Japanese and Korean Films at the Cannes Film Festival 2022

This year’s Cannes Film Festival will May 17-28 and it will be a physical event. The official line-up of films has been announced and there are some major titles from Asia. Quite interestingly, the festival will open with the French remake of One Cut of the Dead. Trailer below.

On to the Asian films!

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There is a mix of big Hollywood titles like Tom Cruise with his Top Gun movie and Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis with European films like Olivier Assayas’ remake of Irma Vep and Claire Denis with Stars at Noon.

Similarly, the Asian titles extend to big hitters competing for the Palme d’Or in the Official Competition section with a budding talent in the Un Certain Regard category, a section designed to recognise more unusual styles and film and recognise young talents. There is even a newbie directing (not acting) talent in the Midnight Screening section. Attendees will also get the chance to watch Naomi Kawase’s Tokyo 2022 Olympics documentary.

Following last year’s success of Drive My Car, will we see the next big Asian title here? Continue reading “Japanese and Korean Films at the Cannes Film Festival 2022”

Japanese Films at the Cannes Film Festival 2021

Following last year’s Covid-19-forced cancellation, the Cannes Film Festival will return as a physical event and run from July 06-17. Although we are still in the middle of a pandemic, screenings will be allowed to operate at full capacity. One safeguard in place is that people present a vaccination certificate or a valid health pass via a PCR test.

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As for the festival and its films, the event features over 63 films from around the world, with Oliver Stone’s JFK Revisited: Through The Looking Glass getting it’s premiere alongside In Front Of Your Face by Hong Sang-soo and Jane Par Charlotte by Charlotte Gainsbourg.

In the Official Competition section, made up of 24 titles, there is a wealth of talent which will get its world premiere – Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch and Leos Carax’s Annette (the opening films of the fest) are early standouts. We have one title from Japan. Continue reading “Japanese Films at the Cannes Film Festival 2021”

Japanese Films at the Cannes Film Festival 2019

Cannes Film Festival 2019 Poster

The 72nd Cannes Film Festival will run from May 14th until the 25th and themain programme was announced a couple of weeks ago. There are around 47 premieres at the fest with familiar names like Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction), Jim Jarmusch (Paterson, Ghost Dog), Ken Loach (Kes) and Pedro Almodovar (The Skin I Live In) walking on the Croisette along with a slight uptick in female directors – Jessica Hausner and Mati Diop are the names to watch – and there is a decent Asian contingent.

Prominent names for me are South Korea’s Bong Joon-ho, a masterful director with titles like Mother, Memories of Murder and The Host in his filmography. He is at Cannes with Parasite, which has a family tragi-comedy unfold as one “parasitic” family gets involved with a well-to-do one for nefarious reasons. The trailer looks brilliant. Then there is China’s Diao Yinan who made the electric neo-noir Black Coal, Thin Ice which won the Golden Bear at the 2014 Berlin Film Festival. He has a story of a biker and a desperate woman trying to escape their situations. What of Japan? Nothing much that can secure a Palm d’Or.

Hirokazu Koreeda Cannes 2018 Shoplifters Palme d'or
(Photo by Arthur Mola/Invision/AP)

Following his success at last year’s Cannes, it looks like Hirokazu Kore-eda won’t be returning because his latest film, the France-set film The Truth won’t be ready in time. This is Kore-eda’s first film set outside Japan and it stars Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche, Ethan Hawke and Ludivine Sagnier. Kiyoshi Kurosawa does have a film due for release this year but it doesn’t look like it will be shown at Cannes. Thankfully, there is still a Japanese presence at the festival and it comes from Takashi Miike and a classic!

Continue reading “Japanese Films at the Cannes Film Festival 2019”

Hirokazu Kore-eda wins the Palme d’Or for “Shoplifters” at Cannes 2018

Hirokazu Kore-eda won the Palme d’Or at the 71st Cannes Film Festival for his latest film, Shoplifters.

Hirokazu Koreeda Cannes 2018 Shoplifters Palme d'or
(Photo by Arthur Mola/Invision/AP)

Congratulations, Hirokazu Kore-eda!

This was his fifth time in the competition section and his win marks, to quote the critic Peter Debruge over at Variety,

“just the second time this century that an Asian film has claimed the festival’s top prize (the other being Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives” in 2010).”

This latest drama features an unconventional family living happily together on the margins of Japanese society through a mixture of grit and graft. Initially a gentle and heartwarming film, the tone changes as it shines a light on the failings of society and individuals. It marks yet another film where Kore-eda has worked with child actors and got amazing results as the different reviews have pointed out (round-up of reviews post).

Cate Blanchett, the Cannes Jury president said, “We were completely bowled over by ‘Shoplifters.’ How inter-meshed the performances were with the directorial vision”.

The film has already been picked up for US distribution thanks to Magnolia Films. The company’s president, Eamon Bowles said,

“In a long career of incredible peaks, Hirokazu Kore-eda has delivered one of his best works. ‘Shoplifters’ is an incredible story that deals with familial bonds in a way I’ve never seen before”. SOURCE

Continue reading “Hirokazu Kore-eda wins the Palme d’Or for “Shoplifters” at Cannes 2018″

Japanese Films at the Cannes Film Festival 2018 Review Round-Up: Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s “Asako I & II”

Making his Cannes debut is Ryosuke Hamaguchi who came to the world’s attenton with his five hour film Happy Hour (2015) which took a top prize at the Locarno Film Festival. Here, he adapts

Asako I & II

Asako I and II Film Image

Continue reading “Japanese Films at the Cannes Film Festival 2018 Review Round-Up: Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s “Asako I & II””

Japanese Films at the Cannes Film Festival Review Round-Up: Hirokazu Kore-eda’s “Shoplifters”

There is a small selection of Japanese films at the Cannes Film Festival 2018 with two in the Competition section. The biggest name is Hirokazu Kore-eda who has appeared at Cannes six times in the Competition and Un Certain Regard sections, picking up the Jury Prize for Like Father, Like Son (2013). Due to his focus on families in films like I Wish (2011) and Our Little Sister (2015), he is often called the Ozu of modern Japanese cinema by critics and this one features an unconventional family by normal Japanese standards since it features a group of people living happily together on the margins through a mixture of grit and graft. Initially a gentle and heartwarming film, the tone changes as it shines a light on the failings of society and individuals. So, what are the highlights of the reviews?

SHOPLIFTERS

Shoplifters Film Image 2

Continue reading “Japanese Films at the Cannes Film Festival Review Round-Up: Hirokazu Kore-eda’s “Shoplifters””

Japanese Films at the Cannes Film Festival 2017

Cannes Film Festival 2017 Poster

This year’s Cannes Film Festival (17th – 28th May) is the 70th edition of the event and the festival head Thierry Fremaux announced the Official Selection of films programmed last week. Critics are salivating over the fact that there are two Netflix films: the monster movie Okja by Bong Joon-ho (The Host) and The Meyerowitz Stories by Noah Baumbach (writer on The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and director of Mistress America). There will be two TV series for audiences to watch: David Lynch’s Twin Peaks and Jane Campion’s Top Of The Lake and lots more familiar faces such as Sofia (Somewhere) Coppola’s The Beguiled, Michael (Code Unknown/Cache) Haneke’s Happy End (knowing Haneke, it’s probably an ironic title…). More importantly, there are also nine first-time filmmakers getting their works screened.

Why is that important?

The Cannes Film Festival comes into 2017 with a need to find fresh blood and this is seemingly strong selection because may be it. Since this is the 70th anniversary of the festival and the fact that, last year, organisers faced fierce criticism last year for their lack of female directors, commentators identified that they needed to do a couple of things: broaden out its programme so that there are filmmakers other than the old guard (Campion, Haneke, Kawase, Haynes, the Dardennes brothers etc.) and increase the number of female-centric stories and female-led films across the programme. The old guard are back but just by glancing at the lists of announced films, it is clear that the festival has achieved some of its goals and will probably avoid the criticism it faced last year – hopefully, no high-heels and breast-feeding baby incidents will crop up). Things are a bit of a mixed picture when it comes to the Japanese films.

So far, there are four Japanese films programmed, and three come from festival regulars: Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Naomi Kawase, and Takashi Miike. Two of the four are adaptations while the other two are original dramas. Out of the dramas, one is made by a seasoned professional while the shorter one at 45 minutes is from a student. The presence of a fresh director is always something to cheer when it comes to Japanese films at international festivals and this director is a lady to boot: Aya Igashi. She is a graduate from Toei Gakuen Film College’s movie production department and is already working on her third film.

So, while we can all sigh and shrug our shoulders at the lack of original content, we can take comfort in the fact that Aya Igashi is on the radar of people who programme the festival.

What are the films playing this year?

Continue reading “Japanese Films at the Cannes Film Festival 2017”

Japanese Films at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival

Cannes FIlm Festival 2016 Poster
Cannes FIlm Festival 2016 Poster

This year’s edition of the Cannes Film Festival takes place from May 11th to the 22nd and it’s the 69th edition of the event. The festival’s main programme (every title in competition and Un Certain Regard) has been announced. This year’s line-up looks like its lumbering under the weight of major American films like Steven Spielberg’s The BFG and two Jim Jarmusch films. There are films from European stalwarts such as the Dardenne brothers, Andrea Arnold and Nicolas Winding Refn and there are two familiar Japanese names in the mix but both are in Un Certain Regard… Plus there are two Japanese films in Cannes Classics. It’s a good line-up and continues an upward trend following on from a similarly packed 2015. The only person missing from the party is Takashi Miike!

Continue reading “Japanese Films at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival”

Japanese Films at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival

Genki Japanese Films at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival

Cannes is THE film festival that everyone (even people with no interest in films) knows because of all the gossip about movie stars and the fashion stuff that newspapers report on instead of serious film business like who licenses what for distribution. For people more interested in films, we get to speculate about which directors and what films will be programmed by the selection committee. Well speculate no more! The announcements have been made… and I only care about the Japanese films that have been selected. Let’s go!

Continue reading “Japanese Films at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival”

Japanese Films at the Cannes Film Festival 2013 Critical Reactions and Awards

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The 66th Cannes Film Festival came to an end today  and the illustrious jury lead by Steven Spielberg had a tough time picking winners. Apart from Spielberg , the jury included Cannes Film Festival 2013 Posterinteresting names like Japanese film maker Naomi Kawase (The Mourning Forest) who recently had some of her films screened at Rotterdam, Ang Lee (Eat Drink Man Woman), Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained and, uh, Carnage), Nicole Kidman (Stoker) and the fantastic French actor Daniel Auteuil (La Reine MargotHidden).

This year’s Cannes film festival had a wide variety of films in the running for the Palme d’Or. There were a lot of American films getting excellent reviews like Alexander Payne’s Nebraska and the Coen Brothers Inside Llewyn Davis. Steven Soderbergh’s Behind the Candelabra was also highly rated with Michael Douglas tipped to win the best actor award for his performance as Liberace. Then it seemed that their chances were eclipsed by a French film that was screened on Wednesday called Blue is the Warmest Colour. As a report on the BBC stated Blue is the Warmest Colour was tipped to win the Palme d’Or with many critics were singing its praises and so it proved to be the right tip since it did walk away with the Palme d’Or.

Last year brought us a few treats in terms of Japanese films but no titles in competition to win the coveted Cannes Palme d’Or but this year Japan has made a major impact with two films in competition from two very special directors, Koreeda and Miike. Review are in for their films and it has been a split between love and dismissal for each director respectively.

How did the Japanese films do?

Shield of Straw                           Shield of Straw Film Poster

Japanese Title: 藁 の 楯

Romaji: Wara no Tate

Release Date: April 26th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 124 mins.

Director: Takashi Miike

Writer: Kazuhiro Kiuchi (Original Novel), Tamio Hayashi (Screenplay),

Starring: Takao Osawa, Tatsuya Fujiwara, Nanako Matsushima, Kimiko Yo, Kento Nagayama, Goro Kishitani, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Hirotaro Honda, Masata Ibu

Shield of Straw Screening Cannes Film Festival 2013

Takashi Miike is no stranger to Cannes but the possibility that his latest film Shield of Straw would take the Palme d’Or looked highly unlikely before the critical reviews came in. Let’s be honest, action titles like this just don’t win festival awards regardless of their quality but the critical reaction from western critics has been surprisingly lukewarm and even dismissive.

Japanese reviewer Masaichiro Murayama of the Nihon Keizai Newspaper summed it up the way I figured the movie would perform overall, “Miike’s direction is straightforward, tailored create an enjoyable action movie.” That’s what the trailer promised. On sites like Pia there are a lot of user ratings hanging around 3/3.5 on average.

Then the Cannes reviews came in:

“Though shot in widescreen on a relatively hefty budget, the two-hour-plus thriller makes limited use of its resources, featuring far more talk than action.” Peter Debruge (Variety)

“Sleek and engrossing, though awfully drawn out and short on psychological complexity, this is a straight-up police action thriller that adheres to a very familiar Hollywood template. In fact, its chief enticement outside Japan may be as remake fodder.” David Rooney (Hollywood Reporter)

“It’s hard to immerse yourself in the film’s emotional fabric, however, when your attention is constantly being diverted by the furious pacing and glaring plot holes.” Adam Woodward (Little White Lies)

“It is put together with technical competence, but is entirely cliched and preposterous, and it implodes into its own fundamental narrative implausibility.” Peter Bradshaw (Guardian)

“The script alone could easily inspire a novella detailing all of the plot holes, gaps in logic and insanely repetitive exposition… but the real shame is that the man responsible for some of the smartest, most insane, exuberant, boundary-pushing Japanese movies of the past decade has brought the story to life with such flat, joyless direction…” Brian Clark (Twitch Film)

I wasn’t expecting it Shield of Straw get love at Cannes but I was expecting it to fare better than it did – the 1 star Guardian review is just totally outrageous and an example of what is striking about some of the reviews where more attention is focussed on the implausibility of the script – this is a high concept action film, just enjoy the ride! –  but when the reviews do focus on the action it seems to be lacking.

Overall, it looks like one of Miike’s middling movies like Ninja Kids!!!. Not as extreme as his earlier stuff like his low-budget extreme films Visitor Q and Ichi the Killer and not as accomplished as something like his more recent big-budget mainstream films 13 Assassins or For Love’s Sake. I figure I’d like this film. I did like Ninja Kids!!! more than I thought I would. If it were to get screened in the UK I would head out to see it.

Now we come to the good news. 

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: October 05th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Hirokazu Koreeda

Writer: N/A

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

Koreeda and Cast at Cannes

Like Father Like Son looked to be the favourite Japanese film to take the Palme d’Or before the explicit French lesbian relationship drama Blue is the Warmest Colour came onto the scene and wowed lots of people. Like Father Like Son ticked all of the boxes which could give it the win, great drama, great acting and it has a sentimental story which should appeal to Spielberg. Director Kore-eda is a modern day Ozu, able to capture the emotional geography of everyday Japanese people in all sorts of scenarios and Japanese family life.

The Japan Times beat me to the critical reactions round-up but here are some that stood out to me:

“It is a very decent piece of work, although not as distinctive as those two previous movies, not quite as finely observed and frankly a little schematic and formulaic, with life-lessons being learnt by the obvious people. It does however have charm and abundant human sympathy.” Peter Bradshaw (Guardian)

Not only is it the best picture to be shown in competition so far, it also prompted the loudest reactions yet from this habitually noisy crowd: rippling laughter throughout, sustained applause at the close, and a steady refrain of goosey honks as attendees cleared their tear-streaming noses. Robbie Collin (Telegraph)

Kore-eda’s “Like Father, Like Son” is a characteristically low-key but supple treatment of familial bonds, expectations and responsibilities that reverberates with heartrending impact. Maggie Lee (Variety)

With the same restraint and control over plot and the characters that he has always displayed, he leads the story carefully, avoiding unnecessary histrionics and managing to draw out of calm, carefully weighed reactions, much more than other directors would do by unchaining explosions of temper. But all these qualities are partially wasted on a plot that leaves too many issues unsolved. Dan Fainaru (Screen Daily)

A character study of a rare density and undeniable accuracy, not succumbing neither pathos nor the clinical severity, included in a spontaneous narrative, in which each player is shown a disturbing nature. Two hours, LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON leads the viewer to pests territories laughter the most outspoken of the most cathartic tears.  Aurelien Allin (Cinema Teaser)

The reaction of the critic Robbie Collin is what I hoped the film would get. I have yet to review Kore-eda’s films on this blog but I have watched quite a few of them and I feel that each of them has been a carefully crafted drama with so much emotional resonance and humanity that it means so much. They have certainly evoked emotional reactions from me.  Perhaps I’m much more sentimental than I’d like to admit but from the early reviews from critics I’m sure I would have been in floods of tears from another great drama. This one looks exactly like tear fuel to me as the trailer reveals.

Well Like Father Like Son didn’t win the Palme d’Or but it did win the Jury Prize! The success of a Japanese film at Cannes makes me happy especially when it’s by Kore-eda. This gets a release later in the year in Japan and with its subject matter and the critical reaction at Cannes it should do well and hopefully get released in the UK soon.

Koreeda Cannes 2013 Jury Prize Win

Congratulations go out to Hirokazu Kore-eda.

I would like to thank Bonjour Tristesse for doing a great job covering all of the films at the festival! I only focus on Japanese ones and so getting a round-up of what the rest of the world is doing is really great. Check out his full list of winners!

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