Beneath the Shadow (Eiri) 影裏 Dir: Keishi Otomo (2020)

Beneath the Shadow   Eiri Film Poster

影裏  Eiri

Release Date: February 14th, 2020

Duration: 134 mins.

Director: Keishi Otomo

Writer: Kaori Sawai (Script), Shinsuke Numata (Story) 

Starring: Gou Ayano, Ryuhei Matsuda, Mariko Tsutsui, Tomoya Nakamura, Ken Yasuda, Jun Kunimura,

Website IMDB

After spending the 90s working in TV, director Keishi Otomo moved into film and has built a filmography stacked with adaptations of novels and manga. He is best known for the internationally successful Rurouni Kenshin trilogy, a big-budget samurai series with a visual sheen of intense action, dizzying stunt work and exquisite period details that swept viewers away. He reigns everything in for his latest work, Beneath the Shadow, Eirin in Japanese. 

This is based on a same-named 2017 Akutagawa prize-winning novel by Shinsuke Numata and is set in the director’s hometown of Morioka, Iwate Prefecture, both before and after the 3/11 disaster. It features a slow-burn character-driven drama that teases audiences with a light mystery that hinges on the idea that our interpretations of people’s behaviour can be wrong if our emotions get in the way but also, that all of us have something we keep in the shadows.

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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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Rage 「怒り」 Dir: Sang-il Lee 2016

Rage Rage Film Poster

怒り 「Ikari

Running Time: 142 mins

Director:  Sang-il Lee

Writer: Sang-il Lee (Screenplay), Shuichi Yoshida (Novel),

Starring: Ken Watanabe, Aoi Miyazaki, Satoshi Tsumabuki, Gou Ayano, Suzu Hirose, Pierre Taki, Mirai Moriyama, Takahiro Miura, Chizuru Ikewaki, Kenichi Matsuyama,

Website IMDB

Rage is about the desperate need for human connections and the difficulties in maintaining trust when paranoia grips people. It takes place in four different communities in three separate regions of Japan following a grisly crime and the ambitious story allows a star-packed ensemble cast to go for glory in its bid for human drama but not everything resonates.

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The Bride of Rip Van Winkle リップヴァンウィンクルノ花嫁 (2016) Dir: Shunji Iwai

I recently landed a role as contributor to V-Cinema and I have reviewed a number of films for the website. I have been something of a fan and enjoyed listening to their podcasts when they have covered Japanese cinema so I’m pretty excited to be a part of the team and helping to highlight Japanese cinema. Writing reviews is something I enjoy doing and I hope people enjoy reading my reviews!

A Bride for Rip Van Winkle Nanami (Haru Kuroki)

Here’s a snippet of my review of the film A Bride for Rip Van Winkle (2016), the latest from the auteur Shunji Iwai. It is one of three films directed by him at the New York Asian Film Festival which is where he will pick up a lifetime achievement award. You can find more images plus a trailer and a link to the full review further down the post.

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Twisted Justice 日本で一番悪い奴ら (2016) Kazuya Shiraishi

I recently landed a role as contributor to V-Cinema and I have reviewed a number of films for the website. I have been something of a fan and enjoyed listening to their podcasts when they have covered Japanese cinema so I’m pretty excited to be a part of the team and helping to highlight Japanese cinema. Writing reviews is something I enjoy doing and I hope people enjoy reading my reviews!

Here’s a snippet of my review of the film Twisted Justice (2016) which plays at the New York Asian Film Festival. You can find more images plus a trailer and a link to the full review further down the post.

Twisted Justice Film Image 9

Continue reading “Twisted Justice 日本で一番悪い奴ら (2016) Kazuya Shiraishi”

The Light Shines Only There そこのみにて光輝く (2014)

The Light Shines Only There  The Light Shines Only There Film Poster

Japanese: そこのみにて光輝く

Romaji: Soko nomi nite Hikari Kagayaku

Running Time: 120 mins.

Release Date: April 19th, 2014 (Japan)

Director: Mipo O

Writer: Ryo Takada (Screenplay), Yasushi Sato (Original Novel)

Starring: Gou Ayano, Chizuru Ikewaki, Masaki Suda, Kazuya Takahashi, Shohei Hino, Hiroko Isayama

Fresh from Japan is a wave of young female directors creating deeply interesting dramatic tales of tragedy driven by dark emotional undercurrents that are found in everyday life. The Light Shines Only There (Soko Nomi Nite Hikari Kagayaku) is Mipo Oh’s most recent contribution to this movement. I saw it at the 2014 Raindance Film Festival where the quality of the film blew me away through how well composed and how immersive the atmosphere and darkness of the film is.

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Snow White Murder Case 白ゆき姫殺人事件 (2014) Shira Yuki Hime Satsujin Jiken

Snow White Murder Case (2014) (International Premiere)  Snow White Murder Case Film Poster

Japanese Title: 白ゆき姫殺人事件

Romaji: Shira Yuki Hime Satsujin Jiken

Running Time: 126 mins.

Release Date: March 29th, 2014 (Japan)

Director: Yoshihiro Nakamura

Writer: Tamio Hayashi (Screenplay), Kanae Minato (Original Novel)

Starring: Mao Inoue, Gou Ayano, Misako Renbutsu, Nanao, Shihori Kanjiya, Nobuaki Kaneko, Erena Ono, Mitsuki Tanimura, Shota Sometani, Katsuhisa Namase, Dankan,

Seen at the Terracotta Far East Film Festival 2014

Yoshihiro Nakamura’s latest film is a twisting murder tale which is less about who-dunnit and more about tearing open the glossy façade of contemporary media and revealing the lurid rumour-fuelled tabloid culture that festers underneath. As a Twitter-addict at a TV company uses social media to investigate a shocking death, he finds himself gaining what could be a massive scoop. With every Tweet he becomes the preacher to a growing congregation of gossips ready to praise him but his audience can turn and in his enthusiasm and efforts to catch a big news story he blithely ignores the damage that spreading rumours can do to promote his career.

Breaking news! Murder in Shigure Valley!

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The Story of Yonosuke 横道世之介 (2013)

Genki The Story of Yonosuke Review Header Yonosuke (Kora)

The Story of Yonosuke                      A Story of Yonosuke Film Poster

Japanese Title: 横道世余之介

Romaji: Yokomichi Yonosuke

Release Date: February 23rd, 2013 (Japan)

UK Release Date: N/A

UK Distributor: Third Window Films

Running Time: 160 mins.

Director: Shuichi Okita

Writer: Shiro Maeda (Screenplay), Shuichi Yoshida (Original Novel)

Starring: Kengo Kora, Yuriko Yoshitaka, Sosuke Ikematsu, Ayumi Ito, Gou Ayano, Arata, Kimiko Yo, Aki Asakura, Mei Kurokawa, Tasuku Emoto, Aimi Satsukawa, Keiko Horiuchi, Noriko Eguchi,

I was made a fan of Shuichi Okita after watching The Woodsman & the Rain, a film which is a wonderfully observed and rather touching comedy about the art of filmmaking and human bonds. Despite potentially weighty subjects I found it was an amusing and gratifying film that worked through its great characters and well-observed dry comedy. Okita is back a year after that film with a more complex one as he directs Shiro (Isn’t Anyone Alive?) Maeda’s adaptation of Shuichi’s Yoshida’s novel which flits between different time periods with a large cast of characters stretching between the ’80s and now.

The Story of Yonosuke Arrival in Tokyo (Kora)Tokyo 1987, Yonosuke Yokomichi (Kora) has left a small port city and lumbers into Tokyo to attend university. It blows his mind. There are huge buildings covered with ads for Sony and Kiss Mint gum, he sees amateur idol groups performing J-pop on the street and fashionable people everywhere.

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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.

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