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”

Women on the Edge, Eight Ranger, Naruto the Movie: Road to Ninja Trailers and the Japanese Box-Office Chart

Kouhaku Kuroboshi designs for One OffThis week I got my Himizu poster from Adam over at Third Window Films and I wrote two reviews for the J-horror films Shibuya Kaidan 1 and 2 and a preview of Fuse: A Gun Girl’s Detective Story. Fuse is really capturing my imagination at the moment. I have been terribly busy this week what with work and life in general and so I found myself watching only a couple of Takeshi Kitano films and no anime (although I did watch the new trailer for One Off which still looks intriguing) and I pretty much stopped posting for AUKN (I wonder if anyone notices). I’m back on a somewhat even keel so I’ll resume my news duties and get back to watching more awesome Japanese films. Wasn’t the opening to the London 2012 Olympics spectacula?

What’s does the Japanese movie box-office chart look like this week?

  1. Umizaru 4: Brave Hearts
  2. The Wolf Children Ame and Yuki
  3. Pikachu the Movie 2012
  4. Helter Skelter
  5. Brave
  6. The Amazing Spider-Man
  7. Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha The MOVIE 2nd
  8. Soreike! Anpanman Yomigaere Bananajima
  9. Rinjo
  10. Thermae Romae

Last week’s new entry The Wolf Children Ame and Yuki has taken second in the charts while Uzimaru holds onto the top and Helter Skelter holds on to fourth in its second week. Thermae Romae remains in the top ten. Interestingly it was announced for this year’s Toronto International Film Festival alongside Takeshi Kitano’s latest film Outrage Beyond.

What films are released today?

Women on the Edge                                         Women on the Edge Movie Poster

Romaji: Girigiri no Onnatachi

Japanese Title: ギリギリ の 女たち

Release Date: 28th July 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 101 mins.

Director: Masahiro Kobayashi

Writer: Masahiro Kobayashi

Starring: Miho Fujima, Yuko Nakamura, Makiko Watanabe

Masahiro Kobayashi, writer and director of grim films like Bashing is back with Women on the Edge which stars Miho Fujima (Ju-On: The Grudge, Tajomaru), Yuko Nakamura (Blood and Bones), and Makiko Watanabe (Himizu, Love Exposure). Reviews aren’t kind.

The three Onodera sisters return to the home of their deceased parents’ in Kesennuma, Miyagi, a place affected by the Tohoku Earthquake. The house has survived the earthquake and tsunami and the three are looking to claim an inheritance. Nobuko (Nakamura) moved to Tokyo and is a divorcee, Takako (Watanabe) moved to New York and works as a butoh dancer. Third sister Satomi (Fujima) stayed behind. There are deep resentments and over the course of the film they will come out.

 

Eight Ranger                                          Eight Ranger Movie Poster

Eito Renja

Japanese Title: エイトレンジャー

Release Date: 28th July 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Yukihiko Tsutsumi

Writer: N/A

Starring: Yu Yokoyama, Subaru Shibutani, Shingo Murakami, Ryuhei Maruyama, Shota Yasuda, Ryo Nishikido, Tadayoshi Okura, Hiroshi Tachi, Becky, Misako Renbutsu, Renji Ishibashi, Hitomi Takahashi,

Yukihiko Tsutsumi went from box-office smash hit SPEC: Heaven to the more intimate and small-scale film My House. Now he is tackling a parody of super sentai shows as Eight Ranger shows. I really hate that type of show (Takeshi Kitano’s Getting Any? was going along perfectly until the final section with the Earth Defence Force…). It is based on some of the boy band Kanjani Eight’s live performance. Kanjani Eight take the lead roles but there other notable names including Renji Ishibashi (One Missed Call, Audition, Outrage),  Hitomi Takahashi (The Sound of the Sea, Crime or Punishment?!?), and Misako Renbutsu (River, Quirk Guys & Gals).

The devastated city named Eight City is under attack from Dark Crusade and only the Eight Rangers can protect the inhabitants.

Naruto the Movie: Road to Ninja.

Synopsis

Sixteen years ago, a creature known as Kurama the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox was released from its jinchūriki (living prison) by a mysterious ninja and unleahed on the Hidden Leaf Village, leading to the death of many people. In order to stop this demon the Fourth Hokage Minato Namikaze, and his wife Kushia Uzumaki, who was the jinchūriki, sealed the demon inside their new born son, Naruto. With the beast sealed inside Naruto, things went back to being peaceful until a group of ninja known as Akatsuki attack the village. They are under the guidance of Tobi, the mysterious ninja who unleashed the demon the first time.

This is the sixth Naruto movie to be released thus far and it is set in an alternate timeline Naruto the Movie Road to Ninja Posterin which Naruto’s parents are still alive. People also have very different personalities as seen when Sasuke is hitting on Sakura and Hinata is much more aggressive. Masashi Kishimoto, the creator of Naruto, is handling the character designs and writing the script with Yuka Miyata (Naruto Shippūden) for the movie. The film is directed by Hayato Date who has handled countless Naruto TV episodes and movies like Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow. The franchise voice actors also return with Junko Takeuchi voicing Naruto, Nana Mizuki voicing Hinata, Noriaki Sugiyama voicing Sasuke and Chie Nakamura voicing Sakura. The awesome J-rock outfit Asian Kung-Fu generation are providing the film’s theme.

Staff: Hayato Date (Director), Masashi Kishimoto (Script/Character Design/Original Creator), Yuka Miyata (Script), Tetsuya Nishio (Animation Director), Asian Kung-Fu Generation (Movie Theme)

Voice Actors: Junko Takeuchi (Naruto Uzumaki), Emi Shinohara (Kushina Uzumaki), Toshiyuki Morikawa (Minato Namikaze), Kazuhiko Inoue (Kakashi Hatake), Chie Nakamura (Sakura Haruno), Nana Mizuki (Hinata Hyuga), Noriaki Sugiyama (Sasuke Uchiha)

Studio: Studio Pierrot