Dynamite Graffiti 素敵なダイナマイトスキャンダル Dir: Masanori Tominaga (2018)

Dynamite Graffiti   Dynamite Graffiti Film Poster

素敵なダイナマイトスキャンダル Suteki na Dainamaito Sukyandaru

Running Time: 138 mins.

Release Date: March 17th, 2018

Director: Masanori Tominaga

Writer: Masanori Tominaga (Screenplay), Akira Suei (Autobiographical Essay)

Starring: Tasuku Emoto, Atsuko Maeda, Toko Miura, Machiko Ono, Kazunobu Mineta, Yutaka Matsushige, 

Website IMDB

Adult magazines are big business worldwide, including in Japan where it is still possible to walk into some convenience stores and see them on open display although in the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics, this is getting cleaned up. Masanori Tominaga’s biopic Dynamite Graffiti tells the history of raunchy magazine mogul Akira Suei, starting from childhood to the peak of his infamy in the 1980s when his publications had a circulation of over 300,000 copies a month and he publicly challenged censors with his magazine’s content.

Tominaga aims big and scores some smiles with behind-the-scenes looks at the smut trade but the scale of his script’s ambitions in trying to capture changing times delivers a cast of characters who are little more than cyphers while Suei remains a joker.

Continue reading “Dynamite Graffiti 素敵なダイナマイトスキャンダル Dir: Masanori Tominaga (2018)”

Dynamite Graffiti 素敵なダイナマイトスキャンダル Dir: Masanori Tominaga (2018)

Dynamite Graffiti   Dynamite Graffiti Film Poster

素敵なダイナマイトスキャンダル Suteki na Dainamaito Sukyandaru

Running Time: 138 mins.

Release Date: March 17th, 2018

Director: Masanori Tominaga

Writer: Masanori Tominaga (Screenplay), Akira Suei (Autobiographical Essay)

Starring: Tasuku Emoto, Atsuko Maeda, Toko Miura, Machiko Ono, Kazunobu Mineta, Yutaka Matsushige, 

Website IMDB

Adult magazines are big business worldwide, including in Japan where it is still possible to walk into some convenience stores and see them on open display although in the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics, this is getting cleaned up. Masanori Tominaga’s biopic Dynamite Graffiti tells the history of raunchy magazine mogul Akira Suei, starting from childhood to the peak of his infamy in the 1980s when his publications had a circulation of over 300,000 copies a month and he publicly challenged censors with his magazine’s content.

Tominaga aims big and scores some smiles with behind-the-scenes looks at the smut trade but the scale of his script’s ambitions in trying to capture changing times delivers a cast of characters who are little more than cyphers while Suei remains a joker.

Continue reading “Dynamite Graffiti 素敵なダイナマイトスキャンダル Dir: Masanori Tominaga (2018)”

Being Good きみはいい子  Dir: Mipo O (2015)

You Are a Good Kid   / Being Good   

You're a Good Kid Film Poster
You’re a Good Kid Film Poster

きみはいい子  「Kimi wa iiko」

Release Date: June 27th, 2015

Running Time: 121 mins.

Director: Mipo O

Writer: Ryo Takada (Screenplay), Hatsue Nakawaki (Original Novel)

Starring:  Kengo Kora, Machiko Ono, Chizuru Ikewaki, Michie Kita, Mei Kurokawa, Kazuya Takahashi,

Website IMDB

One of the most important lessons I took away from being a teacher was the idea of being a guardian. An important part of our role is to care for the well-being of our students, to consider their personal circumstances, and emotional needs as well as educational ones. These responsibilities make the role slightly analogous with being a parent. It is a weighty responsibility but gratifying when you genuinely help someone. You don’t need to be a teacher or a parent to care for others. The simple act of caring can save lives. Being Good (2015) shows why.

Continue reading “Being Good きみはいい子  Dir: Mipo O (2015)”

Masters of Cinema Release of the Naomi Kawase Film “The Mourning Forest” on August 21st

Eureka Entertainment will release Naomi Kawase’s award-winning film, The Mourning Forest in a dual format blu-ray and DVD set on August 21st (you can order it on Amazon). It is released as part of The Masters of Cinema Series and Naomi Kawase has certainly earned that title since she is a stalwart of the festival circuit and has won many awards. Here are the details on the film:

Mogari no Mori Film Image Machiko Ono

Continue reading “Masters of Cinema Release of the Naomi Kawase Film “The Mourning Forest” on August 21st”

Museum – The Serial Killer is Laughing in the Rain Teaser Trailer

The psychological thriller manga Museum is getting a live-action adaptation. I wrote about it back in November last year and had a search for the manga but couldn’t find it. A teaser trailer came out in June and I tweeted about it but I want to blog about it because it looks good. Japan has seen a spate of gritty films recently but the teaser suggests this one has the atmosphere while the people in front of and behind the camera promise that this is going to be decent at the very least. Just look!

Museum Search

Continue reading “Museum – The Serial Killer is Laughing in the Rain Teaser Trailer”

Live-Action Kiki’s Delivery Service Teaser Video

Kiki’s Delivery Service                         Kiki's Delivery Service Live Action Poster

Japanese Title: 魔女 の 宅急便

Romaji: Majo no Takkyubin

Release Date: March 01st, 2014

Running Time: N/A

Director: Takashi Shimizu

Writer: Eiko Kadono (Original Novel), Satoko Okudera (Screenplay)

Starring: Fuka  Koshiba, Ryohei Hirota, Machiko Ono, Miho Kanazawa, Hiroshi Yamamoto, Rie Miyazawa, Michitaka Tsutsui

I posted a report about a new poster and a teaser video for the live-action Kiki’s Delivery Service on Anime UK News yesterday (sourced from Anime News Network) and while the teaser video doesn’t reveal much it is a good chance for us to get reacquainted as the film’s theatrical release of March 01st, 2014, creeps closer!

UPDATE: 16th December Here’s a full trailer:

Kiki (Koshiba) has turned 13 and must leave home to start her apprenticeship in witchcraft and become independent. She hops on her broom with her cat Jiji and bids farewell to her friends and mother (Miyazawa) and father (Tsutsui) and settles in a coastal city where she must decide what sort of area in the witching profession she should specialise in. The trouble is her only skill is flying her broom…

Continue reading “Live-Action Kiki’s Delivery Service Teaser Video”

Like Father, Like Son そして父になる (2013)

Like Father, Like Son                          Like Father Like Son Cannes Poster

Japanese Title: そして父になる

Romaji: Soshite Chichi ni Naru

Release Date: September 28th. 2013 (Japan)

Seen at the BFI London Film Festival 2013

Running Time: 120 mins.

Director: Hirokazu Koreeda

Writer: Hirokazu Koreeda (Screenplay)

Starring: Masaharu Fukuyama, Machiko Ono, Yoko Maki, Jun Fubuki, Keita Ninomiya, Shogen Hwang, Lily Franky, Jun Kunimura, Kiki Kirin, Isao Natsuyagi

Like Father Like Son School Interview

The Nonomiya family are happy. Ryota (Fukuyama) is a stern and demanding father and a successful architect dedicated to his work while his loyal wife Midori (Ono) dotes on their adorably cute six-year-old son Keita (Nonomiya). The three live quietly and comfortably in a luxurious apartment. Although Keita seems to lack his father’s qualities of determination and ruthlessness, he is a studious, quiet and loyal son who idolises his father and tries to emulate him. With Keita about to enter Ryota’s old school, life seems to be going according to plan.

Then Midori receives a phone call from the hospital where she gave birth to Keita six years ago informing her that their child was switched with another male baby and that their birth-son is with another set of parents. This news shatters the Ninomiya’s certainties and the hospital insists that both sets of parents meet.

Like Father Like Son Yudai (Franky) and Yukari (Maki)

Enter the Saiki family led by confident hard-working mother Yukari (Maki) and scatter-brained father Yudai (Franky). They are the polar-opposites of the Ninomiyas, Yudai runs a down at heel electronics store while Yukari works at a fast food parlour. Working class but still decent folk, their parenting style is more laid back than the Ninomiya’s which has produced three uninhibited children who are ebullient and fizzing with energy. This is who Ryota and Midori’s birth-son is with. Given the name Ryusei (Hwang), he is the eldest of three children and is the complete opposite of Keita, outgoing and tougher, he is a rough but good-natured child.

At the hospital’s insistence the parents’ initiate a twelve-month period where they get to know each other and try exchanging boys. Keita seems to take to the Saiki family easily but Ryusei’s brash temperament clashes with Ryota’s strict attitudes. Now both couples face a difficult decision over whether to hand over their sons who they have carefully raised for the last six years and take back their biological son or not.

Genki-Like-Father-Like-Son-Photograph-Scene-Extend

Continue reading “Like Father, Like Son そして父になる (2013)”

Japanese Films at the Cannes Film Festival 2013 Critical Reactions and Awards

Genki Cannes Film Festival 2013 Banner

The 66th Cannes Film Festival came to an end today  and the illustrious jury lead by Steven Spielberg had a tough time picking winners. Apart from Spielberg , the jury included Cannes Film Festival 2013 Posterinteresting names like Japanese film maker Naomi Kawase (The Mourning Forest) who recently had some of her films screened at Rotterdam, Ang Lee (Eat Drink Man Woman), Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained and, uh, Carnage), Nicole Kidman (Stoker) and the fantastic French actor Daniel Auteuil (La Reine MargotHidden).

This year’s Cannes film festival had a wide variety of films in the running for the Palme d’Or. There were a lot of American films getting excellent reviews like Alexander Payne’s Nebraska and the Coen Brothers Inside Llewyn Davis. Steven Soderbergh’s Behind the Candelabra was also highly rated with Michael Douglas tipped to win the best actor award for his performance as Liberace. Then it seemed that their chances were eclipsed by a French film that was screened on Wednesday called Blue is the Warmest Colour. As a report on the BBC stated Blue is the Warmest Colour was tipped to win the Palme d’Or with many critics were singing its praises and so it proved to be the right tip since it did walk away with the Palme d’Or.

Last year brought us a few treats in terms of Japanese films but no titles in competition to win the coveted Cannes Palme d’Or but this year Japan has made a major impact with two films in competition from two very special directors, Koreeda and Miike. Review are in for their films and it has been a split between love and dismissal for each director respectively.

How did the Japanese films do?

Shield of Straw                           Shield of Straw Film Poster

Japanese Title: 藁 の 楯

Romaji: Wara no Tate

Release Date: April 26th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 124 mins.

Director: Takashi Miike

Writer: Kazuhiro Kiuchi (Original Novel), Tamio Hayashi (Screenplay),

Starring: Takao Osawa, Tatsuya Fujiwara, Nanako Matsushima, Kimiko Yo, Kento Nagayama, Goro Kishitani, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Hirotaro Honda, Masata Ibu

Shield of Straw Screening Cannes Film Festival 2013

Takashi Miike is no stranger to Cannes but the possibility that his latest film Shield of Straw would take the Palme d’Or looked highly unlikely before the critical reviews came in. Let’s be honest, action titles like this just don’t win festival awards regardless of their quality but the critical reaction from western critics has been surprisingly lukewarm and even dismissive.

Japanese reviewer Masaichiro Murayama of the Nihon Keizai Newspaper summed it up the way I figured the movie would perform overall, “Miike’s direction is straightforward, tailored create an enjoyable action movie.” That’s what the trailer promised. On sites like Pia there are a lot of user ratings hanging around 3/3.5 on average.

Then the Cannes reviews came in:

“Though shot in widescreen on a relatively hefty budget, the two-hour-plus thriller makes limited use of its resources, featuring far more talk than action.” Peter Debruge (Variety)

“Sleek and engrossing, though awfully drawn out and short on psychological complexity, this is a straight-up police action thriller that adheres to a very familiar Hollywood template. In fact, its chief enticement outside Japan may be as remake fodder.” David Rooney (Hollywood Reporter)

“It’s hard to immerse yourself in the film’s emotional fabric, however, when your attention is constantly being diverted by the furious pacing and glaring plot holes.” Adam Woodward (Little White Lies)

“It is put together with technical competence, but is entirely cliched and preposterous, and it implodes into its own fundamental narrative implausibility.” Peter Bradshaw (Guardian)

“The script alone could easily inspire a novella detailing all of the plot holes, gaps in logic and insanely repetitive exposition… but the real shame is that the man responsible for some of the smartest, most insane, exuberant, boundary-pushing Japanese movies of the past decade has brought the story to life with such flat, joyless direction…” Brian Clark (Twitch Film)

I wasn’t expecting it Shield of Straw get love at Cannes but I was expecting it to fare better than it did – the 1 star Guardian review is just totally outrageous and an example of what is striking about some of the reviews where more attention is focussed on the implausibility of the script – this is a high concept action film, just enjoy the ride! –  but when the reviews do focus on the action it seems to be lacking.

Overall, it looks like one of Miike’s middling movies like Ninja Kids!!!. Not as extreme as his earlier stuff like his low-budget extreme films Visitor Q and Ichi the Killer and not as accomplished as something like his more recent big-budget mainstream films 13 Assassins or For Love’s Sake. I figure I’d like this film. I did like Ninja Kids!!! more than I thought I would. If it were to get screened in the UK I would head out to see it.

Now we come to the good news. 

Like Father, Like Son                         Like Father Like Son Cannes Poster

Japanese Title: そして 父 に なる

Romaji: Soshite Chichi ni Naru

Release Date: October 05th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Hirokazu Koreeda

Writer: N/A

Starring: Masaharu Fukuyama, Machiko Ono, Yoko Maki, Jun Fubuki, Keita Ninomiya, Lily Franky, Jun Kunimura, Kiki Kirin, Isao Natsuyagi

Koreeda and Cast at Cannes

Like Father Like Son looked to be the favourite Japanese film to take the Palme d’Or before the explicit French lesbian relationship drama Blue is the Warmest Colour came onto the scene and wowed lots of people. Like Father Like Son ticked all of the boxes which could give it the win, great drama, great acting and it has a sentimental story which should appeal to Spielberg. Director Kore-eda is a modern day Ozu, able to capture the emotional geography of everyday Japanese people in all sorts of scenarios and Japanese family life.

The Japan Times beat me to the critical reactions round-up but here are some that stood out to me:

“It is a very decent piece of work, although not as distinctive as those two previous movies, not quite as finely observed and frankly a little schematic and formulaic, with life-lessons being learnt by the obvious people. It does however have charm and abundant human sympathy.” Peter Bradshaw (Guardian)

Not only is it the best picture to be shown in competition so far, it also prompted the loudest reactions yet from this habitually noisy crowd: rippling laughter throughout, sustained applause at the close, and a steady refrain of goosey honks as attendees cleared their tear-streaming noses. Robbie Collin (Telegraph)

Kore-eda’s “Like Father, Like Son” is a characteristically low-key but supple treatment of familial bonds, expectations and responsibilities that reverberates with heartrending impact. Maggie Lee (Variety)

With the same restraint and control over plot and the characters that he has always displayed, he leads the story carefully, avoiding unnecessary histrionics and managing to draw out of calm, carefully weighed reactions, much more than other directors would do by unchaining explosions of temper. But all these qualities are partially wasted on a plot that leaves too many issues unsolved. Dan Fainaru (Screen Daily)

A character study of a rare density and undeniable accuracy, not succumbing neither pathos nor the clinical severity, included in a spontaneous narrative, in which each player is shown a disturbing nature. Two hours, LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON leads the viewer to pests territories laughter the most outspoken of the most cathartic tears.  Aurelien Allin (Cinema Teaser)

The reaction of the critic Robbie Collin is what I hoped the film would get. I have yet to review Kore-eda’s films on this blog but I have watched quite a few of them and I feel that each of them has been a carefully crafted drama with so much emotional resonance and humanity that it means so much. They have certainly evoked emotional reactions from me.  Perhaps I’m much more sentimental than I’d like to admit but from the early reviews from critics I’m sure I would have been in floods of tears from another great drama. This one looks exactly like tear fuel to me as the trailer reveals.

Well Like Father Like Son didn’t win the Palme d’Or but it did win the Jury Prize! The success of a Japanese film at Cannes makes me happy especially when it’s by Kore-eda. This gets a release later in the year in Japan and with its subject matter and the critical reaction at Cannes it should do well and hopefully get released in the UK soon.

Koreeda Cannes 2013 Jury Prize Win

Congratulations go out to Hirokazu Kore-eda.

I would like to thank Bonjour Tristesse for doing a great job covering all of the films at the festival! I only focus on Japanese ones and so getting a round-up of what the rest of the world is doing is really great. Check out his full list of winners!

Genki Jason 2013 Festivals Banner

Japanese Films at the Cannes Film Festival 2013

Genki Cannes Film Festival 2013 Banner

The 66th Cannes Film Festival is taking place from May 15th to the 26th and its line-up of Cannes Film Festival 2013 Posterfilms was announced earlier this week and the line-up looks very promising.

The festival opens with Baz Luhrmann’s lavish looking adaptation of F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and, following their major success with Drive, Ryan Gosling and Nicolas Winding Refn pair up again to take the festival by storm with Only God Forgives (which also has fierce looking Kristin Scott Thomas (Leaving), a gangster thriller set in Bangkok which is In Competition and has a chance of winning the Palme d’Or. There are also two Japanese films In Competition and boy do they look so damn awesome!

Last year brought us a few treats in terms of Japanese films but this year Japan has made a major impact with two films in competition from two very special directors, Koreeda and Miike. People who watch contemporary Japanese films will know that they are two of the most talented filmmakers in Japan… heck, anywhere and if I were at Cannes I think I’d make these two films my priority.

Shield of Straw                           Shield of Straw Film Poster

Japanese Title: 藁 の 楯

Romaji: Wara no Tate

Release Date: April 26th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 124 mins.

Director: Takashi Miike

Writer: Kazuhiro Kiuchi (Original Novel), Tamio Hayashi (Screenplay),

Starring: Takao Osawa, Tatsuya Fujiwara, Nanako Matsushima, Kimiko Yo, KentoShield of Straw Film Poster 2 Nagayama, Goro Kishitani, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Hirotaro Honda, Masata Ibu

Oh wow, Cannes decided to get some balls and screen this action-packed film from Takashi Miike!

I find it brilliant that a chap who got his start making OTT V-cinema titles is on top of the world but it’s an indication of just how talented Takashi Miike is. He has been in fine form recently with a string of hits ranging from his exciting remake of the classic 13 Assassins, the amusing kids film Ninja Kids!!!, the cracked musical For Love’s Sake and an adaptation of a video game with Ace Attorney. His last film, Lesson of the Evil proved to be a return to violent and twisted territory similar to something like Cold Fish. Miike continues expanding into different genres and the mainstream with an all-out action title, a crime-thriller which is based on a novel by Kazuhiro Kiuchi.

Take a gander at the poster and then watch trailer and tell me you did not grin with excitement over the action!

As a fan of Miike who grew up watching his slightly older work like Audition and Visitor Q all I can say is that I love it and I hope (I really do hope) this tours the festival circuit and lands in London!

Kunihide Kiyomaru (Fujiwara) is a murderer. His victim is the granddaughter of a power-player in the political and financial world named Takaoki Ninagawa (Yamazaki).Three months elapse and Kiyomaru thinks he is in the clear until he sees that Ninagawa has placed full page ads in three of the biggest newspapers in Japan offering a 1 billion yen reward to the person who kill Kiyomaru. Fearing for his life, he turns himself in to Fukuoka Prefectural Police.

This case is potentially explosive so five elite detectives from the security section (SP) of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department travel to Fukuoka to escort Kiyomaru back. The distance between Fukuoka and Tokyo is 1,200 km and there are a lot of people who want to collect that reward including rogue police officers. The pressure is on and one of the SP officers, Mekari Kazuki (Takao) begins to show doubts about whether they should protect Kiyomaru but fellow officer Atsuko Shiraiwa (Matsushima) is determined to get the job done.

I had shivers running up and down my spine just writing that! Anyway it sound a bit like the Bruce Willis film 16 Blocks only on a larger stage and I loved 16 Blocks.

It stars Takao Osawa (Aragami, Ichi), Nanako Matsushima (Reiko Asakawa in Ringu), Tatsuya Fujiwara (Battle Royale, Death Note), Tsutomu Yamazaki (The Woodsman & the Rain, Tampopo), Kento Nagayama (Crime or Punishment?!?), Kimiko Yo (Departures, For Love’s Sake) and Hirotaro Honda (Zero Focus).

The film is released in Japan next week!

Like Father, Like Son                         Koreeda Drama Poster

Japanese Title: そして 父 に なる

Romaji: Soshite Chichi ni Naru

Release Date: October 05th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Hirokazu Koreeda

Writer: N/A

Starring: Masaharu Fukuyama, Machiko Ono, Yoko Maki, Jun Fubuki, Keita Ninomiya, Like Father Like Son Cannes PosterLily Franky, Jun Kunimura, Kiki Kirin, Isao Natsuyagi

Hirokazu Koreeda is another favourite director of mine ever since I watched his film After Life back in high school. Since then he has made tremendously moving family dramas like Nobody Knows and Still Walking. I am not the only fan since Koreeda has had two films screened at Cannes with Distance (2001) and Nobody Knows (2004). There are no trailers or teasers as of yet since the film is not released until October but the story sounds like potential tear fuel.

Succesful business-man Ryota (Fukuyama) and his wife Midori (Ono) have a happy family life with their six-year-old son Keita (Nonomiya) but a phone call from the hospital informing them of the fact that their child was mixed up with another at birth shatters their happiness. Ryota and Midori must decide whether to hand over the son they have carefully raised for the last six years and take back their biological son or not.

The film stars Masaharu Fukuyama (Suspect X), Machiko Ono (Eureka, The Floating Castle), Yoko Maki (Infection, The Grudge), Lily Franky (Afro Tanaka), Jun Fubuki (SéanceRebirth) Kirin Kiki (Kiseki) and Jun Kunimura (Outrage, Vital) Isao Natsuyagi (Warm Water Under a Red Bridge).

Like last year I will try and track what the critical reception of these films was. For a full list of all of the films In Competition, check out Bonjour Tristesse who always does a great job covering all of the films at the festivals! I cannot wait to see how the Japanese films perform!

Genki Jason 2013 Festivals Banner

Black Dawn (Gaiji Keisatsu) Movie Trailer

Black Dawn                                                          Black Dawn Gaiji Keisatsu Movie Poster

Japanese Title: Gaiji Keisatsu

Release Date: 02nd June 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 129 mins.

Director: Kentaro Horikirzono

Writer: N/A

Starring: Atsuro Watabe, Machiko Ono, Kim Kang-Woo, Yoko Maki, Min Tanaka, Ryo Ishibashi

I have one particular blind side when it comes to Japanese movies – adaptations of TV shows. Despite a half-hearted attempt at watching the live-action Arakawa Under the Bridge I have not really given much though to other television shows. If I’m going to understand the Japanese movie industry better then I must investigate Japanese television beyond anime. I already know what my first two shows will be: Keizoku and Keizoku 2: SPEC. The reason I mention this now is because today’s trailer is based on the TV series: Anti-Terrorism Investigators. In the cast are Atsuro Watabe who was the in Sion Sono’s magnificent Love Exposure and Ryo Ishibashi who appeared in Audition and The Grudge.

When Japan is hit by the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami it falls into chaos. The disaster coincides with news from the CIA that uranium is being smuggled in Japan. Kenji Sumimoto (Watabe) is part of the foreign affairs division of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police. A detective with the willingness to bend the rule, he finds himself handed a hot case when sensitive documents and enriched uranium go missing following the disaster. His mission is to uncover the truth of the smuggling operation which stretches to the Korean peninsula. His one lead is Kaori Okuda (Maki), the wife of a businessman thought to be a spy. He will soon be joined by an undercover Korean policeman named Ahn Min-Chul (Kang-Woo) in what will become an explosive adventure.