Distance ディスタンス Dir: Hirokazu Kore-eda (2001)

Distance    Distance Film Poster

ディスタンス Disutansu

Release Date: May 26th, 2001

Duration: 132 mins.

Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda

Writer: Hirokazu Kore-eda (Script) 

Starring: Yui Natsukawa, Yusuke Iseya, Arata, Susumu Terajima, Tadanobu Asano, Ryo, Kenichi Endo, Kanji Tsuda,

IMDB

Hirokazu Kore-eda made Distance after he became interested in the disciples of Aum Shinrikyo, the group which committed the Tokyo subway sarin attack¹. He wanted to comment on how everyone in society could be responsible for it in some way. In so doing, he strikes at a universal fear surely felt by everyone which is that perhaps those who should be the closest to us are sometimes the ones furthest away.

This idea of distance is given to us through the story of a group of people who are ostensibly disconnected from each other but each has a deep personal connection to a terrorist incident described at the start of the film by a radio announcer.

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The Ravine of Goodbye さよなら渓谷 (2013)

Genki The Ravine of Goodbye Review Banner

The Ravine of Goodbye             The Ravine of Goodbye Film Poster

Japanese Title: さよなら渓谷

Romaji: Sayonara Keikoku

Release Date: June 22nd, 2013 (Japan)

Seen at the BFI London Film Festival 2013

Running Time: 117 mins.

Director: Tatsushi Omori

Writer: Shuichi Yoshida (Novel), Tatsushi Omori (Screenplay)

Starring: Yoko Maki, Shima Onishi, Nao Omori, Anne Suzuki, Arata, Hirofumi Arai, Mayu Tsuruta

SPOILER WARNINGS IN EFFECT I have done as much as possible to avoid major spoilers for this mystery drama, even going as far as altering plot synopses from older posts where I mention this film but there are still some spoilers. The official festival synopsis and trailers give a lot away but whether you know the twists or turns is pretty irrelevant because at its heart is a story about sexual violence and witnessing the suffering caused to characters is gruelling and quite affecting. It may be better to watch the film and come back if you are still interested.

A boy has been killed in a valley dense with trees and his mother, Satomi Tachibana, is the prime suspect. As the press besiege her house the police arrive to arrest her.

 Genki-The-Ravine-of-Goodbye-Press-Mob

Meanwhile her neighbours, factory worker Shunsuke Ozaki (Onishi) and his wife Kanako (Maki), a convenience store worker, seem to be uninvolved. Apparently a happy couple, the two try their best to ignore the press and carry on with their lives. 

 The Ravine of Goodbye Image Stare

As the police are investigating the murder rumours emerge that Satomi is romantically involved with Shunsuke Ozaki (Onishi).

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The Story of Yonosuke 横道世之介 (2013)

Genki The Story of Yonosuke Review Header Yonosuke (Kora)

The Story of Yonosuke                      A Story of Yonosuke Film Poster

Japanese Title: 横道世余之介

Romaji: Yokomichi Yonosuke

Release Date: February 23rd, 2013 (Japan)

UK Release Date: N/A

UK Distributor: Third Window Films

Running Time: 160 mins.

Director: Shuichi Okita

Writer: Shiro Maeda (Screenplay), Shuichi Yoshida (Original Novel)

Starring: Kengo Kora, Yuriko Yoshitaka, Sosuke Ikematsu, Ayumi Ito, Gou Ayano, Arata, Kimiko Yo, Aki Asakura, Mei Kurokawa, Tasuku Emoto, Aimi Satsukawa, Keiko Horiuchi, Noriko Eguchi,

I was made a fan of Shuichi Okita after watching The Woodsman & the Rain, a film which is a wonderfully observed and rather touching comedy about the art of filmmaking and human bonds. Despite potentially weighty subjects I found it was an amusing and gratifying film that worked through its great characters and well-observed dry comedy. Okita is back a year after that film with a more complex one as he directs Shiro (Isn’t Anyone Alive?) Maeda’s adaptation of Shuichi’s Yoshida’s novel which flits between different time periods with a large cast of characters stretching between the ’80s and now.

The Story of Yonosuke Arrival in Tokyo (Kora)Tokyo 1987, Yonosuke Yokomichi (Kora) has left a small port city and lumbers into Tokyo to attend university. It blows his mind. There are huge buildings covered with ads for Sony and Kiss Mint gum, he sees amateur idol groups performing J-pop on the street and fashionable people everywhere.

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Another, Our Homeland, Japan Lies, Kamen Rider Fourze the Movie: Everyone, Space is Here!, Code Geass: Akito the Exiled Trailers and the Japanese Movie Box Office Charts

Anime Character Guessing Game Entry - EriThis week I posted a review for The Suicide Manual, a trailer the latest PreCure movie (boy are there a lot of those!) and information of Terracotta’s release of the anime adaptation of Junji Ito’s Gyo (which has me very excited!).  I did have another film review on offer but I have been engrossed with the 2012 Olympics (which I love!) and the BBC’s spectacular coverage (second to none!). I have managed to talk to members of Team GB (okay, their support/physios) and I’ve also had the opportunity to test out my Japanese on visiting Japanese fans who have been unfailingly polite (much to my relief because they could have laughed at my pronunciation etc.). Speaking of Japanese people, I wonder…

What’s happening with the Japanese movie box-office chart this week?

  1. Umizaru 4: Brave Hearts
  2. The Dark Knight Rises
  3. Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie
  4. The Wolf Children Ame and Yuki
  5. Pokemon: Best Wishes 2012
  6. Eight Ranger
  7. Helter Skelter
  8. Brave
  9. The Amazing Spider-Man
  10. Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha The MOVIE 2nd

Two of last week’s newest entries enter the charts in the form of the latest Naruto movie and Eight Rangers at three and six respectively. Uzimaru holds onto the top spot while, The Wolf Children Ame and Yuki drop from second to fourth and Helter Skelter drops from fourth to seventh in its third week. Thermae Romae falls from the top ten. After fourteen weeks and making a lot of money. What an achievement.

What’s released this week? A strong dramatic film, an interesting documentary and a live-action adaptation of a favourite anime of mine.

Another                                              Another (live-action movie) Poster

Japanese Title: Another

Release Date: 04th August 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Takeshi Furusawa

Writer: Sachiko Tanaka,Yukito Ayatsuji (Novel)

Starring: Ai Hashimoto, Kento Yamazaki, Ai Kato, Mika Akizuki, Hiroko Sato, Masaki Miura, Mana Kanno, Takashi Waki, Maya Okano

Yukito Ayatsuji’s supernatural-mystery novel Another has had an anime adaptation (which I liked a lot) and the live-action movie is released today. The director of the movie adaptation is Takeshi Furusawa who acted as assistant director to Kiyoshi Kurosawa on the classic J-horror film Pulse and director of the so-so Ghost Train. Kento Yamazaki (Wings of the Kirin) plays Kouichi while Mei Misaki is played by Ai Hashimoto (Confessions, Sadako 3D). Other cast members include Hiroko Sato (Atsuhimie No.1, Cursed), Masaki Miura (Cold Fish), and Maya Okano (Time Traveller: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time). Two trailers, one featuring Sadako!

 

The story takes place back in the Spring of 1998 at Yomiyama Kita middle school where a transfer student named Kouichi Sakakibara arrives from Tokyo and finds himself in a class under a curse which causes unavoidable death. It seems to be linked to the death of a student in 1972 but a code of silence has developed amongst pupils and teachers past and present. When classmates begin to die Kouichi finds himself drawn into the deadly curse with only the silent and mysterious Mei Misaki seemingly able to give answers.

Our Homeland                             Kazoku no Kuni (Our Homeland) Poster

Romaji: Kazoku no Kuni

Japanese Title: かぞく の くに

Release Date: 04th August 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 100 mins.

Director: Yang Yong-Hi

Writer: Yang Yong-Hi

Starring: Sakura Ando, Arata, Yang Ik-June, Kotomi Kyono, Jun Murakami, Taro Suwa,

This movie was one of a strong contingent at this year’s Berlin Film Festival where itwas screened at the Forum section and won the CICAE prize. It is a partly autobiographical story that draws on the director’s life and tells the story of the emigration of over 90,000 Koreans from Japan to North Korea after being promised a better life. An early review shows that it is a strong dramatic film. It stars Sakura Ando (Love Exposure, Crime or Punishment?!?), Arata (After Life), Kotomi Kyono (Takeshi’), Jun Murakami (Himizu, The Land of Hope, Blazing Famiglia), Taro Suwa (Ju-On: The Curse, Reincarnation), Yoshiko Miyazaki (Villain).

 

From 1959 to 1979 the North Korean government implemented a policy to attract Korean living in Japan to the idea of immigrating to North Korea. One of those who went was Son-Ho (Arata) who left his younger sister Rie (Ando) behind in Japan. 25 years later the two meets again when Son-Ho returns to Japan for three months for an operation. The film looks at the clash of feelings and cultures.

 

Japan Lies: The Photojournalism of Kikujiro Fukushima, Age 90

Romaji: Nippon no Uso: Hodo Shashinka Fukushima Kikujiro 90-sai

Japanese Title: ニッポン の 嘘ー報道 写真家 福島 菊次郎 90-歳

Release Date: 04th August 2012 (Japan)Nippon no Uso Hodo Shashinka Fukushima Poster

Running Time: 114 mins.

Director: Saburo Hasegawa

Writer: Saburo Hasegawa

Starring: Ren Osugi

This documentary follows the work of photographer Kikujiro Fukushima, a man who served in the Japanese army and narrowly avoided the atomic bomb and with the end of the war became disillusioned with Japanese state and began documenting its darker aspects. Ren Osugi reads Extracts from Fukushima’s writings. This sounds like a fascinating watch for anybody interested in history and Japan.

Kikujiro Fukushima is a man who has documented controversial aspects/moments in Japanese society such as discrimination against people of Korean ancestry, violent protests against the Japan’s involvement with the Vietnam war and the Japan-U.S. security alliance, and portraits of radiation poisoning following the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and his most recent work photographing the farming communities in Fukushima prefecture following the meltdown at the local plant following the March 11th Earthquake and Tsunami. Hasegawa’s documentary tells Fukushima’s story from his early days to now.

Kamen Rider Fourze the Movie: Everyone, Space is Here!Kamen Rider Space is Here

Romaji: Kamen Raida Foze Za Mubi, Minna de Uchuu Kita!

Japanese Title: 仮面 ライダー フォーゼ The Movie みんな で 宇宙 キターツ!

Release Date: 04th August 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 66 mins.

Director: Koichi Sakamoto

Writer: Kazuki Nakashima

Starring: Sota Fukushi, Ryuki Takahashi, Fumika Shimizu, Rikako Sakata, Ryo Yoshizawa, Shiho,

Tokusatsu and super sentai series are not my forte. I do not really watch them but I marvel at their long titles and the mix of Kanji, Katakana, and Hiragana.

 

The Kamen Rider club in Amanogawa High School are fighting a mysterious monster named Zodiatsu while Space Ironmen Gurandain and Sukaidain are putting the finishing touches to a satellite weapon which has enough power to destroy the world. The team clearly have their work cut out if they are going to stop all of that.

 

Code Geass: Akito the Exiled

Romaji: Ko-do Giasu: Boukoku no Akito

Japanese Title: コード ギアス 亡国 の アキト

Release Date: 04th August 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 66 mins.

Director: Kazuki Akane

Writer: Morita Shigeru

Starring: Maaya Sakamoto, Miyu Irino, Ai Kayano, Yuko Kaida, Asami Seto, Marya Seto, Kenta Miyake, Keiji Fujiwara, Masaya Matsukaze

 

Although the concept of Britain ruling the world through mecha is amusing I have yet to watch the anime Code Geass. This trailer is for the first episode of Sunrise studio’s forthcoming four episode spin-off from the Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion TV series from 2006. It is called Code Geass: Akito the Exiled. It is directed by Kazuki Akane (Birdy the Mighty Decode, Vision of Escaflowne), the script has been written by Morita Shigeru (Space Brothers), and Kimura Takahiro (Dirty Pair Flash) is adapting Clamp’s character design and Yasuda Akira (Turn A Gundam) is in charge of mecha design.

Extras: Soundtrack for this post (Olympic Badminton and this video)

Kazoku no Kuni (Our Homeland) Poster 2

Mei Misaki - Another Poster

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”

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”