Petal Dance 「ペタル ダンス」 (2013) Dir: Hiroshi Ishikawa (4/5)

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!

Here’s a snippet of my review of the film Petal Dance (2013) images plus a link to the full review follow. The film itself is a further refinement of Hiroshi Ishikawa’s style which is all about long takes, unscripted dialogue, minimalist aesthetics, and a love of showcasing huge skies and Aoi Miyazaki’s acting.

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Su-ki-da 「好きだ,」(2006) Dir: Hiroshi Ishikawa (4/5)

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!

My second review for V-cinema was for the film Su-ki-da which is the second film from Hiroshi Ishikawa. It’s an improvement on the first film and has a great performance from Aoi Miyazaki. Ishikawa makes a slightly more conventional film in the shape of a romance but with Ishikawa’s long game way of storytelling. I’m going to write about all three of Ishikawa’s films. This is just a snippet of the review with images and links to a little research. The full review can be found through a link at the bottom just before a bunch of images:

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Parade パレード (2010)

Parade   Parade Film Poster

Japanese Title:  パレード

Romaji: Pare-do

Release Date: February 20th, 2010

Running Time: 118 mins.

Director: Isao Yukisada

Writer: Isao Yukisada (Screenplay), Shuichi Yoshida (Original Novel)

Starring: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Karina, Shihori Kanjiya, Kento Hayashi, Keisuke Koide, Maho Nonami, Terunosuke Takezai, Renji Ishibashi, Natsumi Seto, Midoriko Kimura,

The great existentialist thinker Jean-Paul Satre once said something along the lines of, “you can never truly know another person,” with the view that everybody is hiding behind a false mask. Nobody is genuine, everybody is playing a character, projecting a persona to hide their Jungian shadow, their real self, and so it is here with a group of young flatmates sharing a 2LDK apartment in Tokyo.

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Shindo (Wonder Child) 神童 (2007)

Shindo (Wonder Child)      

Shindo Film Poster
Shindo Film Poster

Japanese Title:  神童

Romaji: Shindou

Release Date: April 21st, 2007

Running Time: 120 mins.

Director: Koji Hagiuda

Writer: Kosuke Mukai (Screenplay),

Starring: Riko Narumi, Kenichi Matsuyama, Satomi Tezuka, Hidetoshi Nishijima, Tamae Ando, Masahiro Komoto, Shihori Kanjiya, Akira Emoto,

Japanese cinema has a unique category of film known as seishun eiga (youth films or coming-of-age films). These are a pretty common in Japan because many are made to serve as a star-vehicle for some young up and coming talent. Shindo stands out by taking the audience into the world of its main protagonist and lets us experience things as she does.

Shindo can translate into genius or prodigy and the prodigy here is Uta Naruse (Riko Narumi). Her name means song and she is a musical prodigy, a gifted pianist. She could read sheet music before she could speak and can play complex pieces from memory.

Shindo Riko Narumi as Uta Naruse

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The Great Passage 舟を編む (2013)

Genki The Great Passage Review Header

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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The Ravine of Goodbye さよなら渓谷 (2013)

Genki The Ravine of Goodbye Review Banner

The Ravine of Goodbye             The Ravine of Goodbye Film Poster

Japanese Title: さよなら渓谷

Romaji: Sayonara Keikoku

Release Date: June 22nd, 2013 (Japan)

Seen at the BFI London Film Festival 2013

Running Time: 117 mins.

Director: Tatsushi Omori

Writer: Shuichi Yoshida (Novel), Tatsushi Omori (Screenplay)

Starring: Yoko Maki, Shima Onishi, Nao Omori, Anne Suzuki, Arata, Hirofumi Arai, Mayu Tsuruta

SPOILER WARNINGS IN EFFECT I have done as much as possible to avoid major spoilers for this mystery drama, even going as far as altering plot synopses from older posts where I mention this film but there are still some spoilers. The official festival synopsis and trailers give a lot away but whether you know the twists or turns is pretty irrelevant because at its heart is a story about sexual violence and witnessing the suffering caused to characters is gruelling and quite affecting. It may be better to watch the film and come back if you are still interested.

A boy has been killed in a valley dense with trees and his mother, Satomi Tachibana, is the prime suspect. As the press besiege her house the police arrive to arrest her.

 Genki-The-Ravine-of-Goodbye-Press-Mob

Meanwhile her neighbours, factory worker Shunsuke Ozaki (Onishi) and his wife Kanako (Maki), a convenience store worker, seem to be uninvolved. Apparently a happy couple, the two try their best to ignore the press and carry on with their lives. 

 The Ravine of Goodbye Image Stare

As the police are investigating the murder rumours emerge that Satomi is romantically involved with Shunsuke Ozaki (Onishi).

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Ghost in the Shell: ARISE border:2 Ghost Whispers, Flying Bodies – a Hiroyuki Nakano Nonfiction Film, Negative: Nothing – Step by Step for Japan, Tobidase Shinsengumi, Senpuku, Kotatsu, Orange, Murderous Intent and Meow, Gebaruto, Maria Roaring Song Japanese Film Trailers

Doctor Who 50th Episode Gallery 2This week was a bit of a transitional period, wrapping up the Republic of Thieves read-along, sating my desire to write about Samurai Flamenco and getting my reactions before and after episodes 7 and 8, and posting about the latest Doctor Who 50th Anniversary special. It’s all in preparation for a Christmas period when I up the ante and post lots of reviews for films. More on that next week. What did I watch in film terms? South Korean disaster flick Flu and that was it. I’m preparing the finishing touches to the latest winter anime guide which will be released by Anime UK News and my thoughts on the other titles from the autumn season.

Yesterday’s trailer post was about three films, all of which were totally different from each other but today’s post features lots of documentaries.

 

Flying Bodies – a Hiroyuki Nakano Nonfiction FilmFlying Bodies Film Poster

Running Time: 78 mins.

Release Date: November 30th, 2013

Director: Hiroyuki Nakano

Bodies fly in coordination alongside some visual special effects as the all-male super-technological rhythmic gymnastic troupe of Aomori University led by Issey Miyake in a performance in Tokyo earlier this year. I’m not one for dancing but this looks kind of fun. You’ll have to go to the website for a trailer!

Website

Travelling Projector                            Travelling Projector Film Poster

Japanese Title: 旅 する 映写機

Romaji: Tabi Suru Eishaki

Running Time: 105 mins.

Release Date: November 30th, 2013

Director: Keiko Morita

Keiko Morita’s film is all about film projectors during a time when the digitisation of films is rapidly underway in Japan. Keiko heads to small town Urakawa, Hokkaido and explores the history of a cinema with the staff at the theatre who maintain it.

Website

Continue reading “Ghost in the Shell: ARISE border:2 Ghost Whispers, Flying Bodies – a Hiroyuki Nakano Nonfiction Film, Negative: Nothing – Step by Step for Japan, Tobidase Shinsengumi, Senpuku, Kotatsu, Orange, Murderous Intent and Meow, Gebaruto, Maria Roaring Song Japanese Film Trailers”

SPEC: Close – Reincarnation, Asa Hiru Ban, Story of a Butcher Shop Japanese Film Trailers

Samurai Flamenco OH GODI’m splitting the trailer post up again and will continue doing this because it’s better to have shorter posts than huge ones with lots of videos and text. There are three Japanese films released today in Japan and more tomorrow. The big hulking beast is the latest SPEC movie so a lot of the other releases seem to be counter-programming. Don’t like the big-budget flashy SPEC films then you get documentaries, comedies, and anime.

The SPEC films are a phenomenon of their own. They are based on a television series which started with Keizoku back in 1999 and has had numerous television series and movie adaptations.  They look fun but my viewing habits are fragmented so I won’t be embarking on watching them.

I must admit that I have no idea what’s going on with the films at this point because there are so many of them!

SPEC: Close – Reincarnation                                              SPEC Close Progress Criss Cross Version

Japanese: 劇場版 SPEC 結(クローズ) 爻(コウ)ノ篇

Romaji: Gekijō-ban supekku yui (kurōzu) (Kō) no-hen

Running Time:  85 mins.

Release Date: November 29th, 2013

Director: Yukihiko Tsutsumi

Writer: Yumie Nishiogi

Starring: Erika Toda, Ryo Kase, Raita Ryu, Kazuki Kitamura, Chiaki Kuriyama, Ryunosuke Kamiki, Yuko Oshima, Takahiro Miura, Kasumi Arimura,

This is the second half of the two-part conclusion (the first being Incarnation which was released at the beginning of the month.) It’s the final dramatic summary of the TV show and movie franchise with all sorts of guests from different episodes/movies. like Chiaki Kuriyama and so forth

Detective Saya Toma (Erika Toda) has an IQ of 201 and works together with veteran detective Takeru Sebumi (Ryo Kase) in the Unsolved Crimes Unit taking on and cracking mysterious cases that others have given up on. As a fierce, earth-shaking battle rages with spec holders, the powers hidden within Saya are awakened. and the mysteries regarding her relationship with Takeru, the fate of humanity, and all other matters are revealed.

Website

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Penance Shokuzai 贖罪 (2012)

Penance Eiko Koike Banner

Penance                   Shokuzai Drama Poster

Romaji: Shokuzai

Japanese Title: 贖罪

Running Time: 300 mins.

Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Writer: Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Script), Kanae Minato (Original Novel)

Starring: Kyoko Koizumi, Eiko Koike, Sakura Ando, Chizuru Ikewaki, Yu Aoi, Mirai Moriyama, Ryo Kase, Teruyuki Kagawa, Hirofumi Arai

For the last few years I have reviewed a J-horror film or something twisted for this blog for Halloween. Well, I was reviewing lots of J-horror anyway but I would only write about something really good, usually from my favourite directors like Nightmare Detective (Shinya Tsukamoto) and Strange Circus (Sion Sono). This year I will review Penance directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa.

kurosawa-penance

It was originally broadcast on the Japanese TV station WOWOW in five parts. A shorter version running at 270 minutes toured western film festivals like Venice and the East End Film Festival so it could be watched in one go. It has picked up for distribution by Music Box Films for release in the UK/Canada and US some time next year. I have watched the original episodes made for Japanese TV.

Penance is a five-episode TV drama based on Kanae Minato’s 317 page novel of the same name (Minato also wrote the novel which the film Confessions is based on) and is Kurosawa’s follow-up to the magnificent Tokyo Sonata.

Penance Emiri in School

Emiri Aachi is an elementary school student whose family have moved from urban Tokyo to sleepy Ueda due to her father’s work. She makes friends with four girls named Sae, Maki, Akiko and Yuka. Emiri is the fashionable one who has all of the latest things and she brings some excitement into the lives of the girls but strange things are going on including the theft of French dolls. One day when the five girls are playing volleyball at school they are approached by a man dressed in work-clothes. He has been watching them intently and asks for their help in repairing the ventilation system in the school gym.

Penance Inciting Incident  Continue reading “Penance Shokuzai 贖罪 (2012)”

I Wish (Kiseki) 奇跡 (2011)

Kiseki Film Review Header

I Wish                                       Kiseki FIlm Poster

Japanese Title: 奇跡

Romaji: Kiseki

Running Time: 128 mins.

Release Date: June 11th, 2011

Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda

Writer: Hirokazu Kore-eda (Screenplay)

Starring: Koki Maeda, Ohshiro Maeda, Joe Odagiri, Nene Ohtsuka, Isao Hashizume, Kiki Kirin, Ryoga Hayashi, Kara Uchida, Kanna Hashimoto, Hoshinosuke Nagayosi, Rento Isobe, Hiroshi Abe, Masami Nagasawa, Yoshio Harada, Yui Natsukawa

Pre-teen brothers Koichi and Ryunosuke have been separated from each other following their parents’ divorce. Thoughtful elder-brother Koichi has followed his mother Nozomi (Otsuka) to his maternal grandparents place in sleepy Kagoshima. Lively Ryunosuke lives with his indie musician father Kenji (Odagiri) in the more vibrant Fukuoka. Both places are at opposite ends of Kyushu and their only contact is by telephone. Despite putting on a brave face Koichi longs for his family to be reunited while Ryunosuke is more accepting of their situation and too busy doing other things like growing vegetables and taking care of his lackadaisical father.

One day in school Koichi hears that when two bullet-trains pass each other the resulting energy is strong enough to grant the wish of anyone seeing it occur so he devises a scheme that will see himself and his friends skip school, evade their parents, journey across the island and meet Ryunosuke and his friends at a point where newly built lines connecting Fukuoka and Kagoshima meet so they can make a wish. What does Koichi want? For his family to get back together again. Are things that simple?

Kiseki I Wish Kenji (Odagiri) Ryunosuke (Ohshiro Maeda) Koichi (Koki Maeda) and Nozomi (Ohtsuka)

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