That’s It  それだけ Dir: Gakuryu Ishii (2015)

That’s It   

Soredake That's It Film Poster
Soredake That’s It Film Poster

それだけ 「Sore dake」

Release Date: May 27th, 2015

Running Time: 110 mins.

Director: Gakuryu Ishii

Writer: Kiyotaka Inagaki (Screenplay),

Starring: Shota Sometani, Erina Mizuno, Kiyohiko Shibukawa, Jun Murakami, Gou Ayano,

Website   IMDB

Gakuryu Ishii loves punk music and this film was inspired by the 1999 song “Sore dake” by Japanese rock band Bloodthirsty Butchers. The rest of the band’s music is also featured in the film which was released on May 27, 2015, two years to the day the Bloodthirsty Butchers’ lead singer Hideki Yoshimura died. With lyrics and chords adding to the energy of the proceedings, this is a shot of urban punk action with echoes of films from director Gakuryu’s earlier career.

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Bitter Honey    蜜のあわれ  Dir: Gakuryu Ishii (2016)

Bitter Honey    

Mitsu no Aware Film Poster
Mitsu no Aware Film Poster

蜜のあわれ 「Mitsu no Aware

Running Time: 105 mins.

Director: Gakuryu Ishii

Writer: Takehiko Minato (Screenplay), Saisei Muro (Original Manga)

Starring: Fumi Nikaido, Ren Osugi, Yoko Maki, Kengo Kora, Masatoshi Nagase, Kiyohiko Shibukawa, Seiko Iwaido,

Website    IMDB

Director Gakuryu Ishii made his name with crazy indie films fizzing with punk energy, works like Burst City (1982) and Crazy Thunder Road (1980), but that is just one aspect of his career since he has an imagination capable of covering different genres from gloomy serial killers films like the brilliant Angel Dust (1994) and talky apocalypse movies like Isn’t Anyone Alive? (2012). I recommend watching them but of his other works, The Crazy Family and August in the Water are my personal favourites. Most of his films burst with voluptuous visuals and costumes, dense dialogue, and big name actors and over his long career he has maintained his flare for shooting scenes in energetic ways, something much needed here in a story that takes a while to get traction despite an exuberant performance from Fumi Nikaido as a goldfish turned human.

Based on a 1959 novel by the author Saisei Muro, Bitter Honey is set in 1950’s Tokyo. Although shot in a few outdoor locations like a yokocho, some streets, and temple grounds, most of the action takes place indoors, particularly the well-appointed house of an old male writer (Ren Osugi) who is busy making works of literature that will stand the test of time. Well, he would be if he wasn’t enthralled with a red goldfish who is able to transform into a beautiful voluptuous young woman (Fumi Nikaido).

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Isn’t Anyone Alive? 生きてるものはいないのか (2012)

Isn't Anyone Alive Review Header Image

Isn’t Anyone Alive?                                                         Isn't Anyone Alive DVD Case

Japanese Title: 生きてるものはいないのか

Romaji: Ikiterumono Inainoka

Japanese Release Date: 18th February, 2012

UK DVD Release Date: 22nd October, 2012 (Third Window Films)

Running Time: 113 mins.

Director: Gakuryu Ishii (aka Sogo Ishii)

Writer: Gakuryu Ishii (Screen Adaptation), Shiro Maeda(Original Story, Screenplay)

Starring: Shota Sometani, Rin Takanashi, Hakka Shiraishi, Asato Iida, Mai Takahashi, Yumika Tajima, Ami Ikenaga, Kota Fudauchi, Keisuke Hasebe, Hiroaki Morooka, Tatsuya Hasome, Eri Aoki, Konatsu Tanaka, Kiyohiko Shibukawa, Shoshiro Tsuda, Tateto Serizawa, Chizuko Sugiura, Jun Murakami

Isn’t Anyone Alive? is the latest film from Gakuryu Ishii (formerly Sogo Ishii), a  director I have recently discovered after watching his talky serial killer thriller Angel Dust which I loved. This is his first film after taking a decade out to take up a teaching post at Kobe Design University. Ishii once again shows his skill as a director but instead of cult killers he is tackling the absurd.

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Third Window Films Movie Extravaganza – Tetsuo, Himizu, Love Exposure, Are Any of You Alive?

At the beginning of the week Adam Torel of Japanese film distributor Third Window Films revealed to Twitch some great news: Love Exposure on Blu-ray, Tetsuo 1 & 2 on Blu-ray, and Are Any of You Alive? will get distributed in the UK.

Love Exposure Blu-ray

Aya Koike (Ando) and Her Gang in Love ExposureWhen I reviewed the Love Exposure as part of my Sion Sono Season I revealed my love of the film. Many of the commenters were well aware that the four hour masterpiece of love and identity was missing at least an hour of footage and they were curious as to what that might hold. Well they will now get their chance to see it sinceThird Window Films is giving the film is getting the Blu-ray treatment which means way more storage space for way more movie goodness. According to Adam:

The film will be a new transfer to HD (they’re making a new HDCAMSR from the original master and definitely no upconversion or anything like that) and will put the film on 1 Blu-ray, then extras on a separate DVD. This is really going to be an amazing release

Extras are to include:

Nearly an hour of deleted and extended scenes, New exclusive interview with Sion Sono plus the 1 hour long ‘making of’ which was on our original DVD release

Anybody who owns the DVD version will know that they have to swap disks halfway through but thanks to the power of Blu-ray there is no need to do that thus we don’t need to break the spell of the film. Plus we get to see what was cut from theatrical versions on a disc dedicated to extras. Sounds awesome.

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