Kon Ichikawa’s 1963 version of An Actor’s Revenge is a remake of the 1935 film starring Kazuo Hasegawa who came back to reprise a role that helped make him a star. Hasegawa, already a major kabuki and movie actor, must have thought this story special as this is his 300th film appearance. Far from being a staid jidaigeki adaptation, Ichikawa fuses period verisimilitude with colourful art direction and abstract framing to create a vision where the borders between the theatrical and real no longer exist.
I feel that the 2015 Rotterdam International Film Festival has laid down a marker in terms of quality and quantity of Japanese films, depth and breadth in subject matter and the people creating that content. What have the minds behind the Berlin International Film Festival programmed? In previous years it has had a strong selection of Japanese films and 2015 looks to be no different with a group that includes classics from Kon Ichikawa and new films from Sabu.
The festival takes place from February 05th -15th and I think you will find this an interesting selection.
Here is what is on offer at the Berlin Film Festival this year:
Ayumi Sakamoto has been in the film industry for a spell having worked as an actress and in the camera and electrical department of a number of films like Vital and other Shinya Tsukamoto films where she learned directing and cinematography skills. Shot in a muted palette of greys, blacks and beiges in perfect tandem with the colourless lives of its protagonists, Ayumi Sakamoto’s striking debut has a keen grasp of friendship’s grey areas and linguistic cadences. A slow-burning thriller whose long, rigorously composed shots demand closer scrutiny: never disregard the unspoken and the unseen.
One day, Ayako Kaneshiro is reunited with her former classmate Yukari Hosaka. She invites her to join her company, and she accepts. However, Ayako begins to treat Yukari coldly and act strangely around her. Yukari feels increasingly pressured, but Ayako has her reasons. The pent-up hatred within her deepens the darkness in her heart. To confirm her own feelings, Ayako confronts Yukari. Their conflicting emotions intertwine… What lies at the end of this cycle of hatred?
Yoji Yamada regularly features at Berlin and so the lucky audience get to see his first romantic film in his long career. It stars Takako Matsu (Dreams for Sale), Haru Kuroki (The Great Passage) and Satoshi Tsumabuki (For Love’s Sake).
Takeshi (Tsumabuki) finds several notebooks left by his recently deceased spinster aunt Taki Nunomiya (Baisho) which tells of her life before and during World War II.
As a young woman, Taki (Kuroki) worked as a housemaid in a little house with a red triangular roof in Tokyo. She served a family which consisted of a husband Masaki Hirai (Kataoka) who works at a toy factory his wife Tokiko (Matsu) and their son Kyoichi. Taki longs for her employer Tokiko but both women find themselves intrigued by a young artist Hirai brings home. However, the war takes a turn for the worse and so do the relationships in the house.