Camera Japan 2017 Preview: Documentaries

Camera Japan 2017 celebrates documentaries in this section. Japan is rich with documentarians who tackle a huge array of subjects and you cannot get a more disparate set of stories than here. Indeed, these films blow away typical ideas of what Japanese people are like by exploring subjects such as deafness, punk rock and gay prostitution. A deaf woman overcoming stereotypes through an epic cycle ride across the length of Japan, gay sex on offer in conservative Japan and the hetero and gay guys who sell it, a rock band recording strange sounds and encountering stranger situations. See the country as you’ve never seen it before and all from interesting and intimate angles.

All four of these titles have appeared at Nippon Connection over the last two years (three in 2017 and one in 2016) but I haven’t seen them programmed elsewhere so if you have a taste for documentaries and finding out what some lives are like in contemporary Japan then these three are going to be essential viewing.

Click on the titles to be taken to the corresponding festival page for more information. You can head to a larger overview of Camera Japan 2017 via this link.

Here’s the low-down on what has been programmed:

Continue reading “Camera Japan 2017 Preview: Documentaries”

Japan Foundation Documentary Event: Ogawa Shinsuke and Ogawa Pro: Collective filmmaking and the culture of dissidence

At a time I am currently working on a documentary in Japan I get an email about a cool season of Japanese documentaries filmed by indie creatives. The Japan Foundation and Institute of Contemporary Arts have teamed up for a retrospective of the documentaries of Shinsuke Ogawa and his acolytes. The event starts on November 17th and lasts until December 11th and it features films that chart the tumultuous period of the ‘60s and ‘70s when there were many student protests and a lot of social change as Japan modernised itself and controversial defence treaties were signed with the US which was embroiled in the Vietnam war. This is the best line-up of Japanese documentaries I have seen in the West so far and so it’s a great chance to learn more not just about Japan but filmmaking. I have written about one of these films (the Narita airport one) and recognise a couple of others but Japanese documentaries are a blindspot I have yet to watch any listed here so this I would have loved to see. Here’s a trailer:

Continue reading “Japan Foundation Documentary Event: Ogawa Shinsuke and Ogawa Pro: Collective filmmaking and the culture of dissidence”

Don’t Lose Heart, Jinx!!!, There’s Nothing to be Afraid of, Yokohama Story, The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness, Naked Cousin and Other Japanese Film Trailer

Eva Girl

This week has consisted of me working or writing future trailer posts because next week I’ll be at the gallery every day plus I’m starting the winter 2014 anime season guide for AUKN… I am very much conscious that my anime first impressions are late for this season and the only title tackled so far has been Samurai Flamenco but that’s because out of all the titles I picked it was one of two that really, really impressed me. Anyway, this week I posted about Asian film releases in November, my Republic of Thieves Read-along answers and a review for the sci-fi film Ku_On. I also did a bit of charity work in response to the typhoon that battered the Philippines. If you want to donate money, head over to the British Red Cross or Unicef.

Jinx!!!                                    Jinx Film Poster

Japanese: ジンクス!!!

Romaji: Jinkusu!!!

Running Time: 122 mins.

Release Date: November 16th, 2013

Director: Naoto Kumazawa

Writer: Yukiko Manabe, Naoto Kumazawa (Screenplay)

Starring: Kurumi Shimizu, Kento Yamazaki, Hyomin, Kazuya Takahashi, Sanae Miyata

The big release for this weekend is from the director of Kimi ni Todoke and the awful Oyayubi Sagashi… What a horrifyingly dull film. Anyway he’s back with one about two Japanese finding love Korean style. The two Japanese lovers are Kurumi Shimizu (The Kirishima Thing) and Kento Yamazaki (Another, Control Tower) while the gorgeous Korean girl getting them together is Hyomin, member of K-pop group T-ara. I meet quite a few Koreans at work and their Japanese is usually rather excellent.

University students Kaede (Shimizu) and Yusuke (Yamazaki) are in love with each other but they are so quiet and reserved that they cannot express their feelings. Enter South Korean exchange student Ji-Ho (Hyomn) who knows of their plight and gets them together through a Korean style romance.

Website

Continue reading “Don’t Lose Heart, Jinx!!!, There’s Nothing to be Afraid of, Yokohama Story, The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness, Naked Cousin and Other Japanese Film Trailer”

Japanese Film Trailers Part 2 The Tiger Mask, Patema Inverted, Tokyo Newcomer, Sunk into the Womb, Seiza, Neo Ultra Q Special Screening Part 1, Takamiy Melodic Metal History 2007 – 2013 “Steel Angel’s Feast”, Tightrope and Others

Hamerun 3This is the second part of my trailer post for this week. Normally I would publish one a week to capture the films getting shown in cinemas in Tokyo but there were too many to fit into one post – 25 embedded YouTube videos will derail an average browser with lots of tabs open. So yesterdayI posted a bunch of trailers for great looking films released this weekend. Today’s post is packed full of documentaries and while it looks larger than the first, there are fewer trailers due to the distributor of some of the 3/11 documentaries not releasing any clips. A look at next week’s release schedule shows that I’ll have to split up the weekly trailer post again.

What was my soundtrack for this post? This music and this music! Nostalgia for the 80’s, a time I barely remember.

The Tiger Mask                        The Tiger Mask Film Poster

Japanese: タイガー マスク

Romaji: Taiga Masuku

Running Time: 91 mins.

Release Date: November 09th, 2013

Director: Ken Ochiai

Writer: Ken Ochiai (Screenplay), Ikki Kajiwara (Original Manga)

Starring: Eiji Wentz, Natsuna Watanabe, Sho Aikawa, Mao Miyaji, Aya Hirano

Ikki Kajiwara’s hugely popular Tiger Mask manga undergoes the movie treatment following the adaptation of his other major hit, Ai to Makoto. The film stars Eiji Wentz (Kitaro films) and the brilliant Sho Aikawa (Serpent’s Path, Eyes of the Spider, License to Live).

Naoto Date was once an orphan selected by the mysterious organisation Tiger’s Cae to become a villainous wrestler and earn big money. Naota survived the harsh training to become the fearsome Tiger Mask but rebels against Tiger’s Cave to prevent other orphans facing the same fate. Not only that, he donates all of his earnings to the orphan he grew up in. Considered a threat, Tiger’s Cave send assassins! Something tells me that these assassins are wrestlers and don’t pack guns!

Website

Patema Inverted                             Patema Inverted Film Poster

Japanese Title: サカサマ の パテマ

Romaji: Sakasama no Patema

Running Time: 99 mins.

Release Date: November 09th, 2013

Director: Yasuhiro Yoshiura

Writer: Yasuhiro Yoshiura (Screenplay/Original Creator)

Starring: Yukiyo Fujii (Patema), Nobuhiko Okamoto (Age), Shintarou Oohata (Porta), Shinya Fukumatsu (G), Masayuki Katou (Lagos),

Yasuhiro Yoshiura is the director/creator of the wonderful Time of Eve, a futuristic drama about androids in a café and the humans that visit them. It was a whimsical show full of great details and gorgeous animation and do you know what was best of all? The characters were relatable and funny. This is his latest film and it looks to be just as good. I love that poster!

The story takes place in an underground world where the inhabitants exist in tunnels and confined spaces and must wear protective clothing. Despite this, these underground people still enjoy life, especially Patema, the princess of her underground village who loves to explore. Her fascination with exploration leads her to a forbidden area where she meets a boy named Age who operates under different gravitational circumstances. The two may come from very different societies but will face strange situations together! 

Website

Continue reading “Japanese Film Trailers Part 2 The Tiger Mask, Patema Inverted, Tokyo Newcomer, Sunk into the Womb, Seiza, Neo Ultra Q Special Screening Part 1, Takamiy Melodic Metal History 2007 – 2013 “Steel Angel’s Feast”, Tightrope and Others”

Suu, Mai and Sawa – Righting the Girl Ship, Bad Communication, The Dark System Full Version, Winter Day, Tofu Fa, Fukushima Not Forgotten, Anime Mirai 2013, Mobile Suit Gundam UC: Episode 6 and Other Trailers and the Japanese Film Box Office

Little Witch Academia Film ImageAh, I have just arrived home after my commute from work where I encountered two Japanese people by chance and had a good old chat with them. The pluses of public  transport! This week I received Skyfall, the 2LDK/Aragami double release, the Blue Exorcist anime and I Come with the Rain and I am expecting Detroit Metal City soon. As far as movies watched goes I watched Heat After Dark a further two times despite my review giving the impression that I did not rate it that much… I also wrote about Makoto Shinkai’s forthcoming film The Garden of Words and the anime Mysterious Girlfriend X. The former has the potential to be great while the latter wasted its potential to become just another fan-service show.

What do the Japanese charts look like this week (Feb 23/24 2013)?

  1.       A Good Day to Die Hard
  2.       Ted
  3.       The Brain Man
  4.       Les Miserables
  5.       Strrawberry Night
  6.       Life of Pi
  7.       Zero Dark Thirty
  8.      Chair of the Grasslands
  9.       Story of Yonosuke
  10.      Reunion

Well three of the Japanese films released last week (A Story of Yonosuke, Reunion and Chair of the Grasslands) break into the top ten but it is US/UK films that are dominating the charts.

Ah, this week sees the release of Flight and Django Unchained so I guess distributors are holding back big titles and resorting to counter-programming with a real mixed bag of titles… there are quite a few short films released and they have a whole gamut of rising stars of Japan’s directorial world. There are three documentaries, a loot of short films and two indie films while the one big-budget flick issssss now:

Suu, Mai and Sawa – Righting the Girl Ship   Sue, Mai and Sawa - Righting the Girl Ship Film Poster

Japanese Title: すーちゃん まいちゃんさわ子さん

Romaji: Su-chan, Mai-chan, Sawako-san

Release Date: March 02nd, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 106 mins.

Director: Osamu Minorikawa

Writer: Miri Masuda (Original Manga), Sachiko Tanaka (Screenplay)

Starring: Kou Shibasaki, Yoko Maki, Shinobu Terajima, Hana Kino, Akiko Kazami, Megumi Sato, Aoi Yoshikura, Ai Takabe, Shota Sometani, Arata

Osamu Minorikawa released Jinsei Irodori last year and is back with an adaptation of Miri Masuda’s manga. It stars Kou Shibasaki (One Missed Call, Battle Royale), Yoko Maki (Infection, Battle Royale II, and The Grudge), Shinobu Terajima(Vibrator, The Millennial Rapture) and Megumi Sato (Exte: Hair Extension). The males of the cast are Arata (After Life, Ping Pong) and Shota Sometani (Himizu, Lesson of the Evil). The film is a slice-of-life tale for adult women based on a four-panel gag manga and the trailer starts with a woman crying and not a gunfight or anything that would catch my attention but Rebirth had a trailer that made me uncertain and then I was blown away by it. Plus the review over at the Japan Times is intriguing… If The Japan Foundation screens it I will watch it! And then watch Heat After Dark for a dose of testosterone.

Sue (Shibasaki), Mai (Maki) and Sawako (Terajima) are three former companions who have remained friends. Sue works at a coffee shop and likes her manager. Mai works at an OA machine maker and is in a relationship with a married man and Sawako is a web designer who takes care of her grandmother.

Bad Communication                               Bad Communication Film Poster

Japanese Title: Bad コミュニケーション

Romaji: Bad Comyunike-shon

Release Date: March 02nd, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 30 mins.

Director: Haruhi Oguri

Writer: Haruhi Oguri (Screenplay)

Starring: Daiki Shiomi, Yoshino Motoyama, Yūta Hashimoto, Yūya Inechū, Ryūto Tanaka, Iemori Nagata,

Haruhi Oguri follows up Toilet and Women (that’s the actual title of a film released last year) with a youth movie depicting a group of friends in a seaside town as they leave school, enter college in Tokyo and experience the death of one of their number. The five leads are new to the acting game. Bad Communication is the title of a song by the cool J-rock group B’z and it reminds me of Ill Communication by the Beastie Boys which was cool. Random thoughts ended. the trailer doesn’t really interest me as much as the one for Toilet and Women.

The Dark System Full Version                        Dark System Film Poster

Japanese Title: Bad ダークシステム 完全版

Romaji: Da-ku Shisutemu Kanzenhan

Release Date: March 02nd, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 113 mins.

Director: Shūji Yuki

Writer: Shūji Yuki (Screenplay)

Starring: Makoto Takunomasaki, Katsumi Furuya, Yuko Kamata, Takehiro Kamibaba

Shūji Yuki’s two Dark System short films have been re-edited and re-constructed to make a feature-length film about two friends who split over a girl and soon turn to wire-tapping their homes and even violence. I would watch this if this were a DVD extra. I’m not sure I would go to a cinema to see this.

 

Here is where the short-films begin:

Winter Day                                Fuyu no Hi/Tofu Fa Film Poster

Japanese Title: 冬の日

Romaji: Fuyu no Hi

Release Date: March 02nd, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 28 mins.

Director: Hiroshi Kurosaki

Writer: N/A

Starring: Masami Nagasawa, Jun Fubuki, Kenta Uchino, Masayo Umezawa

Movie PAO have produced a second volume of shorts directed by three young directors Fuyu no Hi Snow Film Imagewith the aim of nurturing talent and allowing them to work with industry vets. The directors have got the chance to make whatever they want. The first title is Winter Day which stars Masami Nagasawa (Kiseki) and the great actress Jun Fubuki (Séance, Rebirth). Here’s a funny advert that I found after looking for a trailer. It could be a parody trailer of a dorama what with its music and slice-of-life setting. All Yuko wanted to do was eat oranges but when her father came home something emotional happened 😛

Lisa (Nagasawa) gives up on her dreams of becoming a photographer and heads back to her parent’s photo studio. It is snowing and in the snow she meets a woman (Fubuki) who will reveal a secret about her family.

 

Tofu Fa                                           Tofu fa Image

Japanese Title: ファの豆腐

Romaji: Fa no Toufu

Release Date: March 02nd, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 40 mins.

Director: Shinji Kuma

Writer: Yuka Honchō (Screenplay)

Starring: Akiko Kikuchi, Sansei Shiomi, Yuki Makoto Miura, Reiko Seno

Another Movie PAO title. The very foxy Akiko Kikuchi who co-starred with Koji Yakusho in last year’s Chronicle of My Mother, takes the lead role of a chef named Asako who runs a tofu shop with her father, who is reunited with a childhood friend which sparks subtle changes in her life. The trailer has segments from other Movie PAO titles but the first one is Tofu Fa like in the trailer above.

Continue reading “Suu, Mai and Sawa – Righting the Girl Ship, Bad Communication, The Dark System Full Version, Winter Day, Tofu Fa, Fukushima Not Forgotten, Anime Mirai 2013, Mobile Suit Gundam UC: Episode 6 and Other Trailers and the Japanese Film Box Office”