Farewell: Comedy of Life Begins with A Lie  グッドバイ 嘘からはじまる人生喜劇 Dir: Izuru Narushima (2020)

Farewell: Comedy of Life Begins with A Lie 

Goodbye Life Comedy of Starting From a Lie Film Poster

グッドバイ 嘘からはじまる人生喜劇  Guddobai: Uso kara Hajimaru Jinsei Kigeki

Release Date: February 14th, 2020

Duration: 106 mins.

Director: Izuru Narushima

Writer: Satoko Okudera (Script), Keralino Sandrovich (Stage play)

Starring: Yo Oizumi, Eiko Koike, Ai Hashimoto, Tae Kimura, Nobue Iketani, Asami Mizukawa, Yoji Tanaka, Gaku Hamada, Yutaka Matsushige,

Website IMDB

This film can best be described with the phrase, “less than the sum of its parts,”

By no means awful, Farewell: Comedy of Life Begins with A Lie fails to live up to expectations.

The elements were all there for a promising screwball comedy.

It finds its origins in an unfinished work by Osamu Dazai that was turned into a stageplay by Keralino Sandrovich of absurdist comedy Crime or Punishment?!? fame.

Director Izuru Narushima has a filmography stacked with solid titles, the best being Rebirth (2011). Scriptwriter Satoko Okudera, who has worked with Narushima previously, has a fine selection of other titles rich with emotions like Summer Wars (2009) and The Wolf Children (2012).

There is a cast to DIE for with affable-to-the-point-of-attractive and very smooth-talking leading man Yo Oizumi taking the lead as a philandering fool with a bevy of beauties played by some of the most talented actresses currently working, including Tae Kimura (Starfish Hotel, Zero Focus), Ai Hashimoto (The Kirishima Thing), and Asami Mizukawa (A Beloved Wife). Plus Yutaka Matsushige and Gaku Hamada are on hand to provide ample support. Most promisingly, Eiko Koike, a thoroughly underused thesp was reprising her role from the theatre version. With so much talent, it was a surprise that the final result is so underwhelming.

The story takes place in post-war Japan, a nation transforming itself and shedding its old identity. As part of this, the locales are the hustle and bustle of Tokyo’s black markets and the more dignified air of editorial rooms of literary magazines. They soon crash together in an unlikely way through the meeting of two people from those two different worlds for a very sordid reason that promises comedy gold.

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A Beloved Wife 喜劇 愛妻物語 Dir: Shin Adachi (2019)

A Beloved Wife   A Beloved Wife Film Poster

喜劇 愛妻物語 Kigeki Aisai Monogatari

Release Date: September 11th, 2020

Duration: 115 mins.

Director: Shin Adachi

Writer: Shin Adachi (Screenplay/Novel)

Starring: Gaku Hamada, Asami Mizukawa, Chise Niitsu, Eri Fuse, Kaho, Kayoko Ookubo, Ken Mitsuishi, 

Website    IMDB

Writer/director Shin Adachi really grabbed the attention of the cinema world with his script for 100 Yen Love (2014) which charted one female loser’s rise from zero to hero via boxing. Following that he returned to writing scripts and made a number of hits but soon directed his debut film, the warmly received 1980s-set nostalgic comedy 14 That Night (2016). For his sophomore feature, A Beloved Wife, he adapted his semi-autobiographical novel and the old adage that “it is better to write what you know” turned out to be true as it won Best Screenplay at the 2019 edition of the Tokyo International Film Festival. A painfully funny and awkward comedy about marital disharmony, one hopes that this isn’t too close to reality.

The famous proverb, “Behind every great man is a great woman” applies to A Beloved Wife as it gives audiences ringside seats into a painfully funny dysfunctional marriage between a sex-obsessed writer and his long-suffering partner.

A Beloved Wife Film image 4

While every marriage has its peaks and troughs, for the Yanagida’s, the troughs have been longer and much deeper and it is all linked to the husband Gota Yanagida (Gaku Hamada) for he is a pompous and lazy scriptwriter running on the fumes of past successes. Suffering writer’s block, he has been living off his wife Chika (Asami Mizukawa) for the last 10 years. Contenting himself to occasionally doing cooking, cleaning and childcare and always promising to write a hit, he has forced her to her turn into the family breadwinner and so she is constantly working, constantly tired and very unhappy about their situation and has no problem loudly denouncing her husband because of it. Meanwhile, their daughter Aki (played by the adorable Chise Niitsu) is a cheerful poppet concerned mainly about having fun.

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Fish Story フィッシュストーリー Dir: Yoshihiro Nakamura (2009)

Fish Story    Fish Story Film Poster

フィッシュストーリー Fisshu Suto-ri-

Release Date: March 20th, 2009

Duration: 112 mins.

Director: Yoshihiro Nakamura

Writer: Tamio Hayashi (Script), Kotaro Isaka (Original Manga)

Starring: Kengo Kora, Atsushi Ito, Kiyohiko Shibukawa, Noriko Eguchi, Gaku Hamada, Mikako Tabe, Mirai Moriyama, Nao Omori, Hidekazu Mashima, Toshimitsu Okawauchi (of the band Drive Far),

 IMDB   Third Window Films

If I were to tell you just some of the many different things going on in Fish Story, you would say that the title must be a perfect fit for such an outrageous yarn and that it cannot possibly work in a movie. But the film’s story gracefully ties a huge range of things together to make an unconventional and warmhearted tale that shows how no struggle is fruitless and everything in life can go on to have great meaning.

Fish Story is based on Kotaro Isaka’s same-named novel and consists of many distinctly different and seemingly unconnected storylines taking place at different points over 77 years to explain how a punk rock song nobody bought saves the world from an asteroid on a collision course with the Earth.

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Third Window Films Release the First Blu-ray Edition of “Fish Story” on August 10th, 2020

Third Window Films are going to release the world’s first ever blu-ray edition of the much-loved music-fantasy FISH STORY on August 10th.

This is going to be released to mark 10 years since Third Window Films first released it on DVD.

Extra features (*all in standard definition):
Making Of
‘Gekirin’ various Live Performances
‘Gekirin’ Talk Show
Director & Cast Q&A
Deleted Scenes

It has a 15 certificate and has an RRP. of £19.99. As well as this release, it is on DVD and video on demand platforms.

Here’s the trailer and synopsis and a little extra info:

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If Cats Disappeared From the World  世界から猫が消えたなら Dir: Akira Nagai (2016)

If Cats Disappeared From the World 

If Cats Disappeared From the World Film Poster
If Cats Disappeared From the World Film Poster

世界から猫が消えたなら 「Sekai kara Neko ga Kieta nara」 

Release Date: May 14th, 2016

Duration: 118 mins.

Director: Akira Nagai

Writer: Ryoichi Okada (Screenplay), Genki Kawamura (Original Novel)

Starring: Takeru Satoh, Aoi Miyazaki, Mieko Harada, Eiji Okuda, Anna Ishii, Gaku Hamada, Eita Okuno

Website   IMDB

“If I were to disappear from this world, who would miss me?” Characters in movies usually think this while contemplating death. Of course, every person matters and our lives are connected with each other and the environment so something or someone disappearing has a big impact, but that is not always clear to people as we get swept up in dramatic circumstances and tumultuous emotions. There are tried and tested cinematic journeys used to lead a character to that epiphany of interconnection, either a path defined by hijinks or a contemplative trip down memory lane to show how important we all are, the latter of which happens in this gently powerful and moving film where the main character finds out he will die within days.

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Third Window Films Release Japanese American Culture Clash Comedy Sake-Bomb

Sake-Bomb                                 Third Window FIlms Sake-Bomb Release                                           

Running Time: 82 mins

UK Release Date: August 25th, 2014

Release Date: May 24th, 2014 (Japan)

Director: Junya Sakino

Writer: Jeff Mizushima (Screenplay),

Starring: Gaku Hamada. Eugene Kim, Marlane Barnes, Josh Brodis, Samatha Quan, Hiroyuki Watanabe

Third Window Films are going to release Sake-Bomb at the end of August. I saw Sake-Bomb and interviewed its director at last year’s Raindance Film Festival, well ahead of its release in Japan. I wasn’t totally enamoured with the film but it is well-done and other critics have loved it. Here are the details:

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Genkina Hito Interviews the Director of Sake-Bomb

While I was at the Raindance Independent Film Festival 2013 I got the chance to interview two directors. The first one I interviewed was Junya Sakino, director of Sake-Bomb which I reviewed yesterday. Here’s the trailer:

With the help of Israel from Korea Affinity I got a ten-minute interview recorded on camera but decided to type the interview out. This was the first time I had conducted an interview with a director but Junya was a gracious interviewee and Israel gave me excellent support an advice. Thanks go out to Adam Torel of Third Window Film for arranging the interview and Junya for being a really great guy. Here’s the interview:

Genki Jason: My name’s Jason, also known as Genkinahito and I’m here with Junya, director of Sake-Bomb, thank you for agreeing to do this video.

Junya Sakino: Thank you for inviting me.

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Genki Sake-Bomb Header

Sake-Bomb                                                                           Sake bomb film poster

Seen as part of the Raindance Film Festival     

Running Time: 91 mins.

Director: Junya Sakino

Writer: Jeff Mizushima (Screenplay),

Starring: Gaku Hamada. Eugene Kim, Marlane Barnes, Josh Brodis, Samatha Quan, Hiroyuki Watanabe

A Sake-Bomb is a type of drink created when a cup of sake is balanced on chopsticks on a glass of beer. When the table is hit the chopsticks move and the sake falls into the beer and the beer is then drunk in one go. Effectively this is a mixing of East and West (through alcohol) which is what this film hopes to achieve in what is almost a refreshingly new take on a comedy staple the road-trip movie.

Sake-Bomb Naoto and his Boss

Naoto (Hamada) is an unassuming looking chap who works at a brewery in a rural part of Japan. Because his soon-to-retire boss (Denden) considers him the best employee at the brewery Naoto finds himself named as the successor for the business. Before that can happen his boss tells him to take a week off and do something he has always wanted to do so he can settle down and devote his life to brewing alcohol. With this advice in mind Naoto heads to America to track down a former girlfriend who taught him English before disappearing without a trace.

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See You Tomorrow, Everyone みなさん、さようなら (2013)

Genki See You Tomorrow Everyone Review Header Wataru (Hamada)

See You Tomorrow, Everyone                  See You Tomorrow Everyone Film Poster

Japanese Title: みなさん、さようなら

Romaji: Minasan, Sayonara

Release Date: January 26th 2013 (Japan)

UK Release Date: October 14th, 2013

UK Distributor: Third Window Films

Running Time: 120 mins.

Director: Yoshihiro Nakamura

Writer: Tamio Hayashi, Yoshihiro Nakamura (Screenplay), Takehiko Kubodera (Original Novel),

Starring: Gaku Hamada, Kana Kurashina, Kento Nagayama, Kei Tanaka, Nene Otsuka, Bengal, Haru

Satoru Watari (Hamada) lives in a danchi. Danchi’s are a large cluster of public buildings thrown up from the 50’s to the 70’s to address the housing demands of the post-war baby-boomers. These places are like a little world unto themselves with their own shops that serve the attendant community.


After graduating from elementary school Satoru tells his mother Hinagu (Otsuka) that he has decided to stay in the danchi for the rest of his life.

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The Foreign Duck, The Native Duck and God in a Coin Locker アヒルと鴨のコインロッカ (2007)

Genki Jason Foreign Duck Film Review Banner

The Foreign Duck, The Native Duck & God in a Coin LockerForeign Duck Native Duck God Coin Locker Film Poster

Japanese Titleアヒルと鴨のコインロッカ

Romaji: Ahiro to Kamo no Koin Rokka

Release Date: June 23rd, 2007 (Japan)

UK DVD Release Date: January 14th, 2013

UK DVD Distributor: Third Window Films

Running Time: 110 mins.

Director: Yoshihiro Nakamura

Writer: Yoshihiro Nakamura (Screenplay), Kotaro Isaka (Novel)

Starring: Gaku Hamada, Eita, Megumi Seki, Nene Otsuka, Ryuei Matsuda, Kei Tamura, Kaoru Hirata, Midoriko Kimura, Masaki Okada
The Foreign Duck, The Native Duck & God in a Coin Locker is such a strange title that I expected a low-key indie comedy but got a lot more. 

Shiina (Gaku Hamada) is moving from the shoe shop his parents run to his new apartment in Sendai as he joins Aoba University to study law. On his first day he tries introducing himself to his neighbours but they are too pre-occupied with their own lives to care. As Shiina regroups after rejection he sings the Dylan song “Blowin’ in the Wind” which attracts the attention of one of his new neighbours, a tall and handsome chap named Kawasaki (Eita). Kawasaki is a complete contrast to the short and mild-mannered Shiina but share a mutual interest in Bob Dylan and strike up a friendship. Kawasaki does seem a bit of an odd duck, but in an irresistibly cool and charming kind of way, and Shiina can’t help but be drawn into his more exciting, if slightly loony world. Kawasaki’s head is full of unpredictable ideas, like his absurd warnings about pet shop owner Reiko (Nene Otsuka) or his even more absurd plan to steal a dictionary for their Bhutanese neighbour. Next thing Shiina knows, he’s standing watch with a toy gun outside the bookstore, on the beginning of their bizarre, existential adventure…

Shiina (Hamada) and Kawasaki (Eita) in The Foreign Duck The Native Duck and God in a Coin Locker

The film is based on a 2003 novel by mystery writer Kotaro Isaka (his book Remote Control is available through Amazon UK and sounds so good I may purchase a copy). This is not the first book of his to be adapted. Indeed, director Yoshihiro Nakamura adapted another called Fish Story to great acclaim (also available through Third Window Films). Finding out all of this came after viewing the film and so I had no idea this was a mystery. If I did I think my expectations would have been staggered because it never feels like one. Indeed after watching twenty minutes I had tagged it as a light comedy with goofball characters doing a lot of talking but the film manages to switch genre and mood with ease.

It starts with Shiina in what seemed like a play on a coming of age tale. We witness his first explorations of Sendai, a place famous for its BBQed tongue which his parents constantly remind him of. He is like anybody who finds themselves in a new environment, plagued by doubt and indecision and adhering to social codes to try and fit in. These moments are wryly observed and provide gentle comedy as we see him bewildered by his situation and swallowed up by crowds. His lost at sea is somewhat mirrored in that of an Indian woman who finds herself on the receiving end of suspicion and derision just for being an outsider. Ah, I said to myself, this is clearly a light comedy examining Japanese attitudes to foreigners! Foreign and native ducks! Case closed!

Think again!

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