Japanese Films at the Rotterdam International Film Festival 2013 Part 1

Genki Rotterdam International Film Festival BannerThe Rotterdam International Film Festival 2013 takes place from January 23rd to February 03rd. There is a fair-sized contingent of Japanese films at the Rotterdam International Film Festival. Some look absolutely brilliant (particularly GFP Bunny) and others look rather challenging!

Some, if not all but one of these have already been released in Japan and some have already had their European premieres (For Love’s Sake, 11:25) but overall it is a good line-up with a mixture of enjoyable titles and we get to see the latest titles from filmmakers like Hideo Nakata of Ringu fame and Masahiro Kobayashi who specialises in bleakies.

There is no common thread in the subject matter although two do deal directly with the March 11th disaster. The festival has proven to be the place where titles and filmmakers from Asia break out on the international stage. Will Ryutaro Ninomiya gain anything like the prominence of Kiyoshi Kurosawa? Is Yutaka Tsuchiya the next Sion Sono? Are these comparisons glib? Yes to all of them because there is a new generation of indie talent on display alongside some familiar names and it is too early to make any comparisons. So early, there are trailers and posters missing because nobody has thought to make one easily available!

Of all of the films on offer I know I’d want to see all but Japan’s Tragedy. If I had a choice of three I would settle for GFP Bunny, The Complex and 11:25 because I have not seen them and they appeal to me the most.

Here are the films on offer!

 

The Charm of Others

Japanese Title: 魅力 の 人間

Romaji: Miryoku no Ningen

Running Time: 89 mins.

Director: Ryutaro Ninomiya

Writer: Ninomiya Ryutaro

Starring: Yoshitaka Hosokawa, Ryutaro Ninomiya, Kensuke Ashihara, Daisuke Udagawa, Keisuke Minakawa, Takuya Makino

This indie film premiered at last year’s Vancouver International Film Festival. I am really not all that familiar with it and used the wrong Kanji when typing the title! The film deals with the loneliness felt by people in their day-to-day lives. No poster but an excerpt from the film.

The action takes place at a vending machine repair workshop in Yokohama. Yoda (Hosokawa) is the outsider there and doesn’t fit in with the other guys. As a result he gets picked on by some of the knuckleheads. The only person who goes out of his way to befriend Yoda is Sakata (Ninomiya) but this causes Yoda a degree of discomfort.

 

GFP Bunny                                                    GFP Bunny Film Poster

Japanese Title: GFP BUNNY タリウム少女のプログラム

Romaji: GFP Bunny Tariumu Shoujo no Puroguramu 

Running Time: 82 mins.

Director: Yutaka Tsuchiya

Writer: Yutaka Tsuchiya

Starring: Kanji Furutachi, Makiko Watanabe, Takahashi, Yuka Kuramochi

Yutaka Tsuchiya is considered one of the more interesting names amongst indie film makers in Japan and scored major kudos with his film Peep “TV” Show. He has been largely silent since then but now he has released this interestingly titled film which stars Kanji Furutachi who has appeared in trashy genre pieces like Dead Waves and Joker Game and has appeared in major titles like My Back Page and indie films like Being Mitsuko, The Woodsman and the Rain, Dreams for Sale and Odayaka. He is supported by Odayaka co-star and Sion Sono regular Makiko Watanabe (Himizu, Love Exposure). Here is the Trailer.

Apparently based on a true story (with some key facts changed), we follow the actions of Thallium Girl (Kuramochi) who is slowly poisoning her mother with thallium and records her detached world view in her diary. It is clear she has some mental problems which are exacerbated by bullying at school. This just causes her to retreat from reality into a darker place.

 

The Complex                                              The Complex Poster

Japanese Title: クロユリ 団地

Romaji: Kuroyuri Danchi

Running Time: N/A

Director: Hideo Nakata

Writer: Hideo Nakata, Junya Kato, Ryuta Miyake

Starring: Atsuka Maeda, Hiroki Narimiya

It might be fair to say that Hideo Nakata has never been able to capture the same success that he had with Ringu. He has tried his hand at other genres like thrillers but he keeps returning to horror with mixed results. The only other title in his filmography that can compare to Ringu is Dark Water. The Complex sounds a bit like that film in so far as it takes place in a haunted apartment building but what else does it offer? It stars the beautiful Atsuka Maeda who is a former member of AKB48 and starred in The Drudgery Train, one of the more interesting titles released in Japan last year. Here is a CM/trailer fresh from Japanese television.

Asuka (Maeda) has moved into the Kuroyuri apartment complex. It is a place with a chequered history as mysterious deaths occurred there 13 years ago. It isn’t long before she starts hearing the sound “garigarigari” from the apartment next door where an old man lives and it isn’t long before he is found dead! This is the start of a series of horrifying events that strike the apartment. Asuka calls upon Sasahara (Narimiya), a man who cleans up the homes of the recently deceased, to help solve the mystery.

Continue reading “Japanese Films at the Rotterdam International Film Festival 2013 Part 1”

11.25 The Day He Chose His Own Fate, Black Dawn, Mask the Kekkou Reborn, The Final Judgement Trailers Japanese Movie Box Office Charts

I finally got around to reviewing films this week and found that Crime or Punishment?!? and Fine, Totally Fine are charming comedies that combined existential angst, surrealism, and wonderful characters. Himizu was also given its UK theatrical release yesterday and I highly suggest you get yourself to a theatre playing it! Right now I’m reading Murakami’s 1Q84, finishing up Chrono Trigger DS, knee-deep is Lynchian madness with Deadly Premonition and looking forward to doing more reviews.

What does the top of the Japanese movie box-office charts look like?

  1.  Men in Black III
  2.  Dark Shadows
  3.  Thermae Romae
  4.  Girls for Keeps
  5.  Sadako 3D

Two so-so Hollywood comedies are dominating while Thermae Romae refuses to leave the top three even after 5 weeks. The only new film released last week to break into the top ten was Girls for Keeps while the interesting looking and well received film My House failed to make it which is a bit of a shame.

What’s released this week?

11.25 The Day He Chose His Own Fate                                                                        11.25 Mishima Drama Poster

Japanese Title: 11.25 Jiketsu no Hi: Mishia Yukio to Wakamono-Tachi 11.25自決の ひ 三島 由紀夫 と 若者 たち

Release Date: 2nd June 2012 (Japan), Premieres at Cannes

Running Time: N/A

Director: Koji Wakamatsu

Writer: Masayuki Kakegawa

Starring: Arata, Shinnosuke Mitsushima, Tasuku Nagaoka, Takatsugu Iwama

Koji Wakamatsu’s latest film screened at Cannes in the Un Certain Regard category and managed to collect mixed reviews. It is another politically charged movie which tackles the writer, critic, and nationalist Yukio Mishima.

Taking place in 1960’s Japan at a time when economic growth sky-rocketed but the nation was wracked by political turmoil and social changes from sexual liberation to student riots over individual’s rights and the US military presence in Japan, author and intellectual Yukio Mishima was a major voice, a nationalist who espoused traditional values based on the Bushido code while having a controversial private life. He and his militia will attempt a coup d’Etat by taking a military commander hostage.

Continue reading “11.25 The Day He Chose His Own Fate, Black Dawn, Mask the Kekkou Reborn, The Final Judgement Trailers Japanese Movie Box Office Charts”

Cannes 2012 11.25 The Day He Chose His Own Fate Press Reviews and Interviews

Cannes-chanWith the 65th Cannes Film Festival closing today I think it would be fair to say that based Rin Takanashi on the Red Carpeton critical reception Michael Haneke’s Amour is going to take the Palme d’Or (The Paperboy sounds so outrageous I want to see it.). How the other awards shake out is another question but I hope best actress goes to the beautiful Rin Takanashi! For a better overview of the awards handed out at the festival head over to Bonjour Tristesse. Anyway critical reception for the third and final feature-length Japanese  film has comes in and it is mixed much like Kiarostami’s Like Someone in Love which leaves Ai to Makoto as the only Japanese film to receive mostly positive reviews.

 

Day 10: 11.25 The Day He Chose His Own Fate – Un Certain Regard

 1125 The Day He Chose His Own Fate

Director: Koji Wakamatsu, Writer: Masayuki Kakegawa, Starring: Arata, Shinnosuke Mitsushima, Tasuku Nagaoka, Takatsugu Iwama

Koji WakamatsuProlific veteran director Koji Wakamatsu tackled the violent and tough story of an extreme far left group during the turmoil of 1960’s Japan in the award winning United Red Army and now he is tackling a controversial figure on the right in the shape of Yukio Mishima, a writer, critic, and nationalist who espoused traditional values based on the Bushido code. He and his militia attempted to launch a coup d’Etat by taking a military commander hostage.

He is at Cannes with his film where he took part in a Q&A which had some interesting quotes:

What does Un Certain Regard mean to you?
It is an honour for me to be selected at “Un Certain Regard” since making film means how director express own “regard”.

Why is cinema essential to you?
Film making is my essential weapon for expression.

What about that critical reception?

“11/25: The Day He Chose His Own Fate is not as rigorous a work as it should be, but it is a complex and absorbing re-interpretation of the Mishima legend.” Simon Abrams (indiewire)

“Flat as a TV movie, Wakamatsu goes earnest with biopic, sans Schrader’s arty flamboyance & RED ARMY’s ferocious autocannibalism” Budd Wilkins (Slant Magazine)

After watching the trailer the film seemed like heavy going. Wakamatsu’s latest movie gets released in Japan next month.

Japanese Films at Cannes Film Festival 2012

65th Cannes Film Festival Banner

Cannes-chanThe 65th Cannes Film Festival takes place from the 16th to the 27th of May so Cannes-chan (left) is going to be following the festival. Every time you see her expect some news on the Japanese films competing. Major news came out at the end of last week when the organisers released the line-up of films that will screen at the glamorous event. There are some interesting titles taking part at this year’s festival with the likes of David Cronenberg and Brandon Cronenberg bringing projects. America has some great entries and there is a strong European presence with Ken Loach and Michael Haneke (if you want a proper run-down of the contenders then read Bonjour Tristesse’s blog). There is also a strong Asian selection but there are only four major Japanese films so here they are:

11.25 The Day He Chose His Own Fate

Release Date: 2nd June 2012 (Japan), Premieres atCannes11.25 Mishima Drama Poster

Running Time: N/A

Director: Koji Wakamatsu

Writer: Masayuki Kakegawa

Starring: Arata, Shinnosuke Mitsushima, Tasuku Nagaoka, Takatsugu Iwama

Prolific veteran director Koji Wakamatsu tackled the violent and tough story of an extreme far left group during the turmoil of 1960’s Japan in the award winning United Red Army and now he is tackling a controversial figure on the right in the shape of Yukio Mishima. Taking the lead role is Arata who was in United Red Army and also appeared in Kore-eda’s wonderful film After Life.

Taking place in 1960’s Japan at a time when economic growth sky-rocketed but the nation was wracked by political turmoil and social changes from sexual liberation to student riots over individual’s rights and the US military presence in Japan, author and intellectual Yukio Mishima was a major voice, a nationalist who espoused traditional values based on the Bushido code while having a controversial private life. He and his militia will attempt a coup d’Etat by taking a military commander hostage.

 

Like Someone in Love

Release Date: Premieres atCannes

Running Time: N/A

Director: Abbas Kiarostami

Writer: Abbas Kiarostami

Starring: Rin Takanashi, Tadashi Okuno, Denden, Ryo Kase

Like Someone in Love is Abbas Kiarostami’s follow-up to Certified Copy. A French/Japanese co-production and it is the only Japanese language film In Competition it stars Rin Takanashi (Goth: Love of Death), Denden (Cold Fish, Himizu) and Ryo Kase who starred in the recent box-office smash SPEC: The Movie. Kiarostami has form in Cannes having previously won the Palme d’Or for Taste of Cherry in 1997.

A young female student named Akiko (Rin Takanashi) works as a prostitute to pay off her university fees. One of her clients is an elderly academic (Tadashi Okuno) who is fond of her. Soon a relationship develops between the two.

  Continue reading “Japanese Films at Cannes Film Festival 2012”