The Fable ザ・ファブル Dir: Kan Eguchi (2019) [New York Asian Film Festival 2019]

The Fable    The Fable Film Poster

ザ・ファブル  Za Faburu

Release Date: June 21st, 2019

Duration: 123 mins.

Director: Kan Eguchi

Writer: Yusuke Watanabe (Screenplay), Katsuhisa Minami (Original Manga)

Starring: Junichi Okada, Fumino Kimura, Koichi Sato, Mizuki Yamamoto, Kai Inowaki, Jiro Sato, Sota Fukushi, Ken Mitsuishi, Yuya Yagira, Ken Yasuda,

Website IMDB

Katsuhisa Minami’s seinen manga The Fable has been serialised in Weekly Young Magazine since 2014 and it won the general category of the 41st Kodansha Manga Awards in 2017. Its straight shooting story of a hit-man’s travails is mostly down-to-earth in art style and narrative for a manga. Its hard-boiled nature is supported by characters drawn with natural proportions engaging in fisticuffs and gunfights, the seriousness subverted by dashes of satire thanks to unique personality traits harboured by different people. A movie version is a natural progression but to make it engaging it will need a cast and crew to capture the comedic and action parts of the story.

The Fable (Junichi Okada) is actually the name of a contract killer operating in the Tokyo underworld. His ability to kill is almost preternatural and it is shown with visual pizzazz in the bombastic opening where he takes out two gangs in a fancy sky-rise restaurant. Efficient shooting and movement, short and sharp physical strikes and an aura of something unstoppable is what defines him and overpowers his opponents. All tumble down before him in action scenes excitingly delivered by director Kan Eguchi who favours quick editing, kinetic camerawork and exploding sets to bolster the slick action choreography. Eguchi doubles-down on the style by showing the mental calculations Fable makes through cute on-screen text and illustrations that get shattered by the bullets the killer sends flying.

Continue reading “The Fable ザ・ファブル Dir: Kan Eguchi (2019) [New York Asian Film Festival 2019]”

Rentaneko Rent-a-Cat レンタネコ (2012) Dir: Naoko Ogigami

Rent-a-Cat   Rent a Neko

Japanese Title: レンタネコ

Romaji: Rentaneko

Running Time: 110 mins.

Release Date: May 12th, 2012 (Japan)

Director: Naoko Ogigami

Writer: Naoko Ogigami

Starring: Mikako Ichikawa, Reiko Kusamura, Ken Mitsuishi, Maho Yamada, Kei Tanaka

There is a woman who roams a riverbank in a contemporary Japanese city. She pulls a cart which has a selection of cats in the back. This is actually part of her business. As she moves at a leisurely pace she calls out to people through a megaphone with simple slogans and questions to attract the right customers:

Rent-a-cat Riverside

“Rent-a-cat. Rent-aaaaaaaaaa-cat. Feeling lonely? I’ll lend you a cat.”

Continue reading “Rentaneko Rent-a-Cat レンタネコ (2012) Dir: Naoko Ogigami”

Third Window Films Release Himizu on DVD and Blu-Ray

Third Window Films are all set to release Himizu on DVD and Blu-Ray on the 6th of August. Himizu has to be one of the best films of 2012. As my review shows I found it emotionally powerful, visually stunning, and full of compelling performances. Even if I was not a hard core Sono fan (two seasons of his films and a third planned, two podcasts) I would still consider this an excellent film.

Anyway, I received information on the DVD/Blu-Ray release and as usual Third Window Films are delivering the film in a stylish case and it is packed full of excellent extras!

Here are the details.

Himizu

Himizu DVDBluRay Third Window Films

(CERT 18)

 A film by Sono Sion
(Love Exposure, Cold Fish)

 Starring rising young stars: Shota Sometani & Fumi Nikaido alongside veterans such as

Ken Mitsuishi (13 Assassins, The Pillow Book, Audition, The Eel)

Tetsu Watanabe (Fireworks, Sonatine, Madadayo, Memories of Matsuko)

DenDen (Cut, Cure, Cold Fish, Eureka)

 Japan / 2011 / 129 Mins / In Japanese with English subtitles / Colour / HD

 DVD/BLU-RAY RELEASE DATE:  6th August 2012

 Extra Features:

70 minute ‘Making Of’

Deleted & Extended Scenes

Interview with actor Denden

Theatrical Trailer

 

Junior high school kid Yuichi Sumida (Shota Sometani) wants a quiet life but his mother (Yukiko Watanabe) comes home with different men every night, and his drunken, hate-filled father (Ken Mitsuishi) only pays him visits when he needs money. Yuichi carries on running the family boat rental business and lives surrounded by homeless people who are victims of the tsunami. Meanwhile at school he is ignoring class-mate Keiko Chazawa(Fumi Nikaidō) who has a massive crush on him. Things get tough when his mother abandons him and Kaneko (Denden), a Yakuza loan-shark, shows up looking for Yuichi’s father and ¥6 million. Pushed to breaking point by his situation Yuichi finds himself unable to control his anger and a series of events leads him to the brink of madness.

 

One of the most talked about Japanese films of 2012, ‘Himizu’ is Sion Sono’s biggest box-office success to date.

Shota Sometani and Fumi Nikaido in Himizu

After Shota Sometani & Fumi Nikaido won the Marcello Mastroianni Award (they became the first Japanese actors to win the prestigious award) at the 68th Venice Film Festival, Himizu opened in Japanese cinemas on January 14th pulling in an astonishing 27,000 admissions over 79 screens in the first 2 days, with a per-screen average beating the big budget war film ‘My Way’ which opened the same weekend.

On March 11th, 2011, the largest earthquake in recorded history struck the coast off Japan, sending a massive tsunami causing a wave of destruction that decimated large parts of Japan’s Eastern seaboard and causing the nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Power Station to explode.

This tragedy affected everyone in Japan, especially director Sion Sono who had just finished adapting the hugely popular Manga ‘Himizu’ into a screenplay. Director Sono immediately put the project on hold to help with the volunteer effort in Fukushima and during his work decided to change the setting of ‘Himizu’ story to Fukushima and film it there in order to show the world what happened.

Sion Sono’s next work ‘The Land of Hope’ will once again focus on the aftermath of March 11th, but will this time look at the nuclear situation which has become much lot worse than most people are aware of.

Noriko’s Dinner Table 紀子の食卓 (2006)

Noriko's Dinner Table Review Banner

Noriko’s Dinner Table                                                   Noriko's Dinner Table Poster

International Title: Noriko’s Dinner Table

Romaji: Noriko no Shokutaku

Japanese Title: 紀子の食卓

Release Date: 23rd September 2006 (Japan)

Running Time: 159 mins.

Director: Sion Sono

Writer: Sion Sono

Starring: Kazue Fukiishi, Yuriko Yoshitaka, Tsugumi, Ken Mitsuishi, Sanae Miyata, Shiro Namiki, Tamae Ando, Toru Tezuka, Yoko Mitsuya

Noriko’s Dinner Table is billed as the prequel to Suicide Circle and while it may be set in the same universe and explore the same ideas it drops gore for a more intimate and surreal story.

Noriko Shimabara (Fukiishi) is an inexperienced girl who lives a quiet and comfortable life with her journalist father Tetsuzo (Mitsuishi), her mother Taeko (Miyata), and her younger sister Yuka (Yoshitaka) in Toyokawa. Noriko craves excitement and wants to head to a university in Tokyo but her conservative father is set against it and wants Noriko to head to a local university. Noriko feels alienated from her parents but finds refuge in the internet on the site Haikyo.com, a place where teenagers from across Japan gather. Noriko grows especially fond of the website’s chief who goes under the username Ueno Station 54. Noriko runs away from home to Tokyo and meets Ueno Station 54 at Locker #54 in Ueno station. The mysterious Ueno Station 54 turns out to be a young woman named Kumiko (Tsugumi) who introduces Noriko to her business named I.C. Corp which offers clients actors who provide role-play services.  Noriko falls into this shadowy world of role-playing. Six months later, 54 school girls act out their roles and jump in front of a train at Shinjuku station. Back in Toyokawa, Noriko’s sister Yuka has become a member of Haikyo and aims to track down Noriko. In order to do this she heads to Tokyo. This sets in motion Tetsuzo’s search for his daughters and his investigation into a cult named Suicide Club.

Noriko’s Dinner Table is based on a novel Sion Sono wrote in 2002 named Suicide Circle: The Complete Edition which wraps around the events of Suicide Circle, resolving questions and expanding on the story and themes.

Making links between the two films is interesting as we get an insight into who orchestrated the chaos of Suicide Circle and their motives. Whether you wanted an explanation of the site haikyo.com or a behind-the-scenes of some of the most audacious moments of the first film you will get it but as a follow-up to Suicide Circle’s gory events Noriko’s Dinner Table feels very different thanks to its restraint in dealing out black humour, horror and violence. They never overwhelm proceedings but inform them. Noriko’s Dinner Table shows that Sono has grown as a writer and director and he has thought carefully about what he wants to film.

I was ripe for growth

In essence this is a mystery/family drama about existential growth. Noriko’s Dinner Table leaves behind the spectacle of mass suicide and gives a more fulsome examination of the issues of alienation, the generation gap between parents and children, and the battle between individual authenticity and conformism.

Noriko and Her Family in Noriko's Dinner Table

Continue reading “Noriko’s Dinner Table 紀子の食卓 (2006)”

Love, Masao-Kun Ga Iku, Berserk Golden Age Arc II: The Battle for Doldrey Trailers and the Japanese Box-Office Charts

This week I wrote a number of reviews for a Korean movie season with A Bittersweet Life, Kick the Moon, and Duelist. As my reviews show I enjoyed them all and I highly recommend them. I watched my first modern Japanese TV drama in the form of the police mystery show Keizoku and indulged in an some insanely OTT (so offensive it turns into a parody) old school anime named Mad Bull Kino (キノ) and Hermes and their Options34 which has some of that brilliant Manga dubbing (back from when Manga was a UK company and went to town with dubs full of swearing and crazy but perfect accents). I picked up a Korean action-thriller named The Man from Nowhere and Takeshi Kitano’s Sonatine and I’m continuing the  キノ の 旅 (Kino’s Journey) simulwatch over at Anime UK News. Cue picture of Kino and Hermes.

What’s happening with the Japanese movie box-office chart this week?

  1.  Snow White and the Huntsman
  2.  Hotaru: It’s Only a Little Light in my Life
  3.  Men in Black III
  4.  Thermae Romae
  5.  Dark Shadows

Of all the Japanese films released last week only Library Wars broke into the top ten while Snow White and the Huntsman snatches the top spot.

What’s released in Japan today?

Love, Masao-Kun Ga Iku                                              Love, Masao-Kun Ga Iku Poster

Japanese Title: Love、まさお君 が 行く!

Romaji: Love, Masao-Kun Ga Iku

Release Date: 23rd June 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 109 mins.

Director: Kentaro Otani

Writer: Izumi Takahashi

Starring: Shingo Katori, Ryoko Hirosue, Ken Mitsuishi, Riko Narumi, Takayuki Kinoshita, Kazuyuki Asano,

This film is based on the Japanese TV show “Itinerant Dog Masao’s Trip” – full marks for using the word itinerant! – which featured a comedian named Matsumoto and his Labrador Masao. Director Otani has a long list of relationship dramas to his name including the adaptations of the Nana manga. SMAP’s Shingo Katori (Sukiyaki Western Django), Ryoko Hirosue (Departures), Riko Narumi (Crime or Punishment?!?) , Ken Mitsuishi (Himizu, Rent-a-Cat, Noriko’s Dinner Table) while Atsuko Maeda (AKB48) sings the movie’s theme song.

Hideki Matsumoto (Katori) is a struggling comedian who is selected to star in a travel segment for an animal variety program on TV Tokyo. At first he is overjoyed at getting work even if he plays second fiddle to a Labrador Retriever named Masao-kun. Unfortunately Masao knows he is the boss and makes handling him difficult but things get even worse for Hideki when his girlfriend (Hirosue) leaves him.  Down in the dumps but things change when Masao rushes to his aid after an accident and after that the two get along better than ever.

 

Berserk Golden Age Arc II: The Battle for DoldreyBerserk Golden Age Arc II: The Battle for Doldrey Movie Poster

Japanese Title: ベルセルク 黄金時代篇 II ドルドレイ攻略

Romaji: Berserk Ogon Jidai-Hen II: Doldrey Koryaku

Running Time: 100 mins.

Director: Toshiyuki Kubooka

Writer: Ichiro Ohkuchi (script)Kentarō Miura (original manga)

Starring: Hiroaki Iwanaga (Guts), Takahiro Sakurai (Griffith), Toa Yukinaru (Casca), Aki Toyosaki (Charlotte), Kenta Miyake (Nosferatu Zodd), Takahiro Fujiwara (Pippin)

Berserk Golden Age Arc II: The Battle for Doldrey is the second films from a trilogy of movies that has adapted The Golden Age Arc of Kentarō Miura’s original manga and animated by Studio 4°C. It is directed by Toshiyuki Kubooka who has worked as animation director on notable titles like Gankutsuou, Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water. Electronic artist Hirasawa Susumu (Paprika, Paranoia Agent) who created the distinctive music for the original TV anime adaptation created the main theme “Aria” for the movie while Shiro Sagisu is handling the rest of the soundtrack.

Synopsis

The saga follows Guts a strong mercenary with a huge sword and little direction in life. All of that changes after he meets Griffith, leader of a group of mercenaries named Band of the Hawk who are working for the Kingdom of Midland. Guts decides to throw his lot in with them and finds himself developing a deep relationship with Griffith but also finds that Casca, a commander in the Band of the Hawk, is jealous that Griffith returns his feelings. The two find themselves swept along in Griffith’s rise to power.

The second film will focus on a pivotal point in the war between Midland and Chuder as the Band of the Hawk launch an epic battle to seize Doldrey Castle, a place thought impregnable and home to an elite band of knights in the service of the Chuder Empire.

Staff: Toshiyuki Kubooka (Director), Ichiro Ohkouchi (Script writer), Kentarou Miura (Original Creator), Naoyuki Onda (Character Design/Chief Animation Director), Yusuke Takeda, Goki Nakamura (Art Director), Susumu Hirasawa (Theme Song), Shiro Sagisu (Music)

Studio: Studio 4°C

Himizu UK Theatrical Release

Third Window Films is releasing Himizu in selected cinemas across the UK today with screenings in London’s ICA, Prince Charles, Renoir and Riverside Studios cinemas. There will also be showings in Wales at the Aberystwyth Arts Centre from the 11th to the 13th of June, Ireland at the Irish Film Institute in Dublin from the 22nd of June until the 28th, and Scotland at the Eden Court Cinema in Inverness from the 31st of June to the 02nd of August. For a full list of sites and dates check the this page at Third Window Films.

Himizu        Himizu Poster

Release Date: 01st June (UK Theatrical Release), 14th January 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 129 mins.

Director: Sion Sono

Writer: Sion Sono (script adaptation), Minoru Furuya (manga)

Starring: Shota Sometani, Fumi Nikaidō, Tetsu Watanabe, Denden, Jun Murakami, Makiko Watanabe, Ken Mitsuishi, Mitsuru Fukikoshi, Megumi Kagurazaka, Asuka Kurosawa, Taro Suwa, Yosuke Kubozuka Keisuke Horibe, Takahiro Nishijima

Junior high school kid Yuichi Sumida (Shota Sometani) wants a quiet life but his mother (Yukiko Watanabe) comes home with different men every night, and his drunken, hate-filled father (Ken Mitsuishi) only pays him visits when he needs money. Yuichi carries on running the family boat rental business and lives surrounded by homeless people who are victims of the tsunami. Meanwhile at school he is ignoring class-mate Keiko Chazawa(Fumi Nikaidō) who has a massive crush on him. Things get tough when his mother abandons him and Kaneko (Denden), a Yakuza loan-shark, shows up looking for Yuichi’s father and ¥6 million. Pushed to breaking point by his situation Yuichi finds himself unable to control his anger and a series of events leads him to the brink of madness.

Sion Sono (Cold Fish, Exte, Love Exposure) is a favourite director of mine so when Third Window Films announced that they were had acquired the rights to Himizu I was excited to say the least. Then I saw it and was blown away. This is one of the most powerful films to come out of Japan recently and so I urge anybody who has an interest in Japanese films or films in general to go and see it!

Rent a Neko (Rent a Cat)

Rent a Neko (Rent a Cat)

Release Date: 12th May 2012 (Japan)Maho Yamada and Mikako Ichikawa in Rent-a-Neko

Running Time: 110 mins.

Director: Naoko Ogigami

Writer: Naoko Ogigami

Starring: Mikako Ichikawa, Reiko Kusamura, Ken Mitsuishi, Maho Yamada, Kei Tanaka

I first saw this title when I wrote my posts rounding-up the Japanese films at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival. Unfortunately there was no trailer available until now. It stars Mikako Ichikawa (Memories of Matsuko) and Ken Mitsuishi  (Himizu) and Kei Tanaka (Tajomaru). This looks like a genuinely charming title and I hope it gets a release in the UK.

Sayoko (Ichikawa) walks along a river daily with a cart full of cats. Why? Well she rents cats to lonely people. Unfortunately Sayoko is lonely herself and finds it easier to deal with cats than people but things get interesting when a face from her past (Tanaka) turns up.

Source

 

UPDATE: Here’s my film review Rent-a-neko

Himizu ヒミズ (2012)

Yuichi (Sometani) and Keiko (Nikaidou) in Himizu Banner

Himizu is Sion Sono’s adaptation of Minoru Furuya’s manga of the same name. It involves tough subject matter like child abuse, murder, and the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, but it is ultimately a redemptive and moving exploration of life, identity, and the will to live in an unfair world.

Junior high school kid Yuichi Sumida (Shota Sometani) wants a quiet life but his mother (Yukiko Watanabe) comes home with different men every night, and his drunken, hate-filled father (Ken Mitsuishi) only pays him visits when he needs money. Yuichi carries on running the family boat rental business and lives surrounded by homeless people who are victims of the tsunami. Meanwhile at school he is ignoring class-mate Keiko Chazawa (Fumi Nikaidō) who has a massive crush on him. Things get tough when his mother abandons him and Kaneko (Denden), a Yakuza loan-shark, shows up looking for Yuichi’s father and ¥6 million. Pushed to breaking point by his situation Yuichi finds himself unable to control his anger and a series of events leads him to the brink of madness.

 Yuichi Sumida (Shota Sometani) in a Crisis in Himizu

Sion Sono’s films usually carry the tropes of bad parents, abuse, violence, and existential confusion but there is enough black humour and outlandishness to lighten the impact. The audience does not get that here. What we get is an extreme view of the dark side of a modern Japan and the existential soul searching that needs to take place to build a new future and a lesson in never giving up on life.

 “Nobody can touch my future!”

  Continue reading “Himizu ヒミズ (2012)”