Gukoroku – Traces of Sin 愚行録 Dir: Kei Ishikawa (2017)

Gukoroku – Traces of Sin   Gukoroku Film Poster

愚行録  Gukoroku」    

Running Time: 120 mins.

Director: Kei Ishikawa

Writer: Kosuke Mukai (Screenplay), Tokuro Nukui (Original Novel),

Starring: Satoshi Tsumabuki, Hikari Mitsushima, Keisuke Koide, Asami Usuda, Yui Ichikawa,

Website IMDB

A brutal crime is committed in Tokyo where a picture-perfect family is knifed to death by an unknown assailant. With the killer having disappeared, questions are left unanswered but the central protagonist of this film aims to answer them. Kei Ishikawa’s tightly controlled directorial debut ostensibly looks like a murder mystery similar to Rage (2016) where an ensemble cast lead the audience into the conclusion of a terrible atrocity but this is a mystery where it is less about the how and more about the why the perpetrator committed the crime. Based on a novel by Tokuro Nukui and adapted by veteran scriptwriter Kosuke Mukai, this is a disturbing film gives us a chilling portrait of people driven to murder by issues of class and background in a society where hierarchy is everything. In this tale, lies and deceit are inherent in everyone who bears traces of sin.

Continue reading “Gukoroku – Traces of Sin 愚行録 Dir: Kei Ishikawa (2017)”

Sion Sono’s Twisted Romance “Love Exposure” Screened at Japan Society New York June 03rd

Love Exposure's Interesting Ride

The film section on the Japan Society (New York) website has a listing for a screening of Love Exposure (2009). There’s this sentence:

“In anticipation of the upcoming 10th edition of JAPAN CUTS: Festival of New Japanese Film (July 14-24, 2016) we screen Sion Sono’s notorious masterpiece about love, family, religion and upskirt photography.”

That sentence leads me to assume that Sion Sono’s two latest films, Whispering Star and Love and Peace will get screened at Japan Cuts this year. The two have been on the festival circuit and are at this year’s Nippon Connection.

Continue reading “Sion Sono’s Twisted Romance “Love Exposure” Screened at Japan Society New York June 03rd”

Hana no Utame Gothicmade, The Floating Castle, A Chorus of Angels, Be My Slave, Fly with the Gold Trailers and the Japanese Movie Charts

Persona SaturdayThis week began with my excitement over some of Manga Entertainment’s 2013 releases which includes The Wolf Children and Blood-C: The Last Dark, then I watched The Pact (2012) and Zombie Apocalypse (2011). Then I posted Genkinahito and It Came From Japan, which saw me submit five Japanese horror movie reviews for a Halloween special run by The LAMB.  I then posted a review of  Sion Sono’s excellent ero-guro title Strange Circus for my Halloween review (it is proving most popular, not least a certain picture…) and another trailer for the forthcoming Evangelion movie. Still no word on Premiere Japan, which I have Googled every day this week…

What does the Japanese movie box office chart look like this week? 

  1. Smile Precure! Everyone is all Mixed Up in the Picture Book
  2. The Expendables 2
  3. Tsunagu
  4. Bayside Shakedown 4: The Final New Hope
  5. 009 Re:Cyborg
  6. Outrage Beyond
  7. Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax
  8. The Terminal Trust
  9. The Mystical Law
  10. Resident Evil: Retribution

Well colour me unsurprised that the mega phenomena that is Precure dominates the charts. The three anime films released last week make an impressive splash. Despite opening on less than 200 screens, Precure has posted impressive figures. Also impressive is 009 Re:Cyborg, Production I.G’s 3D film. Resident Evil: Retribution sneaks in at ten. Also entering the chart is The Terminal Trust at eight (KOJI YAKUSHO!).

What films are released today (yesterday in the case of one and the day before in the case of another)?

Hana no Utame Gothicmade                                   Gothicmade Film Poster

Japanese Title: ゴテイック メード 花 の 詩女

Romaji: Goteikku Me-do Hana no Uta Me

Release Date: 01st November 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Mamoru Nagano

Writer: Mamoru Nagano

Starring: Maria Kawamura, Nozomu Sasaki, Akio Ohtsuka, Yoshiko Sakakibara, Ikue Ohtani

Kadokawa initiated this anime movie to celebrate 65 years since the founding of their business. It looks like a slice of great old school anime. Gothicmade is the directorial debut of designer and manga creator Mamoru Nagano. On top of directing he also takes on other major roles such as screenwriting, storyboarding and character design. If the anime looks old school then it reflects the fact that he has been in the animation industry for quite some time, his biggest project being the manga/anime franchise Five Star Stories (1986!!!) which is also handled by Kadokawa and is still being released today. Every time I post this here it is met with indifference but on AUKN it has been a very popular news article.

Carmine is a tiny colony world under the harsh control of the ruling interplanetary league. It would be unremarkable except that this planet special is that it has a special tradition: young women known as songstresses inherit and pass down the memories of the generations that came before them. They then use this knowledge to help the people of their planet.

A 16-year-old named Berin Ajelli has been reborn as a songstress and must set out on a holy pilgrimage across the planet to the capital. After hearing rumours of a possible terrorist attack the militant Donau Empire send Prince Toriharon to protect her but he is the antithesis of everything Bellin believes in. The two are stuck together on their journey to the capital of Carmine.

The Floating Castle                                 Floating Castle Movie Poster

Japanese Title: のぼう の 城

Romaji: Nobo no Shiro

Release Date:  02nd November 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 144 mins.

Director: Shinji Higuchi, Isshin Inudo

Writer:  Ryo Wada (Original Novel)

Starring: Mansai Nomura, Nana Eikura, Hiroki Narimiya, Koichi Sato, Masachika Ichimura, Takehiro Hira, Takayuki Yamada, Yusuke Kamiji, Tomomitsu Yamaguchi

This film was delayed from release last year due to the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. It looks like a complete blast and it stars Nana Eikura who will be in next year’s live-action adaptation of library war, Koichi Sato (Infection, Sukiyaki Western Django) and Takayuki Yamada (Thirteen Assassins).

The year is 1590 and the daimyo Hideyoshi Toyotomi (Ichimura) is going to unify Japan… until he comes across a floating fortress known as Oshi Castle. Well he isn’t going to let that stop him and so he sends an army of 20,000 men to lay siege to it. The only thing standing between the castle and capitulation is Nagachika Narita (Nomura) and his army of 500 men. Let battle commence.

 

A Chorus of Angels                                           Kita no Kanariatachi Movie Poster

Japanese Title: 北 の かなりあたち

Romaji: Kita no Kanariatachi

Release Date:  03rd November 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 130 mins.

Director: Junji Sakamoto

Writer:  Yusuke Kishi

Starring: Sayuri Yoshinaga, Mirai Moriyama, Hikari Mitsushima, Ryo Katsuji, Aoi Miyazaki, Eiko Koike, Ryuhei Matsuda, Toru Nakamura,

A Chorus of Angels has quite the cast what with Sayuri Yoshinaga, a veteran of more than a hundred films, leading a battery of young talent like Hikari Mitsushima (Sawako Decides, Love Exposure), Aoi Miyazaki (The Wolf Children, Eureka) and Ryuhei Matsuda (Gohatto, Nightmare Detective). The film is based on a novel written by Yusuke Kishi who has had a few of his novels turned into films (Black House for one).

Haru (Yoshinaga) was once a dedicated teacher working in Hokkaido with various problems and disabilities but since retiring she has worked in a library in Tokyo. Then the police question her about a murder committed by a former student named Nobuto (Moriyama). Spurred on by her curiosity, she decides to investigate what happened to her former students like Manami (Mitsushima) a park worker, Yuka (Miyazaki) a kindergarten teacher and Isamu (Matsuda) a policeman.

Be My Slave                                          Be My Slave Movie Poster

Japanese Title: のぼう の 城

Romaji: Watashi no Dorei ni Narinasai

Release Date:  03rd November 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Toru Kamei

Writer:  Takehiko Minato,Shu Satami (Original Novel)

Starring: Mitsu Dan, Akihiro Mayama, Itsuji Itao

Despite the sexy poster, this film seems to be more in the vein of a psychological piece which reveals the sexual hang-ups of three characters. There are shades of Shame and A Snake of June. Toru Kamei is the director. He is familiar from a film named Black Cat Lucy which was released a few weeks ago. This is the big-screen debut of Mitsu Dan. She is supported by Akihiro Mayama (Carved 2) and Itsuki Itao (Love Exposure, One Missed Call Final).

 

Fly with the Gold               Fly with the Gold Movie Poster

Japanese Title: 黄金 を 抱いて 翔べ

Romaji: Ougon O Daite Tobe

Release Date:  03rd November 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Kazuyuki Izutsu

Writer:  Kaoru Takamura (Original Novel)

Starring:  Tadanobu Asano, Satoshi Tsumabuki, Kenta Kiritani, Shim Chang-Min, Toshiyuki Nishida, Junpei Mizobata, Munetaka Aoki, Yuri Nakamura, Tomorowo Taguchi, Shingo Tsurumi

Wow, just when I’m stock-piling crime thrillers from Japan and Korea, this comes along. Kazuyuki Izutsu makes his first film since Swing Man (2000) with this cool looking heist thriller. The cast is particularly strong what with Satoshi Tsumabuki (For Loves Sake) and Tadanobu Asano (Vital, Bright Future), taking the lead roles with support from the ever reliable Tomorowo Taguchi (Tetsuo: The Iron Man) and Toshiyuki Nishida (Outrage Beyond, The Magic Hour). Yuri Nakamura (The Grudge: Girl in Black) provides some femininity to balance things out.

Sumita Bank has a lot of gold sitting in its basement. When Kota (Tsumabuki) runs into his former college classmate Kitagawa (Asano) he hears about a heist which will take place. Helping them beat the bank’s security is a North Korean spy pretending to be a college student (Shim Chang-Min), Kitagawa’s brother Haruki (Mizobata), an elevator engineer known as Zii-chan (Nishida) and a bank employee known as Noda (Kiritani) Can they do it?

Third Window Films Release Love Exposure on Blu-Ray!

A Blu-Ray re-release of Love Exposure had to happen. At four hours the film has to be split up on to two discs when it is transferred onto DVD which means breaking the magic of a viewing experience by getting up and changing discs. Love Exposure is now on Blu-Ray (its release coincides with the DVD/Blu-ray release of Sion Sono’s newest film Himizu). You can hear what Goregirl and I thought about the film in our next Sono podcast next week. By the way, four hours was not the total running time of the film and a lot of it was cut but thanks to the storage capacity of Blu-Ray you get all of that cut footage amidst an awesome set of extras.

Here are the details!

Love Exposure

 Love Exposure Blu-Ray Case

(CERT 18)

 A film by Sono Sion
(Himizu, Noriko’s Dinner Table, Suicide Circle)

One of the most talked-about Japanese cult films of the last decade finally makes its way onto blu-ray featuring a new high definition transfer supervised by director Sion Sono along with brand new extra features!

Love Exposure's Interesting Ride Starring

Hikari Mitsushima (Hara-Kiri, Sawako Decides, Villain)

Sakura Ando (Crime or Punishment?!?, Our Homeland)

Atsuro Watabe (Black Dawn, Three…Extremes, Zebraman)

Japan / 2008 / 237 Mins / In Japanese with English subtitles / Colour / HD

 

DVD/BLU-RAY RELEASE DATE:  6th August 2012

Extra Features:

1 hour long ‘Making Of’

Additional 30 minute ‘Making Of’ featuring interview with Sion Sono

Sakura Ando Deleted & Extended Scenes

Hikari Mitsushima Deleted & Extended Scenes

Zero Church Deleted Scene

Theatrical Trailer

Yoko (Mitsushima) in Love Exposure

Yu (Nishijima) lives the life of a devout Christian. After his mother dies his father Tetsu (Watabe) becomes a priest but is soon seduced by an emotionally volatile woman named Kaori (Watanabe) who then proceeds to leave him. A heart-broken Tetsu begins to torment the spiritually and morally innocent Yu by forcing him to confess sins on a daily basis.  To appease his father Yu begins to sin and on the advice of delinquent friends he trains to become an expert in up-skirt photography and becomes a master at getting panty shots. One day, while dressed as a woman, he witnesses a beautiful man-hating girl named Yoko (Mitsushima) get into a street brawl. He instantly falls in love with her and decides to intervene. Little does he know that a cult leader in the Zero Church named Aya (Ando) is manipulating them for her own purposes.

Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai Gets UK Theatrical Release Today

Revolver Entertainment is releasing Takashi Miike’s remake of Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai in cinemas today and here is the UK trailer.

Takashi Miike, director of Audition, followed up his remake of 13 Assassins with another remake only this time it was the cult classic made by Masaki Kobayashi in 1962. It premiered at last year’s Cannes Film Festival where it competed for the Palme d’Or. It stars Hikari Mitsushima (Sawako Decides), Koji Yakusho (Cure), Eita (Monsters Club), and Kabuki actor Ebizo Ichikawa.

Continue reading “Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai Gets UK Theatrical Release Today”

Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai UK Release Details

I have some great news for anybody interested in Japanese films and the work of Takashi Miike (Audition, 13 Assassins): Revolver Entertainment is releasing Miike’s version of Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai in cinemas on the 4th of May and on DVD and Blu-ray on the 7th of May.

Hara Kiri DVD Cover

This is a remake of the cult classic made by Masaki Kobayashi in 1962. Miike’s version got its premiere at last year’s Cannes Film Festival where it competed for the Palme d’Or. Reviews largely dismissed the 3D but praised the story and action.Hara Kiri Action Scene 4

  Continue reading “Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai UK Release Details”

Love Exposure 愛のむきだし (2009)

Love Exposure

Sion Sono’s Love Exposure is a tale of lust, obsession and religious ferour which has a four hour running time but breezes by quite happily.

Yu (Nishijima) lives the life of a devout Christian. After his mother dies his father Tetsu (Watabe) becomes a priest but is soon seduced by an emotionally volatile woman named Kaori (Watanabe) who then proceeds to leave him. A heart-broken Tetsu begins to torment the spiritually and morally innocent Yu by forcing him to confess sins on a daily basis.  To appease his father Yu begins to sin on a daily basis and on the advice of delinquent friends he trains to become an expert in upskirt photography and becomes a master at getting panty shots. One day, while dressed as a girl, he witnesses a beautiful man-hating girl named Yoko (Mitsushima) get into a street brawl. He instantly falls in love with her and decides to intervene. Little does he know that a cult leader in the Zero Church named Aya (Ando) is manipulating them for her own purposes.

Aya Koike (Ando) and Her Gang in Love Exposure

Sion Sono has directed and written a story which is bursting with ideas and good humour. It is delivered in a non-linear manner from multiple viewpoints. Unlike Cold Fish there is no grit here and instead what we get is a bright and goofy story that satirises cults, high school romance, martial arts and ‘tosatsu’ – the art of taking pictures of girl’s underwear.

Continue reading “Love Exposure 愛のむきだし (2009)”

Sion Sono Season

Sion Sono Season Banner

It’s a short season and it features a silly banner but I don’t care. This is a quick biography of Sion Sono and I hope to review some of his works in the coming week. I want to write about a number of directors and since this is Sion Sono Season he goes first.

Sion Sono has had a varied career starting as an avant-garde poet before ditching a course at Hosei University for a career in underground filmmaking although he never turns his back on poetry which will recur in his early films. In 1987 he won the Grand Prize at the PIA Film Festival (PFF) for his film A Man’s Hanamichi. The PFF is designed to discover and support new filmmakers and following his win he received a fellowship with PIA and wrote, directed and starred in numerous films which contained underachievers, serial killers and other outsiders. These films regularly toured the international festival circuit and helped establish his name.

It wasn’t until the 2001 film Suicide Circle when he truly became a well-known cult director. Suicide Circle (which has special effects by Tokyo Gore Police director Yoshihiro Nishimura) is a satirical film dealing with pop culture, mass suicides, and a bewildered middle aged police detective played by Ryo Ishibashi (Audition) trying to understand it all while being assailed by deviants and horrific sights that challenge his perceptions. Following this success he expanded on the film’s world by taking it into different mediums such as novels and manga and a belated sequel named Noriko’s Dinner Table which was made in 2006.

Noriko's Dinner Table

Suicide Circle was a massive success and has set the tone for the rest of his films. Despite trying a gangster film (Hazard – 2005) and comedy-drama (Into a Dream – 2005), both starring Joe Odagiri (Adrift in Tokyo, Bright Future), he has continued to explore the darker side of modern Japan with a series of extreme titles including the ero-guro film Strange Circus (2005) which features sexual and mental abuse and incest, the aforementioned Noriko’s Dinner Table which deals with alienation and suicide, Exte: Hair Extensions (2007) which stars Chiaki Kuriyama (Battle Royale, Shikoku, Kill Bill) and is a far more mainstream J-horror title and then Love Exposure (2008) which stars Hikari Mitsushima (Sawako Decides) and can only be described as a religio-psycho-sexual mindmelt.

Love Exposure's Interesting Ride

Continue reading “Sion Sono Season”

Villain UK DVD Release

Third Window Films has announced the DVD release date of the multi-award winning Japanese film Villain.

Villain DVD

UK DVD Release Date: 5th of December 2011

Running time: 140 mins

Certificate: 15

Director: Lee Sang-il

Starring: Eri Fukatsu, Satoshi Tsumabuki, Hikari Mitsushima, Masaki Okada,

DVD EXTRA FEATURES:

Anamorphic Widescreen Transfer with 5.1 Surround Sound and optional English subtitles

1 Hour long ‘Making Of’

Discussion between director Lee Sang-il and actor Satoshi Tsumabuki

Theatrical Trailer

I personally liked this film a lot as my review shows and I wasn’t alone as it was nominated for 15 Japanese Academy Awards and won for Best Actress, Actor, Supporting Actress Supporting Actor and Music Score, beating out the magnificent 13 Assassins! Just look at the talent involved:

Eri Fukatsu: one of Japan’s best actresses and the lead in the current number one film in the Japanese box office, Once in a Blue Moon. For her performance in Villain she won the Best Actress at the Montreal Film Festival.

Continue reading “Villain UK DVD Release”

Sawako Decides DVD Release

Third Window Films are all set to release the wonderful Yuya Ishii film Sawako Decides next week on the 3rd of October. I highly recommend this brilliant comedy which stars the wonderful Hikari Mitsushima. It is a great observational comedy that examines the odder aspects of life in modern Japan with hilarious cracked personalities everywhere and it has Hikari Mitsushima (just thought I’d remind you!). The DVD comes with a nice choice of extras as well. You can order it from Amazon today.

 Sawako Decides

Sawako Decides DVD Case  (Japan 2009, 112 Mins, In Japanese with English subtitles, Colour 35mm)

Director: Yuya Ishii

Starring: Hikari Mitsushima as Sawako

Masashi Endo as Kenichi

Kira Aihara as Kayoko

Kotaro Shiga as Sawako’s father Tadao

Ryo Iwamatsu as Nobuo

Cert. 12

– Synopsis –

Sawako has lived in Tokyo for five years, is working her fifth office job, and is dating her fifth boyfriend, who is also her boss at the office. Her life with Kenichi, her boyfriend, and his daughter from a previous marriage, Kayoko, feels like a “compromise,” and she endures each day feeling distressed about her career and love life.

One day, she receives word that her father, Tadao, who runs a freshwater clam processing business in her hometown, has fallen ill. There is a reason why Sawako would rather not go back home so easily, but she reluctantly decides to return at Kenichi’s insistence. But Kenichi, who had actually quit his job shortly before Sawako, uses this opportunity to come along with Sawako to her hometown with his daughter in tow.

Thus Sawako’s ordeals continue. Still, she takes over her father’s clam processing company and begins to work there, though she slowly starts to take charge of the situation and form a new life for herself

 

DVD BONUS FEATURES:

Special message from director Yuya Ishii

Exclusive interview with director Yuya Ishii

Theatrical Trailer