The Pinkie Film Image Miwako Wagatsuma 2

The Pinkie さまよう小指 Dir: Lisa Takeba (2014)

The Pinkie   

The Pinkie Film Poster
The Pinkie Film Poster

さまよう 小指  Samayou Koyubi

Release Date: September 14th, 2014 (Japan)

Duration: 63 mins.

Director: Lisa Takeba

Writer: Lisa Takeba (Screenplay),

Starring: Ryota Ozawa, Miwako Wagatsuma, Haruka Suenaga, Kanji Tsuda,

Website

When I first saw this film I fell in love with it and hyped the director up. Lisa Takeba is one of those multi-hyphenate talents whose imagination covers writing, directing and more. She has a background in advertising and writing videogames for the likes of Nintendo so she’s got a lot of experience with different styles to work with, something which shows in this fun and insane mash-up of genres where rom-com meets offbeat sci-fi and yakuza thrills in a story that firmly places love at the centre of everything.

The story is about love as experienced by four people but it starts with two.

Since they were both five, Ryosuke (Ryota Ozawa) has been stalked by Momoko (Miwako Wagatsuma) – the ugliest girl in the village. Momoko’s love for Ryosuke is so boundless that she has her face surgically altered to suit his taste – but still, he wants nothing to do with her. Ryosuke is a louche NEET who is in love with the girlfriend of a yakuza boss, a slippery dame named Manami (Haruka Suenaga), but when the boss finds out about their affair he has Ryosuke’s little finger hacked off and chases him off. Magically, the finger falls into Momoko’s hands and she uses it to clone Ryosuke so she can finally have him (or almost him) for herself – and that’s the first five minutes of this deranged tale of pure-hearted love.

Continue reading “The Pinkie さまよう小指 Dir: Lisa Takeba (2014)”

Distance ディスタンス Dir: Hirokazu Kore-eda (2001)

Distance    Distance Film Poster

ディスタンス Disutansu

Release Date: May 26th, 2001

Duration: 132 mins.

Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda

Writer: Hirokazu Kore-eda (Script) 

Starring: Yui Natsukawa, Yusuke Iseya, Arata, Susumu Terajima, Tadanobu Asano, Ryo, Kenichi Endo, Kanji Tsuda,

IMDB

Hirokazu Kore-eda made Distance after he became interested in the disciples of Aum Shinrikyo, the group which committed the Tokyo subway sarin attack¹. He wanted to comment on how everyone in society could be responsible for it in some way. In so doing, he strikes at a universal fear surely felt by everyone which is that perhaps those who should be the closest to us are sometimes the ones furthest away.

This idea of distance is given to us through the story of a group of people who are ostensibly disconnected from each other but each has a deep personal connection to a terrorist incident described at the start of the film by a radio announcer.

Continue reading “Distance ディスタンス Dir: Hirokazu Kore-eda (2001)”

Being Natural 天然☆生活 Dir: Tadashi Nagayama (2018)

Being Natural    Being Natural Film Poster

天然☆生活 Tennen Seikatsu

Release Date: March 23rd, 2019

Duration: 96 mins.

Director: Tadashi Nagayama

Writer:  Tadashi Nagayama, Yuriko Suzuki (Screenplay),

Starring: Yota Kawase, Kanji Tsuda, Natsuki Mieda, Tadahiro Tsuru, Shoichiro Tanigawa,

IMDB

Tadashi Nagayama goes back to nature with his second feature following his debut, Journey of the Tortoise (2017) but where the film ends up will prove to be a surprise after a delightful, if slightly disturbing social satire of a sojourn in the Japanese countryside.

It starts off as a gentle comedy where we follow Yota Kawase’s good-natured lead character Taka, an easy-going chap who lives a quiet life in a rural town in his uncle’s traditional Kayabuki (thatched roof) house. Unemployed and easygoing, he lives a simple life of taking care of the old man with dementia, hanging out with friends, BBQs, and playing his bongos but his peaceful life changes when his uncle dies and his cousin Mitsuaki (Shoichiro Tanigawa) tries to sell the house.

Continue reading “Being Natural 天然☆生活 Dir: Tadashi Nagayama (2018)”

Vampire Clay 血を吸う粘土 Dir: Soichi Umezawa (2017)

Vampire Clay   Vampire Clay Film Poster

血を吸う粘土Chi wo su nendo

Running Time: 81 mins.

Release Date: August 19th, 2017

Director:  Soichi Umezawa

Writer: Soichi Umezawa (Screenplay),

Starring: Asuka Kurosawa, Kanji Tsuda, Ena Fujita, Ryo Shinoda, Kyoka Takeda, Yuyu Makihara, Momoka Sugimoto,

Website IMDB

Vampire Clay is the feature-length film debut of writer/director Soichi Umezawa, a man who has had a long career as a special effects and make-up artist on many doramas and films like those of the Tomie franchise, low-budget sci-fi action flick like Alien vs Ninja, the chilling ghost story Dead Waves and the rather excellent Kiyoshi Kurosawa film Bright Future. That one’s not a horror but it features jellyfish which some may find horrific if stung by one. Vampire Clay is more in line with Umezawa’s horror films and the special effects are pretty good in a goofy way – gooey and creepy dolls made from clay that stalk a rural art school and bump off students one by one a la John Carpenter’s The Thing

Continue reading “Vampire Clay 血を吸う粘土 Dir: Soichi Umezawa (2017)”

Akihiro Toda’s “THE NAME (名前)” to Close Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018

The team behind the Osaka Asian Film Festival has given a glimpse of the entire programme of films that will play at this year’s edition and full details of the film which will close this year’s festival, the Word Premiere of Akihiro Toda’s “THE NAME (名前)” which will play at the ABC Hall on Sunday, March 18th.

Here are details on the film:

The Name    The Name Film Poster

名前 Namae

Running Time: 114 mins.

Release Date: 2018

Director: Akihiro Toda

Writer: Yusuke Moriguchi (Screenplay), Shusuke Michio (Original Story)

Starring: Kanji Tsuda, Ren Komai, Miho Kanazawa, Mako Komaki, Akari Kakimoto, Noriko Kijima, Yohta Kawase, Mayuko Nishiyama, Mariko Tsutsui,

IMDB

The Name Film Image

Synopsis: Moriya city in Ibaraki is a quiet place with residents who lead simple lives. Everyone, apart from a lonely angst-ridden bachelor named Masao Nakamura. Since losing his business and becoming penniless, he has adopted multiple identities to get by: Yoshikawa, a big businessman, Suzuki, the happy family man, Okubo, the doting husband who quit Tokyo to look after a sick wife. When his ruse about the sick wife is about to be exposed as a lie at work, a schoolgirl named Emiko Hayama steps in from out of nowhere and pretends to be his daughter.

Emiko is another person who loves to lie. Instead of facing a lonely home run by a single-mother, the girl hangs out with Masao and the pair strike up a friendship. It fills a gap in their lives but their lies hinder them from overcoming inner-turmoil. At some point a fake dad and a fake daughter will have to face their suffering in order to move on. Continue reading “Akihiro Toda’s “THE NAME (名前)” to Close Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018”

Third Window Films Release Takeshi Kitano’s Dolls on Blu-ray on March 14th

Third Window Films are releasing a series of films by Takeshi Kitano on Blu-ray as Office Kitano updates the titles with 2K masters. Regular readers will know that I have reviewed Hana-bi and Kikujiro and next Monday I hope to review the latest film to get a release in the series, Dolls.

I was in high school when this was released and I must admit to being turned off by the obvious artiness of it, which isn’t to say that it’s bad so much as my taste ran more to his more violent gangster films. When I was in university I came to love his more sedate films like A Scene at the Sea and Kids Return. Like those two films, Dolls doesn’t feature Kitano acting on screen and it features a score by Joe Hisaishi (his last collaboration with Kitano). I suppose now is a great time to see how far my views have changed since it’s getting a release on March 14th!

Here’s some info from a press release!

Continue reading “Third Window Films Release Takeshi Kitano’s Dolls on Blu-ray on March 14th”

Mutant Girls Squad 戦闘少女 血の鉄仮面伝説 (2010)

Mutant Girls Squad   Mutant Girls Squad Film Poster

戦闘少女 血の鉄仮面伝説 「Sento shojo: Chi no tekkamen densetsu」

Release Date: May 22nd, 2010

Running Time: 90 mins.

Directors: Tak Sakaguchi, Noboru Iguchi, Yoshihiro Nishimura

Writer: Jun Tsugita, Noboru Iguchi

Starring: Yumi Sugimoto, Yuko Takayama, Suzuka Morita, Kanji Tsuda, Maiko Ito, Tak Sakaguchi, Asami, Chiharu Kawai,

Splatter outfit Sushi Typhoon (a subsidiary of Nikkatsu) was founded in 2010 and one of its earliest releases was Mutant Girls Squad (2010) which features three of the company’s biggest talents directing individual chapters of the film. The first part is orchestrated by action star/fight choreographer Tak Sakaguchi, and special effects maestros Noboru Iguchi and Yoshihiro Nishimura follow him up in parts two and three. What starts out as an outrageously silly splatter-tastic tale of kick-ass girls taking on corrupt authorities in a tidal wave of blood and mutant body-parts falls apart by the end as Nishimura over-indulges his fetish for splatter special effects.

Continue reading “Mutant Girls Squad 戦闘少女 血の鉄仮面伝説 (2010)”

Pet Peeve / Seeds of Anxiety / Fuan no Tane 不安の種 (2013)

Pet Peeve (International Title) / Seeds of Anxiety (Japanese Title)   

Japanese Title: 不安の種   The Seeds of Anxiety Film Poster

Romaji: Fuan no Tane

Release Date: July 20th, 2013

Running Time: 87 mins.

Director: Toshikazu Nagae

Writer: Masaaki Nakayama (Original Manga), Toshikazu Nagae (Screenplay)

Starring: Anna Ishibashi, Kenta Suga Koudai Asaka, Kanji Tsuda, Shimako Iwai, Kurea Mori, Hitomi Kurihara, Ryosuke Kawamura,

Pet Peeve is a really awful title for a film, any film, and it is best to pay attention to the Japanese one, Seeds of Anxiety (Fuan no Tane) which sums up the content perfectly.

Moving towns is something a lot of us go through and it can be daunting but spare a thought for a group of outsiders settling in the rather strange Funuma city.

Seeds of Anxiety Funuma City

Continue reading “Pet Peeve / Seeds of Anxiety / Fuan no Tane 不安の種 (2013)”

Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl 吸血少女対少女フランケン (2009)

Monami (Yukie Kawamura) in Vampire girl vs Frankenstein Girl Yoshihiro Nishimura followed Tokyo Gore Police a year later with Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl, a movie based on a manga by Shungiku Uchida and far more accessible than Tokyo Gore Police thanks to its shorter running time and its utter adherence to care-free comedy.

The film takes place around Valentine’s Day in what seems like a typical Tokyo High School. On Valentine’s Day girls give boys chocolate in order to declare their love. Gothic-lolita Keiko (Eri Otoguro) has her sights set on handsome Jyugon Mizushima (Takumi Saito) but he is about to get snatched away by the quiet and devious care-free vampire Monami (Yukie Kawamura) who tricks Mizushima into eating her which is filled with her vampiric blood and turns him into a half-vampire. This sparks a war between the two which reveals that the school and its pupils are far from typical.

Franken-chicks in Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl Anybody suspicious that this whole rival monsters and human love-triangle might be the Japanese Twilight fear not. It loves gore and silliness too much.

Continue reading “Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl 吸血少女対少女フランケン (2009)”

Tokyo Sonata トウキョウソナタ (2008)

Genkinahito'sTokyo Sonata Review BannerTokyo Sonata Basic InfoI love Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s existential horror films like Cure and Pulse so seeing him depart into the mainstream with a family drama was bittersweet but ultimately rewarding because it resulted in a masterpiece that finally revealed the genius his fans have long-recognised.

When Ryuhei Sasaki (Teruyuki Kagawa) is laid-off from his admin job his life as a salary-man is over and his family life is put at risk. The shame of unemployment means that he keeps his situation a secret from everybody including his wife (Kyoko Koizumi) and two sons, Kenji (Kai Inowaki) who wants to learn to play the piano and Takashi (Yu Koyanagi) who he barely speaks to. This means that each morning he dons his suit, picks up his suitcase and heads off to look for work and eat free soup with the homeless and other unemployed salary-men. Soon the lies and suspicion begin to take its toll.

Synopsis wise it sounds like the perfect tale for the age of global recession. Ryuhei is the victim of corporate outsourcing of jobs and this fragments his identity on different levels. The film charts his increasingly desperate attempts to maintain his image of breadwinner and the authority over his family that comes with it.

Continue reading “Tokyo Sonata トウキョウソナタ (2008)”