Genkina hito’s Top Ten Films of the Year (2021)

Bear with me while I mix personal reflections and obvious observations of cinema for this year!

While 2021 saw cinemas open for longer and many festivals going ahead around the world, the Covid-19 pandemic still causes uncertainty in the market as new variants put exhibitors on edge and ready to cancel events while audiences seem to be put off going to see films that aren’t big Marvel properties. In these trying times, streaming films online is increasingly becoming the de facto way to view the latest releases for many but cinemas aren’t out for the count!

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Joint, Miyata Busters Co., Ltd. Feature Version, Cinderella in Cinema, 12 Nin no Ikareta Workshop, Merciless Light, Jitaku Kibiin to Kaji Yousei, Suimen no Akari Japanese Film Trailers

Happy Weekend!

War Back to the Sea Kaori Iwase Film Image

I hope you are well.

This is the second part of the two-part trailer post. The first part is here. I’m slowly getting back into writing reviews. I covered fascinating documentary Whiplash of the Dead on Wednesday. I also started watching films again with the 2013 Korean thriller Hide and Seek.

I’ll be covering Cowboy Bebop on Heroic Purgatory tomorrow, so I have reading to do!

What else was released this weekend in Japan?

Continue reading “Joint, Miyata Busters Co., Ltd. Feature Version, Cinderella in Cinema, 12 Nin no Ikareta Workshop, Merciless Light, Jitaku Kibiin to Kaji Yousei, Suimen no Akari Japanese Film Trailers”

Heroic Purgatory Podcast Covers the New York Asian Film Festival 2021 (August 06th – 22nd)

The New York Asian Film Festival launches tonight and will run from August 6th to August 22nd as a hybrid event with around 70 films split between cinemas and online streams and the HEROIC PURGATORY podcast is taking part. 

As I described in my preview, it’s a beautiful and exciting mix of experiences from 12 separate territories/nations with a mix of big-budget blockbusters to indie movies and the quality of the selection is so good, you can see why the festival is the premiere event for Asian films in North America – maybe even the West!

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A Preview of the Japanese Titles at the New York Asian Film Festival 2021 (August 06th – 22nd)

The New York Asian Film Festival is a go for 2021 and runs from August 6th to the 22nd. It is a hybrid event with over 60 films split between cinemas and online streams.

It’s a beautiful and exciting mix of experiences from 12 separate territories/nations with a mix of big-budget blockbusters to indie movies. There are tales from towns and cities in the mountainous land of Tibet (A Song for You) to a backwater in the Kazakh countryside (Sweetie, You Won’t Believe It). A humorous take on a utopian community in Singapore (Tiong Bahru Social Club) to the dank underworld of Hong Kong (Hand-Rolled Cigarettes and Coffin Homes) and the gritty streets of Tokyo (JOINT). Stop-motion dystopian sci-fi (JUNK HEAD) rub shoulders with Korean tales from the hellscape of capitalism (I Don’t Fire Myself). Who populates these cinematic landscapes? Fiery office ladies, hitmen, dancers, mutants, wannabe singers, DJs, and more. 

Here’s the trailer introducing the fest:

Here are certain highlights:

The Opening Film is the tense action thriller Escape from Mogadishu, directed by Ryoo Seung-wan (The Berlin File, Veteran), a based-on-a-true-story title that retells the escape attempted by North and South Korean embassy workers who were stranded in a hostile environment during the 1991 Somali Civil War.

Legendary filmmaker Ann Hui will receive the Variety Star Asia Lifetime Achievement Award and the biographical documentary Keep Rolling will be screened. Her film, The Story of Woo Viet will also be screened, so auds can get a taste of what made her one of the most important voices in Hong Kong cinema.

There will be a free outdoor screening of the Hong Kong wu-xia New Dragon Gate Inn (1992), which stars Maggie Cheung, Brigitte Lin, and Donnie Yen. This marks the 10th anniversary of the film’s restoration by NYAFF.

Out of everything on offer, I’ve written about Three Sisters, JOINT (review and interview with Oudai Kojima, the director), and, Over the Town and Keep Rolling. I can highly recommend them. I also enjoyed Tiong Bahru Social Club and have kept thinking about it.

What about the rest? I will highlight the Japanese films so it can help you when you are making a choice about what to watch. AND THERE IS SO MUCH THAT IS TOO GOOD TO PASS UP!!!

I will also be covering the fest over at Heroic Purgatory. My co-host John and I talked about the festival in the last episode which covers the New York-set film The Wedding Banquet.

UPDATE: THE PODCAST IS LIVE!!!

What are the films programmed? Scroll down to find out!

Continue reading “A Preview of the Japanese Titles at the New York Asian Film Festival 2021 (August 06th – 22nd)”

An E-mail Interview with Oudai Kojima, Director of JOINT [Osaka Asian Film Festival 2021]

“No idea’s original, there’s nothing new under the sun. It’s never what you do, but how it’s done,” Nas from the album Best of Nas

While every country around the world has its organised crime gangs, few hold the level of mystique and infamy that Japan’s Yakuza does. Their style, codes, hierarchies, history, and their full-body tattoos have long been the subject of books, video games, news articles, and films to the point that they have become part of global popular culture. In Japan, many directors have either worked in the genre of used elements of it in their own films. Consequently, unless a director has a strong story, style, or philosophy, films based on the nefarious activities of Japan’s criminal underworld have a deadening feeling of familiarity. This was not what I felt when watching JOINT.

JOINT tells the story of a guy trying to get clear of the criminal underworld but getting caught up in a gang war. While its story has many plot points familiar from other films, the realistic way it is shot, the details in the narrative and the performances of its cast created an atmosphere that was unlike many other contemporary Japanese crime films and so it felt different. More importantly, the atmosphere was so strong it made the film gripping and I felt that I was taken into a different world, one better reflective of Japanese criminal gangs operating today. It’s pretty remarkable considering that JOINT is the debut feature of director Oudai Kojima.

Born in Kobe in 1994, Oudai Kojima is a director, cinematographer, and editor who makes music videos, commercials, and, now, fiction films. He was raised in New York from the age of 3 to 13. After returning to Japan he studied architecture at the University of Tokyo. His entry into the film world began by studying under filmmaker Tomokazu Yamada for a year and a half before he began production on JOINT, his debut feature. I saw it when it was played at the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2021. He kindly took part in an email interview where he answered questions about his background, the work put in to JOINT to create its realistic atmosphere, and how he got such convincing performances from his cast.

My questions were translated into Japanese by Takako Pocklington while director Kojima answered in both English and Japanese.

The Japanese transcript is first and it is followed by English. Click on a link below to be taken to one or the other.

Japanese English

Joint film Poster 2

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Joint ジョイント Director: Oudai Kojima (2020) [Osaka Asian Film Festival 2021]

Joint      Joint film Poster 2

ジョイント Jointo

Release Date: N/A

Duration: 118 mins.

Director: Oudai Kojima

Writer: HAM-R (Script),

Starring: Ikken Yamamoto, Kim Jin-cheol, Kim Chang-bak, Keisuke Mitsui, Sogen Higuchi,

OAFF Link

Joint is the debut feature of director Oudai Kojima. While it doesn’t do anything new with its iteration of a story of gangsters, loyalty and betrayal, he makes it memorable and very much worth watching through imbuing it with an atmosphere so strong it will feel like you are plunged into the crime world alongside a charismatic main character whose arc allows you to see every aspect of it.

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