Japanese Girls Never Die  「アズミ・ハルコは行方不」Dir: Daigo Matsui 2016

Japanese Girls Never Die  

japanese-girls-never-die-film-poster
japanese-girls-never-die-film-poster

アズミ・ハルコは行方不  Azumi Haruko wa yukue fumei

Running Time: 100 mins.

Director: Daigo Matsui

Writer: Mariko Yamauchi (Original Novel), Misaki Setoyama (Screenplay)

Starring: Yu Aoi, Mitsuki Takahata, Maho Yamada, Shono Hayama, Taiga, Kanon Hanakage, Ryo Kase, Motoki Ochiai, Tomiyuki Kunihiro, Akiko Kikuchi,

IMDB Website

In this film, Japanese girls are mad. Justifiably so if you look at reality. Despite Japan being a country on the bleeding edge of culture and cool, the way women are treated leaves a lot to be desired. Shinzo Abe, the current Prime Minister of Japan (I’m dating this review with a reference to him), has pledged to make Japan’s economy boom again and one of his methods is to get more women into the workplace and not just in menial positions but in leadership roles – womenomics. Rather contradictorily, he wants this whilst also trying to persuade women to boost the birthrate of a country with workplace environments that often penalise people for taking time off to look after family matters. Unfortunately, his grand plans have faltered and women still find themselves trapped in lowly positions never mind other issues such as stalkers and whatnot. Japanese Girls Never Die, based on the novel Haruko Azumi Is Missing by Misaki Setoyama, manages to tackle many issues of that women face in a bright neon blaze of righteous anger and anime-inspired visuals that will drive home the injustices that women endure.

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Osaka Asian Film Festival 2017: Poetry Angel ポエトリーエンジェル Dir: Toshimitsu Iizuka

Poetry Angel   poetry-angel-film-poster

ポエトリーエンジェル Poetori- Enjeru   

Running Time: 95 mins.

Director: Toshimitsu Iizuka

Writer: Toshimitsu Iizuka (Screenplay),

Starring: Amane Okayama, Rena Takeda, Shingo Tsurumi, Jun Miho, Akihiro Kakuta, Maho Yamada, Tateto Serizawa, An Ogawa, Kento Yamazaki,

Website IMDB

Here’s a movie pitch which may not stun you:

Poetry Angel” is a film about a farmer and a schoolgirl in small-town Japan seeking a way to express themselves and unleash their creativity through the art of “Poetry Boxing.”

Everything up until “Poetry Boxing” sounds like business as usual since films about self-expression are common but newbie director/writer Toshimitsu Iizuka has cannily hitched his succinct and sweet human drama to the relatively unknown real-life sport of Poetry Boxing and strikes gold with results so entertaining you may want to step into the ring yourself.

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How Selfish I Am! (2013) 自分の事ばかりで情けなくなるよ

How Selfish I Am        How Selfish I Am Film Poster

Japanese: 自分の事ばかりで情けなくなる

Romaji: Jibun no Koto Bakaride Nasakenaku Naru Yo

Running Time: 106 mins.

Release Date: October 26th, 2013

Director: Daigo Matsui

Writer: Daigo Matsui (Screenplay), Sekaikan Ozaki (Original Work)

Starring: Maho Yamada, Sei Ando, Shunsuke Daito, Mei Kurokawa, Sekaikan Ozaki, Sosuke Ikematsu, Kaonashi Hasegawa, Taku Koizumu,  Yukiji Ogawa,

Website

How Selfish I Am is an episodic musical drama exploring the loves and travails of a group of people in Tokyo, all of whom are connected together by the music of the rock group CreepHyp. A glib comparison might be Short Cuts by Raymond Carver/Robert Altman on a smaller scale with a post-rock soundtrack but just as much darkness and more visual and aural dazzle.

The film is the culmination of a long collaboration between How Selfish I Am Sekaikan Ozakifilmmaker Daigo Matsui and the band CreepHyp, this is the final result of a series music videos made over the last few years¹ based on a story originally conceived by CreepHyp’s frontman, Sekaikan Ozaki. The episodic nature of the original music videos is carried over to a feature film format and expanded upon as it draws everything together into a final product which acts a musical showcase for the band, a creative director, and a strong ensemble cast.

The film is told over the course of a few years and from multiple perspectives split between two girls and two guys, all of whom are scudding along the bottom of the Tokyo social scene.How Selfish I Am Kumiko Ando 2

We start off with Kumiko (Ando), a lonely girl working at a cosplay bar/brothel who pines after her ex-boyfriend (Onoue).

How Selfish I Am YamadaKumiko is followed by Mie (Yamada), a mousy, introverted and put-upon office lady who adores CreeHyp, and has a Twitter addiction (@mieephyp0819 – yes, I write down Twitter handles in films) and a ticket to CreepHyp’s concert which she may miss because of problems at work.

How Selfish I Am DaitohTsuda (Daito), the guy collecting tickets at the concert, is undergoing something of a meltdown as his beloved pop idol is about to retire.

The final, and longest sequence, involves a young homeless man named Rikuo (Ikematsu) who lives in two vans with a young woman (Kurokawa) who, due to a trauma in her past that has damaged her, refuses to speak.

How Selfish I Am Kurokawa and Ikematsu

The four stories weave together to create a sometimes funny but mostly tragic series of tales demonstrating the bleaker side of the Tokyo dream, all loneliness, frustration and desperation.

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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.”

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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