Sion Sono’s Twisted Romance “Love Exposure” Screened at Japan Society New York June 03rd

Love Exposure's Interesting Ride

The film section on the Japan Society (New York) website has a listing for a screening of Love Exposure (2009). There’s this sentence:

“In anticipation of the upcoming 10th edition of JAPAN CUTS: Festival of New Japanese Film (July 14-24, 2016) we screen Sion Sono’s notorious masterpiece about love, family, religion and upskirt photography.”

That sentence leads me to assume that Sion Sono’s two latest films, Whispering Star and Love and Peace will get screened at Japan Cuts this year. The two have been on the festival circuit and are at this year’s Nippon Connection.

Continue reading “Sion Sono’s Twisted Romance “Love Exposure” Screened at Japan Society New York June 03rd”

Heat After Dark

Genki Jason Heat After Dark Review Banner Suzuki and Watabe

Heat After Dark                                     Heat After Dark Film Poster

Japanese Title: Heat After Dark

Romaji: N/A

Release Date: 1997 (Japan)

Running Time: 50 mins.

Director: Ryuhei Kitamura

Writer: Ryuhei Kitamura (Screenplay)

Starring: Atsuro Watabe, Kazuma Suzuki, Shigeru Izumiya, Toshiyuki Kitami, Masami Miyata, Shinichi Suzuki, Shun Sugata

Heat After Dark was a random purchase I made alongside another Yakuza film, Onibi: The Fire Within. I had no idea what it was about, just that it starred Atsuro Watabe from Love Exposure and it was the theatrical debut of Ryuhei Kitamura, director of the cult favourite yakuza/zombie film Versus.

In the opening sequence all we can see is a low shot of two men from the knees down as a man named Reiji (Watabe) walks into a bar. This could be the start of a joke… Reiji is meeting his friend Goto (Suzuki). After some small talk Goto says, “I killed someone.”

There is a brief pause.

“Very funny,” Reiji says.

“He’s over there,” Goto replies thinly. Reiji turns and a body is revealed slumped against the bar. Goto had borrowed 20 billion yen from the dead man who is the leader of a Yakuza gang and Goto needs Reiji to help him dispose of the body and so they head to Yakeyama, a place about to be flooded because a dam is being built. However the tunnel to their destination is chained shut and a police officer is hovering around.

Atsuro Watabe as Reiji and Kazuma Suzuki as Goto looking at a corpse in Heat After Dark

Two young guys in suits with a flashy foreign car out in the middle of nowhere? That strikes him as highly suspicious. “Do you have something to hide?” he asks.

Reiji is forced to open the trunk. But there is no body! Suddenly Goto charges down the tunnel and into an abandoned factory surrounded by verdant grasslands and streams. As they rush into the area a gunshot strikes Reiji on the crown of the head. There is another gangster (Izumiya) and it turns out he is selling guns to a gang and that the real reason for Goto being there is to kill this gangster who betrayed him before the deal goes down!

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Third Window Films Release Love Exposure on Blu-Ray!

A Blu-Ray re-release of Love Exposure had to happen. At four hours the film has to be split up on to two discs when it is transferred onto DVD which means breaking the magic of a viewing experience by getting up and changing discs. Love Exposure is now on Blu-Ray (its release coincides with the DVD/Blu-ray release of Sion Sono’s newest film Himizu). You can hear what Goregirl and I thought about the film in our next Sono podcast next week. By the way, four hours was not the total running time of the film and a lot of it was cut but thanks to the storage capacity of Blu-Ray you get all of that cut footage amidst an awesome set of extras.

Here are the details!

Love Exposure

 Love Exposure Blu-Ray Case

(CERT 18)

 A film by Sono Sion
(Himizu, Noriko’s Dinner Table, Suicide Circle)

One of the most talked-about Japanese cult films of the last decade finally makes its way onto blu-ray featuring a new high definition transfer supervised by director Sion Sono along with brand new extra features!

Love Exposure's Interesting Ride Starring

Hikari Mitsushima (Hara-Kiri, Sawako Decides, Villain)

Sakura Ando (Crime or Punishment?!?, Our Homeland)

Atsuro Watabe (Black Dawn, Three…Extremes, Zebraman)

Japan / 2008 / 237 Mins / In Japanese with English subtitles / Colour / HD

 

DVD/BLU-RAY RELEASE DATE:  6th August 2012

Extra Features:

1 hour long ‘Making Of’

Additional 30 minute ‘Making Of’ featuring interview with Sion Sono

Sakura Ando Deleted & Extended Scenes

Hikari Mitsushima Deleted & Extended Scenes

Zero Church Deleted Scene

Theatrical Trailer

Yoko (Mitsushima) in Love Exposure

Yu (Nishijima) lives the life of a devout Christian. After his mother dies his father Tetsu (Watabe) becomes a priest but is soon seduced by an emotionally volatile woman named Kaori (Watanabe) who then proceeds to leave him. A heart-broken Tetsu begins to torment the spiritually and morally innocent Yu by forcing him to confess sins on a daily basis.  To appease his father Yu begins to sin and on the advice of delinquent friends he trains to become an expert in up-skirt photography and becomes a master at getting panty shots. One day, while dressed as a woman, he witnesses a beautiful man-hating girl named Yoko (Mitsushima) get into a street brawl. He instantly falls in love with her and decides to intervene. Little does he know that a cult leader in the Zero Church named Aya (Ando) is manipulating them for her own purposes.

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”

Black Dawn (Gaiji Keisatsu) Movie Trailer

Black Dawn                                                          Black Dawn Gaiji Keisatsu Movie Poster

Japanese Title: Gaiji Keisatsu

Release Date: 02nd June 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 129 mins.

Director: Kentaro Horikirzono

Writer: N/A

Starring: Atsuro Watabe, Machiko Ono, Kim Kang-Woo, Yoko Maki, Min Tanaka, Ryo Ishibashi

I have one particular blind side when it comes to Japanese movies – adaptations of TV shows. Despite a half-hearted attempt at watching the live-action Arakawa Under the Bridge I have not really given much though to other television shows. If I’m going to understand the Japanese movie industry better then I must investigate Japanese television beyond anime. I already know what my first two shows will be: Keizoku and Keizoku 2: SPEC. The reason I mention this now is because today’s trailer is based on the TV series: Anti-Terrorism Investigators. In the cast are Atsuro Watabe who was the in Sion Sono’s magnificent Love Exposure and Ryo Ishibashi who appeared in Audition and The Grudge.

When Japan is hit by the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami it falls into chaos. The disaster coincides with news from the CIA that uranium is being smuggled in Japan. Kenji Sumimoto (Watabe) is part of the foreign affairs division of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police. A detective with the willingness to bend the rule, he finds himself handed a hot case when sensitive documents and enriched uranium go missing following the disaster. His mission is to uncover the truth of the smuggling operation which stretches to the Korean peninsula. His one lead is Kaori Okuda (Maki), the wife of a businessman thought to be a spy. He will soon be joined by an undercover Korean policeman named Ahn Min-Chul (Kang-Woo) in what will become an explosive adventure.

Love Exposure 愛のむきだし (2009)

Love Exposure

Sion Sono’s Love Exposure is a tale of lust, obsession and religious ferour which has a four hour running time but breezes by quite happily.

Yu (Nishijima) lives the life of a devout Christian. After his mother dies his father Tetsu (Watabe) becomes a priest but is soon seduced by an emotionally volatile woman named Kaori (Watanabe) who then proceeds to leave him. A heart-broken Tetsu begins to torment the spiritually and morally innocent Yu by forcing him to confess sins on a daily basis.  To appease his father Yu begins to sin on a daily basis and on the advice of delinquent friends he trains to become an expert in upskirt photography and becomes a master at getting panty shots. One day, while dressed as a girl, he witnesses a beautiful man-hating girl named Yoko (Mitsushima) get into a street brawl. He instantly falls in love with her and decides to intervene. Little does he know that a cult leader in the Zero Church named Aya (Ando) is manipulating them for her own purposes.

Aya Koike (Ando) and Her Gang in Love Exposure

Sion Sono has directed and written a story which is bursting with ideas and good humour. It is delivered in a non-linear manner from multiple viewpoints. Unlike Cold Fish there is no grit here and instead what we get is a bright and goofy story that satirises cults, high school romance, martial arts and ‘tosatsu’ – the art of taking pictures of girl’s underwear.

Continue reading “Love Exposure 愛のむきだし (2009)”