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Pink and Gray ピンクとグレー Dir: Isao Yukisada (2015)

Pink and Gray   

Pink and Gray Film Poster
Pink and Gray Film Poster

ピンクとグレー Pinku to gure-

Release Date: January 09th, 2015

Running Time: 119 mins.

Director: Isao Yukisada

Writer: Ryuta Horai, Isao Yukisada (Screenplay), Shigeaki Kato (Original Novel)

Starring: Yuto Nakajima, Masaki Suda, Kaho, Yuya Yagira, Yukino Kishii, Makita Sports, Jingi Irie,

Website    IMDB

The first casualty of fame is typically friendship as changing personalities, lifestyles and goals tear apart relationships. It is a familiar subject in film and audiences will be able to spot jealousy and arrogance rearing their heads and causing ructions between characters before hoping that all problems will be solved and friendship healed by the end. Shigeaki Kato, a young idol with the boyband NEWS (signed to the label/idol factory Johnny’s Entertainment) wrote this type of story in his 2012 novel of the same name but it features a twist that gives it a little freshness and director Isao Yukisada (Crying Out Love in the Centre of the Earth, Go, Aroused by Gymnopedies).

The film opens with scenes from a ballet and a suicide. As the ballet climaxes we see a popular actor named Rengo Shiraki (Yuto Nakajima) hang himself. His best friend Daiki Kawata (Masaki Suda) enters the scene in the aftermath. Daiki is left facing a beautiful corpse and six wills that have been left on a nearby coffee table. An accompanying note written by Rengo apologises and informs Daiki that he must choose one will but before we know what the wills contain we are taken back in time to their first meeting.

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Japanese Films at the Berlin International Film Festival 2018

The 68th Berlin International Film Festival, running from February 15th to the 25th, has a pretty good line-up of films but I’m super interested in the Japanese contingent. Thanks to the great media communication, the last few weeks have been building up lots of anticipation. I’ve been covering this festival for a while now and this year is as strong as many others.

Here are the Japanese films that have been programmed, just click on the titles to be taken to the festival listing.

Berlinale 2018 Logo

The Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art has programmed the Forum as part of the Berlinale, selecting 44 films, 35 of which world premieres. The International Forum of New CinemaForum is a bit like the wild west in the sense that the filmmakers selected come from different backgrounds and practice different forms of cinema from drama to avant garde, experimental works closer to art pieces to to observational documentaries, with subjects like political reportage and drama being given equal importance. There are a huge variety of films and topics few formal limitations when it comes to the selection of films, resulting in even greater freedom.

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Aroused by Gymnopedies「ジムノペディに乱れる」 Director:  Isao Yukisada (2017)

Aroused by Gymnopedies   Aroused by Gymnopedies Film Poster

ジムノペディに乱れる 「Gymnopedies ni Midareru

Running Time: 83 mins

Director:  Isao Yukisada

Writer: Isao Yukisada, Anne Horizumi (Screenplay),

Starring: Itsuji Itao, Sumire Ashina, Izumi Okamura, Noriko Kijima, Yuko Miyamoto, Masaki Miura, Kenji Iwatani, Mayumi Tajima,

Website IMDB

Aroused by Gymnopedies is one of the five films commissioned by Nikkatsu to be part of its reboot of the Roman Porno genre. Isao Yukisada directs and co-writes a self-reflexive story about the craft of filmmaking involving a once-great director who finds himself on skid-row and carrying a sadness that seemingly not even sex with a series of beautiful women can relieve.

The has-been director is fifty-something Shinji Furuya (Itsuji Itao). He was once a rising star in arthouse cinema capable of making great works that won awards at places like the Venice Film Festival but over the course of time his taste for womanising ballooned and something happened to him that made him fall from the heavens of the film industry and into a hellish landscape of melancholy and self-pity. He is now reduced to directing pink films for money, a stony-faced chain-smoking presence on set and a silent solitary man juggling debts in private. His latest production has turned into a disaster because his lead actress Anri (Izumi Okamura) has dropped out and he’s going to lose a desperately-needed paycheck.

Aroused by Gymnopedies Film Image

Thrown deeper into his mire of depression and with bills to pay he shambles around Tokyo over the course of seven days he alternately looking for money and slumps from one female acquaintance’s bed to another. Alas, he seems to get no joy from the sex he has with beautiful woman and he even rejects their offers of comfort. He soldiers on in being miserable because he carries an emotional burden too great for others to solve and it seems to be connected to a woman who plays the Erik Satie piano piece Gymnopedies in flashbacks he experiences

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Parade パレード (2010)

Parade   Parade Film Poster

Japanese Title:  パレード

Romaji: Pare-do

Release Date: February 20th, 2010

Running Time: 118 mins.

Director: Isao Yukisada

Writer: Isao Yukisada (Screenplay), Shuichi Yoshida (Original Novel)

Starring: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Karina, Shihori Kanjiya, Kento Hayashi, Keisuke Koide, Maho Nonami, Terunosuke Takezai, Renji Ishibashi, Natsumi Seto, Midoriko Kimura,

The great existentialist thinker Jean-Paul Satre once said something along the lines of, “you can never truly know another person,” with the view that everybody is hiding behind a false mask. Nobody is genuine, everybody is playing a character, projecting a persona to hide their Jungian shadow, their real self, and so it is here with a group of young flatmates sharing a 2LDK apartment in Tokyo.

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