The Japan Foundation’s Touring Film Programme 2013

Once Upon a Time in Japan Banner

The second film festival of the year which I am covering is a roving one! The Japan Foundation’s Touring Film Programme

The festival’s name and theme for this year is “Once Upon a Time in Japan: Reinventing the Past Through the Eyes of Japanese Contemporary Filmmakers”. The festival programme has works from notable directors who “all share the same aspiration to reinterpret and relive moments of times gone by through a variety of genres, styles and tones.” Said notable directors include Takashi Miike, Koji Wakamatsu, Lee Sang-il who has two films screened with Hula Girls and one of the four sections of Kaidan Horror Classics. The other two sections are directed by Hirokazu Koreeda and Shinya Tsukamoto. There will also be anime in the form of Mai Mai Miracle which is directed by Sunao Katabuchi.

Before I get into that, here are the locations:

London – Institute of Contemporary Arts: February 1-7,
Sheffield – Showroom Workstation: February 8-17,
Birmingham Mac Birmingham: February 18-27,
Belfast – Queen’s Film Theatre: February 22-28,
Edinburgh – Filmhouse: March 1-7,
Newcastle Upon Tyne – Tyneside Cinema: March 3-24,
Bristol – Watershed: March 9-16,
Nottingham – Broadway: March 22-27,

What I like about this festival is that it covers a lot of the major periods of Japanese history through different genres and it has a variety of talent in each film. I will be attending the London part of the tour and I am hyped up. Tickets have been ordered. Supplies and transport have been arranged. Where are the films???

Rebirth                                                                                   Rebirth Film Poster

Japanese Title: 八日目 の 蝉

Romaji: Youkame no Semi

Running Time: 147 mins.

Director: Izuru Narushima

Writer: Mitsuyo Kakuta (Novel), Satoko Okudera (Screenplay)

Starring: Mao Inoue, Hiromi Nagasaku, Eiko Koike, Jun Fubuki, iwako Ichikawa, Yoko Moriguchi, Kimiko Yo

This sounds like an intriguing mystery/drama and it comes from Izuru Narushima who had a hit at the end of 2011 with Admiral Yamamoto. This is totally different and much more feminine by the look of things. It has a script by Satoko Okudera (The Wolf Children Ame and Yuki, Kaidan, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time) and there is a strong female cast with names like Mao Inoue (Kaidan), Hiromi Nagasaku (Doppelganger), Eiko Koike (2LDK, Penance), Yoko Moriguchi (Key of Life) and Jun Fubuki (Séance).

Bubble Fiction: Boom or Bust        Bubble Ficiton Boom or Bust Film Poster

Japanese Title: バブルヘ GO!! タイム マシン は ドラム 式

Romaji: Baburuhe GO!! Taimu Mashin ha Dorama Shiki

Running Time: 116 mins.

Director: Yasuo Baba

Writer: Ryoichi Kimizuka

Starring: Hiroshi Abe, Ryoko Hirosue, Hiroko Yakushimaru, Kazue Fukiishi, Yuko Ito, Naoko Jijima, Hiroko Moriguchi, Masahiro Sugisaki

Okay, this looks like the most fun at the festival and I won’t be seeing it! Darn! The film looks at Japan in the 80s at the height of its economic bubble. It was a time when it reigned supreme thanks to its mega-corporations, technology and so forth. Just before it came crashing down thanks to its poorly managed banking system which doled out huge amounts of money at low interest rates to all and sundry. I think that about sums it up in a slap-dash way (I’m probably over-simplifying things to death). Anyway this helped start a recession. The story starts out in the present day but thanks to time travel we get to see the glitz and glamour of the 80’s as one character aims to stop the recession from happening! It has a ridiculous plot and lots of physical humour and it stars a hell of a lot of actors I am love like Hiroshi Abe (Survive Style 5+), Kazue Fukiishi (Noriko’s Dinner Table) and Ryoko Hirosue (Key of Life), it is written by Ryoichi Kimizuka (Infection, Parasite Eve, Bayside Shakedown 4: The Final). I love a good time machine story like Day of the Tentacle and Back to the Future and this one looks good.

Mayumi Tanaka (Hirosue) is a debt-ridden bar hostess. Her mother Mariko (Yakushimaru) is a brilliant research scientist. When Mariko turns an ordinary washing machine into a time-machine and she disappears, the Japanese government turn to Mayumi to head back to 1990 and prevent the announcement of a landmark fiscal policy that sparked the recession. Why Mayumi? It just so happens that this ill-qualified time traveller is the only other person the machine accepts. She agrees and so hilarity should ensue, right?

The Blossoming of Etsuko Kamiya          The Blossoming of Etsuko Kamiya Film Poster

Japanese Title: 紙屋 悦子 の 青春

Romaji: Kamiya Etsuko no Seishun

Running Time: 111 mins.

Director: Kazuo Kuroki

Writer: Kazuo Kuroki, Masataka Matsuda, Hideki Yamada (Screenplay)

Starring: Tomoyo Harada, Manami Honjou, Kaoru Kobayashi, Shunsuke Matsuoka

This is the only Second World War story in the festival it was the last film of Kazuo Kuroki and received its theatrical release a few months after his death. It stars Tomoyo Harada (The Summer of Ubume, Tokyo Oasis) is a tragic romance about a navy officer who arranges a marriage between his girlfriend and a friend before taking part in a kamikaze attack.

Castle Under Fiery Skies          Castle Under Fiery Skies Film Poster

Japanese Title: 火天 の 城

Romaji: Ka Ten no Shiro

Running Time: 139 mins.

Director: Mitsutoshi Tanaka

Writer: Kenichi Yamamoto (Novel)

Starring: Kippei Shiina, Toshiyuki Nishida, Shinobu Otake, Saki Fukua, Tokuma Nishioka, Taro Yamamoto, Renji Ishibashi

A lavish costume drama with a large cast by a director who specialises in such things. It looks epic.

1575, Oda Nobunaga (Shiina) defeats Takeda Katsuyori in the Battle of Nagashino after an epic siege. 1576, Nobunaga builds a lavish new castle named Azuchi castle. It must be seen from the capital city of Kyoto and defend the city and it must symbolise the unification of various factions and intimidate rival clans. This is the story of the carpenters led by Okabe Mataemon (Nishia).  

Mai Mai Miracle                                        Mai Mai Miracle Film Poster

Japanese Title: マイマイ新子

Romaji: Mai Mai Shinko

Running Time: 93 mins.

Director: Sunao Katabuchi

Writer: Nobuko Takagi (Autobiography), Sunao Katabuchi (Screenplay)

Starring: Mayuko Fukuda (Shinko Aoki), Nako Mizusawa (Kiiko Shimatsu), Ei Morisako (Nagiko Kiyohara)

Sunao Katabuchi has quite an eclectic filmography. He directed the explosive first season of the awesome anime Black Lagoon and was assistant director of the equally awesome and magical Kiki’s Delivery Service. This is a title that comes highly recommended by Alua from Otherwhere so I made this one of my choice. Plus it’s anime and I love anime!

1955, Hofu City, Yamaguchi Prefecture. One thousand years ago during the time of the Heian Period it was the site of the ancient capital Suo no Kuni (Province of Suo) and ruins are still dotted around the rural city. Shinko is a tom-boyish elementary school student from a venerable local family. She loves dayreaming about the past and wishes to travel back to the days of the Heian period. When a transfer student from Tokyo named Kiiko appears in Shinko’s class, Shinko invites her to time travel by the power of imagination and the two form a deep friendship.  

Continue reading “The Japan Foundation’s Touring Film Programme 2013”

Japanese Films at the Rotterdam International Film Festival 2013 Part 1

Genki Rotterdam International Film Festival BannerThe Rotterdam International Film Festival 2013 takes place from January 23rd to February 03rd. There is a fair-sized contingent of Japanese films at the Rotterdam International Film Festival. Some look absolutely brilliant (particularly GFP Bunny) and others look rather challenging!

Some, if not all but one of these have already been released in Japan and some have already had their European premieres (For Love’s Sake, 11:25) but overall it is a good line-up with a mixture of enjoyable titles and we get to see the latest titles from filmmakers like Hideo Nakata of Ringu fame and Masahiro Kobayashi who specialises in bleakies.

There is no common thread in the subject matter although two do deal directly with the March 11th disaster. The festival has proven to be the place where titles and filmmakers from Asia break out on the international stage. Will Ryutaro Ninomiya gain anything like the prominence of Kiyoshi Kurosawa? Is Yutaka Tsuchiya the next Sion Sono? Are these comparisons glib? Yes to all of them because there is a new generation of indie talent on display alongside some familiar names and it is too early to make any comparisons. So early, there are trailers and posters missing because nobody has thought to make one easily available!

Of all of the films on offer I know I’d want to see all but Japan’s Tragedy. If I had a choice of three I would settle for GFP Bunny, The Complex and 11:25 because I have not seen them and they appeal to me the most.

Here are the films on offer!


The Charm of Others

Japanese Title: 魅力 の 人間

Romaji: Miryoku no Ningen

Running Time: 89 mins.

Director: Ryutaro Ninomiya

Writer: Ninomiya Ryutaro

Starring: Yoshitaka Hosokawa, Ryutaro Ninomiya, Kensuke Ashihara, Daisuke Udagawa, Keisuke Minakawa, Takuya Makino

This indie film premiered at last year’s Vancouver International Film Festival. I am really not all that familiar with it and used the wrong Kanji when typing the title! The film deals with the loneliness felt by people in their day-to-day lives. No poster but an excerpt from the film.

The action takes place at a vending machine repair workshop in Yokohama. Yoda (Hosokawa) is the outsider there and doesn’t fit in with the other guys. As a result he gets picked on by some of the knuckleheads. The only person who goes out of his way to befriend Yoda is Sakata (Ninomiya) but this causes Yoda a degree of discomfort.


GFP Bunny                                                    GFP Bunny Film Poster

Japanese Title: GFP BUNNY タリウム少女のプログラム

Romaji: GFP Bunny Tariumu Shoujo no Puroguramu 

Running Time: 82 mins.

Director: Yutaka Tsuchiya

Writer: Yutaka Tsuchiya

Starring: Kanji Furutachi, Makiko Watanabe, Takahashi, Yuka Kuramochi

Yutaka Tsuchiya is considered one of the more interesting names amongst indie film makers in Japan and scored major kudos with his film Peep “TV” Show. He has been largely silent since then but now he has released this interestingly titled film which stars Kanji Furutachi who has appeared in trashy genre pieces like Dead Waves and Joker Game and has appeared in major titles like My Back Page and indie films like Being Mitsuko, The Woodsman and the Rain, Dreams for Sale and Odayaka. He is supported by Odayaka co-star and Sion Sono regular Makiko Watanabe (Himizu, Love Exposure). Here is the Trailer.

Apparently based on a true story (with some key facts changed), we follow the actions of Thallium Girl (Kuramochi) who is slowly poisoning her mother with thallium and records her detached world view in her diary. It is clear she has some mental problems which are exacerbated by bullying at school. This just causes her to retreat from reality into a darker place.


The Complex                                              The Complex Poster

Japanese Title: クロユリ 団地

Romaji: Kuroyuri Danchi

Running Time: N/A

Director: Hideo Nakata

Writer: Hideo Nakata, Junya Kato, Ryuta Miyake

Starring: Atsuka Maeda, Hiroki Narimiya

It might be fair to say that Hideo Nakata has never been able to capture the same success that he had with Ringu. He has tried his hand at other genres like thrillers but he keeps returning to horror with mixed results. The only other title in his filmography that can compare to Ringu is Dark Water. The Complex sounds a bit like that film in so far as it takes place in a haunted apartment building but what else does it offer? It stars the beautiful Atsuka Maeda who is a former member of AKB48 and starred in The Drudgery Train, one of the more interesting titles released in Japan last year. Here is a CM/trailer fresh from Japanese television.

Asuka (Maeda) has moved into the Kuroyuri apartment complex. It is a place with a chequered history as mysterious deaths occurred there 13 years ago. It isn’t long before she starts hearing the sound “garigarigari” from the apartment next door where an old man lives and it isn’t long before he is found dead! This is the start of a series of horrifying events that strike the apartment. Asuka calls upon Sasahara (Narimiya), a man who cleans up the homes of the recently deceased, to help solve the mystery.

Continue reading “Japanese Films at the Rotterdam International Film Festival 2013 Part 1”

Koji Wakamatsu 01st April, 1936, 17th October, 2012

Koji Wakamatsu

“Film making is my essential weapon for expression.”

Tragic news broke earlier this week when the death of Koji Wakamatsu was announced on Wednesday 17th October at 11:00 PM. He died after being hospitalised following a traffic accident in central Tokyo on the 12th of October in which he was hit by a taxi. This event happened just a few days after he returned from the 17th Busan Film Festival where he was awarded Asian Filmmaker of the Year.

His career has been long and colourful including time spent working with gangsters and serving a stretch in prison. His experiences in prison where he was mistreated by guards would solidify anti-establishment¹ feelings he carried. Upon his release, the connections he built up in organised crime helped him get his foot in the door in the movie industry in the realm of pink films in the 1960’s with Nikkatsu studios. Pink films are a familiar proving ground for many directors² who have a certain degree of freedom so long as they film a certain number of sex scenes and make it a certain length and filmed on time and on budget but after a film ran afoul of government censors and Wakamatsu found Nikkatsu did not support him, he formed his own production company, Wakamatsu Studios³ and made films stamped with his ideas, smuggling political messages amidst the sex and extreme violence, referencing the revolutionary fervour in the air at the time⁴.

Go GO Second Time

These were dark and troubling films that were raw commentaries on the state of Japan and various aspects of society. Two major titles include Go,Go Second Time Virgin, a film involving two young people being brutalised, facing rape, murder and violence and directly challenging the audience at points. Another one is Sex Jack which involved revolutionary students hiding from police in a claustrophobic apartment, the males forcing the female members into having sex. These are both seen as a commentary on the power relationship between men and women in Japan and criticism of the treatment of youth.

Sex Jack Picture

This radicalism he essayed would form the basis of some of nearly all his films including later and more well-known films like United Red Army in 2007 and 11:25, The Day He Chose His Fate in 2012. This late period in his career has seen a surge in interest in his works including the 2010 film Caterpillar, a film which is partially based on Edogawa Rampo story. It is a dark tale of a disabled Japanese war criminal who uses sex and violence against a wife who has long despised him because of his evil nature. Then, with him at her mercy, she turns the tables. It criticising militarism and, again, the imbalance in power between the genders. Starring celebrated actress Shionbu Terajima, it was nominated for a Golden Bear Award and Shinobu Terajima won the Silver Bear for 1125 The Day He Chose His Own FateBest Actress. She would later appear in the aforementioned 11:25, The Day He Chose His Fate, a film which took place in 1960’s Japan and focussed on the nationalist author and intellectual Yukio Mishima who espoused traditional values based on the Bushido code and attempted a coup d’Etat by taking a military commander hostage. It premiered at Cannes earlier this year where it got mixed reviews. Shinobu Terajima also appeared in The Millenial Rapture which premiered a few months later at the Venice International Film Festival. Despite the western critics having differing opinions, if the cast lists for his films are any indication, he was held in high regard in Japan.

I am writing this having only experienced one whole film and fragments of his other works as it is pretty hard to get them and, quite frankly, I have been a little intimidated by them. Unfortunately it seems that many film labels have felt that audiences in the west might have felt the same I have since they have pretty much ignored him because he would be harder to sell. Or perhaps, like me, they thought he might be around for much longer and they could get around to him eventually. One film that he worked on and is easily available is one of the most important Japanese films ever made is Nagisa Oshima’s critically acclaimed In the Realm of the Senses which which he helped produce. I have seen that and it is pretty stirring stuff intellectually and viscerally.

Koji Wakamatsu at Premiere

It might be crass to say this but his life ended on a high considering the fact that he was quite in demand at the festivals this year and he won Asian Filmmaker of the Year. How many of us can even hope to have achieved what he did and have as much burning passion? Still, the film world and, more importantly, his family have lost someone special. Maybe it is time for me to try and get acquainted with him.

Koji Wakamatsu Busan Film Festival


Koji Wakamatsu 01st April, 1936, 17th October, 2012


² Other directors from the pink film proving grounds include Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Cure: The Power of Suggestion, Loft), Masayuki Suo (Shall We Dance?) and Yoshimitsu Morita (Take the A Train, The Family Game)

³ My knowledge of pink films comes from, a Channel 4 documentary and a couple of films that I thought rather silly

Norwegian Wood and My Back Page are two major Japanese films that have protests as backgrounds

Japanese Films at the Venice International Film Festival 2012

Genkina hitos Venice Film Festival 2012 Banner

The 69th Venice International Film Festival launches on the 29th of August and ends on the 8th of September. It is a place where Japanese films frequently crop up – Himizu premiered at last year’s event. This year’s festival has a few Japanese films and since this is a blog dedicated to Japanese films (most of the time…) here are the titles:

Penance                   Shokuzai Drama Poster

Romaji: Shokuzai

Japanese Title: 贖罪

Screening Dates: 2:30 p.m. 30th of August (Palabiennale)

Running Time: 270 mins.

Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Writer: Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Script), Kanae Minato (Original Novel)

Starring: Kyoko Koizumi, Eiko Koike, Sakura Ando, Chizuru Ikewaki, Yu Aoi, Mirai Moriyama

Kiyoshi Kurosawa followed the magnificent Tokyo Sonata with this five-episode TV drama based on Kanae Minato’s novel of the same name (Minato also wrote the novel which the film Confessions is based on). It is playing Out of Competition, a section dedicated to “Important works by directors already established in previous editions of the Festival”. Well that applies to the genius that is Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Anyway this stars a collection of some of the best actresses in Japan including Kyoko Koizumi (Tokyo Sonata, Adrift in Tokyo), Sakura Ando (Love Exposure, Crime or Punishment?!?), Yu Aoi (Memories of Matsuko, All About Lily Chou-Chou), Eiko Koike (Kamikaze Girls, 2LDK) and Chizuru Ikewaki (Haru in The Cat Returns). It seems like 30 minutes has been cut from the total running time but it has Kurosawa’s trademark eerie atmosphere and deep characters.


When a girl named Emiri moves from Tokyo to Ueda she makes friends with four girls named Sae, Maki, Akiko and Yuka. One day when the five girls are playing volleyball at school they are approached by a man dressed in work clothes who asks for their help in repairing the ventilation system. He picks Emiri. The two head towards the gym. When there is no sign of Emiri returning her friends head in the same direction and discover her dead. When questioned by the police they cannot describe the man which means leads to the investigation grinding to a halt. Several months later, Emiri’s mother Asako (Koizumi) invites the four girls to her house on Emiri’s birthday. It is there that she tells them that they will have to atone for their inability to describe the man and help in his capture. Fifteen years later, Sae (Aoi), Maki (Koike), Akiko (Ando) and Yuka (Ikewaki) are leading troubled lives and live in fear of the penance expected of them.

Carmen Comes Home                                  Carmen Comes Home Film Poster

Romaji: Karumen Kokyō ni Kaeru

Japanese Title: カルメン 故郷 に 帰る

Screening Dates: 5:00 p.m. 31st of August (Sala Perla), 10:00 p.m. 01st September (Sala Volpi)

Running Time: 86 mins.

Director: Kinoshita Keisuke

Writer: Kinoshita Keisuke

Starring: Hideko Takamine, Toshiko Kobayashi, Yūko Mochizuki, Shuji Sano, Kuniko Igawa, Chishu Ryu, Keiji Sada, Koji Mitsui

Carmen Comes Home is screened as part of the Venice Classics section. It was Japan’s first colour film and was released in 1951. It stars Hideko Takamine (When a Woman Ascends the Stairs which Goregirl loved, and Obaasan), Yūko Mochizuki (Ballad of Narayama, Kaidan). It was directed by Kinoshita Keisuke (Ballad of Narayama) and his assistant director was Masaki Kobayashi (Harakiri, Kaidan, Samurai Rebellion). No trailer but here’s a scene.

A girl named Aoyama (Takamine) returns to the small village she grew up in after living in Tokyo. When the truth of the life she has been leading in Tokyo is revealed there is a scandal. Her name in Tokyo is Lily Carmen and she is a… I’ll leave that up to the audience to find out.

Outrage Beyond                                       Outrage Beyond Film Poster

Romaji: Autoreiji Biyondo

Japanese Title: アウトレイジ ビヨンド

Screening Dates: 4:30 p.m. 03rd of September (Sala Grande), 10:00 p.m. (Palabiennale)

Running Time: 110 mins.

Director: Takeshi Kitano

Writer: Takeshi Kitano

Starring: Takeshi Kitano, Ryo Kase, Tomokazu Miura, Fumiyo Kohinata, Toshiyuki Nishida, Hirofumi Arai, Akira Nakao, Yutaka Matsushige, Kenta Kiritani, Sansei Shiomi, Hideo Nakano

Outrage Beyond gets its world premiere in September at the Venice International Film Festival in competition. This is ahead of its Japanese release on the 06th of October. Just a look at the synopsis and cast list contains some spoilers for the first film but there you go. It stars that magnificent filmmaker Takeshi Kitano (Kids Return, Boiling Point), Ryo Kase (Like Someone in Love, SPEC: Heaven), Tomokazu Miura (Adrift in Tokyo, Survive Style 5+), Yutaka Matsushige (Ring). After watching the first film I know who I want to see get bumped off first but the guy is so slick he might just survive round two!

When he is released from prison Otomo (Kitano) finds himself part of a police plot to destroy his former Yakuza brothers.

The Millennial Rapture                          Millenial Rapture Film Poster

Romaji: Sennen no Yuraku

Japanese Title: 千 年 の 愉楽

Screening Dates: 11:30 a.m. 04th September (Sala Grande), 2:00 p.m. 05th of September (Sala Grande),

Running Time: 118 mins.

Director: Koji Wakamatsu

Writer: Koji Wakamatsu(Script), Kenji Nakagami (Original Novel)

Starring: Shinobu Terajima, Kengo Kora, Shota Sometani, Shiro Sano, Arata, Taro Yamamoto, Mayu Harada, Sousuke Takaoka

Fresh from premiering 11:25, the Day He Decided His Own Fate, the prolific Koji Wakamatsu uses the wonderful month of September to appear at the Venice International Film Festival in the Orizzonti section which covers new trends in world cinema. His latest is called The Millennial Rapture and it stars Shinobu Teraima (Helter Skelter, 11:25, The Day He Decided His Own Fate), Shota Sometani (Himizu), Shiro Sano (Vanished, United Red Army), and Kengo Kora (Norwegian Wood, The Woodsman and the Rain, The Drudgery Train, Signal).

This collection of stories is set in Shingu in the Wakayama Prefecture and focusses on the lives of various people of the Burakumin minority group. These people include a womaniser and a yakuza.


That’s a pretty strong line-up of films actually. There are also other titles like Kim Ki-Duk’s latest. Needless to say I wish I was there sipping expensive coffee, gazing at the beautiful women and watching awesome Japanese films. I will try and follow the buzz as I have done with previous festivals.

11.25 The Day He Chose His Own Fate, Black Dawn, Mask the Kekkou Reborn, The Final Judgement Trailers Japanese Movie Box Office Charts

I finally got around to reviewing films this week and found that Crime or Punishment?!? and Fine, Totally Fine are charming comedies that combined existential angst, surrealism, and wonderful characters. Himizu was also given its UK theatrical release yesterday and I highly suggest you get yourself to a theatre playing it! Right now I’m reading Murakami’s 1Q84, finishing up Chrono Trigger DS, knee-deep is Lynchian madness with Deadly Premonition and looking forward to doing more reviews.

What does the top of the Japanese movie box-office charts look like?

  1.  Men in Black III
  2.  Dark Shadows
  3.  Thermae Romae
  4.  Girls for Keeps
  5.  Sadako 3D

Two so-so Hollywood comedies are dominating while Thermae Romae refuses to leave the top three even after 5 weeks. The only new film released last week to break into the top ten was Girls for Keeps while the interesting looking and well received film My House failed to make it which is a bit of a shame.

What’s released this week?

11.25 The Day He Chose His Own Fate                                                                        11.25 Mishima Drama Poster

Japanese Title: 11.25 Jiketsu no Hi: Mishia Yukio to Wakamono-Tachi 11.25自決の ひ 三島 由紀夫 と 若者 たち

Release Date: 2nd June 2012 (Japan), Premieres at Cannes

Running Time: N/A

Director: Koji Wakamatsu

Writer: Masayuki Kakegawa

Starring: Arata, Shinnosuke Mitsushima, Tasuku Nagaoka, Takatsugu Iwama

Koji Wakamatsu’s latest film screened at Cannes in the Un Certain Regard category and managed to collect mixed reviews. It is another politically charged movie which tackles the writer, critic, and nationalist Yukio Mishima.

Taking place in 1960’s Japan at a time when economic growth sky-rocketed but the nation was wracked by political turmoil and social changes from sexual liberation to student riots over individual’s rights and the US military presence in Japan, author and intellectual Yukio Mishima was a major voice, a nationalist who espoused traditional values based on the Bushido code while having a controversial private life. He and his militia will attempt a coup d’Etat by taking a military commander hostage.

Continue reading “11.25 The Day He Chose His Own Fate, Black Dawn, Mask the Kekkou Reborn, The Final Judgement Trailers Japanese Movie Box Office Charts”

Cannes 2012 11.25 The Day He Chose His Own Fate Press Reviews and Interviews

Cannes-chanWith the 65th Cannes Film Festival closing today I think it would be fair to say that based Rin Takanashi on the Red Carpeton critical reception Michael Haneke’s Amour is going to take the Palme d’Or (The Paperboy sounds so outrageous I want to see it.). How the other awards shake out is another question but I hope best actress goes to the beautiful Rin Takanashi! For a better overview of the awards handed out at the festival head over to Bonjour Tristesse. Anyway critical reception for the third and final feature-length Japanese  film has comes in and it is mixed much like Kiarostami’s Like Someone in Love which leaves Ai to Makoto as the only Japanese film to receive mostly positive reviews.


Day 10: 11.25 The Day He Chose His Own Fate – Un Certain Regard

 1125 The Day He Chose His Own Fate

Director: Koji Wakamatsu, Writer: Masayuki Kakegawa, Starring: Arata, Shinnosuke Mitsushima, Tasuku Nagaoka, Takatsugu Iwama

Koji WakamatsuProlific veteran director Koji Wakamatsu tackled the violent and tough story of an extreme far left group during the turmoil of 1960’s Japan in the award winning United Red Army and now he is tackling a controversial figure on the right in the shape of Yukio Mishima, a writer, critic, and nationalist who espoused traditional values based on the Bushido code. He and his militia attempted to launch a coup d’Etat by taking a military commander hostage.

He is at Cannes with his film where he took part in a Q&A which had some interesting quotes:

What does Un Certain Regard mean to you?
It is an honour for me to be selected at “Un Certain Regard” since making film means how director express own “regard”.

Why is cinema essential to you?
Film making is my essential weapon for expression.

What about that critical reception?

“11/25: The Day He Chose His Own Fate is not as rigorous a work as it should be, but it is a complex and absorbing re-interpretation of the Mishima legend.” Simon Abrams (indiewire)

“Flat as a TV movie, Wakamatsu goes earnest with biopic, sans Schrader’s arty flamboyance & RED ARMY’s ferocious autocannibalism” Budd Wilkins (Slant Magazine)

After watching the trailer the film seemed like heavy going. Wakamatsu’s latest movie gets released in Japan next month.

Japanese Films at Cannes Film Festival 2012

65th Cannes Film Festival Banner

Cannes-chanThe 65th Cannes Film Festival takes place from the 16th to the 27th of May so Cannes-chan (left) is going to be following the festival. Every time you see her expect some news on the Japanese films competing. Major news came out at the end of last week when the organisers released the line-up of films that will screen at the glamorous event. There are some interesting titles taking part at this year’s festival with the likes of David Cronenberg and Brandon Cronenberg bringing projects. America has some great entries and there is a strong European presence with Ken Loach and Michael Haneke (if you want a proper run-down of the contenders then read Bonjour Tristesse’s blog). There is also a strong Asian selection but there are only four major Japanese films so here they are:

11.25 The Day He Chose His Own Fate

Release Date: 2nd June 2012 (Japan), Premieres atCannes11.25 Mishima Drama Poster

Running Time: N/A

Director: Koji Wakamatsu

Writer: Masayuki Kakegawa

Starring: Arata, Shinnosuke Mitsushima, Tasuku Nagaoka, Takatsugu Iwama

Prolific veteran director Koji Wakamatsu tackled the violent and tough story of an extreme far left group during the turmoil of 1960’s Japan in the award winning United Red Army and now he is tackling a controversial figure on the right in the shape of Yukio Mishima. Taking the lead role is Arata who was in United Red Army and also appeared in Kore-eda’s wonderful film After Life.

Taking place in 1960’s Japan at a time when economic growth sky-rocketed but the nation was wracked by political turmoil and social changes from sexual liberation to student riots over individual’s rights and the US military presence in Japan, author and intellectual Yukio Mishima was a major voice, a nationalist who espoused traditional values based on the Bushido code while having a controversial private life. He and his militia will attempt a coup d’Etat by taking a military commander hostage.


Like Someone in Love

Release Date: Premieres atCannes

Running Time: N/A

Director: Abbas Kiarostami

Writer: Abbas Kiarostami

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

Like Someone in Love is Abbas Kiarostami’s follow-up to Certified Copy. A French/Japanese co-production and it is the only Japanese language film In Competition it stars Rin Takanashi (Goth: Love of Death), Denden (Cold Fish, Himizu) and Ryo Kase who starred in the recent box-office smash SPEC: The Movie. Kiarostami has form in Cannes having previously won 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 university 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 “Japanese Films at Cannes Film Festival 2012”