For Love’s Sake 愛と誠 (2012)

For Love’s Sake                                              

Japanese Title: 愛と誠

Romaji: Ai to Makoto

Japanese Release Date: June 16th, 2012

Running Time: 134 mins.

Director: Takashi Miike

Writer: Takayuki Takuma (script), Ikki Kajiwara (manga)

Starring: Satoshi Tsumabuki, Emi Takei, Takumi Saito, Sakura Ando, Ito Ono, Tsuyoshi Ihara, Kimiko Yo, Ken Maeda, Yo Hitoto, Masachika Ichimura

For Love’s Sake was the final film I saw during the 56th BFI London Film Festival. Despite my dislike for musicals I expected this film to be highly entertaining because it was directed by Takashi Miike.

Can he change how I view a genre? Definitely.

I love Takashi Miike’s sensibilities. Miike is the type of director who can take any genre and transform it into something uniquely his own. When he made The Happiness of the Katakuris I found a musical I could love what with its inventive designs, amusing song and dance numbers, cracked performances and black humour. For Love’s Sake is another musical I can embrace thanks to its ultra-stylish and gleefully over the top and energetic execution. 

1972, Tokyo, Ai Satome (Takei) is an angelic high school student who comes from a respectable family. She leads a charmed life until Makoto Taiga (Tsumabuki), the boy who stole Ai’s heart as a child and an ultra-delinquent, arrives in Tokyo to settle a score from his past. He soon gets arrested after a rumble with some local toughs and is sent to reform school. Ai is still in love with Makoto and manages to get him released. She brings him to Aobodai Prep School where she studies. Ai’s love for Makoto inspires jealousy in Iwashimizu (Saito), the President of the Student Council, who loves Ai. Soon Makoto is sent to Hanazono Trade School where girl gang leader Ango Gumko (Ando) and Yuki, a “sad chick”, soon develop feelings for him. With Makoto in the centre of this tangled web of love things get extremely complicated and melodramatic.

Ai to Makoto will be familiar for a Japanese audience as it originates from a massively popular manga written in 1973 by Ikki Kajiwara which has been adapted for film in 1974, 75, and 76, Takashi Miike’s live-action film adaptation being the fourth so far and with Miike’s unique vision this is a case of adapting the classic story of bad boy meets good girl who tries to redeem him and adding a megaton of spectacle.

This missy is downright crazy

For Love’s Sake is an entertaining romp through the popular school melodrama genre. While I haven’t read the original manga this feels like a parody of said genre thanks to the excessiveness of style and the combination of the musical genre. With the knowing lines, sudden bursts of dancing and the presence of plenty of pop music from the 1970’s laced with hilarious lyrics, it is too funny, melodramatic, ironic, and openly genre savvy to be anything else.

The mise-en-scene is perfect and points to the high degree of skill in putting the whole film together. The film starts off with animation, a ski sequence gone awry which is where Makoto and Ai first meet. Then, after the titles hit us, things get a bit normal (apart from one inventive sequence set on stage with props) and we are transported into 1970’s Tokyo, a place of loud shirts, flares and bad clothing in general (except for the classic school uniforms). The look is, to my eye, as convincing as the one seen in Norwegian Wood.

The locations vary from the ostentatious and gaudily decorated home of the Satome family to the post-apocalyptic Hanazono trade school. Each location is wonderful with plenty of details to bask in. One highlight, only used for a few minutes, is a maid café which is straight from a lurid fantasy like Strange Circus. It is full of creeps and creepy solid gold dancers, a place where the cute waitresses wear pink frilly outfits and red shoes.

All of it fits the melodramatic tone of the film and the musical sequences add to the atmosphere as they perfectly illustrate the emotions of the characters in the scenes.

Continue reading “For Love’s Sake 愛と誠 (2012)”

Ai to Makoto Movie Clip

Takashi Miike was at this year’s Cannes Film Festival with his adaptation of Ikki Kajiwara’s romance manga Ai to Makoto  which was screened as part of the Midnight Screenings selection and won over critics (I’ve updated the reviews part of that post). Now with the film’s Japanese theatrical release edging closer, Japanese movie site Cinema Today has released a four minute musical sequence from the film which makes this look a lot like The Happiness of the Katakuris.

 

Ai to Makoto (The Legend of Love and Sincerity)              Ai to Makoto Film Festival

Romaji: Ai to Makoto

Japanese Title: 愛 と 誠

Release Date: 16th June 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 134

Director: Takashi Miike

Writer: Takayuki Takuma (script), Ikki Kajiwara (manga)

Starring: Satoshi Tsumabuki, Emi Takei, Takumi Saito, Sakura Ando, Ito Ono, Tsuyoshi Ihara, Kimiko Yo, Ken Maeda, Yo Hitoto

The film sees Miike reunite with Emi Takei and Takumi Saito (13 Assassins) two stars from his previous film, Ace Attorney. It also stars Satoshi Tsumabuki (Villain) and Sakura Ando (Love Exposure). Takashi Miike’s live-action film adaptation of Ai to Makoto is the fourth so far, the previous three being made in 1974, 75, and 76.

High school student Makoto Taiga (Tsumabuki) is an ultra-delinquent who has arrived in Tokyo to avenge an incident from his past. That will have to wait as he falls in love with the angelic Ai (Takei) who comes from a respectable family. Things will get complicated as Iwashimizu (Saito) is in love with Ai while Gamuko (Ando) has feelings for Makoto.

 

Cannes 2012 Ai to Makoto (The Legend of Love and Sincerity) Press Reviews

Cannes-chanWe’re halfway through the 65th Cannes Film Festival and the first two of three Japanese films at the festival have been screened with one left to go (for more information on the Japanese films screening check out my preview post and for a better overview of the festival check in with Bonjour Tristesse). So far Abbas Kiarostami’s Like Someone in Love has failed to set the world on fire as reviews published soon after its first screening revealed. So it was left to the legendary Takashi Miike to come to the rescue with Ai to Makoto as part of the Midnight Screenings selection.

Day 6 – Ai to Makoto (Midnight Screening)

 Ai to Makoto Film Clip

Director: Takashi Miike, Writer: Takayuki Takuma (script), Ikki Kajiwara (manga), Starring: Satoshi Tsumabuki, Emi Takei, Takumi Saito, Sakura Ando, Ito Ono

Ai to Makoto Film FestivalLast year Takashi Miike was at Cannes with his 3D remake of Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai which was met with a lukewarm critical reception. This year Miike is not attending the festival but his latest film is present and was screened last night. Ai to Makoto is an adaptation of Ikki Kajiwara’s romance manga and stars Emi Takei (Ace Attorney), Takumi Saito (13 Assassins), Satoshi Tsumabuki (Villain) and Sakura Ando (Love Exposure). Unfortunately reviews for this are thin on the ground. According to the one review I could find from Filmoria the crowd at the screening was rather sparse:

“Screened as a midnight movie here in Cannes, to say the Grand Théâtre Lumière was full would be a terrible lie – in fact it has been the quietest and most relaxed screening I’ve attended thus far…”

I suppose slow-cinema and Hollywood fare have sucked the energy out of those attending Cannes while those few who did watch the film are too busy to post anything yet. I’ll keep checking back and will add reviews as they pop up for this one because this film looks really great. Anyway the review gave a glowing write-up of Ai to Makoto:

Using his signature directorial flair, Miike captures a world with neon-soaked nights and magnolia-streamed days – the visual aesthetics of Ai To Makoto are breathtaking in their stark and beautiful contrasts. At times the film feels as urban and dangerous as Audition, whilst at points it’s as delicate and hopelessly gorgeous as, say, a live-action Studio Ghibli feature. Chris Haydon (Filmoria)

UPDATE: More reviews added. The two critics are divided on the performance of Satoshi Tsumabuki but love Emi Takei’s performance.

The young actors fill their tongue-in-cheek roles with earnest abandon. Satoshi Tsumabuki(Waterboys, Villain) is particularly effective as the deeply scarred outsider Makoto. Deborah Young (Hollywood Reporter)

This adaptation of a 1973 manga that spawned the Nipponese genre of jun-ai (pure love) arguably reps the protean helmer’s first full-blown romance; not surprisingly, it ends up a scornful lampoon of pulpy sentimentality as Miike upstages the genre’s conventions with riotous musical numbers and schlocky violence. Maggie Lee (Variety)

Based on these reviews alone I think this would be my film of the festival but then I am biased  because I really love Japanese films.

Japanese Films at Cannes Film Festival 2012

65th Cannes Film Festival Banner

Cannes-chanThe 65th Cannes Film Festival takes place from the 16th to the 27th of May so Cannes-chan (left) is going to be following the festival. Every time you see her expect some news on the Japanese films competing. Major news came out at the end of last week when the organisers released the line-up of films that will screen at the glamorous event. There are some interesting titles taking part at this year’s festival with the likes of David Cronenberg and Brandon Cronenberg bringing projects. America has some great entries and there is a strong European presence with Ken Loach and Michael Haneke (if you want a proper run-down of the contenders then read Bonjour Tristesse’s blog). There is also a strong Asian selection but there are only four major Japanese films so here they are:

11.25 The Day He Chose His Own Fate

Release Date: 2nd June 2012 (Japan), Premieres atCannes11.25 Mishima Drama Poster

Running Time: N/A

Director: Koji Wakamatsu

Writer: Masayuki Kakegawa

Starring: Arata, Shinnosuke Mitsushima, Tasuku Nagaoka, Takatsugu Iwama

Prolific veteran director Koji Wakamatsu tackled the violent and tough story of an extreme far left group during the turmoil of 1960’s Japan in the award winning United Red Army and now he is tackling a controversial figure on the right in the shape of Yukio Mishima. Taking the lead role is Arata who was in United Red Army and also appeared in Kore-eda’s wonderful film After Life.

Taking place in 1960’s Japan at a time when economic growth sky-rocketed but the nation was wracked by political turmoil and social changes from sexual liberation to student riots over individual’s rights and the US military presence in Japan, author and intellectual Yukio Mishima was a major voice, a nationalist who espoused traditional values based on the Bushido code while having a controversial private life. He and his militia will attempt a coup d’Etat by taking a military commander hostage.

 

Like Someone in Love

Release Date: Premieres atCannes

Running Time: N/A

Director: Abbas Kiarostami

Writer: Abbas Kiarostami

Starring: Rin Takanashi, Tadashi Okuno, Denden, Ryo Kase

Like Someone in Love is Abbas Kiarostami’s follow-up to Certified Copy. A French/Japanese co-production and it is the only Japanese language film In Competition it stars Rin Takanashi (Goth: Love of Death), Denden (Cold Fish, Himizu) and Ryo Kase who starred in the recent box-office smash SPEC: The Movie. Kiarostami has form in Cannes having previously won the Palme d’Or for Taste of Cherry in 1997.

A young female student named Akiko (Rin Takanashi) works as a prostitute to pay off her university fees. One of her clients is an elderly academic (Tadashi Okuno) who is fond of her. Soon a relationship develops between the two.

  Continue reading “Japanese Films at Cannes Film Festival 2012”