Genkina hito’s Top 25 Films of the Decade

My WordPress blog birthday was December 20th and it has been a decade since I first started writing reviews and news articles here about what interests me.

Cure Yakusho Stares at City

It started with book reviews like World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie Apocalypse and big screen Hollywood fare such as Avatar and Alice in Wonderland. It shifted to American indies like Stake Land and 2 Days in New York with some European and central/South American films like Submarine, Certified Copy, I Am Love and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo before I transitioned quickly into Asian cinema, long a passion of mine from childhood, and I took to covering the latest UK releases and festival news for Asian movies and writing about my favourite filmmakers like Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Shinya Tsukamoto. My taste has changed from horror and action to more contemplative and experimental works but my passion for cinema burns bright and for good reason.

Through ten years of writing on this blog I have made friends and watched lots of great films. Indeed, I’ve covered a quite a range of titles and, as the years progressed, actually got involved with film culture through writing for magazines and other websites, doing festival press work at the likes of the Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival and the Osaka Asian Film Festival as well as doing plenty of writing like interviews at UK festivals like Raindance, Terracotta and the London Film Festival. It has almost always been fun and I’ve even had the chance to live and travel in Japan. I can honestly say this blog has been amazing for me by helping me make friends and find my voice in this world.

So, thanks to film and writing about it, I’ve had a fun time. Indeed, sometimes the process of writing about films has been just as much fun as the viewing experience and now I want to highlight my fifteen favourite films to watch and also write about.

Strap yourself in and turn on some music for the ramblings of a film fan:

Continue reading “Genkina hito’s Top 25 Films of the Decade”

Japanese Films at the London East Asian Film Festival 2019

The London East Asian Film Festival announced its programme last month and there will be a lot of films to see from October 24th to November 03rd and there is a great slate of films from Korea to Hong Kong and Japan.

Here are some of the non-Japanese titles I’ve reviewed:

The Crossing (festival link) and Still Human (festival link) The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil (festival link)

The Japanese selection features titles both old and new, fresh off the festival circuit and dragged out of the vaults.

Here are the details:

Continue reading “Japanese Films at the London East Asian Film Festival 2019”

Best Movie of 2011 – 13 Assassins

2011 has been marked by two things – I went to the cinema less and I bought more Japanese films on DVD. This is partly explained by my decision to shift the blog to focus on Japanese films and bore people to death with my opinions on them. It’s also explained by the fact that few titles released in cinemas captured my imagination this year.

There was no film like Inception that totally blew my mind as to what a major Hollywood blockbuster could do, where films could technically and thematically go and what they could visually depict. There was no film like Scott Pilgrim that appealed to the nerdy fanboy in me and showed wild visual imagination. Okay, I’m demanding.

Of the films I did write about seeing they have all been well-crafted but lacked a magical hook for me. Norwegian Wood was a visual spectacle but having read the source novel I felt that the filmmakers had excised so much source that what was left was hollow much like Tinker Tailor. The King’s Speech was a lesson in excellent acting and brilliant writing but lacked any challenging or euphoric elements which made me tackle thinking about it with any gusto. Jane Eyre captured what I had imagined the book to be like but the fire of romance was lacking. I did gain a new depth of understanding for Lars von Trier and Pedro Almodovar. When I think about it I’m left with one title that did impress me. It made me so happy to be alive and able to watch it on the big screen.

13 Assassins

13 Assassins Header

If there is a cinematic equivalent of a pleasurable electric chair (if one exists…) then 13 Assassins was it for me.

For the first half of the film there was an ominous and careful build up as the narrative and historical details gripped me by the arms and walked either side of me, escorting me to my seat and attaching the restraints. I felt my nerves pushed increasingly on edge as an impending sense of dread stole over me and I wondered what I would meet in the second half of the film. Takashi Miike flicked a switch and for an hour I felt like electric was coursing through my body as I twitched and ducked, grinned and winced while I watched an hour-long on screen battle. Has there ever been a film which has had a battle last more than an hour and maintained a sense of coherence and interest?

If there has then it hasn’t been as good as 13 Assassins. This was a lesson in carefully choreographed and controlled the chaos as charismatic characters contained and killed scores of samurai so stylishly that I can still remember snatches of sequences as I write this.

When people comment about Takashi Miike they focus too much on him being an extreme director and miss his skill and interest in (mostly twisted) humanity and the cinematic craft that he can bring when focussed. Audition is probably the biggest example.

Other critics have been somewhat sniffy towards this when comparing it to the original 1962 version but I have yet to see that one so I cannot comment. All I know is that when I stepped out of the cinema with the end credits still rolling I was on a cinematic high, grinning maniacally and full of vim and vigour. Not even a sudden rain storm could wash away my feelings because I had just seen a film that got my blood rushing! I loved every moment of it.

Continue reading “Best Movie of 2011 – 13 Assassins”

Trailer and Link Round-Up Late Edition: 13 Assassins, Hara Kiri and Melancholia

This post is a bit late which is frustrating because the amount of awesome trailers I see every week is huge and the news from Cannes is truly mind-boggling for a film fan. I guess I’ll focus on three film-makers, Takashi Miike and Lars von Trier.

Takashi Miike first.

Well gang, saw Attack the Block this week. Nice film, no 13 Assassins (my film of the year) but what is? On the subject of 13 Assassins, it will be released in the UK by Artificial Eye on the 5th of September at the price of £9.99 on DVD and £12.93 on Blu-ray. Here’s the cover for the DVD:

13 Assassins DVD Cover

Time for the trailers!

Continue reading “Trailer and Link Round-Up Late Edition: 13 Assassins, Hara Kiri and Melancholia”

13 Assassins 十三人の刺客 (2010)

13 Assassins   13 Assassins Film Poster

Japanese: 十三人の刺客

Romaji: Juusan-nin no shikaku / 13nin no Shikaku

Release Date: September 25th, 2010 (Japan)

Running Time: 141 mins.

Director: Takashi Miike

Writer: Daisuke Tengan, Kaneo Ikegami (Screenplay),

Starring: Koji Yakusho, Takayuki Yamada, Yusuke Iseya, Sousuke Takaoka, Hiroki Matsukata, Tsuyoshi Ihara, Ikki Sawamura, Arata Furuta, Seiji Rokkaku, Kazuki Namioka, koen Kondo, Yuma Ishigaki, Ken Mitsuishi, Goro Inagaki, Masataka Kubota, Mitsuki Tanimura, Takumi Saito, Kazue Fukiishi

It is only May but I have witnessed the best film of 2011 and it is 13 Assassins. The following review will contain nothing but fulsome praise for Takashi Miike’s film so brace yourselves…

1844, Japan. In the last decades of the Shogun and before the reforms of the Meiji era there is a moment of fragile peace. Unfortunately this peace will be shattered with the promotion of the Shogun’s half-brother, the depraved and psychopathic Lord Naritsugu (Inagaki Goro) who uses his status to commit acts of depravity and evil against the people of Japan. In an effort to preserve order, high ranking official Sir Doi calls upon noble samurai Shinzaemon Shimada (Yakusho Koji) to carry out an assassination. Waiting for Naritsugu to leave Edo with his personal army, Shinzaemon recruits twelve others to carry out a daring ambush in a remote village.

The 13 Assassins Assembled Continue reading “13 Assassins 十三人の刺客 (2010)”

UK Trailer for Takashi Miike’s 13 Assassins

If you check back on my movies to watch in 2011, Submarine and Takashi Miike’s 13 Assassins were there. Submarine was brilliant and I am amped up for 13 Assassins and well here’s the UK Trailer Takashi Miike’s latest:

British film distributor Artificial Eye has released a trailer for the theatrical release of Takashi Miike’s ’13 Assassins’ which is due out on the 6th of May.

The film won four technical awards at the 34th Japan Academy Prize (or the Japan Academy Awards) and has been warmly received on the international festival circuit. The film also represents an effort to a more traditional style of samurai revenge drama that echo some of the classics of the genre (including the original 1963 version).

Synopsis:

It is 1844 and the country of Japan finds a rare moment of peace has descended. However, the possible rise to power of the depraved and psychopathic Lord Naritsugu, the Shogun’s younger brother, threatens to destroy that fragile peace and destroy the Shogunate. In an effort to preserve order, high ranking official Sir Doi calls upon the noble samurai Shinzaemon to assemble an elite group of samurai to carry out a daring ambush that may also be a suicide mission.

 

 

2011 A Year of Promise at the Movies (with trailers)

I wanted to do a proper post saying goodbye to 2010 and hello to 2011 but a combination of flu and a hang-over laid me out for a few days and all I could manage was a half-hearted adieu to a year that had been good.

2010 was a pretty good year for film (from what I saw, at least). 2011 looks like it is shaping up to have some interesting releases as well. Here’s what has interested me from the trailers and information on the web.

Continue reading “2011 A Year of Promise at the Movies (with trailers)”