Don’t Look Up (1996) 女優霊 Dir: Hideo Nakata

Happy Halloween! This is the time of year when people celebrate the supernatural and ghoulish aspects of popular culture and national myths. I do my part by highlighting horror movies on Halloween night. So far I have reviewed Nightmare DetectiveStrange CircusShokuzaiPOV: A Cursed Film and Charisma. This is the fifth year of this strand
and I am doing it in Tokyo, Japan. The last two weeks has seen the city go into img_1496Halloween overdrive and I am told it is a recent phenomenon. For my part I have viewed things from afar (such as from on top of Roppongi Hills and down onto a parade) rather than get stuck in what looks like a proper melee in jam-packed crowds (boring, I know, but I want to eat my ghost cakes and pumpkin Kitkats and drink my Halloween juice).

Anyway, this year’s film is from the ‘90s and it came from a young director who is now a familiar name thanks to a scary person who curses people via VHS. This isn’t Ringu, it’s an earlier film…

Don’t Look Up   jyoyurei poster

女優霊Joyu-rei

Release Date: March 02nd, 1996

Running Time: 75 mins.

Director: Hideo Nakata

Writer: Hiroshi Takahashi (Screenplay), Hideo Nakata (Original Story)

Starring: Yurei Yanagi, Yasuyo Shirashima, Kei Ishibashi, Ren Osugi, SABU, Daisuke Iijima, Naomi Kojima, Reita Serizawa,

IMDB

We are in Japan in the ‘90s. A promising young director, Toshio Murai (Yurei Yanagi), and his beautiful lead actors Hitomi Kurokawa (Yasuyo Shirashima) and Saori Murakami (Kei Ishibashi) and the crew are working hard on a film in a studio that has been around since the Second World War. It’s a huge place with a set that is built like a traditional house from the 1940s, props and scenery and other feature both modern and from the time of the studios construction as well as a lot of film canisters containing rolls of films from forgotten television shows and movies. It is an ideal location for the war drama being filmed and also place with a lot of memories. There is nothing so out of the ordinary at first glance and with so many people on set it looks like a lot of fun. Unless one looks up.

jyourei-2

Continue reading “Don’t Look Up (1996) 女優霊 Dir: Hideo Nakata”

BFI Event: Ring Screening and Talk

For anybody living in London and into Japanese films here’s something you may be interested in. When I was at the BFI London Film Festival I was subject to trailers for their Gothic season which has already started and one of the films screening for the Gothic season is Ringu in December at the BFI Southbank Centre. I forgot about it (I picked up a brochure) until a friend sent me the details. Seeing this on the big screen would be spine-chilling and perfect for December where the dark nights draw in quickly, cold weather pushes against the windows and scary movies get played. Even if you have seen it more than twice the shock moments should still retain their effectiveness. Plus the talk would be fascinating because the film is a very intelligent horror film in the way it mixes traditional yurei imagery with modern (for the time) technology.

I love this film and I love the novel it is based on I studied gothic fiction at university so I wish I could see it! Sometimes I hate not living in London so much I want to punch someone.

Nishijima Punch
From http://sukaretto.tumblr.com/

All of those awesome Asian films screened at cultural centres and embassies and film festivals. If only I worked in a gallery in London and I could finish work and head on over to a cinema… Sorry! Rambling… Back to the events:

The talk takes place on December 03rd at 6:20 PM. The film then screens on December 07th at 8:30 PM.

Thanks go out to Tired Paul for alerting me! Here’s the info on the talk followed by info for the film:

The latest in our series exploring film through a philosophical lens stages a theoretical intervention into our Gothic season, exploring the idea of media technologies as potentially horrific in their very nature, haunted by (sometimes monstrous) ghosts of the living. Through analysis of the 1998 Japanese horror film Ring, John Mullarkey (author of Philosophy and the Moving Image: Refractions of Reality) considers cinema’s capacity to establish macabre ties between the living and the inert, in a manner prompting both wonder and horror. He finds that in Ring, it is the ghostly image on a videotape that is itself monstrous, horrifically animated by media technology, with deadly effects on its spectators. After the screening and his talk, Mullarkey will be joined for a discussion by film scholar Lucy Bolton.

Tickets £11, concs £8.50 (Members pay £1.50 less)

Continue reading “BFI Event: Ring Screening and Talk”

Japanese Films at the Edinburgh Film Festival 2013

Genki Edinburgh International Film Festival 2013 Banner

I did not cover the Edinburgh Film Festival last year and that turned out to be a major mistake because there were a lot of Japanese films shown. Well this year I’m ahead of the game and here is a post previewing Japanese films and films involving Japan at the Edinburgh Film Festival 2013. Tickets went on sale at the beginning of the week so take a gander at the titles.

 

The Complex                              The Complex Film Poster 2

Japanese Title: クロユリ 団

Romaji: Kuroyuri Danchi

Running Time: 106 mins.

Venue: Cineworld,

Screening Date: June 22nd, 21:45 (Cineworld 5), June 25th, 20:40 (Cineworld 11)

Director: Hideo Nakata

Writer: Hideo Nakata, Junya Kato, Ryuta Miyake (Screenplay)

Starring: Atsuka Maeda, Hiroki Narimiya, Masanobu Katsumura, Naomi Nishida, Sosei Tanaka, Masaya Takahashi, Satomi Tezuka, Taro Suwa, Yurei Yanagi, Megumi Sato, Mayumi Asaka

Hideo Nakata, the director of J-horror classic Ringu and Dark Water returns with another urban supernatural chiller with The Complex which premiered at this year’s Rotterdam International Film Festival. Reviews suggest this is a return to horror form for the director and the trailer strikes all the right notes for me! It stars the beautiful Atsuka Maeda who is a former member of AKB48 and starred in The Drudgery Train. Hiroki Narimiya, Tooru in Mirror Hell part of Rampo Noir and the titular character in the Phoenix Wright movie Ace Attorney is her male co-star. The supporting cast include Naomi Nishida (Library Wars, Swing Girls) and Megumi Sato (Cyborg She, Exte).

 

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.

Lilou’s Adventure                              Lilous Adventure Film Image

Japanese Title: リルウの冒険

Romaji: Riruu no Bouken

Running Time: 117 mins.

Venue: Cineworld,

Screening Date: June 23rd, 14:50 (Cineworld 11), June 25th, 18:10 (Cineworld 05)

Director: Izuru Kumasaka

Writer: Izuru Kumasaka (Screenplay)

Starring: Lilou Diabate, Saera Nakandakari, Lamine Youl Diabate, Lily

This film strikes me as the most interesting at Edinburgh. It is tagged as being a “surrealistic story of two children’s journey across Japan” and while the story comes across as a simple adventure things are complicated by the fact that the main protagonist, the eponymous Lilou, is mixed-race. Not your usual white/Japanese mix but black and Japanese. Amidst the cool Twin Peaks dream sequences scenes of kawaii-Japan, 8-bit videogames and neon lights look to be darker ones where Lilou is challenged by others, perhaps because she is different. If the film explores this aspect of her character then consider me eager to watch it. Enough about my personal interests, here’s the trailer and synopsis.

Lilou is 10-years-old and half Japanese, half Guinean. She lives in Okinawa and has a friend named Kokoro. When Kokoro disappears, Lilou goes on a journey to find her, using clues from a video game.

Continue reading “Japanese Films at the Edinburgh Film Festival 2013”

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”