Jimami Tofu ジーマーミ豆腐 (2017) Directors: Jason Chan, Christian Lee

Jimami Tofu  Jimami Tofu Film Poster

ジーマーミ豆腐 Ji-ma-mi Toufu

Running Time: 121 mins.

Release Date: March 28th, 2018

Director:  Jason Chan, Christian Lee

Writer: Jason Chan, Christian Lee (Screenplay),

Starring: Jason Chan, Rino Nakasone, Mari Yamamoto, Christian Lee, Masane Tsukayama, Masoyoshi Kishimoto,

IMDB

Jimami is the Okinawan dialect word for peanut and jimami tofu is a simple but much-loved speciality of the islands. This is one of the ingredients that Singaporean directors Jason Chan and Christian Lee use to cook up a tale of history, lost love, and fusion cooking with varying results.

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Birdshot (2016) Dir: Mikhail Red, Philippines, Osaka Asian Film Festival 2017

Birdshot    birdshot-film-poster

バードショット Ba-do Shotto   

Running Time: 116 mins.

Director: Mikhail Red

Writer: Mikhail Red, Rae Red,

Starring: Mary Joy Apostol, Manuel Aquino, John Arcilla, Arnold Reyes,

IMDB

“Birdshot” is the sophomore film from writer/director Mikhail Red, winner of the best new director award at the 2014 Vancouver International Film Festival for his debut feature, “Rekorder,” an urban crime tale in the same vein as “Blow-Up” (1966) and “Blow Out” (1981) in which a cameraman who haunts night-time cinema screenings in tech-obsessed Manila accidentally records a murder and finds himself hunted. “Birdshot” is a similar tale of people being hunted but it is set in the sunny low-tech open spaces of the Philippine countryside.

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Space Brothers, Kantori Garu Trailers

This week I did a post for every day – part experiment with the “copy post feature” and part desire to showcase trailers. Thursday and Friday felt like “deja preview” and that was not much fun. I’m slacking off by not posting reviews and I apologise (let us pretend you care). Anyway the most interesting posts were Sadako, Fuse and Guskou Budori.

What’s happening with the Japanese box-office charts?

  1.  Thermae Romae
  2.  Detective Conan: The Mystery of the Eleventh Striker
  3.  Kamen Rider X Super Sentai Super Hero Taisen
  4.  We Were Here: Part 2
  5.  Chronicle of my Mother

All of the films released last week have entered the top ten with the amusing looking comedy Thermae Romae taking the top spot while the family drama Chronicle of my Mother entered at 5 and Home entered at number 10. There are only two American films in the top ten but they are falling out fast. What’s released today?

Space Brothers

Japanese: Uchū Kyōdai

Release Date: 05th May 2012 (Japan)Space Brothers Movie Poster

Running Time: N/A

Director: Yoshitaka Mori

Writer: Mika Ohmori (script), Chūya Koyama (manga)

Starring: Shun Oguri, Masaki Okada, Kumiko Aso, Gaku Hamada, Hirofumi Arai, Yoshio Inoue, Sansei Shiomi, Shinichi Tsutsumi

Based on an award-winning manga by Chūya Koyama, Space Brothers (Uchū Kyōdai) has been adapted into a rather good anime that is currently airing in Japan right now (and was rumoured to be getting 51 episodes). Thanks to the nature of modern multi-media franchises the manga, and anime have created a buzz for the movie so it will be interesting to see if this movie lives up to the previous adaptations. It stars Shun Oguri (Ghost Train), Masaki Okada (Villain), and Kumiko Aso (Pulse). The film has some scenes that were shot at the Kennedy Space Centre and the theme song is “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall” by Coldplay.

Two brothers, the eldest named Mutta (Oguri) and the youngest named Hibito (Okada), once saw what they thought was a UFO flying to the moon and make a pact that they will become astronauts and fly into space together. The years elapse and soon it is 2025. Hibito is an astronaut and it is only a matter of time until he heads into space. Mutta? He has failed the childhood pact and lives a traditional life working for a car company until he gets fired and then finds it hard to get another job. Fortunately Hibito is soon on the phone and Mutta’s dreams of going into space are soon reignited.

 

Country Girl

Japanese: Kantori Garu

Release Date: 05th May 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 70 mins.

Director: Tatsuo Kobayashi

Writer: Aya Watanabe

Starring: Satoshi Hattori, Shoko Fujimura, Yuta Kuba, Go Takamine,

Tatsuo Kobayashi makes his directorial debut with a script written by Aya Watanabe (A Gentle Breeze in the Village) in which a bunch of pickpockets take advantage of tourists visiting Kyoto to see maiko and geisha. This is an indie film so there’s no trailer or posters easily available to gaijin like me.

Four high school kids are surrounded by so much history but are bored of it. When a café owner (Takamine) decides to build a modern “artists’ village” the boys are intrigued and decide to create their own music club. To do this they need money and so  they target foreigners who have come to admire geisha. Things don’t quite go according to plan when one of the gang, Hayashi (Hattori), falls in love with a maiko (Fujimura) who can see through the scam.

BFI Anime Season in June

The British Film Institute (BFI) is holding a special showcase for recent anime (including the chance to rediscover Akira) from the 8th to the 10th of June. The line-up is excellent and contains some of the best theatrical titles to come out of Japan with titles from Studio Ghibli, Production I.G., and Madhouse. Of all the titles on display none intrigue me as much as A Letter to Momo which got a theatrical release in Japan last week and has had excellent reviews. Here’s the line-up:

Akira

Date: 10 Jun 20:40 NFT1Akira End

Director: Katsuhiro Otomo, Starring: Mami Koyaa, Mitsuo Iwata, Nozomu Sasaki, Running time: 125 mins.

This is a stone-cold classic. Like Ridley Scott’s movies Alien and Blade Runner it’s aesthetics have influenced the look of a lot of animation and film. I have seen it on multiple occasions and I highly recommend it.

The year is 2019 and thirty-one years have passed since World War III. Neo-Tokyo is wracked with riots and clashes between the authorities and extreme political opponents. A child from a top secret government project interested in psychic powers is spirited away by one of these political extremists but gets caught up in a clash between young delinquent motorcycle gangs. This gang finds itself suddenly catching the interest of the authorities when one of the gang-members, Tetsuo, exhibits psychic powers. He is taken by the army to be experimented on but his mind might be more powerful than anybody could have guessed.

Children who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below

Date: 9 Jun 18:30 NFT1Children Who Choice Lost Voices

Director: Makoto Shinkai, Starring: Miyu Irino, Kazuhiko, Hisako Kanemoto Running time: 116 mins.

Makoto Shinkai’s films are stunning to watch and feature such beautiful and melancholy stories full of more humanism than most Hollywood output. As the numerous OS wallpapers on my computer attest I am a fan (he answered two questions I put to him in a recent interview!). This is his latest film which looks stunning.

Asuna is a girl who spends her days listening to mysterious music coming from the crystal radio, a memento she received from her father. She embarks on a journey in the underground realm of Agartha which some believe has the properties of bringing people back from the dead. With a brave young man named Shun, Asuna will see the cruelty and beauty of the world as she evades dangerous beasts and a ruthless group of soldiers from her world.

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Exte: Hair Extensions エクステ (2007)

Exte Extensions Banner Header

With the opening line “My nose hair is out of control” you just know that this is aiming for comedy and it succeeds thanks to a crazy performance from Ren Osugi.

When a shipping container full of human hair is opened a young woman’s body is discovered. Police are baffled by the case creepy but hair fetishist Gunji Yamazaki (Ren Osugi) sees it as a golden opportunity to steal the corpse and harvest hair. When examining the corpse he is delighted to discover that the hair grows in endless amounts and decides to use it to create hair extensions to sell to salons. Bad news emerges when he discovers that the hair is exacting the dead girl’s vengeance on anyone who comes into contact with it. Meanwhile apprentice hair-dresser Yuko Mizushima (Chiaki Kuriyama) is trying to earn a promotion at her salon but her personal life intrudes when her niece Mami (Miku Sato) is dumped on her doorstep by her abusive mother. Little does Yuko realise that Mami will be the least of her problems because Gunji will visit her salon with demon hair.

I’m tempted to call this post-modern horror comedy. Although Sion Sono plays the horror straight there is a feeling of knowingness to the proceedings which highlights the artificiality and lets you know that the writer and director are playing with the genre. It is in the way characters use over-explicit and descriptive dialogue to introduce characters and say that they are doing so out loud, the way the (awful) music and (clichéd) sound effects are inspired by other films like One Missed Call, the way that the bad characters are melodramatically bad and the way that characters are so superficial and can smile after a hilarious climax which should see them hate hair. The salon workers even work in a place bearing the name Gilles de Rais, Jean of Arc’s compatriot and the notorious child killer. All of this is amusing and it is anchored by three strong performances.

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Third Windows Film Releases Adrift in Tokyo on DVD

Miki Satoshi who directed Instant Swamp and Turtles are Surprisingly Fast Swimmers is getting another film released courtesy of Third Window Films:

Adrift in Tokyo

Cool Adrift DVD CaseDVD Release Date: 27th February 2012

Running Time: 101 mins.

Director: Miki Satoshi

Writer: Miki Satoshi

Starring: Jo Odagiri, Kyoko Koizumi, Achiro Fukuhara, Eri Fuse, Ryo Iwamatsu, Yutaka Matsushige, Reona Hirota, Yoshizumi Ishihara, Ittoku Kishibe, Kumiko Aso

Synopsis

Fumiya (Jo Odagiri) is broke and lazy. He has been a university student for 8 years and owes money to loan sharks and one day a man named Fukuhara comes to collect. Unfortunately Fumiya cannot pay so Fukuhara makes a proposition: He will cancel the debt as long as Fumiya agrees to walk with him across Tokyo to the police station of Kasumigaseki, where he intends to turn himself in for a crime he deeply regrets.  Fumiya accepts the deal which is the start of a journey which will lead them to various unusual encounters, most of all with themselves.

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Third Window Films Release Kotoko in the UK, Rurouni Kenshin, Wild 7, Futari H: Second Kiss, Isoroku Yamamoto, the Commander-in-Chief of the Combined Fleet Trailers

It is Christmas Eve, I have done no wrapping and I’m putting the finishing touches to this blog post. Priorities, right… I’ll start wrapping presents while listening to some J-Rock after finishing this post!

Twitch broke news about Third Window Films ending the year with yet another awesome acqusittion announcement (I do like alliterations!) in the form of Kotoko from legendary J-horror director Shinya Tsukamoto (you should know him from the Tetsuo films and Nightmare Detective). Reading the synopsis this sounds more in the line of his dark dramas like Vital.

A single mother begins to see doubles and becomes paranoid which makes taking care of her baby a nightmare. Her only relief from the double vision is singing and cutting herself but she soon suffers a nervous breakdown and her baby is taken away. One day, while riding a bus, she sings to herself and this catches the attention of a man who falls in love with her. The man is a novelist and he begins stalking her until they engage in a volatile relationship which seems to ease her visions and paranoia. Then her baby returns and her condition worsens.

Anyway these are the last films to be released in Japan for 2011 and a trailer for Rurouni Kenshin which will hit next year and looks particularly awesome.

Rurouni Kenshin

Release Date: 25th August 2012

Running Time: N/A

Director: Keishi Ōtomo

Writer: Nobuhiro Watsuki (manga)

Starring: Takeru Sato, Emi Takei, Taketo Tanaka, Munetaka Aoki, Yu Aoi, Teruyuki Kagawa, Yosuke Eguchi,

The live-action adaptation of Nobuhiro Watsuki’s chanbara manga Rurouni Kenshin wasrecently released. The film’s titular character is played by Takeru Sato who has appeared in the live-action adaptation of BECK and Emi Takei, star of Takashi Miike’s forthcoming Ai to Makoto adaptation, takes the lead female role of Kaoru Kamiya.  The film is being directed by Keishi Ōtomo who directed a popular NHK historical television series named Ryomaden which featured Sato.

The story takes place in the early Meiji period, a time of transition for Japan where industrialisation allowed Japan modernise itself and consign samurai to the history books as they are replaced by guns and are banned from wearing swords in public. One such samurai is Himura Kenshin who was once an elite assassin during the final years of the Edo period he now finds himself as a wandering samurai offering aid to those in need as atonement for his past actions. During his travels he meets Kaoru Kamiya, an instructor at her father’s Kendo school. She offers Kenshin a place to stay at her dojo and their relationship begins to blossom but Kenshin’s past will soon catch up with him.

Continue reading “Third Window Films Release Kotoko in the UK, Rurouni Kenshin, Wild 7, Futari H: Second Kiss, Isoroku Yamamoto, the Commander-in-Chief of the Combined Fleet Trailers”

Uzumaki (Spiral) うずまき (2000)

It Draws You In - Uzumaki Review BannerI hate Junji Ito’s horror manga. I say this not because his manga is bad but because it is bloody good and thus, bloody terrifying. His work has inspired such cosmic dread in me that whole summer days have been ruined and I have been left a shuddering wreck trying to convince myself that his horror can’t happen to me. Thankfully his films are much more fun.

A girl named Kirie (Eriko Hatsune) stares at her town of Kurouzu from a nearby hillside. Something strange happened there. Cut to a few days earlier and Kirie is running through town on her way to meet her boyfriend Shuichi (Fhi Fan). She encounters Shuichi’s father Toshio (Ren Osugi) who is absorbed in filming a snail shell’s spiral. After meeting Shuichi she hears how bad Toshio’s obsession with spirals is. Shuichi has a bad feeling about the town which he believes is cursed by the spiral which becomes increasingly obvious as more and more people around town succumb to strange deaths involving spirals. It isn’t until Toshio dies that Kirie and Shuichi are spurred into action. With the help of Ichiro, a local journalist, they search the town history and find dark secrets linked to ancient mirrors retrieved from the nearby Dragonfly pond and a cult obsessed with spirals.

Uzumaki's Ground-Zero Town

Do you know where spirals are? Everywhere! Lollipops, cakes, snails. Just look at your fingerprints, hair. Try your ears. Even the insides of your ears have spirals…  Imagine having spirophobia and want to destroy spirals or being so obsessed with spirals that you allow them to take over your whole life. The potential physical and psychological destruction is huge and amusingly demonstrated in this film.

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Third Window Films and Terracotta Distribution Hit by Riots

Anybody watching the news will be aware that there have been riots across the UK. What started out as a peaceful protest on the 6th of August in the London borough of Tottenham quickly turned into chaos as criminals hijacked the event and started riots, looted shops, attacked police, assaulted people and destroyed property. Chaos quickly spread across the city to Enfield in North London where a Sony warehouse was burnt to the ground.

Sony Warehouse

With the riots over it is time to count the cost of destruction and for film fans in the UK news is grim as labels like Third Window Films (Villain, Sawako Decides, Love Exposure, Cold Fish), Terracotta Distribution (Big Tits Zombie), Masters Of Cinema (Tokyo Sonata) and anime distributor Beez (Durarara!!) have lost the majority of their stock in the Sony Warehouse fire. Although Third Window Films has insurance for its stock it doesn’t cover the entire back catalogue and it is going to take time for these titles to created again.

What can we do? A lot actually.
Third Window Films Logo
I know that the readers of this blog support the type of films that Third Window Films and Terracotta Distribution put out and I encourage you to support these companies by purchasing a DVD from Amazon or visiting the streaming movie site Mubi. These labels deserve support because they are willing to put out titles we watch and always select the best films from the Far East.

Just as important is the theatrical release of the excellent film Villain which I reviewed recently. If you get the chance to see it in the cinema, do so and let us keep Japanese films on the big and small screen!

Visit the website Third Window Films for more information on the films!