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Beneath the Shadow (Eiri) 影裏 Dir: Keishi Otomo (2020)

Beneath the Shadow   Eiri Film Poster

影裏  Eiri

Release Date: February 14th, 2020

Duration: 134 mins.

Director: Keishi Otomo

Writer: Kaori Sawai (Script), Shinsuke Numata (Story) 

Starring: Gou Ayano, Ryuhei Matsuda, Mariko Tsutsui, Tomoya Nakamura, Ken Yasuda, Jun Kunimura,

Website IMDB

After spending the 90s working in TV, director Keishi Otomo moved into film and has built a filmography stacked with adaptations of novels and manga. He is best known for the internationally successful Rurouni Kenshin trilogy, a big-budget samurai series with a visual sheen of intense action, dizzying stunt work and exquisite period details that swept viewers away. He reigns everything in for his latest work, Beneath the Shadow, Eirin in Japanese. 

This is based on a same-named 2017 Akutagawa prize-winning novel by Shinsuke Numata and is set in the director’s hometown of Morioka, Iwate Prefecture, both before and after the 3/11 disaster. It features a slow-burn character-driven drama that teases audiences with a light mystery that hinges on the idea that our interpretations of people’s behaviour can be wrong if our emotions get in the way but also, that all of us have something we keep in the shadows.

Continue reading “Beneath the Shadow (Eiri) 影裏 Dir: Keishi Otomo (2020)”

The Miracle of Crybaby Shottan    泣き虫しょったんの奇跡 Dir: Toshiaki Toyoda (2018) [Japan Cuts 2019]

The Miracle of Crybaby Shottan   The Miracle of Crybaby Shottan Film Poster

泣き虫しょったんの奇跡 Nakimushi Shottan no Kiseki

Release Date: September 07th, 2018

Duration: 127 mins.

Director: Toshiaki Toyoda

Writer: Ayako Kato (Screenplay), Shoji Segawa (Autobiographical Novel)

Starring: Ryuhei Matsuda, Yojiro Noda, Shota Sometani, Satoshi Tsumabuki, Takako Matsu, Kiyohio Shibukawa, Kaoru Kobayashi, Jun Miho, Jun Kunimura, Tatsuya Fujiwara, Itsuji Itao, Shizuka Ishibashi, Issey Ogata, Kento Nagayama,

Website IMDB

Considering Toshiaki Toyoda made his entry into Japanese films with low-budget punk titles about outsiders like Pornostar (1998) seeing him take on a film about shogi, or Japanese chess, is something of a surprise until you find out that he initially trained in shogi as a child. That, and the lead character of this biopic, the titular crybaby Shoji (Shottan) Segawa, was an outsider and trailblazer himself when he became a shogi professional well past the age when it is acceptable.

Continue reading “The Miracle of Crybaby Shottan    泣き虫しょったんの奇跡 Dir: Toshiaki Toyoda (2018) [Japan Cuts 2019]”

Destiny: The Tale of Kamakura DESTINY 鎌倉ものがたり Dir:  Takashi Yamazaki (2017)

Destiny: The Tale of Kamakura   DESTINY Kamakura Monogatari Film Poster

DESTINY 鎌倉ものがたり DESTINY Kamakura Monogatari

Running Time: 129 mins.

Release Date: December 09th, 2017

Director:  Takashi Yamazaki

Writer:  Takashi Yamazaki (Screenplay), Ryohei Saigan (Original Manga)

Starring: Masato Sakai, Mitsuki Takahata, Shinichi Tsutsumi, Sakura Ando, Min Tanaka, Tamao Nakamura, Mikako Ichikawa, Jun Kunimura, Tomokazu Miura,

Website IMDB

Kamakura is one of the old capitals of Japan and the most magical place in the country according to Destiny: The Tale of Kamakura. In this CG-heavy adventure, a young woman discovers her new husband’s titular home town is where the borders between life, death, fairytale and reality are blurred as she and her beloved embark on a magical fantasy adventure.

Continue reading “Destiny: The Tale of Kamakura DESTINY 鎌倉ものがたり Dir:  Takashi Yamazaki (2017)”

The World of Kanako 渇き (2014)

The World of Kanako      The World of Kanako Film Poster 2

Japanese Title:

Romaji: Kawaki

Running Time: 113 mins

Release Date: June 27th, 2014 (Japan)

Seen at the BFI London Film Festival

Director: Tetsuya Nakashima

Writer: Tetsuya Nakashima (Screenplay), Akio Fukamachi (Novel),

Starring: Koji Yakusho, Nana Komatsu, Satoshi Tsumabuki, Joe Odagiri, Fumi Nikaido, Ai Hashimoto, Miki Nakatani, Jun Kunimura, Asuka Kurosawa,

Website

On paper The World of Kanako sounds incredibly formulaic: based on a novel by Akio Fukamachi, it’s about an ex-cop and bad father who goes in search of his missing daughter who may be involved in a world of trouble. The World of Kanako is anything but formulaic. It resists falling into cliché by being a visually and aurally staggering assault on the senses so meticulously designed, written, and directed by Tetsuya Nakashima, and acted out by big name actors given the chance to play evil characters that it makes an old plot feel new and exciting.

The film begins with the quote:

An era is only confused by a confused mind – Jean Cocteau

Continue reading “The World of Kanako 渇き (2014)”

Why Don’t You Play in Hell? 地獄でなぜ悪い (2013)

Why Don’t You Play in Hell?           

Why Don't You Play In Hell Film Poster

Japanese Title: 地獄でなぜ悪い Why Don’t You Play in Hell?

Romaji: Jigoku de Naze Warui Why Don’t You Play in Hell?

Release Date: September 28th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 119 mins.

Director: Sion Sono

Writer: Sion Sono (Screenplay),

Starring: Jun Kunimura, Shinichi Tsutsumi, Fumi Nikaido, Tomochika, Hiroki Hasegawa, Kotou Lorena, Gen Hoshino, Tak Sakaguchi

This has been a long time coming. I saw Why Don’t You Play in Hell? at last year’s BFI London Film Festival and I had huge expectations. In the months leading up to the screening I had posted trailers and made posts full of Gifs. It was my final festival film of the year and walking into the cinema I was tingling with excitement. Why? Because Sono is one of my two favourite Japanese directors and this looked awesome. I can confirm that it was God-tier awesome. 

The film opens on a teenage director named Hirata who, along with his amateur film crew The F*ck Bombers, is busy shooting a gang fight between some Yankees. The main ambition of The F*ck Bombers is to make the most miraculous movie ever with realistic action! These guys will come into play later as the film switches to Muto (Kunimura), a yakuza crime boss who is the top target of a rival gang.

 Genki-Why-Don't-You-Play-in-Hell-Jun-Kunimura

A hit-squad from the rival gang head to Muto’s home. Except he’s not there. His wife Shizue (Tomochika) is. What results is a bloodbath as Shizue defends her home from the gangsters… 

Genki-Why-Don't-You-Play-in-Hell-Muto's-Wife-Tomochika

Meanwhile, as mother dearest is chasing one of the few survivors of her rage, Muto’s daughter, the angelic child actress Mitsuko, arrives home to find herself wading in a sea of blood. Lying on the kitchen floor and bleeding out is lone survivor Ikegami (Tsutsumi) who is charmed by Mitsuko so much that he develops a bit of an obsession. He stumbles out of the crime scene where he runs into Hirata and The F*ck Bombers who realise he is an honest to God blood-covered yakuza and begin to film him.

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Like Father, Like Son そして父になる (2013)

Like Father, Like Son                          Like Father Like Son Cannes Poster

Japanese Title: そして父になる

Romaji: Soshite Chichi ni Naru

Release Date: September 28th. 2013 (Japan)

Seen at the BFI London Film Festival 2013

Running Time: 120 mins.

Director: Hirokazu Koreeda

Writer: Hirokazu Koreeda (Screenplay)

Starring: Masaharu Fukuyama, Machiko Ono, Yoko Maki, Jun Fubuki, Keita Ninomiya, Shogen Hwang, Lily Franky, Jun Kunimura, Kiki Kirin, Isao Natsuyagi

Like Father Like Son School Interview

The Nonomiya family are happy. Ryota (Fukuyama) is a stern and demanding father and a successful architect dedicated to his work while his loyal wife Midori (Ono) dotes on their adorably cute six-year-old son Keita (Nonomiya). The three live quietly and comfortably in a luxurious apartment. Although Keita seems to lack his father’s qualities of determination and ruthlessness, he is a studious, quiet and loyal son who idolises his father and tries to emulate him. With Keita about to enter Ryota’s old school, life seems to be going according to plan.

Then Midori receives a phone call from the hospital where she gave birth to Keita six years ago informing her that their child was switched with another male baby and that their birth-son is with another set of parents. This news shatters the Ninomiya’s certainties and the hospital insists that both sets of parents meet.

Like Father Like Son Yudai (Franky) and Yukari (Maki)

Enter the Saiki family led by confident hard-working mother Yukari (Maki) and scatter-brained father Yudai (Franky). They are the polar-opposites of the Ninomiyas, Yudai runs a down at heel electronics store while Yukari works at a fast food parlour. Working class but still decent folk, their parenting style is more laid back than the Ninomiya’s which has produced three uninhibited children who are ebullient and fizzing with energy. This is who Ryota and Midori’s birth-son is with. Given the name Ryusei (Hwang), he is the eldest of three children and is the complete opposite of Keita, outgoing and tougher, he is a rough but good-natured child.

At the hospital’s insistence the parents’ initiate a twelve-month period where they get to know each other and try exchanging boys. Keita seems to take to the Saiki family easily but Ryusei’s brash temperament clashes with Ryota’s strict attitudes. Now both couples face a difficult decision over whether to hand over their sons who they have carefully raised for the last six years and take back their biological son or not.

Genki-Like-Father-Like-Son-Photograph-Scene-Extend

Continue reading “Like Father, Like Son そして父になる (2013)”

Why Don’t You Play in Hell? Gif Version

I posted the trailer for Sion Sono’s latest film Why Don’t You Play in Hell?  last week and Tired Paul suggested I make some Gifs for the film… Little did he know I was already doing it! Well, I posted them on my Tumblr. Some are so large I need to post them here because of the file upload limit on Tumblr.

So, here’s the film done through the power of Gifs (I expect this post will take ages to load due to the size and number of the things).

Why Don’t You Play in Hell?           Why Don't You Play In Hell Film Poster

Japanese Title: 地獄 で なぜ 悪い Why Don’t You Play in Hell?

Romaji: Jigoku de Naze Warui Why Don’t You Play in Hell?

Release Date: September 28th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Sion Sono

Writer: Sion Sono (Screenplay),

Starring: Jun Kunimura, Shinichi Tsutsumi, Fumi Nikaido, Tomochika, Hiroki Hasegawa, Kotou Lorena, Gen Hoshino, Tak Sakaguchi

Muto (Kunimura)

Genki-Why-Don't-You-Play-in-Hell-Jun-Kunimura

and Ikegami (Tsutsumi)

Genki-Why-Don't-You-Play-in-Hell-Ikegami-(Tsutsumi)

are rival gangsters who despise each other but there’s a catch for Ikegami… he loves Muto’s actress daughter Mitsuko (Nikaido).

Genki-Why-Don't-You-Play-in-Hell-Mitsuko-(Nikaido)

Continue reading “Why Don’t You Play in Hell? Gif Version”

New Why Don’t You Play in Hell? Trailer Sion Sono’s Next Film Release

Why Don’t You Play in Hell?           Why Don't You Play In Hell Film Poster

Japanese Title: 地獄 で なぜ 悪い Why Don’t You Play in Hell?

Romaji: Jigoku de Naze Warui Why Don’t You Play in Hell?

Release Date: September 28th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Sion Sono

Writer: Sion Sono (Screenplay),

Starring: Jun Kunimura, Shinichi Tsutsumi, Fumi Nikaido, Tomochika, Hiroki Hasegawa, Kotou Lorena, Gen Hoshino, Tak Sakaguchi

After watching Himizu and The Land of Hope I was getting worried that Sono was becoming serious. Great films as they are, I’m more of a Suicide Club and Strange Circus chap. You know, original messy projects which we all know him for. Tired Paul to the rescue. He recently sent me this new trailer for Sion Sono’s Why Don’t You Play in Hell? and it looks so f*cking awesome! There’s also a new poster which is also awesome!

Muto (Kunimura) and Ikegami (Tsutsumi) are rival gangsters who despise each other but there’s a catch for Ikegami… he loves Muto’s actress daughter Mitsuko (Nikaido). Part of the reason she’s an actress is because it is the dream of his loyal wife Shizue (Tomochika) who was sent to prison after taking the fall for him.

Muto is out to make that dream happen. Enter Koji (Hoshino), a timid passer-by who is mistaken for being a film director. When dealing with gangsters you don’t mess about so Koji gets a cinephile friend named Hirata (Hasegawa) who casts Mitsuko in a fictional gang war but it soon goes wrong when it turns real.

STARTO!!!!

The opening gunfight, blood-covered women chasing people with knives, a director who is clearly a hyper-cinephile and a bit psychotic, sword fights, people plunging through walls and windows aaaaaannnd a waterslide flowing with blood in a house! I said it with the teaser ad I’ll say it again… OH GOD, A REBELLIOUS CRAZY SONO FILM! LIFE IS WORTH LIVING.

This is actually starting to remind me of Key of Life with its mix of losers in a mistaken identity scenario involving gangsters only there’s fountains of blood everywhere. I really loved Key of Life film with its sharp observational humour and loveable characters and I can tell from the trailer that Hirata is going to be heaps of fun. I mean, Bruce Lee’s Game of Death references and blood-slides? He certainly is imaginative! I am expecting great comedy and lots of bloodshed! The cast contains Jun Kunimura (VitalOutrage), Shinichi Tsutsumi (One Missed Call), Fumi Nikaido (Himizu), Tomochika (Quirky Guys and Gals) and Gen Hoshino (Blindly in Love) who wrote and performed the song that can be heard around the one minute mark. Ive watched this trailer about a dozen times and now I’m singing along with the actors at the end. I want to see this now!

According to Nippon Cinema, “Why Don’t You Play in Hell?” will get its world premiere at the 70th Venice Film Festival (August 28th-September 7th) and its North American premiere at the 38th Toronto International Film Festival.

The film will get a theatrical release in Japan on September 28th, 2013.

Source: Nippon Cinema via Tired Paul (Thanks Paul!)

Why Don’t You Play in Hell? Teaser Trailer Sion Sono’s Next Film Release

Why Don’t You Play in Hell?           Why DOn't you Play in Hell Film Image

Japanese Title: 地獄 で なぜ 悪い Why Don’t You Play in Hell?

Romaji: Jigoku de Naze Warui Why Don’t You Play in Hell?

Release Date: September 28th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Sion Sono

Writer: Sion Sono (Screenplay),

Starring: Jun Kunimura, Shinichi Tsutsumi, Fumi Nikaido, Tomochika, Hiroki Hasegawa, Kotou Lorena, Gen Hoshino

Sion Sono has three projects on the go. I have posted about the live-action dorama All Esper Dayo! which is screening on Japanese television. I have also posted about the casting call for Tokyo Tribes in pre-production. His third feature is Why Don’t You Play in Hell? and a teaser trailer was recently released for it. Thanks to fellow hardcore Sion Sono fan Tired Paul I found out about the trailer and I have to say that watching the trailer made me really happy.

Muto (Kunimura) and Ikegami (Tsutsumi) are rival gangsters who despise each other but there’s a catch for Ikegami… he loves Muto’s actress daughter Michiko (Nikaido). Part of the reason she’s an actress is because it is the dream of her mother Shizue (Tomochika) and so Muto is out to make that dream happen. Enter Koji (Hoshino), a passer-by who is mistaken for being a film director. When dealing with gangsters you don’t mess about so Koji gets indie film director Hirata (Hasegawa) to cast Michiko as the lead actress in his film but it soon goes all wrong.

I’m sure you’re happy after watching the trailer. The violence! The blood! Twisted kissing! Swords and knives! The screaming! The rainbow colours! The opera! A waterslide flowing with blood in a house! OH GOD, A REBELLIOUS CRAZY SONO FILM! LIFE IS WORTH LIVING.

The cast is pretty damn awesome with the ever-watchable Jun Kunimura (Vital, Outrage) playing a Yakuza. His rival is Shinichi Tsutsumi, the male lead in One Missed Call and a pretty good actor. Fumi Nikaido (Himizu), one of Japan’s rising actresses looks like a sadistic and cool character who might run with Aiko in with Cold Fish.

It looks like Sono is veering back to the crazy, careening, balls out and intense films from early in his career that his fans love him for. The script for this was originally written as an action film 15 years ago which would make it before Suicide Club and Strange Circus so that sounds just about right for the tone. The carnage and the locations shown remind me of the climax of Noriko’s Dinner Table. I’m babbling now. I think I’ll watch the teaser for the 30th time!

Vital ヴィタール Dir: Shinya Tsukamoto (2003)

Genkina hito Vital Review Banner Shinya Tsukamoto Season

Vital                                                           Vital Film Poster

Japanese Titleヴィタール

Romaji: Vuita-ru

Japanese Release Date: 24th May, 2003

Running Time: 85 mins.

Director: Shinya Tsukamoto

Writer: Shinya Tsukamoto(Screenplay)

Starring: Tadanobu Asano, KIKI, Nami Tsukamoto, Kazuyoshi Kushida, Lily, Jun Kunimura, Hana Kino, Ittoku Kishibe

Tsukamoto once again brings us a tale of metamorphosis but, as in A Snake of June, it is more psychic and mental than physical, life affirming instead of destructive and much calmer than usual. The fascination with cyberpunk and body-horror, once an overwhelming aspect of his early films, is toned down and replaced with a humanistic tale of life, death and memory. Warning: this is a long review which does not contain any particular spoilers but discusses the film in detail.

Continue reading “Vital ヴィタール Dir: Shinya Tsukamoto (2003)”