Japanese Films at the Rotterdam International Film Festival 2013 Part 1

Genki Rotterdam International Film Festival BannerThe Rotterdam International Film Festival 2013 takes place from January 23rd to February 03rd. There is a fair-sized contingent of Japanese films at the Rotterdam International Film Festival. Some look absolutely brilliant (particularly GFP Bunny) and others look rather challenging!

Some, if not all but one of these have already been released in Japan and some have already had their European premieres (For Love’s Sake, 11:25) but overall it is a good line-up with a mixture of enjoyable titles and we get to see the latest titles from filmmakers like Hideo Nakata of Ringu fame and Masahiro Kobayashi who specialises in bleakies.

There is no common thread in the subject matter although two do deal directly with the March 11th disaster. The festival has proven to be the place where titles and filmmakers from Asia break out on the international stage. Will Ryutaro Ninomiya gain anything like the prominence of Kiyoshi Kurosawa? Is Yutaka Tsuchiya the next Sion Sono? Are these comparisons glib? Yes to all of them because there is a new generation of indie talent on display alongside some familiar names and it is too early to make any comparisons. So early, there are trailers and posters missing because nobody has thought to make one easily available!

Of all of the films on offer I know I’d want to see all but Japan’s Tragedy. If I had a choice of three I would settle for GFP Bunny, The Complex and 11:25 because I have not seen them and they appeal to me the most.

Here are the films on offer!


The Charm of Others

Japanese Title: 魅力 の 人間

Romaji: Miryoku no Ningen

Running Time: 89 mins.

Director: Ryutaro Ninomiya

Writer: Ninomiya Ryutaro

Starring: Yoshitaka Hosokawa, Ryutaro Ninomiya, Kensuke Ashihara, Daisuke Udagawa, Keisuke Minakawa, Takuya Makino

This indie film premiered at last year’s Vancouver International Film Festival. I am really not all that familiar with it and used the wrong Kanji when typing the title! The film deals with the loneliness felt by people in their day-to-day lives. No poster but an excerpt from the film.

The action takes place at a vending machine repair workshop in Yokohama. Yoda (Hosokawa) is the outsider there and doesn’t fit in with the other guys. As a result he gets picked on by some of the knuckleheads. The only person who goes out of his way to befriend Yoda is Sakata (Ninomiya) but this causes Yoda a degree of discomfort.


GFP Bunny                                                    GFP Bunny Film Poster

Japanese Title: GFP BUNNY タリウム少女のプログラム

Romaji: GFP Bunny Tariumu Shoujo no Puroguramu 

Running Time: 82 mins.

Director: Yutaka Tsuchiya

Writer: Yutaka Tsuchiya

Starring: Kanji Furutachi, Makiko Watanabe, Takahashi, Yuka Kuramochi

Yutaka Tsuchiya is considered one of the more interesting names amongst indie film makers in Japan and scored major kudos with his film Peep “TV” Show. He has been largely silent since then but now he has released this interestingly titled film which stars Kanji Furutachi who has appeared in trashy genre pieces like Dead Waves and Joker Game and has appeared in major titles like My Back Page and indie films like Being Mitsuko, The Woodsman and the Rain, Dreams for Sale and Odayaka. He is supported by Odayaka co-star and Sion Sono regular Makiko Watanabe (Himizu, Love Exposure). Here is the Trailer.

Apparently based on a true story (with some key facts changed), we follow the actions of Thallium Girl (Kuramochi) who is slowly poisoning her mother with thallium and records her detached world view in her diary. It is clear she has some mental problems which are exacerbated by bullying at school. This just causes her to retreat from reality into a darker place.


The Complex                                              The Complex Poster

Japanese Title: クロユリ 団地

Romaji: Kuroyuri Danchi

Running Time: N/A

Director: Hideo Nakata

Writer: Hideo Nakata, Junya Kato, Ryuta Miyake

Starring: Atsuka Maeda, Hiroki Narimiya

It might be fair to say that Hideo Nakata has never been able to capture the same success that he had with Ringu. He has tried his hand at other genres like thrillers but he keeps returning to horror with mixed results. The only other title in his filmography that can compare to Ringu is Dark Water. The Complex sounds a bit like that film in so far as it takes place in a haunted apartment building but what else does it offer? It stars the beautiful Atsuka Maeda who is a former member of AKB48 and starred in The Drudgery Train, one of the more interesting titles released in Japan last year. Here is a CM/trailer fresh from Japanese television.

Asuka (Maeda) has moved into the Kuroyuri apartment complex. It is a place with a chequered history as mysterious deaths occurred there 13 years ago. It isn’t long before she starts hearing the sound “garigarigari” from the apartment next door where an old man lives and it isn’t long before he is found dead! This is the start of a series of horrifying events that strike the apartment. Asuka calls upon Sasahara (Narimiya), a man who cleans up the homes of the recently deceased, to help solve the mystery.

Continue reading “Japanese Films at the Rotterdam International Film Festival 2013 Part 1”

Shinya Tsukamoto Films at the East End Film Festival

Shinya Tsukamoto, Director of Nightmare DetectiveShinya Tsukamoto (Nightmare Detective, Vital) is going to have three of his films screened at the East End Film Festival next month ahead of their blu-ray release, thanks to Third Window Films, in the UK later this year. The madness kicks off on the 4th of July when the festival screens two of his films, the classic Tetsuo, The Iron Man (1989) and Tetsuo: Body Hammer (1992) at the Hackney Picturehouse. The festival will then be screening his latest film Kotoko which will be shown on the 5th of July at 20:30 at the Rich Mix CinTetsuo, the Iron Manema.

Earlier this year Third Window Films announced that the Tetsuo films will be released together as a Blu-ray double-pack in October with brand new transfers restored from the original negatives by Shinya Tsukamoto and his  45 minute Tetsuo-prototype film ‘The Adventures of Electric Rod Boy’ (Denchu Kozo no Boken) in the package. KOTOKO will also be released in October.

Also screening at the festival is the film Cut, a gritty post-modern tale of a passionate cinephile mixing with the yakuza (this film was released at the end of last year and part of one of my first proper weekly trailer posts), Reed: The Life and Works of Roy Kiyooka, a film which looks at the Japanese-Canadian artist and his influence on North American art, and Radioactivists which looks at the recent changes in protest culture in Japan.

Thanks go out to Kyaputenbanana for the alert an Otherwhere for further information.

Cannes 2012 11.25 The Day He Chose His Own Fate Press Reviews and Interviews

Cannes-chanWith the 65th Cannes Film Festival closing today I think it would be fair to say that based Rin Takanashi on the Red Carpeton critical reception Michael Haneke’s Amour is going to take the Palme d’Or (The Paperboy sounds so outrageous I want to see it.). How the other awards shake out is another question but I hope best actress goes to the beautiful Rin Takanashi! For a better overview of the awards handed out at the festival head over to Bonjour Tristesse. Anyway critical reception for the third and final feature-length Japanese  film has comes in and it is mixed much like Kiarostami’s Like Someone in Love which leaves Ai to Makoto as the only Japanese film to receive mostly positive reviews.


Day 10: 11.25 The Day He Chose His Own Fate – Un Certain Regard

 1125 The Day He Chose His Own Fate

Director: Koji Wakamatsu, Writer: Masayuki Kakegawa, Starring: Arata, Shinnosuke Mitsushima, Tasuku Nagaoka, Takatsugu Iwama

Koji WakamatsuProlific veteran director Koji Wakamatsu tackled the violent and tough story of an extreme far left group during the turmoil of 1960’s Japan in the award winning United Red Army and now he is tackling a controversial figure on the right in the shape of Yukio Mishima, a writer, critic, and nationalist who espoused traditional values based on the Bushido code. He and his militia attempted to launch a coup d’Etat by taking a military commander hostage.

He is at Cannes with his film where he took part in a Q&A which had some interesting quotes:

What does Un Certain Regard mean to you?
It is an honour for me to be selected at “Un Certain Regard” since making film means how director express own “regard”.

Why is cinema essential to you?
Film making is my essential weapon for expression.

What about that critical reception?

“11/25: The Day He Chose His Own Fate is not as rigorous a work as it should be, but it is a complex and absorbing re-interpretation of the Mishima legend.” Simon Abrams (indiewire)

“Flat as a TV movie, Wakamatsu goes earnest with biopic, sans Schrader’s arty flamboyance & RED ARMY’s ferocious autocannibalism” Budd Wilkins (Slant Magazine)

After watching the trailer the film seemed like heavy going. Wakamatsu’s latest movie gets released in Japan next month.