The Bride of Rip Van Winkle リップヴァンウィンクルノ花嫁 (2016) Dir: Shunji Iwai

I recently landed a role as contributor to V-Cinema and I have reviewed a number of films for the website. I have been something of a fan and enjoyed listening to their podcasts when they have covered Japanese cinema so I’m pretty excited to be a part of the team and helping to highlight Japanese cinema. Writing reviews is something I enjoy doing and I hope people enjoy reading my reviews!

A Bride for Rip Van Winkle Nanami (Haru Kuroki)

Here’s a snippet of my review of the film A Bride for Rip Van Winkle (2016), the latest from the auteur Shunji Iwai. It is one of three films directed by him at the New York Asian Film Festival which is where he will pick up a lifetime achievement award. You can find more images plus a trailer and a link to the full review further down the post.

Continue reading “The Bride of Rip Van Winkle リップヴァンウィンクルノ花嫁 (2016) Dir: Shunji Iwai”

Third Window Films Release Tetsuo: The Iron Man, Tetsuo II: Body Hammer and Kotoko Tomorrow

The 08th of October 2012 will be a momentous day for Japanese film fans as Third Window Films are going to release three Shinya Tsukamoto films which played a pivotal role in my Shinya Tsukamoto Season.

The first two titles are Tetsuo: The Iron Man and Tetsuo II: Body Hammer which stunned me as my reviews show. They are released as part of a 2-disc DVD/Blu-Ray set and this Blu-Ray will be the first time the Tetsuo films have graced the format anywhere in the world. More importantly, Shinya Tsukamoto has been heavily involved with the release which results in a phenomenal set of extras which impressed me so much I felt they merited review themselves. Here are the details:

TETSUO: THE IRON MAN
TETSUO II: BODY HAMMER

 Tetsuo DVDBluRay Cover

A film by Shinya Tsukamoto (Kotoko, Snake of June, Vital)

Two of the most talked-about Japanese cult films of all time makes their way onto a double-disc blu-ray set for the first time in the world with a brand new high definition transfer supervised by Shinya Tsukamoto!

 

TETSUO: THE IRON MAN

Tetsuo Metal FetishistA strange man known only as the “metal fetishist”, who seems to have an insane compulsion to stick scrap metal into his body, is hit and possibly killed by a Japanese “salaryman”, out for a drive with his girlfriend. The salaryman then notices that he is being slowly overtaken by some kind of disease that is turning his body into scrap metal, and that his nemesis is not in fact dead but is somehow masterminding and guiding his rage and frustration-fueled transformation.

TETSUO II: BODY HAMMER

Tetsuo 2More of a companion piece to Tetsuo: The Iron Man than a sequel, Tetsuo II: Body Hammer sees Tsukamoto’s disturbing vision of a world populated by man-machines explode into a stunning colour interpretation.

I gave both films 5/5 because I was left flabbergasted by the arresting images, disturbing soundscapes and inventive use of the medium of film. I ended my review for Tetsuo: The Iron Man with the sentence, “If you consider yourself a cinephile willing to push the boundaries of your experiences then buy this film.” I stand by this because the works are just that great and show the power of film and the inventiveness of Shinya Tsukamoto.

 

Here is the UK trailer:

This 2 disc blu-ray and DVD set includes a brand new exclusive interview with Shinya Tsukamoto that lasts for nearly twenty minutes and goes into detail about how he started making movies, the making of Tetsuo and what film and cyberpunk mean to him. Also included is 45 minute ‘The Adventures of Electric Rod Boy’, an early film Tsukamoto made just before Tetsuo: The Iron Man which is an absolute riot and full of joy and creativity. This is the first English-subtitled release and it has also been remastered.

The release features both a slipcase as well as a reversible sleeve so fans can choose whether they’d rather have an image from Tetsuo I or II on the front of their box.

Tetsuo: The Iron Man – Japan / 1989 / 67 Mins / In Japanese with English subtitles / B&W / 16mm

Tetsuo II: Body Hammer – Japan / 1992 / 83 minutes / In Japanese with English subtitles / Colour / 16mm

DVD/BLU-RAY Special Features:

New High Definition Transfer supervised by Shinya Tsukamoto
Exclusive interview with Shinya Tsukamoto
‘The Adventures of Electric Rod Boy’ – Shinya Tsukamoto’s early film
New UK Trailer
Japanese Theatrical Trailers for both Tetsuo I & II

 

The third film released by Third Window Films is Kotoko which won the ‘Best Film’ award in the Orrizzonti at the Venice Film Festival last year, the only Japanese Film to ever win that award. When I watched it I was struck by the difference between Tsukamoto’s earliest films as seen in Tetsuo and the way he has changed his style but retained his visual literacy and kept his ability to use the medium of film to convey so many ideas. I described Kotoko as a harrowing film to watch but worth striving for because it is strong emotionally and visually and powered with a strong central performance from Cocco and I gave it 4.5/5.

Here are the details of the release: 

KOTOKO

 Kotoko DVD Case

A film by Shinya Tsukamoto (Tetsuo, Snake of June, Vital)

Cocco as Kotoko Dancing

Kotoko (Cocco) is a young single mother who lives alone with her baby son. Suffering from an unknown illness that makes her see doubles of people and not knowing which version of the person is real, it severely impacts her day-to-day life, often leading to her lashing out violently. The only time she does not see double is when she is singing. As her situation worsens and she becomes a liability her son Daijiro is taken from her and put in the care of her sister. Kotoko is left alone with her own thoughts and is at a loss as to how to get Daijiro back. Then a man named Tanaka (Tsukamoto) enters her life when he hears her singing on a bus trip and finds something awoken inside himself. Tanaka is a novelist with a hit title called The Man Who Brightened the Moon in bookshops but he leads a lonely life. Despite initial rejections he persists but Kotoko’s mental state is not getting better.

Japan / 2011 / 91 Mins / In Japanese with English subtitles / Colour / HD

DVD/BLU-RAY Special Features:

Exclusive interview with Shinya Tsukamoto
UK Trailer
Japanese Theatrical Trailer

Kotoko (2012)

Genki Tsukamoto Season Kotoko Header

Kotoko                                              Kotoko Movie Poster

Japanese TitleKotoko

Romaji: Kotoko

UK DVD Release Date: 08th October 2012

UK Distribution Label: Third Window Films

Original Japanese Release Date: 07th April, 2012

Running Time: 91 mins.

Director: Shinya Tsukamoto                                                       Kotoko DVD Case

Writer: Shinya Tsukamoto(Screenplay)

Starring: Cocco, Shinya Tsukamoto

 

Kotoko is the latest film from Tsukamoto which is released on the same day as the Tetsuo set. It stars folk-singer Cocco in her movie debut and she puts in a phenomenal performance which powers the film as it gives the audience a taste of mental illness and a traumatic kick in the guts.

Kotoko (Cocco) is a young single mother who lives alone with her baby son. Suffering from an unknown illness that makes her see doubles of people and not knowing which version of the person is real, it severely impacts her day-to-day life, often leading to her lashing out violently. The only time she does not see double is when she is singing. As her situation worsens and she becomes a liability her son Daijiro is taken from her and put in the care of her sister. Kotoko is left alone with her own thoughts and is at a loss as to how to get Daijiro back. Then a man named Tanaka (Tsukamoto) enters her life when he hears her singing on a bus trip and finds something awoken inside himself. Tanaka is a novelist with a hit title called The Man Who Brightened the Moon in bookshops but he leads a lonely life. Despite initial rejections he persists but Kotoko’s mental state is not getting better.

Comparing Tsukamoto’s early works like Tetsuo: The Iron Man and Tokyo Fist with his later works like A Snake of June and Vital shows a marked change in his approach. The all out visual assault, boundless energy, extreme horror and violence are gradually lessened and his editorial techniques are used much carefully over his filmography as more contemplative and humanistic tales become Tsukamoto’s focus. Kotoko, being the latest, uses the medium of film to track the psychic and mental traumas a character suffers and it carefully uses violence and editing techniques to help convey these traumas.

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Vital ヴィタール Dir: Shinya Tsukamoto (2003)

Genkina hito Vital Review Banner Shinya Tsukamoto Season

Vital                                                           Vital Film Poster

Japanese Titleヴィタール

Romaji: Vuita-ru

Japanese Release Date: 24th May, 2003

Running Time: 85 mins.

Director: Shinya Tsukamoto

Writer: Shinya Tsukamoto(Screenplay)

Starring: Tadanobu Asano, KIKI, Nami Tsukamoto, Kazuyoshi Kushida, Lily, Jun Kunimura, Hana Kino, Ittoku Kishibe

Tsukamoto once again brings us a tale of metamorphosis but, as in A Snake of June, it is more psychic and mental than physical, life affirming instead of destructive and much calmer than usual. The fascination with cyberpunk and body-horror, once an overwhelming aspect of his early films, is toned down and replaced with a humanistic tale of life, death and memory. Warning: this is a long review which does not contain any particular spoilers but discusses the film in detail.

Continue reading “Vital ヴィタール Dir: Shinya Tsukamoto (2003)”