Why Don’t You Play in Hell? 地獄でなぜ悪い (2013)

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?

Release Date: September 28th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 119 mins.

Director: Sion Sono

Writer: Sion Sono (Screenplay),

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

This has been a long time coming. I saw Why Don’t You Play in Hell? at last year’s BFI London Film Festival and I had huge expectations. In the months leading up to the screening I had posted trailers and made posts full of Gifs. It was my final festival film of the year and walking into the cinema I was tingling with excitement. Why? Because Sono is one of my two favourite Japanese directors and this looked awesome. I can confirm that it was God-tier awesome. 

The film opens on a teenage director named Hirata who, along with his amateur film crew The F*ck Bombers, is busy shooting a gang fight between some Yankees. The main ambition of The F*ck Bombers is to make the most miraculous movie ever with realistic action! These guys will come into play later as the film switches to Muto (Kunimura), a yakuza crime boss who is the top target of a rival gang.

 Genki-Why-Don't-You-Play-in-Hell-Jun-Kunimura

A hit-squad from the rival gang head to Muto’s home. Except he’s not there. His wife Shizue (Tomochika) is. What results is a bloodbath as Shizue defends her home from the gangsters… 

Genki-Why-Don't-You-Play-in-Hell-Muto's-Wife-Tomochika

Meanwhile, as mother dearest is chasing one of the few survivors of her rage, Muto’s daughter, the angelic child actress Mitsuko, arrives home to find herself wading in a sea of blood. Lying on the kitchen floor and bleeding out is lone survivor Ikegami (Tsutsumi) who is charmed by Mitsuko so much that he develops a bit of an obsession. He stumbles out of the crime scene where he runs into Hirata and The F*ck Bombers who realise he is an honest to God blood-covered yakuza and begin to film him.

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The Great Passage 舟を編む (2013)

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The Great Passage                We Knit Ship Film Poster

Japanese Title: 舟を編む

Romaji: Fune wo Amu

Release Date: April 13th, 2013 (Japan)

Seen at the BFI London Film Festival 2013

Running Time: 133 mins.

Director: Yuya Ishii

Writer: Shion Miura (Original Novel), Kensaku Watanabe (Screenplay),

Starring: Ryuhei Matsuda, Aoi Miyazaki, Joe Odagiri, Haru Kuroki, Misako Watanabe, Kumiko Aso, Shingo Tsurumi, Chizuru Ikewaki, Hiroko Isayama, Kaouru Kobayashi, Go Kato, Kaoru Yachigusa, Ryu Morioka, Shohei Uno, Kazuki Namioka

The year is 1995 and the place is the Dictionary Editorial Department of the publisher Genbu Books. The staff include Matsumoto (Kato), a veteran editor in chief of dictionaries who is assisted by his key right-hand man Araki (Kobayashi), a skilled editor who is on the verge of quitting because his wife is ailing and he wants to be by her side. Also in the department are Sasaki (Isayama), the oil for the team ensuring that word entries are logged on computers and filed away and young blade Nishioka  (Odagiri) who, while not as is good at defining words, is a pro at getting more up to date definitions and examples because he has skill with human contact.

And that’s it for the dictionary team. All dedicated to the beauty of words but considered weird by the rest of the staff at the publisher. Fact of the matter is that compiling dictionaries is not hot shot work in publishing terms because such things are boring and costly in an age when digital technology is coming to prominence and everybody else would rather work on glossy magazines.

With Araki seeking to retire it places great strain on the department at a time when Matsuoka wants to initiate a new project called The Great Passage, a 240,000 word dictionary that will capture everything from the most current youth slang to the most technical terms of different fields like theatre and literature making it the most comprehensive and representative dictionary in the country.

Genki-The-Great-Passage-Work-on-the-Jisho

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Our Sunhi

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Our Sunhi  Our Sunhi Film Poster

Release Date: September, 12th 2013 (South Korea)

Seen at the BFI London Film Festival

Running Time: 88 mins.

Director: Hong Sang-Soo

Writer: Hong Sang-Soo (Screenplay)

Starring: Jung Yu-Mi, Lee Sun-Kyun, Jung Jae-Young, Kim Sang-Joong, Ye Ji-Won, Lee Min-Woo

Meet Sunhi:

 Our Sunhi Reading Her Reference

She is in her mid-twenties and is studying film. Apparently she went into hiding for one year. She just disappears off the map from time to time, seemingly on the verge of dropping out of her course…

But now she’s back because she needs a reference letter from her lecturer Professor Choi so she can study at a graduate school in the US. He agrees to write something truthful about her but she is unhappy with his description of her and asks for a rewrite. While she is waiting for it she encounters her mopey ex-boyfriend Kim Moonsoo who still harbours feelings for her. She also falls in with her introverted college senior Jaehak who has already made his debut as a filmmaker and is living apart from his wife. As the three men bump into each other and Sunhi, they all give each other advice about their lives and careers and the men cannot stop thinking about her.

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Like Father, Like Son そして父になる (2013)

Like Father, Like Son                          Like Father Like Son Cannes Poster

Japanese Title: そして父になる

Romaji: Soshite Chichi ni Naru

Release Date: September 28th. 2013 (Japan)

Seen at the BFI London Film Festival 2013

Running Time: 120 mins.

Director: Hirokazu Koreeda

Writer: Hirokazu Koreeda (Screenplay)

Starring: Masaharu Fukuyama, Machiko Ono, Yoko Maki, Jun Fubuki, Keita Ninomiya, Shogen Hwang, Lily Franky, Jun Kunimura, Kiki Kirin, Isao Natsuyagi

Like Father Like Son School Interview

The Nonomiya family are happy. Ryota (Fukuyama) is a stern and demanding father and a successful architect dedicated to his work while his loyal wife Midori (Ono) dotes on their adorably cute six-year-old son Keita (Nonomiya). The three live quietly and comfortably in a luxurious apartment. Although Keita seems to lack his father’s qualities of determination and ruthlessness, he is a studious, quiet and loyal son who idolises his father and tries to emulate him. With Keita about to enter Ryota’s old school, life seems to be going according to plan.

Then Midori receives a phone call from the hospital where she gave birth to Keita six years ago informing her that their child was switched with another male baby and that their birth-son is with another set of parents. This news shatters the Ninomiya’s certainties and the hospital insists that both sets of parents meet.

Like Father Like Son Yudai (Franky) and Yukari (Maki)

Enter the Saiki family led by confident hard-working mother Yukari (Maki) and scatter-brained father Yudai (Franky). They are the polar-opposites of the Ninomiyas, Yudai runs a down at heel electronics store while Yukari works at a fast food parlour. Working class but still decent folk, their parenting style is more laid back than the Ninomiya’s which has produced three uninhibited children who are ebullient and fizzing with energy. This is who Ryota and Midori’s birth-son is with. Given the name Ryusei (Hwang), he is the eldest of three children and is the complete opposite of Keita, outgoing and tougher, he is a rough but good-natured child.

At the hospital’s insistence the parents’ initiate a twelve-month period where they get to know each other and try exchanging boys. Keita seems to take to the Saiki family easily but Ryusei’s brash temperament clashes with Ryota’s strict attitudes. Now both couples face a difficult decision over whether to hand over their sons who they have carefully raised for the last six years and take back their biological son or not.

Genki-Like-Father-Like-Son-Photograph-Scene-Extend

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Japanese Films at the BFI London Film Festival 2013

Genki BFI London Film Festival 2013 Banner

The 57th BFI London Film Festival is running from Wednesday 09th October to Sunday 20th October, a mere week after the end of the Raindance Film Festival. The London Film Festival programme was announced earlier today and the Japanese selection is rather good. The big news for me is that Sion Sono’s latest film, Why Don’t You Play in Hell? has been selected to play! Other entries include Yuya Ishii’s Great Passage and Hirokazu Koreeda’s Like Father, Like Son. The latter was probably the most obvious choie for inclusion but it’s great to see Ishii getting noticed.

Here are the films (click on the titles for more info like dates and times):

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

Why Don’t You Play in Hell? is coming to the UK? OHMYGOD! YES! SONOOOOOO is here and the day is won. So does this prove that if I cry loud enough and often enough about something, some big festival will pick it up? Because I posted about three different versions of the trailer before it was screened at Venice and then Toronto and finally London. I’m a Sion Sono fan and while I may not be the most eloquent, handsome or talented, I at least try to keep track of what he’s doing and covering his titles so it’s gratifying to see that in the year of release I get to see it and on the big screen.  I get to see the blood slide on screen!

Genki-Why-Don't-You-Play-in-Hell-Blood-Slide-with-Mitsuko-(Nikaidou)

He has had a short run of issue films. The critically lauded Himizu and The Land of Hope are serious dramas that look at the after-effects of the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami and radiation in Japan. Now he’s back making entertainment films like Love Exposure and Strange Circus , films that play with cinematic techniques, genre tropes, the audience and are bloody fun. The festival page has this descriptive line: “ingenious slice of high-octane insanity that is both a fresh take on the yakuza film and an affectionate tribute to the death of celluloid.” It forgot to mention the blood slide and the fact it’s probably God-tier entertainment as other reviewers have noted. Check out Bonjour Tristesse’s coverage of the critical reaction from the Venice Film Festival for more. Let’s go!

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 and 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 and recruits 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 gets a cinephile friend named 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.

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