Shell and Joint Dir: Isamu Hirabayashi (2019) [Nippon Connection 2020]

Shell and Joint    Shell and Joint Film Poster

Release Date: 2019

Duration: 154 mins.

Director: Isamu Hirabayashi

Writer: Isamu Hirabayashi (Script) 

Starring: Mariko Tsutsui, Keisuke Horibe, Kanako Higashi, Aiko Sato, Hiromi Kitagawa, Kaori Takeshita,

Website IMDB

Isamu Hirabayashi moved from the world of advertising and graphic design to indie films in 2001 and has made a number of shorts that have been selected for festivals like Locarno and Berlinale. Shell and Joint (2019) is his first feature and it is a truly unique title that shines with a visual opulence derived from someone with an eye for framing and a deep consideration for angles and colours, while its script shimmers with a comedic wit that tackles universal themes in a variety of genres and tones, as brought out in a series of stories that are enhanced by the look and sound of the film.

Opening proceeding are Nitobe (Keisuke Horibe) and Sakamoto (Mariko Tsutsui), two people who have been friends from childhood who now work together at the front desk of a capsule hotel. Nitobe has a particular fondness for philosophy and crustaceans while Sakamoto is fixated on suicide and winding up her friend during their long conversations. They form the manzai duo whose interactions rise in silliness as the film keeps revisiting them while guests come and go.

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Tamami: The Baby’s Curse 赤んぼ少女 (2008)

Tamami: The Baby’s Curse    Tamami The Baby's Curse Film Poster

Japanese: 赤んぼ少女

Romaji: Akanbo Shojo

Release Date: August 02nd, 2008

Running Time: 100 mins.

Director: Yudai Yamaguchi,

Writer: Kazuo Umezu, Hirotoshi Kobayashi (Screenplay),

Starring: Naoko Mizusawa, Goro Noguchi, Takumi Saito, Asami, Atsuko Asano, Etsuko Ikuta, Itsuji Itao, Keisuke Horibe,

Director Yudai Yamaguchi followed up Meatball Machine (2008) withtamami-the-babys-curse-manga-image-2.jpg this schlocky horror film based on a manga by horror maestro Kazuo Umezu and it is a fun horror film full of death, destruction and a creepy baby-like creature brought to life by some “imaginative” CG/acting/physical effects. With a loony story, a classic haunted house setting, an OTT villain, and some ropey effects, every minute is perpetual fun to watch.

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Real リアル-完全なる首長竜の日- (2013)

Kiyoshi Kurosawa Real (11)

Real                                                                                 Real Film Poster

Japanese Title: リアル 完全なる首長竜の日

Romaji: Riaru Kanzen’naru Shuchou Ryuu no Hi

Release Date: June 01st, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 127 mins.

Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Writer: Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Screenplay), Rokuro Inui (Original Novel)

Starring: Takeru Sato, Haruka Ayase, Jo Odagiri, Miki Nakatani, Shota Sometani, Keisuke Horibe, Kyoko Koizumi, Yuki Kan

Real was one of two films directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa that were released last year, the other being Seventh Code which stars former AKB48 member, Atsuko Maeda. Real is Kurosawa’s biggest budgeted film in a long time. Based on an award-winning mystery novel and featuring two beautiful leads anchored by a supporting cast of familiar and excellent actors the biggest mystery is why the film turned out so dull.

Koichi (Sato), a physical fitness trainer, and Atsumi (Ayase), a manga artist, are beautiful people who seem to lead a blessed life.

Kiyoshi Kurosawa Real Image 2

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Trailer for Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Latest Film Real

Kiyoshi Kurosawa Real Trailer Banner

Real                                                                                 Real Film Poster

Japanese Title: リアル 完全なる首長 竜の日

Romaji: Riaru Kanzen’naru Shuchou Ryuu no Hi

Release Date: June 01st, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 127 mins.

Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Writer: Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Screenplay), Rokuro Inui (Original Novel)

Starring: Takeru Sato, Haruka Ayase, Jo Odagiri, Miki Nakatani, Shota Sometani, Keisuke Horibe, Kyoko Koizumi, Keisuke Horibe, Yuki Kan

Ramble alert (I ramble because I love the subject!)

Kiyoshi Kurosawa LoftI am a big Kiyoshi Kurosawa fan. Massive. I have pretty much bought and reviewed most of his major titles available in the west and not one of them disappointed me. His critically acclaimed drama Tokyo Sonata I consider one of the most important films I have ever seen while I think highly of his divisive experimental film Bright Future. I really love his J-horror like Cure and Retribution which run along more fiendishly intelligent and psychologically disturbing lines than your average horror movie. Even films he rejects I find a lot to like about! Each title contains his unique aesthetics and deliberate approach to his subject matter. I am really excited about 2013 because he has a new film getting a release in Japan and the UK gets two of his 90’s crime thrillers thanks to Third Window Films.

Colour me happy when I caught a new trailer and teaser for his latest film Real. It is a title Kiyoshi Kurosawa Real Haruka Ayase and the Floating Pencilwith a sci-fi edge that reminds me a little of Inception what with its concept of entering a person’s subconscious, tilting camera angles, fantasy creatures, gravity defying stationary and ruined coastal town (Atsumi’s mind is the scene of the crime!). This also looks like a really big-budget title which is something Kurosawa tends not to handle but his critical cachet has never been higher. Check out the trailer!

Here is a shorter teaser released a bit earlier. It’s more action packed:

Koichi (Sato) and Atsumi (Ayase) are childhood friends who have become lovers. Despite this closeness when Atsumi attempts suicide Koichi is at a loss as to what the reason that drove her to do such a thing could be. Now she is in a coma and Koichi needs to find out the reason. Since Koichi is a neurosurgeon he has access to the latest studies and so he takes part in a medical procedure that will allow him to enter Atsumi’s subconscious through her central nervous system.

When he arrives she asks him to find a picture of a plesiosaur she drew as a child. It is the key to a suppressed memory connected to a childhood trauma. Finding this picture will allow Koichi to truly get close to knowing his love.

Continue reading “Trailer for Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Latest Film Real”

Tokyo Gore Police 東京残酷警察 (2008)

Police Announcer in Tokyo Gore Police

Director Yoshihiro Nishimura has a background in special effects and make up and Tokyo Gore Police shows off his love for these elements.

In near-future Japan the Tokyo Police force have been privatised and have to meet a new threat bringing violence to the streets: Engineers. These are genetically altered humans who can withstand excessive violence and sprout weapons from wounds. Leading the Engineers is the mysterious Keyman (Itsuji Itao). Leading the police fight back is ace Engineer hunter Ruka (Eihi Shiina), daughter of a murdered policeman who was against the privatisation of the police. Little does Ruka know the connection between herself, her father and Keyman but it will rock the foundations of Tokyo and its new police force.

The Privatised Police in Tokyo Gore Police Tokyo Gore Police is a wonderfully trashy film but very undisciplined. The world created is an extreme future where everything including compensated dating, suicide and extreme violence are privatised and made commercial as demonstrated by the numerous satirical ads throughout the film like this amusing wrist-cutting one.

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