Insight into the Universe, Vampire, Key of Life, Like Someone in Love Trailers and the Japanese Movie Box Office Chart

Maharu from Steins;GateThis week I previewed the BFI London Film Festival and detailed some of the movies I will be seeing. I also started my Shinya Tsukamoto Season which is ahead of digitally re-mastered re-release of Tetsuo: The Iron Man and Tetsuo: Body Hammer. I then celebrated my birthday by being stuck in work all day and I banged my head on a museum exhibit (I did get lots of cards and two cakes and I talked all day to a Chinese girl about Kanji/Hanzi) before I reviewed Tetsuo: The Iron Man and was stunned at the brilliant use of cinematic technique and imagination in Tsukamoto’s landmark film. If you consider yourself a cinephile get this movie!

What changes have happened with the Japanese movie box office charts?

  1. Bayside Shakedown 4: The Final New Hope
  2. Rurouni Kenshin
  3. Dear
  4. The Avengers
  5. Prometheus
  6. Safe House
  7. Dreams for Sale
  8. Akko-chan: The Movie
  9. Intouchables
  10. The Wolf Children Ame and Yuki
  11. Umizaru 4: Brave Hearts

The massively popular Bayside Shakedown series has released its final movie and it has taken the top spot. It was released last week alongside the critically acclaimed (okay, the Japan Times gave it an excellent write-up) Dreams for Sale (soon to be seen at the London Film Festival) which has taken the number seven spot. Rurouni Kenshin drops into second place in its third week while Dear, with all its star power, climbs up to three. The Wolf Children Rain and Snow and Umizaru 4 hold on at ten and eleven after earning insane amounts of money.

What Japanese films are getting released today?

Insight into the Universe               Insight into the Universe Movie Poster                                                             

Japanese Title: 天地 明察

Romaji: Tenchi Meisatsu (Tenchi: The Samurai Astronomer)

Release Date:  15th September 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 141 mins.

Director: Yojiro Takita

Writer: Tow Ubukata (Novel), Masato Kato, Yojiro Takita (Script)

Starring: Junichi Okada, Ennosuke Ichikawa, Aoi Miyazaki, Ryuta Sato, Koshiro Matsumoto

An adaptation of Tow Ubukata’s novel about a samurai who makes a calendar… Sounds boring unless you have a thing for maths/physics but since Tow Ubukata is the man behind Mardock Scramble and Le Chevalier D’Eon, the latter is a supernatural take on European history and is pretty good (I’m four episodes from the end). Also of interest is the crew behind the film including the director Yojiro Takita who directed the brilliant Departures (his early career is littered with awful sounding pink films) with a cast that includes Junichi Okada of the J-pop idol group V6 and lead in Tokyo Tower and From Up on Poppy Hill, with the main female role played by Aoi Miyazaki who starred in Eureka which I still need to watch… Music comes from Joe Hisaishi who has worked on many of Studio Ghibli’s films and produced the magnificent OST’s for Takeshi Kitano’s films!

Yasui Santetsu (Okada) is the son of a samurai class family known for its prowess at the board game go but he is a rebel and would rather solve math puzzles and observe the sky at night! He has many friends with who share his enthusiasms including Seki Takakazu (Ichikawa), math instructor Murase Gieki (Sato) and his sister En (Miyazaki). When a clan lord named Hoshina Masayuki (Matsumoto) appoints him to an expedition to map Japan using the North Star as a guide he discovers that the current calendar does not accurately predict the eclipse of the moon and it may not be keeping time as well as believed.


Vampire                                                                     Vampire Movie Poster

Japanese Title: ヴァンパイア

Romaji: Vampaia

Release Date:  15th September 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Shunji Iwai

Writer: Shunji Iwai

Starring: Yū Aoi,Kevin Zegers, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Adelaide Clemens, Travor Morgan, Amanda Plummer, Kristin Kreuk, Rachael Leigh Cook

The beautiful and talented Yū Aoi is back with Shunji Iwai who gave her her big break in his 2001 film All About Lily Chou-Chou (a beautiful OST and emotionally draining). Since then she has starred in Hula Girls, Tekkon Kinkreet and Rurouni Kenshin. She is surrounded by a diverse cast in terms of experience – Amanda Plummer (Pulp Fiction), Kristin Kreuk (Smallville) and Adelaida Clemens (soon to be seen in the forthcoming Silent Hill Revelation 3D). It sounds a lot like George A. Romero’s Martin mixed with Lily Chou-Chou. This is Iwai’s English language debut and it premiered at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, where, according to Wildground, it received harsh reviews.

Simon (Zegers) is a high school biology teacher and a serial killer who preys on suicidal girls who are drawn to him and let him feast on their blood. To find the girls he searches for are on suicide websites and he portrays himself as an equally suicidal chap who will perform double-suicide with them but he has no intention of ending his own life and so he carries on with his evil escapades. But the police are tracking him.



Key of Life                                                        Key of Life Movie Poster

Japanese Title: 鍵 泥棒 の メソッ

Romaji: Kagi Dorobou no Meoddo

Release Date:  15th September 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 128 mins.

Director: Kenji Uchida

Writer: Kenji Uchida

Starring: Masato Sakai, Teruyuki Kagawa, Ryoko Hirosue, YosiYosi Arakawa, Yoko Moriguchi

Key of Life is one of the films I will see at the BFI London Film Festival and I am so excited at the prospect of seeing this comedy primarily because ofthe all-star cast which includes Teruyuki Kagawa (Tokyo Sonata), Masato Sakai (Sky High, The Samurai that Night), Ryoko Hirosue (Depatures), YosiYosi Arakawa (Fine, Totally FineQuirky Guys & Girls), and Yoko Moriguchi (Casshern).


Sakurai (Kondo) is an aspiring but unsuccessful actor who has recently attempted suicide but is unsuccessful at that. He decides to head to a local bathhouse to ease his suffering and whilst there he witnesses a stranger in the neighbourhood named Kondo (Kagawa) who slips and knocks himself unconscious. Sakurai takes advantage of this and helps himself to Kondo’s locker key. He loots Kondo’s belongings and assumes his identity which is a pretty bad idea considering that Kondo is an assassin working for a yakuza. For his part Kondo wakes up in hospital minus his memory and so assumes Sakurai’s life as an actor but applies his dedicated nature to the craft while trying to recover his memory.


Like Someone in Love                                       Like Someone in Love Poster

Japanese Title: ライク サムワン イン ラブ

Romaji: Raiku Samuwan In Rabu

Release Date: 15th September 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Abbas Kiarostami

Writer: Abbas Kiarostami

Starring: Rin Takanashi, Tadashi Okuno, Denden, Ryo Kase

The film was released in Cannes where it met so-so reviews. The cast includes Rin Takanashi who starred in Goth: Love of Death, Denden who stars in Cold Fish and Himizu and Ryo Kase who is in  SPEC: The Movie which is hanging on in the Japanese charts. Kiarostami has previously won big at Cannes by taking the Palme d’Or for Taste of Cherry in 1997.

A young female student named Akiko (Rin Takanashi) works as a prostitute to pay off her univeisty fees. One of her clients is an elderly academic (Tadashi Okuno) who is fond of her. Soon a relationship develops between the two.

Continue reading “Insight into the Universe, Vampire, Key of Life, Like Someone in Love Trailers and the Japanese Movie Box Office Chart”

Japanese Films at the 37th Toronto International Film Festival

Toronto International Film Festival LogoThe Toronto International Film Festival is about to launch soon and the number and quality of Japanese films is ABSOLUTELY BLOODY BRILLIANT! Forget Venice, London, Berlin and Cannes. I wish I were living in Toronto! While there are a few titles that were screened at the Venice Film Festival, there are even more which are premieres and have yet to be released in Japan. They are all interesting. Whether you want the number one Japanese movie box office smash (Thermae Romae), a forthcoming drama involving otaku and sex (The Cowards Who Look to the Sky) or Yakuza tearing chunks out of each other (Outrage Beyond), it is all here.

Here is the line-up!

The Cowards Who Looked to the SkyThe Cowards Who Looked to the Sky Movie Poster

Japanese Title: ふがいない 僕 は 空 を 見た

Romaji: Fugainai Boku wa Sora wo Mita

Release Date: 17th November 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 142

Director: Yuki Tanada

Writer: Kosuke Mukai, Misumi Kubo (Novel)

Starring: Tomoko Tabata, Kento Nagayama, Masataka Kubota, Mieko Harada, Takahiro Miura

Otaku have proven fertile ground for but when I read more of the plot it sounded quite miserable. I haven’t read the original novel by Misumi Kubo but judging by the trailer, emotions are running very high! It stars the beautiful Tomoko Tabata (Blood and Bones, The Hidden Blade), the handsome Kento Nagayama (Crime or Punishment?!?), the young Masataka Kubota (13 Assassins), Takahiro Miura (Tokyo Playboy Club), and Mieko Harada (Helter Skelter).

Anzu (Tabata) is a depressed housewife who lives with a nagging mother-in-law and indifferent husband. When she attends an anime convention in cosplay she meets Takumi (Nagayama). The two start an affair at Anzu’s home. At this point, those already in Takumi’s life go through emotional upheaval of their own as a classmate confesses her love for him and his friend Fukuda (Kubota) finds himself at the mercy of a loan shark who has come to collect his mother’s debts. This is just the start of the emotional turmoil for all characters involved.


Dreams for SaleDreams for Sale Movie Poster

Japanese Title: 夢 売る ふたり

Romaji: Yume Uru Futari

Screening Dates: Monday, 10th September, 6:30 P.M. – TIFF Bell Lightbox 2, Wednesday 12th September 2:00 P.M. – Cineplex Yonge & Dundas 2, Sunday 16th September 2:45 P.M. – Scotiabank 3

Running Time: 137 mins.

Director: Miwa Nishikawa

Writer: N/A

Starring: Takako Matsu, Sadao Abe, Lena Tanaka, Sawa Suzuki, Tamae Ando, Yuka Ebara,  Tsurube Shoufukutei, Tae Kimrua, Teruyuki Kagawa, Yusuke Iseya,

The first of two films at the festival which stars Teruyuki Kagawa and both are dark comedies… but I’m getting ahead of myself here. This one involves a couple who scam lonely women out of money through conning them into marriage. The principal cast are lead by Takako Matsu (9 Souls, Confessions, April Story), Sadao Abe (Paikaji Nankai Sakusen, After Life), Sawa Suzuki (Loft), Tae Kimura (My House, Kaidan, Starfish Hotel, Infection), and Tamae Ando (Noriko’s Dinner Table, Phone Call to the Bar).

When Kanya (Abe) and Satoko (Matsu) celebrate the fifth anniversary of their restaurant they had no idea it would end with the place burning down. This disaster forces Satoko to take on a job at a noodle shop while Kanya gets depressed and does what most movie men do in such a situation: drink and gamble. Then, one night, he returns home with cash and claims he got it by spending time with a lonely woman.  Satoko is initially angry but then realises the full potential of the scame and so the two embark on a series of sham relationships to get money together to re-open their restaurant. Surely it wont go that smoothly?

  Continue reading “Japanese Films at the 37th Toronto International Film Festival”