Japan Cuts 2014 Preview

Japan Cuts Logo

New York, New York, what a wonderful town. I have never wanted to live in New York as much as I did after reading the line-up for Japan Cuts 2014.

The Japan Society will host a series of awesome Japanese films from July 10th to July 29th with titles like Sion Sono’s ultra-violent black comedy Why Don’t You Play in Hell? coupled with crime thriller The Devil’s Path and recent (controversial) World War II blockbuster The Eternal Zero. These are just some of the headline titles, there are even more listed, many of which were released in the last few weeks and some of which are crazy and bizarre and speak to the sharp and unique sense of cinema that the curators have – respect has to be paid for the programming of the documentaries on this list. There’s definitely something for everyone! Here’s a trailer:

I am blown away by the titles and the guests that have been announced with many actors coming over for Q&As (FUMI NIKAIDO!!!). For a fan of cinema in general and Japanese cinema in particular, this is a festival rich with great films and events!

Here’s a list of the films and trailers with comments from me. Click on the title for more info such as times and buying tickets. Tickets are already on sale!


Thursday July 10th, Opening Night


6 P.M.

The Mole Song: Undercover Agent Reiji   The Mole Song Film Poster

Japanese Title: 土竜の唄 潜入捜査官 REIJI

Romaji: Mogura no Uta Sennuu Sosakan REIJI

Running Time: 130 mins.

Director: Takashi Miike

Writer: Kudo Kankuro (Screenplay), Noboru Takahashi (Original Manga)

Starring: Toma Ikuta, Ren Osugi, Shinichi Tsutsumi, Riisa Naka, Takayuki Yamada, Mitsuru Fukikoshi

This is based on a comedy manga by Noboru Takahashi and directed by Takashi Miike (For Love’s Sake). The film has a great cast of characters like Shinichi Tsutsumi (Why Don’t You Play in Hell?), Ren Osugi (Exte) and Mitsuru Fukikoshi (Cold Fish). It seems like a great way to open the film festival since it looks absolutely funny.

Reiji Kikukawa (Ikuta) has a strong sense of justice but graduates at the bottom of his class from the police academy. He is so useless his superiors send him on what should be a suicide mission. First the police chief fires him for disciplinary issues and then sets him up as a mole in the Sukiyaki gang, the largest crime group in the Kanto area. His target is Shuho Todoroki, the boss, and so Reiji goes through hell to get his man!


8:30 P.M.

Why Don’t You Play in Hell?
Why Don't You Play In Hell Film Poster

Japanese Title: 地獄 で なぜ 悪い Why Don’t You Play in Hell?

Romaji: Jigoku de Naze Warui Why Don’t You Play in Hell?

Running Time: 126 mins

Director: Sion Sono

Writer: Sion Sono (Screenplay),

Starring: Jun Kunimura, Shinichi Tsutsumi, Fumi Nikaido, Tomochika, Hiroki Hasegawa, Kotou Lorena, Gen Hoshino, Tak Sakaguchi

Sion Sono blew my mind with this one. After a short run of issue films like the critically lauded Himizu and The Land of Hope, he made this hilarious and blood-thirsty film which was both entertainment and a love letter to cult films and yakuza classics. I found it absolutely hilarious and one of the best films of last year.

Muto (Kunimura) and Ikegami (Tsutsumi) are rival gangsters who despise each other especially since Muto’s wife Shizue (Tomochika) butchered a boss in Ikegami’s gang. She gets sent to prison which jeopardises her daughter’s acting career. Ten years later and days before Shizue is due to be released, Muto is desperate to make his daughter a big-screen star as a reward for Shizue’s loyalty and kidnaps Koji (Hoshino), a timid passer-by who is mistaken for being a film director.

When dealing with gangsters you don’t mess about so Koji recruits the help of a mad-cinephile Hirata (Hasegawa) who dreams of being a movie director and has a ragtag film crew named The Fuck Bombers. Hirata seizes his chance and loses his mind as he casts Mitsuko in a fictional gang war but it soon goes wrong when it turns real.

Introduction and Q&A with actress Fumi Nikaido (I so want to be in her presence!!!)

Followed by the LET’S PLAY IN HELL Opening Night Party!

Continue reading “Japan Cuts 2014 Preview”

All-Round Appraiser Q: The Eyes of Mona Lisa, A Minute More, Robot Girls Z, Samurai Pirates, Inabe, Samurai Zombie Fragile, Beauty Within, Oyako Present to the Future, Mother of the Bride, Japanese Film Trailers

Kiyoshi Kurosawa Real Takeru Sato Haruka AyaseThere are so many films released this weekend that I have had to split the trailer post into two (which I was doing a few months ago). I have had everything scheduled because I am down in London for the Terracotta Far East Film Festival where I’ll be watching three or four Japanese films, all of them released in Japanese cinemas this year – talk about fresh out of the oven. 

As far as this/last week’s blogging goes, I ended up posting reviews for Blue Ruin and Real, the Japanese line-up for the Edinburgh Film Festival and I posted trailers yesterday. So there. That’s your lot. You can breathe a sigh of relief over the fact that you don’t have to read any more badly spelled posts from me… Until Wednesday. 


All-Round Appraiser Q: The Eyes of Mona Lisa    All-Round Appraiser Q The Eyes of Mona Lisa Film Poster

Japanese Title:万能鑑定士Q モナ・リザの瞳

Romaji: Bannou Kanteishi Q Monariza no Hitomi

Running Time: 119 mins

Release Date: May 31st, 2014 (Japan)

Director: Shinsuke Sato

Writer: Manabu Uda (Screenplay), Keisuke Matsuoka (Original Novel)

Starring: Haruka Ayase, Tori Matsuzaka, Eriko Hatsune, Hiroaki Murakami, Pierre Deladonchamps, Jun Hashimoto

Based on a popular mystery novel by Keisuke Matsuoka, the story follows Riko Rinda (Ayase) who is an appraiser with sound judgement and an excellent memory. She’s in Paris because she has been hired by The Louvre to help facilitate a Mona Lisa exhibition in Japan. Yuto Ogasawara (Matsuzaka) is a magazine writer who follows her as she tries to solve a mystery. It looks very much like the BBC’s modern adaptation of Sherlock Holmes what with the on-screen text and character who possesses super observational skills.


  Continue reading “All-Round Appraiser Q: The Eyes of Mona Lisa, A Minute More, Robot Girls Z, Samurai Pirates, Inabe, Samurai Zombie Fragile, Beauty Within, Oyako Present to the Future, Mother of the Bride, Japanese Film Trailers”