methods and help poor farmers only serve to undermine his health, forcing him to close the school. Kenji dies at the age of just 37. It is only after his death, through the help of his family, that his writings become widely read. The film was made in 1996 to commemorate the centennial of his birth.

The event takes place on May 18th at 18:30pm. The location is the Embassy of Japan in the UK, 101 – 104 Piccadilly, London W1J 7JT and you can find out how to book tickets with this link.

私はいろうな友達と東京でぶらぶらする好きです

Osaka Asian Film Festival 2017 Programme Preview Part 3: Independent Japanese Films

oaff2017_posterart_english

The full line-up for the 2017 Osaka Asian Film Festival (OAFF) (March 03rd – March 12th) was revealed last month and for the 12th edition of OAFF, the number of selected films has reached an impressive 58 in total, including 16 films in Competition and they are coming from 19 countries and regions, including China, Hong Kong, Korea, the USA, and Japan. I took a look at many of those films in the two previous posts, one highlighting the competition and opening/closing films and one looking at the Thai, Hong Kong and special screening films. This preview will look at the independent Japanese films. Again, I helped write the synopses for many them only this time it was with the help of staff-members with the Housen films who would help me translate things from Japanese and discuss the exact meanings of certain words used. Thanks go out to them. Also, there are three films at the start that weren’t assigned to me so I didn’t cover them. I did write director biographies which I threw into this post. Who knows when I may call upon them.

Here’s what’s on offer from the Japanese cinema selection (you can click on any of the titles to be taken to the corresponding festival page which will have more information):

besoin-de-amour

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Osaka Asian Film Festival 2017 Special Screenings: Looking at Asia through the Prism of Employment, New Action! Southeast Asia, Special Focus on Hong Kong 2017, Thai Films

oaff2017_posterart_english

The full line-up of films for the 2017 Osaka Asian Film Festival (OAFF) last week and I aim to bring you some coverage of all of the titles. One of the great things about this festival (and living in Japan) for a Westerner myself is how much it shows me of the world. There are people, places, histories, and cultures shown on screen that I had little idea about and it also puts Western culture, often so dominant, into perspective.

There are films from 19 countries and regions getting a screening at a number of venues across Osaka and many delights for audiences to experience from places including China, Hong Kong, Korea, the USA, and Japan. The festival takes place from March 03rd (Fri) until March 12th (Sun). The last post was dominated by the competition films and the opening and closing film, this post features information on a strand of the festival dedicated to Hong Kong and Thai films. Since I have already written about them, I’ve linked back to earlier posts. There’s still a lot of variety here with films from Taiwan, Bhutan. mainland China, Indonesia and elsewhere. It’s a pretty exciting programme.

Here’s the line-up. I will transfer some information to the larger post I made sticky to keep at the top of the blog:

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Osaka Asian Film Festival 2017 Full Line-up

oaff2017_posterart_english

The full line-up for the 2017 Osaka Asian Film Festival (OAFF) was revealed earlier today and for the 12th edition of OAFF, the number of selected films has reached an impressive 58 in total, including 16 films in Competition. The festival takes place from March 03rd (Fri) until March 12th (Sun) and there will be films from 19 countries and regions, including China, Hong Kong, Korea, the USA, and Japan. There will be 16 world premieres, 4 international premieres and 1 Asian premiere and lots of guests, so if you love Asian films, this is definitely the festival to attend. Not only are there films but there are many other events and guests. To find out more, please visit the Guest Page, the events page, and my preview.

To get more of an insight into the films, head over to the festival’s programme page or scroll down where I give more information, links in the titles of each film, plus links to previews of different sections.

Down to some nitty-gritty: every film will have English subtitles.

Venues:

Umeda Burg 7 (March 3-12),

ABC Hall (March 8-12),

Cine Libre Umeda (March 4-12),

Hankyu Umeda Hall (March 6-10)

Tickets are on sale from the end of February.

Here’s the line-up. I will make this post a sticky and update it with information as it is released:

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Third Window Films will release Takeshi Kitano’s “A Scene at the Sea” on September 12th on Blu-ray

Third Window Films are releasing a series of films by Takeshi Kitano on Blu-ray since Office Kitano are updating their titles with 2K masters. Regular readers will know that I have reviewed Hana-bi and Kikujiro and Dolls, and the latest release is A Scene at the Sea which comes out on September 12th.

A Scene at the Sea Two Leads

I saw this one for the first time around five or six years ago and was bowled over by it. The story is simple but profound as it looks at the love and problems of a unique set of characters, especially the two leads. It has some of that comedy and tragedy present in all of Kitano’s films minus the director himself who usually takes a star role. This one features another great score by Joe Hisaishi.

Here’s some info from a press release!

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