Japanese Films at the 56th BFI London Film Festival

Hyouka Genkina hito BFI LFF 56

Last year I started writing about film festivals – I think Venice was the first because I was following a film named Himizu. The British Film Institute’s London Film Festival is a popular post that still gets views today. This year I decided to try and increase my coverage and even take part in a festival. The 56th London Film Festival will be the first major one I will visit. It takes place from the 10th until the 21st of October and the line-up of films is spectacular. There are some great titles like Nameless Gangster, Rust and Bone, and Antiviral. There is also a strong selection of Japanese films, some of which have been at other festivals and others which have already been released in Japan. I have already written about all but one of them. They all look exciting. As for my own picks they are The Wolf Children, Key of Life, and For Love’s Sake. Very happy titles amidst the darkness. Check out Alua’s post for more information on other titles worth checking out. Maybe I’ll see you there?

What films are at the festival then?

 

Dreams for Sale                                   Dreams for Sale Movie Poster

Japanese Title: 夢 売る ふたり

Romaji: Yume Uru Futari

Running Time: 137 mins.

Director: Miwa Nishikawa

Writer: Miwa Nishikawa

Starring: Takako Matsu, Sadao Abe, Lena Tanaka, Sawa Suzuki, Tamae Ando, Yuka Ebara,  Tsurube Shoufukutei, Tae Kimrua, Teruyuki Kagawa, Yusuke Iseya,

This film has appeared in two posts on this blog already – Toronto Film Festival and a new entry in the Japanese film charts. It is far darker comedy than I am used to seeing from Japan and this twisted relationship comedy looks deliciously immoral.  The principal cast are lead by Takako Matsu (9 Souls, Confessions, April Story), Sadao Abe (Paikaji Nankai Sakusen, After Life), Sawa Suzuki (Loft), Tae Kimura (My House, Kaidan, Starfish Hotel, Infection), and Tamae Ando (Noriko’s Dinner Table, Phone Call to the Bar). I wish I could have seen this one

 

When Kanya (Abe) and Satoko (Matsu) celebrate the fifth anniversary of their restaurant they had no idea it would end with the place burning down. This disaster forces Satoko to take on a job at a noodle shop while Kanya gets depressed and does what most movie men do in such a situation: drink and gamble. Then, one night, he returns home with cash and claims he got it by spending time with a lonely woman.  Satoko is initially angry but then realises the full potential of the scame and so the two embark on a series of sham relationships to get money together to re-open their restaurant. Surely it wont go that smoothly?

 

For Love’s Sake              Ai to Makoto Film Festival

Japanese Title: 愛 と 誠

Romaji: Ai to Makoto

Running Time: 134 mins.

Director: Takashi Miike

Writer: Takayuki Takuma (script), Ikki Kajiwara (manga)

Starring: Satoshi Tsumabuki, Emi Takei, Takumi Saito, Sakura Ando, Ito Ono, Tsuyoshi Ihara, Kimiko Yo, Ken Maeda, Yo Hitoto

This will be the final film I see in the festival and I am expecting this to be highly entertaining because it is directed by Takashi Miike. I hate musicals but Miike made The Happiness of the Katakuris which I loved. Tony Rayns, a highly experienced Japanese film expert states, “you can only gasp in disbelief at Miike’s inventiveness: performances, design, choice of golden-oldie hits and fight choreography are all beyond ace.”  Sounds awesome! Anyway Miike reunite with Emi Takei and Takumi Saito (13 Assassins) two stars from his previous film, Ace Attorney. It also stars Satoshi Tsumabuki (Villain) and Sakura Ando (Love Exposure). Takashi Miike’s live-action film adaptation of Ai to Makoto is the fourth so far, the previous three being made in 1974, 75, and 76.

High school student Makoto Taiga (Tsumabuki) is an ultra-delinquent who has arrived in Tokyo to avenge an incident from his past. That will have to wait as he falls in love with the angelic Ai (Takei) who comes from a respectable family. Things will get complicated as Iwashimizu (Saito) is in love with Ai while Gamuko (Ando) has feelings for Makoto.

 

 Helter Skelter                                            Helter Skelter Poster

Japanese Title: Heruta Sukeruta

Running Time: 127 mins.

Director: Mika Nanigawa

Writer: Arisa Kaneko (Script), Kyoko Okazaki (manga)  

Starring: Erika Sawajiri, Nao Omori, Shinobu Terajima, Gou Ayano, Yosuke Kubozuka, Mieko Harada, Sho Aikawa, Junki Tozuka, Anne Suzuki, Hirofumi Arai

Mika Ninagawa is an art/fashion photographer who made her directorial debut with the gorgeous Sakuran. This is her second film and it is based on Kyoko Okazaki’s psychological manga set in fashion industry. It was the Grand Winner of the 2004 Osamu Tezuka Cultural Prize. Arisa Kaneko is the screen writer adapting the story and she has written the scripts for films like Train Man: Densha Otoko and Welcome Home, Hayabusa. Just a look at the Helter Skelter Erika Sawajiritrailer and pictures of the film reveals that it will be visually spectacular! It stars the incredibly gorgeous Erika Sawajiri (Ghost Train) who is also visually spectacular and who I like very much. As an actress. Ahem. This was one of my initial festival choices but I opted to view For Love’s Sake so I had the rest of the day free and I could do other cultural things. That and ending the festival on this note seemed a bit wrong.

 

 Ririko (Sawajiri) is a vision of perfect beauty. What the public does not know is that her beauty is derived from multiple cosmetic surgeries and a lot of medication. To maintain her beauty and position she needs to keep taking medication and getting surgery but when the clinic that performs her surgery comes under investigation for medical ethics from authorities led by Prosecutor Asada (Omori) Ririko finds her career on the brink of calamity. With pressure mounting, Ririko’s body begins to suffer and her emotions and career, and sanity begin to fall apart.

Key of Life                                                          Key of Life Movie Poster

Japanese Title: 鍵 泥棒 の メソッ

Romaji: Kagi Dorobou no Meoddo

Running Time: 128 mins.

Director: Kenji Uchida

Writer: Kenji Uchida

Starring: Masato Sakai, Teruyuki Kagawa, Ryoko Hirosue, YosiYosi Arakawa, Yoko Moriguchi

This film gets a glowing write up from Tony Rayns who describes it as “deliciously funny, not to mention brilliantly timed and acted with relish by the all-star cast.”  Some of that cast includes Teruyuki Kagawa (Tokyo Sonata), Masato Sakai (Sky High, The Samurai that Night), Ryoko Hirosue (Departures), YosiYosi Arakawa (Fine, Totally Fine, Quirky Guys & Girls), and Yoko Moriguchi (Casshern). I was sold on this from the cast and the trailer and so I will be watching this at the festival.

 

Sakurai (Kondo) is an aspiring but unsuccessful actor who has recently attempted suicide but is unsuccessful at that. He decides to head to a local bathhouse to ease his suffering and whilst there he witnesses a stranger in the neighbourhood named Kondo (Kagawa) who slips and knocks himself unconscious. Sakurai takes advantage of this and helps himself to Kondo’s locker key. He loots Kondo’s belongings and assumes his identity which is a pretty bad idea considering that Kondo is an assassin working for a yakuza. For his part Kondo wakes up in hospital minus his memory and so assumes Sakurai’s life as an actor but applies his dedicated nature to the craft while trying to recover his memory. 

  Continue reading “Japanese Films at the 56th BFI London Film Festival”

Helter Skelter, Drudgery Train, Umizaru 4: Brave Hearts, Paikaji Nankai Sakusen, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha The MOVIE 2nd, Pokemon Best Wishes! The Movie: Kyurem vs. the Sacred Swordsman Keldeo Trailers and the Japanese Movie Box-Office Charts

This week I posted a review for 2 Days in New York and trailers for the forthcoming big screen anime adaptation of Asura and the latest Naruto movie.

What’s does the Japanese movie box-office chart look like this week?

  1.  The Amazing Spider-Man
  2.  Snow White and the Huntsman
  3.  Rinjo
  4.  Soreike! Anpanman Yomigaere Bananajima
  5.  Man on a Ledge
  6.  Hotaru: It’s Only a Little Light in my Life
  7. Guskou Budori no Denki
  8. Thermae Romae
  9. Men in Black III
  10.  Go, Masao!

The Amazing Spider-Man, Snow White and the Huntsman, and Rinjo remain in the top three – Snow White is actually pretty decent even if I found the Princess Mononoke section awful.  Two of last week’s releases, Soreike! Anpanman Yomigaere Bananajima and Guskou Budori enter at four and seven respectively. Thermae Romae spends yet another week in the top ten. It must be seriously funny!

What Japanese films are released today (and yesterday)?  Well it’s pretty busy but we see Erika Sawajiri back on the big screen!

Helter Skelter                                                            Helter Skelter Poster

Japanese Title: Heruta Sukeruta

Release Date: 14th November 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Mika Nanigawa

Writer: Arisa Kaneko (Script), Kyoko Okazaki (manga)  

Starring: Erika Sawajiri, Nao Omori, Shinobu Terajima, Gou Ayano, Yosuke Kubozuka, Mieko Harada, Sho Aikawa, Junki Tozuka, Anne Suzuki, Hirofumi Arai

Lead actress Erika Sawajiri (Ghost Train) makes her movie comeback with Helter Skelter a stunning looking movie with a great cast. The director is Mika Ninagawa, an art/fashion photographer who made her directorial debut with Sakuran. The film adapts Kyoko Okazaki’s psychological manga which was originally released in 2003.

 

Ririko (Sawajiri) is a vision of perfect beauty. What the public does not know is that her beauty is derived from multiple cosmetic surgeries and a lot of medication. To maintain her beauty and position she needs to keep taking medication and getting surgery but when the clinic that performs her surgery comes under investigation for medical ethics from authorities led by Prosecutor Asada (Omori) Ririko finds her career on the brink of calamity. With pressure mounting, Ririko’s body begins to suffer and her emotions and career, and sanity begin to fall apart.

Umizaru 4: Brave Hearts                                Brave Hearts Umizaru

Romaji: Brave Hearts Umizaru

Japanese Title: Brave Hearts  海猿

Release Date: 13th July 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Hasumi Eiichiro

Writer: N/A

Starring: Hideaki ito, Ai Kato, Riisa Naka, Ryuta Sato, Shohei Miura, Hiroyuki Hirayama, Tsuyoshi Ihara, Saburo Tokito

Another big-screen adaptation of a popular television series only this one focusses on the Japanese Coast Guard. Taking to the high seas are an interesting cast list including Hideaki Ito (Sukiyaki Western Django) and Riisa Naka (Mitsuko Delivers), Ai Kato (Another), and Tsuyoshi Ihara (13 Assassins, Retribution).

When a plane due to land at Haneda Airport begins to suffer engine failure, Sea Marshal Daisuke  Senzaki (Hideaki Ito) is on the case. He better hurry because one of the flight attendants is Riisa Naka!

 

Drudgery Train                                             Drudgery Train Movie Poster

Romaji: Kueki Ressha

Japanese Title: 苦役 列車

Release Date: 14th July 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 112 mins.

Director: Nobuhiro Yamashita

Writer: Kenta Nishimura (Novel)

Starring: Mirai Moriyama, Kengo Kora, Atsuko Maeda

Drudgery Train comes from Nobuhiro Yamashita (Linda, Linda, Linda), and is based on Kenta Nishimura’s Akutagawa Prize-winning novel Kueki Ressha. This character-study stars Mirai Moriyama (Fish on Land, Fish Story), Kengo Kora (The Woodsman and the Rain, Norwegian Wood), and Atsuko Maeda (The Suicide Song), a member of Team A in AKB48 and has got some great reviews. This has to be my favourite trailer from today.

Kitamichi (Moriyama) is a 19-year-old junior high drop out with alcohol problems. He works as a labourer in a warehouse and he has no friends and wastes his days doing very little apart from reading mystery novels. Then he meets Kusakabe (Kora), a new hire at the warehouse. The two become friends and Kusakabe brings Kitamichi into his circle of friends which includes Yasuko (Maeda) who works in a book store. Kitamichi falls for her. The problem is that Kusakabe is also in love with Yasuko and Kitamichi gets jealous. Can his new-found friendships last?

  Continue reading “Helter Skelter, Drudgery Train, Umizaru 4: Brave Hearts, Paikaji Nankai Sakusen, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha The MOVIE 2nd, Pokemon Best Wishes! The Movie: Kyurem vs. the Sacred Swordsman Keldeo Trailers and the Japanese Movie Box-Office Charts”

Helter Skelter Trailer

Helter Skelter                                                            Helter Skelter Poster

Japanese Title: Heruta Sukeruta

Release Date: 14th November 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Mika Nanigawa

Writer: Arisa Kaneko (Script), Kyoko Okazaki (manga)  

Starring: Erika Sawajiri, Nao Omori, Shinobu Terajima, Gou Ayano, Yosuke Kubozuka, Mieko Harada, Sho Aikawa, Junki Tozuka, Anne Suzuki, Hirofumi Arai

When I originally watched Ghost Train I remember being distinctly unimpressed by a lot of things. Lead actress Erika Sawajiri was not one of them. She actually gave a good performance but her career seemed to have stalled after it. Well she is back after a hiatus of nearly five years and in a stunning looking movie with a great cast.

 

Ririko (Sawajiri) is a vision of perfect beauty. What the public does not know is that her beauty is derived from multiple cosmetic surgeries and a lot of medication. To maintain her beauty and position she needs to keep taking medication and getting surgery but when the clinic that performs her surgery comes under investigation for medical ethics from authorities led by Prosecutor Asada (Omori) Ririko finds her career on the brink of calamity. With pressure mounting, Ririko’s body begins to suffer and her emotions and career, and sanity begin to fall apart.

Continue reading “Helter Skelter Trailer”

Ghost Train オトシモノ (2006)

Ghost Train BannerGhost Train InformationInteresting fact: Takeshi Furusawa was the assistant-director on Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s film Pulse. After watching this popcorn flick you might be sceptical but pay attention and you can see a great many similarities to various J-horror films.

A boy named Takashi finds a ticket on a Mizunashi Station train platform and picks it up. He is visited by a menacing woman in a dark robe. Shell-shocked, he makes his way back to the station and encounters his class-mate Noriko and her older sister Nana (Erika Sawajiri). He tells them, “A strange lady came to me and told me I’m going to die because I picked it up.” Nana reassures him that everything will be fine. Noriko takes the ticket from Takashi who boards an empty train still feeling uneasy about his encounter. The mysterious woman reappears just before the train stops in a tunnel. She claims Takashi as a victim. Why did the train stop? The driver, Kuga Shinichi (Shun Oguri) saw a woman on the track but when he investigates there is nobody there. He tells his superiors but finds himself demoted from the role of driver. Meanwhile Kanae (Chinatsu Wakatsuki) and her boyfriend Shigeru are travelling with friends when he finds a bracelet on a seat. He hands it to Kanae as a present and she puts it on her wrist little realising that the object is cursed and she will be visited by horrifying visions. The driver begins uncover the secrets of the tunnel and discovers it is the site of numerous accidents and harbours a dark secret. Nana and Noriko notice Takashi is on a missing person poster but it isn’t until Noriko goes missing that Nana finds herself investigating the disappearances all of which seem to be linked to a woman named Yaeko Aounuma.

Ghost Train Shape Continue reading “Ghost Train オトシモノ (2006)”