Japanese Films at the Fantasia International Film Festival 2020 (August 20th – September 02nd)

The Fantasia International Film Festival will be celebrating its 24th edition as a virtual event due to Covid-19. A variety of film screenings, panels and workshops will be accessible to viewers across Canada from August 20th through to September 2nd, 2020. There is a decent Japanese contingent of contemporary films and some recent titles stretching back 10 years.

The festival’s full lineup was announced last week. Here are the Japanese titles:

Continue reading “Japanese Films at the Fantasia International Film Festival 2020 (August 20th – September 02nd)”

Japanese Films at the Leeds International Film Festival 2013 Part 2: Live-Action

Genki Leeds International Animation Film Festival 2013 Banner

The 27th Leeds International Film Festival takes place from November 06th to the 21st and there are quite a few live-action films getting screened thanks to a Masaki Kobayashi retrospective and two more recent titles. There is also an international co-production based on a Japanese artist so that’s included. Here is the selection of films on offer. Click on the titles to find out more including how to book tickets which are on sale now!

The Masaki Kobayashi Retrospective looks to have a very respectable collection of titles from an important name in post-war Japanese cinema. People weaned on more modern Japanese films may be aware that Takashi Miike adapted two of his titles back in 2011. The festival gives audiences a chance to taste. Of all these titles I have only seen Kwaidan so if I were at the festival, I’d definitely see this selection.

 

Harakiri                              Hara Kiri Film Poster

Japanese Title: 切腹

Romaji: Seppuku

Running Time: 133 mins

Director: Masaki Kobayashi

Writer: Shinobu Hashimoto (Screenplay), Yasuhiko Takiguchi (Original Novel)

Starring: Tatsuya Nakadai, Akira Ishihama, Shima Iwashita, Tetsuro Tanba, Masao Mishima, Kei Sato

Of all Masaki Kobayashi’s attacks on the cruelty and inhumanity perpetrated by authoritarian power, perhaps none are more brilliant than his visceral, mesmerising Harakiri. In a stunning performance, Tatsuya Nakadai (who stars in all the Kobayashi films screening in LIFF27) plays a masterless down-and-out samurai who enters the manor of Lord Iyi, requesting to commit ritual suicide on his property. Suspected of simply fishing for charity, Hanshiro is told the gruesome tale of the last samurai who made the same request but Hanshiro will not be moved.

  Continue reading “Japanese Films at the Leeds International Film Festival 2013 Part 2: Live-Action”

Cold Bloom, The Great Passage, HK Hentai Kamen, Travellers: Dimensional Police, Samurai Dash and Other Movie Trailers and the Japanese Movie Box Office Chart

Kiki's Delivery ServiceAnother week stuffed full of anime as I try and finish off the winter season and get into my first impressions of the spring selections I made. That written I did write about films! I made a longer than expected review Mushishi which is based on a manga and anime. I loved the film and found it a beautiful and relaxing watch which I can keep indulging in. I also posted about the trailer for Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s film Real. I went way overboard compared to my usual trailer posts and indulged my love of Kiyoshi Kurosawa films!

The majority of my film-watching time was spent with Film4 and its Studio Ghibli season which draws to a close later today with the screening of Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind. It capped a wonderful fortnight where I managed to watch nearly all of the titles. I re-watched The Cat Returns, Only Yesterday, Howl’s Moving Castle and Laputa: Castle in the Sky while doing Japanese homework and made a point of watching The Little Norse Prince and I enjoyed them all.

In terms of other anime I finished Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan in preparation for a review while the Anime UK News Serial Experiments Lain simul-watch has ground to a halt because it seems the participants are either too busy or too confused (the former for me). Level E surprised me with its 4th episode which the comedy is toned down to miniscule proportions and the drama turned up and it works really effectively because I was engaged with the story right until (SPOILER) its ironic ending where I burst out into a fit of laughter. It showed the creativity of the creators. I finally finished Maoyu (review coming soon!). 

What do the Japanese film charts look like this week (April 06th-07th)?

  1. Dragon Ball Z Battle of the Gods
  2. Wreck-It Ralph
  3. Doraemon Nobita’s Dinosaur
  4. Platina Data
  5. Aibou Series X Day
  6. Precure All Stars New Stage 2
  7. Oz the Great and Powerful
  8. Jack the Giant Slayer
  9. Himawari and Her Puppies
  10. My Diary of Our Exchange

No real change in the top ten although Orpheus’ Lyre, one of last week’s big dramas starring Ryoko Hiosue, opens at 15 with a modest $178,145 earned from 109 screens.

What’s released this weekend?

Cold Bloom                                                            Cold Bloom Film Poster

Japanese Title: 桜並木の満開の下に

Romaji: Sakura Namiki no Mankai no Shita ni

Release Date: April 13th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 120 mins.

Director: Atsushi Funahari

Writer: Atsushi Funahari, Murakoshi Shigery

Starring: Asami Usuda, Takahiro Miura, Yurei Yanagi, Taro Suwa, You Takahashi

Atsushi Funahari premiered this at the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year. It is a film with the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami as its subject matter much like his previous film, the documentary Nuclear Nation which looked at nuclear power after the disaster in 2011. This drama looks at the economic and emotional impact as felt by a group of workers at a factory. It stars a collection of new and old actors like Asami Usuda (The Woodsman & the Rain), Takahiro Miura (Ninja Kids!!!), Yurei Yanagi (Boiling PointRing) and Taro Suwa (Cold FishHimizu). A review on the Japan Times Website makes this sound good, a tough watch with some limited but focussed performances that make it emotionally rewarding. The first film of the week I want to watch.

Ever since the tsunami struck the workers of a metal factory in the industrial town of Hitachi have been in something of a malaise, the only thing keeping them afloat being a skilled worker named Kenji (Takahashi) who has secured them a contract. Then he dies on the first day at the client’s site. His colleague Takumi (Miura) is responsible and the factory worker turn on him, taking sides with Kenji’s widow Shiori (Usuda) but her hatred turns to love. 

 

The Great Passage                We Knit Ship Film Poster

Japanese Title: 舟を編む

Romaji: Fune wo Amu

Release Date: April 13th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 133 mins.

Director: Yuya Ishii

Writer: Shion Miura (Original Novel), Kensaku Watanabe (Screenplay),

Starring: Ryuhei Matsuda, Aoi Miyazaki, Joe Odagiri, Haru Kuroki, Misako Watanabe, Kumiko Aso, Shingo Tsurumi, Chizuru Ikewaki, Hiroko Isayama, Kaouru Kobayashi, Go Kato, Kaoru Yachigusa, Ryu Morioka, Shohei Uno, Kazuki Namioka

After watching Sawako Decides I was ready to join the Yuya Ishii fan-club. Then I watched Mitsuko Delivers, a stolid film hampered with a frustratingly docile story and wooden comedy. I was genuinely bewildered that he could have come out with something like that. Then I saw the trailer for The Great Passage when it was featured over at Otherwhere in one of Alua’s trailer weeklies. I was moderately interested in it as it seemed a return to form for Yuya Ishii. A lack of a genki girls and wooden comedy and a return to the low-key observational and character-based humour that marked Sawako Decides. Anyway…

The literal title is Fune wo Amu – Fune = Ship and Amu = knit so the Japanese title is We Knit Ship but the English title is The Great Passage. The film looks like a really smart intellectual rom-com  where a talented man of letters cannot find the words to say “I love you” to the girl of his dreams.

Mitsuya Majime (Matsuda) is has the talent to comprehend different languages and is the most important member of the editorial team of a dictionary but he struggles to tell Kaguya Hayashi (Miyazaki), a cook and the granddaughter o the owner of Majime’s boarding home, how he feels about her.

It is based on Shion Miura’s novel. She’s a pretty big deal considering she’s had mega successes with her scripts for Tada’s Do-It-All House and its dorama spin-off Mahoro Eki Mae Bangaichi. It has a cast list which is full of stars: Ryuhei Matsuda (Nightmare Detective), Aoi Miyazaki (Eureka), Joe Odagiri (Mushishi, Adrift in Tokyo), Haru Kuroki (The Wolf Children), Kumiko Aso (Pulse), Kazuki Namioka (Thirteen Assassins), Chizuru Ikewaki (Josee, the Tiger and the Fish, The Cat Returns) and Shohei Uno (The Drudgery Train).

I like the concept, I like the talent, I like the trailer – I want to watch this film!

HK Hentai Kamen                                         Hentai Kamen Film Poster

Japanese Title: HK 変態仮面

Romaji: HK Hentai Kamen

Release Date: April 13th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Yuichi Fukuda

Writer: Yuichi Fukuda, Shun Oguri (Screenplay), Keishu Ando (Original Manga)

Starring: Ryohei Suzuki, Fumika Shimizu, Ken Yasuda, Tsuyoshi Muro, Jiro Sato Narushi Ikeda, Takashi Tsukamoto, Yoshinori Okada

Yuichi Fukuda had his Child Police film released a few weeks back and he continues with Hentai Kamen Mangahis comic film form with this film he co-wrote with Shun Oguri (The Woodsman & the Rain). The two have adapted Keishu Ando’s manga “Kyukyuko!! Hentai Kamen” which I have not read but seems like a male version of Go Nagai’s Mask the Kekkou Reborn which had a live-action film adaptation which was released last year and starred AV star Aino Kishi. I must admit that when I first saw the trailer I almost spat my coffee out from laughing so hard. I think I would see this at a cinema regardless of whether I had friends with me or not. Chalk this up as another film I would watch because it looks fun!

Anyway Ryohei Suzuki is ballsy enough to display his well-sculpted body on screen. Some may have seen him in Train Brain Express. Fumoika Shimizu, stars of many Kamen Rider films, is the love interest. Ken Yasuda (The Cat Returns, Rakugo the Movie), Tsuyoshi Muro (After School, A Story of Yonosuke) Takashi Tsukamoto (Battle Royale) and Yoshinori Okada (Fine, Totally Fine) also co-star. Check the trailer and admit that you laughed as well!

Kyosuke Shikijo (Suzuki) is a high school student and the most talented member of his school’s martial arts club. His late father was a detective and has passé on his sense of justice. On top of being a detective Kyosuke’s father was a masochist while his mother was a sadist which partly explains why Kyosuke love of wearing women’s underwear! When he does wear panties and what not he transforms into his alter ego “Pervert Mask” and gains superhuman powers. Said superpowers come in handy when he has to protect Aiko Himeno (Shimizu) from their dirty and evil teacher (Yasuda). Fortunately Aiko’s underwear gives Kyosuke super pervert techniques.

I’m not making this up! Someone else beat me to it! Here’s HK Hentai Kamen’s take on cinema etiquette:

  Continue reading “Cold Bloom, The Great Passage, HK Hentai Kamen, Travellers: Dimensional Police, Samurai Dash and Other Movie Trailers and the Japanese Movie Box Office Chart”