Anime Weekender at the BFI Southbank in London in May

The BFI Southbank in London is running another “Anime Weekender” event in May with three days featuring some of the most recent anime releases. The tickets for the Weekender are on sale so just scroll down to see what is on offer. Dates and times have been put in as well as links to each film which will allow you to book tickets so just click on the titles.

Here’s what’s on offer:

In This Corner of the World Film Image

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Tears and Laughter: Women in Japanese Melodrama During the Golden Age of Japanese Cinema

There will be a season of films dedicated to the female actors who dazzled as stars during the Golden Age of Japanese cinema at the BFI Southbank from October 16th to November 29th It is called, Tears and Laughter: Women in Japanese Melodrama. Billed as “an opportunity for audiences to explore the cinema of Japan’s ‘Golden Age’, with a distinctly female focus,” there are thirteen films programmed and several of those titles are rarely screened in the UK so this is a good opportunity to get acquainted with them.

The season opens with a double bill of films by Kenji Mizoguchi and that will followed up by a season introduction on October 17th, – Women in Japanese Melodrama – during which experts including Alexander Jacoby and Alejandra Armendáriz will discuss the work of the female stars who dazzled at the heart of mid-century Japanese cinema. Following that will be the rest of the films from directors such as Yasujiro Ozu. Keisuke Kinoshita, Mikio Naruse and others who made powerful female led dramas such as Setsuko Hara, Hideko Takamine and others who are now becoming well-known across the world.

I’ve only seen one of these films so I’m using the synopses from the BFI’s site.

It’s a great line-up! Here is what has been programmed:

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More Japanese Gothic: Kuroneko and The Ghost Story of Yotsuya at the BFI Southbank

Winter is a time for ghost stories and the BFI has its Gothic season underway across various venues in the UK. The real meat is down in London where there are lots of talks and films that three Japanese film screened at the BFI Southbank over December. A fortnight ago I posted about Ringu and then blogger HS reported that there were screenings for the 1959 version of The Ghost Story of Yotsuya and Kaneto Shindo’s classic Kuroneko. Here’s the info on the films. Just hit the titles to get to the official pages and from there you can purchase tickets.

Kuroneko                                Kuroneko Film Poster

Japanese: 藪 の 中 の 黒猫

Romaji: Yabu no Naka no Kuroneko

Running Time: 99 mins.

Release Date: February 24th, 1968

Director: Kaneto Shindo

Writer: Kaneto Shindo (Screenplay),

Starring: Kiwako Taichi, Nobuko Otowa, Kichiemon Nakamura

This is Kaneto Shindo’s follow-up (in horror terms) to Onibaba and is drawn on from a classic folktale (kaibyo – Ghost Cat). I have seen this and planned to review it for Halloween but decided to go with Penance instead to cap my Kiyoshi Kurosawa season. Filmed in black and white this film is creepy but very, very beautiful with its atmospheric visuals, great lighting and creative sets.

A mother (Otowa) and her daughter-in-law (Taichi) live in a remote house next to a bamboo forest which makes them easy targets for a band of samurai who rape and murder them. Their spirits return in the form of vampiric black cats who lure samurai into a bamboo grove and murder them! 

The film will be screened on December 17th, 2013 at 6:10 PM and December 22nd, 2013 at 8:40 PM. Tickets are on sale already and seats for the Tuesday event are being snapped up!

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BFI Event: Ring Screening and Talk

For anybody living in London and into Japanese films here’s something you may be interested in. When I was at the BFI London Film Festival I was subject to trailers for their Gothic season which has already started and one of the films screening for the Gothic season is Ringu in December at the BFI Southbank Centre. I forgot about it (I picked up a brochure) until a friend sent me the details. Seeing this on the big screen would be spine-chilling and perfect for December where the dark nights draw in quickly, cold weather pushes against the windows and scary movies get played. Even if you have seen it more than twice the shock moments should still retain their effectiveness. Plus the talk would be fascinating because the film is a very intelligent horror film in the way it mixes traditional yurei imagery with modern (for the time) technology.

I love this film and I love the novel it is based on I studied gothic fiction at university so I wish I could see it! Sometimes I hate not living in London so much I want to punch someone.

Nishijima Punch
From http://sukaretto.tumblr.com/

All of those awesome Asian films screened at cultural centres and embassies and film festivals. If only I worked in a gallery in London and I could finish work and head on over to a cinema… Sorry! Rambling… Back to the events:

The talk takes place on December 03rd at 6:20 PM. The film then screens on December 07th at 8:30 PM.

Thanks go out to Tired Paul for alerting me! Here’s the info on the talk followed by info for the film:

The latest in our series exploring film through a philosophical lens stages a theoretical intervention into our Gothic season, exploring the idea of media technologies as potentially horrific in their very nature, haunted by (sometimes monstrous) ghosts of the living. Through analysis of the 1998 Japanese horror film Ring, John Mullarkey (author of Philosophy and the Moving Image: Refractions of Reality) considers cinema’s capacity to establish macabre ties between the living and the inert, in a manner prompting both wonder and horror. He finds that in Ring, it is the ghostly image on a videotape that is itself monstrous, horrifically animated by media technology, with deadly effects on its spectators. After the screening and his talk, Mullarkey will be joined for a discussion by film scholar Lucy Bolton.

Tickets £11, concs £8.50 (Members pay £1.50 less)

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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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BFI Anime Season in June

The British Film Institute (BFI) is holding a special showcase for recent anime (including the chance to rediscover Akira) from the 8th to the 10th of June. The line-up is excellent and contains some of the best theatrical titles to come out of Japan with titles from Studio Ghibli, Production I.G., and Madhouse. Of all the titles on display none intrigue me as much as A Letter to Momo which got a theatrical release in Japan last week and has had excellent reviews. Here’s the line-up:

Akira

Date: 10 Jun 20:40 NFT1Akira End

Director: Katsuhiro Otomo, Starring: Mami Koyaa, Mitsuo Iwata, Nozomu Sasaki, Running time: 125 mins.

This is a stone-cold classic. Like Ridley Scott’s movies Alien and Blade Runner it’s aesthetics have influenced the look of a lot of animation and film. I have seen it on multiple occasions and I highly recommend it.

The year is 2019 and thirty-one years have passed since World War III. Neo-Tokyo is wracked with riots and clashes between the authorities and extreme political opponents. A child from a top secret government project interested in psychic powers is spirited away by one of these political extremists but gets caught up in a clash between young delinquent motorcycle gangs. This gang finds itself suddenly catching the interest of the authorities when one of the gang-members, Tetsuo, exhibits psychic powers. He is taken by the army to be experimented on but his mind might be more powerful than anybody could have guessed.

Children who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below

Date: 9 Jun 18:30 NFT1Children Who Choice Lost Voices

Director: Makoto Shinkai, Starring: Miyu Irino, Kazuhiko, Hisako Kanemoto Running time: 116 mins.

Makoto Shinkai’s films are stunning to watch and feature such beautiful and melancholy stories full of more humanism than most Hollywood output. As the numerous OS wallpapers on my computer attest I am a fan (he answered two questions I put to him in a recent interview!). This is his latest film which looks stunning.

Asuna is a girl who spends her days listening to mysterious music coming from the crystal radio, a memento she received from her father. She embarks on a journey in the underground realm of Agartha which some believe has the properties of bringing people back from the dead. With a brave young man named Shun, Asuna will see the cruelty and beauty of the world as she evades dangerous beasts and a ruthless group of soldiers from her world.

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Japanese Films at the BFI London Film Festival

The BFI London Film Festival kicks off next month (12th – 27th October) and amidst a lot of genuinely exciting international films is a selection of brilliant new Japanese titles which I’ll list here. I have yet to see them but the directors are very familiar to me so here’s a run-down of what’s on offer and you better be quick in booking your tickets!

Kiseki / I Wish

Hirokazu Kore-eda became a favourite director of mine when I watched a BBC Four screening of his quirky second film After Life and the emotionally shattering Nobody Knows. Since then he has dabbled in a samurai tale and a family drama with his last film, Still Walking, which had shades of Ozu. A lot of his skill comes from his documentary background which allows him to create scenes and foster performances that seem naturalistic. Kiseki has a lot of actors from Still Walking so I’m eager to see what the results are.

Two young brothers find themselves caught in the aftermath of a messy divorce between their parents. Now separated and at opposite ends of the island of Kyushu they hatch a plan to unite their parents through a miracle that the Kyushu Shinkansen (bullet train) can create.

There are two screenings at the Vue West End cinema in Leicester Square which will take place on Saturday the 15th of October at 18:00 p.m and Monday the 17th of October at 18:oo p.m.. Visit the page to book your tickets!

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