Genkina hito’s Top Fourteen Films of 2020

祖谷物語 おくのひと Rina Takeda

Wow, I had no idea that 2020 would turn out like this when I wrote last year’s end post. We’re a few days away from the end of what has been a plague year. I almost got caught out at the start when I was in Japan and the borders were going to be closed, back at the end of March, but I escaped with the help of some friends. Since then, I have been in work on reduced duties or at home waiting to be called in for odd jobs. When not working, I was doing shopping with my mother and checking in on my grandmother.

During this time of waiting, I watched a lot of films, some as part of the Osaka Asian Film Festival, Nippon Connection, Japan Cuts and the New York Asian Film Festival, a lot just for pleasure. I took part in a physical film festival in Japan and I helped organise and execute an online film festival twice and during all of this I wrote a lot of reviews. Probably more reviews than in previous years. On top of it all, I also helped start a podcast about Asian films called Heroic Purgatory where I discuss films with fellow writer John Atom (the Christmas special is already out and the second season coming in 2021!).

When I was able to go to the cinema I watched a wide variety of things. In the UK, the last film I watched was Parasite with my mother. In Japan, I went to numerous screenings at the Osaka Asian Film Festival and an animation festival at the Yujiku Asagaya (just before Tokyo’s lockdown). At home with a lot of time on my hands I got into the cinema of Mario Bava and re-watched lots of Lucio Fulci and Dario Argento movies. I waded through hours of 70s and 80s horror movies from America and I went back to some tried and trusted Japanese classics. Most of all, I tried to get more Japanese indie films out there and so I think this is reflected in my list of top films from 2020.

So, what are they?.  

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Inabe いなべ Dir: Koji Fukada (2013) [We Are One Global Film Festival]

Inabe   Inabe Film Poster

いなべ Inabe

Release Date: November 01st, 2013

Running Time: 38 mins.

Director: Koji Fukada

Writer: Koji Fukada (Screenplay),

Starring: Hiroaki Matsuda, Ami Kurata, Yui Ito, Koji Nishida, Minami Inoue,

Website IMDB

Koji Fukada is regarded as one of the leading lights of Japanese cinema and he is someone who I have covered on this blog, from his opener Human Comedy Tokyo (2008) to his Cannes award-winner Harmonium (2016) and other titles. He has the ability to tackle subtle elements in human relationships with black humour and seriousness as well as a light touch. Inabe stands as one of my favourites because of its simplicity and earnestness but more is lurking underneath the honest emotions shared between two siblings who are reunited after years apart.

Tomohiro (Hiroaki Matsuda) is a 30-something guy who hasn’t seen his older sister Naoko (Ami Kurata) in 17 years. He is surprised and suspicious when she returns to their hometown of Inabe with a baby, her son Naoki. Their meeting is out of the blue. She steps off a train, walks to the pig farm he works at, and waits for him to clock off. Initially awkward, they talk as they head to the family home where Naoko reintroduces herself to relatives and soon she is digging into Tomohiro’s current marital woes. This digging gets deeper and more personal as the two wander around childhood haunts.

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Japanese Films at the We Are One Global Film Festival

Due to COVID-19, film festivals around the world have had to postpone or cancel events. Then, in April, Tribeca and YouTube announced they were teaming up for a 10-day online festival called We Are One and working together with other festivals to create a digital film festival.

We Are One Film Festival Image

The festival will stream a selection of films online on YouTube for FREE from May 29th to June 07th. There will be 31 features and 72 shorts over 10 days, the titles have been co-curated by over 20 film festivals from across the world, including Annecy, Cannes, London, Venice, Sundance, Berlin, Locarno, Toronto and Tokyo. Viewers can also enjoy virtual talks with directors.

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Midnight Bus, Between Men and the Gods, Rokuroku: The Promise of the Witch, Ramen Heads, The Swan is Laughing, Inabe, Sato-kun, Saraba Seijaku, Hoshi Meguri no Machi, CINEMA FIGHTERS, The Crimes That Bind, Kaze no Iro, Chotto Mate Yakyubu!, Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2202: Ai no Senshi-tachi “Tenmei-hen” (Karma Chapter), The Testament of Sister New Devil Departures, Ryuichi Sakamoto PERFORMANCE IN NEWYORK: async, Mitsuya seizaemon zanjitsu roku kanketsu-hen Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend!

The Tokyo Night Sky is Always the Densest Shade of Blue Sosuke Ikematsu and Friends

I hope everyone is doing fine.

I managed to watch a couple of films but have spent most of my free time editing documents. Nevertheless, I’m happy to be doing such a thing and I hope to complete it today.

On Monday I went to the cinema to see Three Billboards outside Ebbing Missouri. It was a really powerful black comedy about breaking the cycle of violence. It has a fantastic script and performances given by the cast who are all perfect as characters who endure tragicomic and complex lives but, most importantly, they keep going and never give up. The ironic and violent situations veer between scary and amusing and there’s that cracking dialogue in the early part of the film before it segues into something gently philosophical as characters contemplate how they can move on from bad events. The film treats them tenderly, thankfully. Great performances from all. McDormand and Rockwell for the Oscar wins!

Three Billboards outside Ebbing Missouri Film Image

I really want to watch A Silent Voice (2017) again. I last saw it at Kotatsu but often think about it. It has been a pretty busy week for me. I posted a review for Memoirs of a Murderer (2017) and The Dark Maidens (2017).

I’m reconsidering my top ten films of 2017 a lot because I want to move a few films around. Blade Runner 2049 will remain at the top but The Tokyo Night Sky is Always the Densest Shade of Blue is pure wonder and I think it should be joint number one.

This post has a lot of films and the highlights are the shorts and Rokuroku.

So, what’s released this weekend?

Continue reading “Midnight Bus, Between Men and the Gods, Rokuroku: The Promise of the Witch, Ramen Heads, The Swan is Laughing, Inabe, Sato-kun, Saraba Seijaku, Hoshi Meguri no Machi, CINEMA FIGHTERS, The Crimes That Bind, Kaze no Iro, Chotto Mate Yakyubu!, Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2202: Ai no Senshi-tachi “Tenmei-hen” (Karma Chapter), The Testament of Sister New Devil Departures, Ryuichi Sakamoto PERFORMANCE IN NEWYORK: async, Mitsuya seizaemon zanjitsu roku kanketsu-hen Japanese Film Trailers”

All-Round Appraiser Q: The Eyes of Mona Lisa, A Minute More, Robot Girls Z, Samurai Pirates, Inabe, Samurai Zombie Fragile, Beauty Within, Oyako Present to the Future, Mother of the Bride, Japanese Film Trailers

Kiyoshi Kurosawa Real Takeru Sato Haruka AyaseThere are so many films released this weekend that I have had to split the trailer post into two (which I was doing a few months ago). I have had everything scheduled because I am down in London for the Terracotta Far East Film Festival where I’ll be watching three or four Japanese films, all of them released in Japanese cinemas this year – talk about fresh out of the oven. 

As far as this/last week’s blogging goes, I ended up posting reviews for Blue Ruin and Real, the Japanese line-up for the Edinburgh Film Festival and I posted trailers yesterday. So there. That’s your lot. You can breathe a sigh of relief over the fact that you don’t have to read any more badly spelled posts from me… Until Wednesday. 

 

All-Round Appraiser Q: The Eyes of Mona Lisa    All-Round Appraiser Q The Eyes of Mona Lisa Film Poster

Japanese Title:万能鑑定士Q モナ・リザの瞳

Romaji: Bannou Kanteishi Q Monariza no Hitomi

Running Time: 119 mins

Release Date: May 31st, 2014 (Japan)

Director: Shinsuke Sato

Writer: Manabu Uda (Screenplay), Keisuke Matsuoka (Original Novel)

Starring: Haruka Ayase, Tori Matsuzaka, Eriko Hatsune, Hiroaki Murakami, Pierre Deladonchamps, Jun Hashimoto

Based on a popular mystery novel by Keisuke Matsuoka, the story follows Riko Rinda (Ayase) who is an appraiser with sound judgement and an excellent memory. She’s in Paris because she has been hired by The Louvre to help facilitate a Mona Lisa exhibition in Japan. Yuto Ogasawara (Matsuzaka) is a magazine writer who follows her as she tries to solve a mystery. It looks very much like the BBC’s modern adaptation of Sherlock Holmes what with the on-screen text and character who possesses super observational skills.

Website

  Continue reading “All-Round Appraiser Q: The Eyes of Mona Lisa, A Minute More, Robot Girls Z, Samurai Pirates, Inabe, Samurai Zombie Fragile, Beauty Within, Oyako Present to the Future, Mother of the Bride, Japanese Film Trailers”