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Melancholic, Dragon Quest: Your Story, Emoshonaruremon tabidachi wa itsumo remon no aji ga suru, anata wa don’na aji ga suru?, Yasashī shatsu kanatasoutarou no tabi, Give Me the Sun, Tokyo Trial – International Military Tribunal for the Far East 4K Digital Restoration, Dear Mr. Yasuo Otsuka, Summer Girl, Watashitachi ha, Japanese Film Trailers

Welcome to the weekend.

I hope everyone is feeling good.

My coverage of some of the festival films screened in New York is over so I’ve got time to do other things like read books and practice Japanese. Well, instead of doing that, I watched a bunch of Seijun Suzuki films!

Anyway, here the week started with the publishing of an interview I did with Takuji Suzuki, the director of the film Randen: The Comings and Goings on a Kyoto Tram. I did it at the Osaka Asian Film Festival. It was also published on VCinema. I then followed that up with news on Naomi Kawase coming to the UK in September to take part in the Open City Documentary Festival where she will present her films and an extended talk and Q&A. The final post of the week was a review of The Gun which screened at the New York Asian Film Festival.

What is released this weekend?

Continue reading “Melancholic, Dragon Quest: Your Story, Emoshonaruremon tabidachi wa itsumo remon no aji ga suru, anata wa don’na aji ga suru?, Yasashī shatsu kanatasoutarou no tabi, Give Me the Sun, Tokyo Trial – International Military Tribunal for the Far East 4K Digital Restoration, Dear Mr. Yasuo Otsuka, Summer Girl, Watashitachi ha, Japanese Film Trailers”

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The Gun 銃 Dir: Masaharu Take (2018) [New York Asian Film Festival 2019]

The Gun       The Gun Film Poster

Juu

Release Date: November 17th, 2018

Duration: 97 mins.

Director:  Masaharu Take

Writer: Masaharu Take, Hideki Shishido (Screenplay), Fuminori Nakamura (Original Novel)

Starring: Nijiro Murakami, Alice Hirose, Lily Franky, Kyoko Hinami, Risa Niigaki, Junpei Goto, Moemi Katayama, Amane Okayama,

Website IMDB

Masaharu Take has a knack of making good character-driven dramas as exemplified by 100 Yen Love (2015) which cemented Sakura Ando as a real headlining acting talent after she spent years impressing auds with steady work in smaller semi-comedic roles (For Love’s Sake, Love Exposure) and indie dramas (Our Homeland, 0.5mm). This film, an adaptation of a novel, offers Nijiro Murakami (Destruction Babies) a meaty role to make a name for himself.

“Last night, I found a gun.”

The film opens with what appears to be a suicide one rainy night. Blood pours out of a shattered skull onto a rain-sodden riverbank. The titular gun, a .357 Magnum Lawman Mk III, is lying next to the body. The camera caresses its smooth, short, shiny and curved form and soon someone will lavish the same attention on it.

Continue reading “The Gun 銃 Dir: Masaharu Take (2018) [New York Asian Film Festival 2019]”

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Naomi Kawase in London in September for: Naomi Kawase: In Focus – Open City Documentary Festival 2019

Naomi Kawase¹ (website) is in London in September for the Open City Documentary Festival 2019 where she will take part in three screenings and will introduce a selection of her works and take part in a Q&A and extended talk. Called, “Naomi Kawase: In Focus”, this particular festival strand, organised with the help of the Japan Foundation, is a unique opportunity to see some of the early films that helped make Naomi Kawase a major presence in world cinema as these self-documentaries show her nascent skull which developed while she recorded some of the most intimate details of her life as she searched for her identity on screen. Most prominent amongst the films is the influence of her adoptive mother, Uno Kawase, which is a bond that is put on screen in a moving set of films which have been highly lauded.

Here are the details. Just click on the titles to access the festival page and booking information:

Continue reading “Naomi Kawase in London in September for: Naomi Kawase: In Focus – Open City Documentary Festival 2019”

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Randen: The Comings and Goings on a Kyoto Tram Interview [Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019]

If you travel to Kyoto then it is recommended you try travelling from scenic Arashiyama to the bustling city centre by the Randen trams. They cut through many areas and they prove to be the perfect setting for three intersecting stories in a film.

Randen: The Comings and Goings on a Kyoto Tram (review) features a writer named Eisei Hiraoka (Arata Iura) has travelled from Kamakura to Kyoto to research supernatural stories but, instead, relives memories of time spent in Kyoto with his wife; Kako Ogura (Ayaka Onishi), a shy local woman helps an actor from Tokyo named Fu Yoshida (Hiroto Kanai) practice speaking with Kyoto dialect; Nanten Kitakado (Tamaki Kubose), a high school girl from Aomori, who falls for a local train otaku (Kenta Ishida).

Quite unlike many other films screened in 2019, Randen revels in creating a magical atmosphere of heightened romance and folktales that could only take place in Kyoto. It was the opening film of the 2019 edition of the Osaka Asian Film Festival and it will play on the final day of Japan Cuts 2019 in New York. I had the chance to interview the director of the film, Takuji Suzuki, at Osaka and he revealed how the film was a put together with love and care by his team which included Kyoto University film students and local people living along the Randen line.

Continue reading “Randen: The Comings and Goings on a Kyoto Tram Interview [Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019]”

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Paradise Next, Beach Memory, Kisu wa inochigake!, Yakusoku no Jikan, A Girl Missing, The Great War of Archimedes, Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger the Movie: Time Slip! Dinosaur Panic!!, Kamen Rider Zi-O: Over Quartzer, Athlete: Ore ga kare ni oboreta hibi, Fujino Kids theater presents – Indigo Children -, Xu Fook 〜Looking for Eternal Life〜, A Journey Following the Model Masako / Masako mon ange, Amanojaku Shishunki, Kyokasho ni nai! 5, Kyokasho ni nai! 6, Hama no kioku Japanese Film Trailers

Welcome to the weekend, everyone.

I hope everyone is safe and well.

We’ll start the post with some sad news: Dutch actor Rutger Hauer has died. I came to know of his work through his roles in Blade Runner and The Hitcher when I was a teen and I can quote lines from both movies. It is as Roy Batty that I’ll always remember him as he gave his replicant character a fierce humanity and a black sense of humour and played him so hard he ended up being more human than the humans. 

A week has passed since the deadly fire at Kyoto Animation and I’m trying to arrange a special screening of some kind for the anime fest I work for to pay tribute to the studio and those harmed on that awful day. I’ve also donated to one of the funds set up to help Kyoto Animation heal after the disaster – here are two links, one to Anime News Network and a report on a way to do direct bank transfers to Kyoto Animation and another to Sentai’s GoFundMe campaign.

In terms of films, I published a post about the two Japanese films at the Locarno Film Festival and reviews for films at Japan Cuts 2019, all of them made in 2018 – The Kamagasaki Cauldron War and The Miracle of Crybaby Shottan on this blog and my reviews for And Your Bird Can Sing, Orphan’s Blues, A Japanese Boy Who Draws and the New Directions in Japanese Cinema films which were published on V-Cinema.

Festival coverage will continue for both  Japan Cuts and the New York Asian Film Festival and that will take me into the autumn festival season. Expect a post about Venice, and the Open City Documentary Festival rather soonish.

What is released in Japan this weekend? 

Continue reading “Paradise Next, Beach Memory, Kisu wa inochigake!, Yakusoku no Jikan, A Girl Missing, The Great War of Archimedes, Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger the Movie: Time Slip! Dinosaur Panic!!, Kamen Rider Zi-O: Over Quartzer, Athlete: Ore ga kare ni oboreta hibi, Fujino Kids theater presents – Indigo Children -, Xu Fook 〜Looking for Eternal Life〜, A Journey Following the Model Masako / Masako mon ange, Amanojaku Shishunki, Kyokasho ni nai! 5, Kyokasho ni nai! 6, Hama no kioku Japanese Film Trailers”

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The Miracle of Crybaby Shottan    泣き虫しょったんの奇跡 Dir: Toshiaki Toyoda (2018) [Japan Cuts 2019]

The Miracle of Crybaby Shottan   The Miracle of Crybaby Shottan Film Poster

泣き虫しょったんの奇跡 Nakimushi Shottan no Kiseki

Release Date: September 07th, 2018

Duration: 127 mins.

Director: Toshiaki Toyoda

Writer: Ayako Kato (Screenplay), Shoji Segawa (Autobiographical Novel)

Starring: Ryuhei Matsuda, Yojiro Noda, Shota Sometani, Satoshi Tsumabuki, Takako Matsu, Kiyohio Shibukawa, Kaoru Kobayashi, Jun Miho, Jun Kunimura, Tatsuya Fujiwara, Itsuji Itao, Shizuka Ishibashi, Issey Ogata, Kento Nagayama,

Website IMDB

Considering Toshiaki Toyoda made his entry into Japanese films with low-budget punk titles about outsiders like Pornostar (1998) seeing him take on a film about shogi, or Japanese chess, is something of a surprise until you find out that he initially trained in shogi as a child. That, and the lead character of this biopic, the titular crybaby Shoji (Shottan) Segawa, was an outsider and trailblazer himself when he became a shogi professional well past the age when it is acceptable.

Continue reading “The Miracle of Crybaby Shottan    泣き虫しょったんの奇跡 Dir: Toshiaki Toyoda (2018) [Japan Cuts 2019]”

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The Kamagasaki Cauldron War 月夜釜合戦 Dir: Leo Sato (2018) [Japan Cuts 2019]

The Kamagasaki Cauldron War  The Kamagasaki Cauldron War Film Poster

月夜釜合戦 Tsukiyo kama gassen

Release Date: March 09th, 2019

Duration: 115 mins.

Director:  Leo Sato

Writer: Leo Sato (Screenplay),

Starring: Naomichi Ota, Yota Kawase, Kiyohiko Shibukawa, Kazu, Makoto Nishiyama, Shoji Omiya, Naori Ota, Tsumugi Monko, Maki Nishiyama, Marie Decalco, Susumu Ogata, Masao Adachi

Website IMDB

Kamagasaki is a slum-like part of Osaka’s Nishinari district which is notorious for having a high concentration of day labourers, homeless and a history of civil unrest, not to mention its proximity to the Tobita Shinchi red-light district. When I lived in Japan and moved from Tokyo to Nishinari I was given warnings and advice from friends. The way some people talked about the history of Kamagasaki made it sound anarchic and dangerous. By the time I got there things had become tamer thanks to gentrification driven by the boom in tourism and my experience was positive. Indeed, as soon as I was off the train a day worker with a sunny disposition struck up a conversation and offered to buy me a drink before my landlady rescued me from the surprise invitation and showed me around the district. They were the first of quite a few residents who took the time to talk to me and dispelled myths by telling me different stories of a poor but proud community who have had to fight for their human rights and dignity. The history and feel of Kamagasaki is strong and director Leo Sato has managed to bring it to life in his debut feature fiction film which creates a feel for the place.

Continue reading “The Kamagasaki Cauldron War 月夜釜合戦 Dir: Leo Sato (2018) [Japan Cuts 2019]”

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Weathering With You, Tokyo Ghoul ‘S’, 5 Million Dollar Life, Walking Meat, Under Your Bed, Moonless Dawn, Nerima Zombie Night, I Don’t Want to Run Anymore, Robinson’s Garden Japanese Film Trailers

Welcome to the weekend.

A Silent Voice Image

I hope you are all well.

I want to start this trailer post by offering my condolences to the people at Kyoto Animation studio for the terrible tragedy they suffered with the arson attack.

It sounds so awful. I’ve used artwork from series made by them on this blog since it started and I work for an animation festival so I’ve come to watch and appreciate their works. One of the best screenings we had was for A Silent Voice where the audience was profoundly moved by the human drama on screen. Near all of us were in tears at the end. I think back on that screening and want to thank the folks at Kyoto Animation for making films and shows that help people connect with their shared humanity and I hope they can recover as best they can.

At the start of the week I posted about a series of special screenings orchestrated by the Tanabe Benkei Film Festival in Shinjuku. I then posted my review for the Nobuhiro Yamashita film Hard-Core, a tragi-comedy about outsiders and then a review for the super-excellent NDJC short film Last Judgement which plays in a free screening at the Japan Cuts festival of Japanese film in New York. I’ve been busy writing reviews for Japan Cuts. Three have been published on VCinema: The Kamagasaki Cauldron War, The Miracle of Crybaby Shottan, and the 2019 NDJC shorts. One of today’s Japan Cuts screenings is for the film Whole which I saw at the Osaka Asian Film Festival.

What is released in Japan this weekend?

Continue reading “Weathering With You, Tokyo Ghoul ‘S’, 5 Million Dollar Life, Walking Meat, Under Your Bed, Moonless Dawn, Nerima Zombie Night, I Don’t Want to Run Anymore, Robinson’s Garden Japanese Film Trailers”

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Last Judgement / Saigo no Shinpan 最後の審判 Dir: Shinya Kawakami [Osaka Asian Film Festival / Japan Cuts 2019]

Last Judgement / Saigo no Shinpan    Saigo no Shinpan Film Poster

最後の審判 Saigo no Shinpan

Release Date: March 02nd, 2019

Duration: 29 mins.

Director:  Shinya Kawakami

Writer: Shinya Kawakami (Screenplay)

Starring: Ren Sudo, Miru Nagase, Asuka Kurosawa, Kiyomi Aratani,

Website     IMDB

New Directions in Japanese Cinema (NDJC) is a programme that has been in operation since 2007, it’s purpose being to help foster talented young filmmakers through workshops and the production of 30-minute narrative shorts, shot on 35mm film, with the help of experienced professionals. The resulting works are given screenings across Japan and at major festivals. I had covered their films in old trailer posts¹ but had never seen a whole programme until this year…

It was coming up to the end of the 2019 edition of the Osaka Asian Film Festival and there was a screening of this year’s NDJC titles early one morning. I was quite eager to see them and was truly thrilled by the final title, Final Judgement (Saigo no Shinpan) by Shinya Kawakami which is, hands down, the best of the bunch.

Inaba (Ren Sudo) is a talented artist who has tried and failed the entrance exam to Tokyo Art University many times. He is on his sixth attempt and has decided to make this year his final challenge. As he prepares to paint a portrait to pave his way into the institution, a very gifted rival named Hatsune (Miru Nagase) appears amidst the students and her unconventional methods and tremendous vision creates a work which roars with energy and snares the attention of everybody including their tutors. Inaba is incensed by this girl (who is still in school, no less!) but, at the height of his anger he takes a left turn and invites Hatsune to a cafe to find out how she is such a great artist…

Continue reading “Last Judgement / Saigo no Shinpan 最後の審判 Dir: Shinya Kawakami [Osaka Asian Film Festival / Japan Cuts 2019]”