The World of Kanako 渇き (2014)

The World of Kanako      The World of Kanako Film Poster 2

Japanese Title:

Romaji: Kawaki

Running Time: 113 mins

Release Date: June 27th, 2014 (Japan)

Seen at the BFI London Film Festival

Director: Tetsuya Nakashima

Writer: Tetsuya Nakashima (Screenplay), Akio Fukamachi (Novel),

Starring: Koji Yakusho, Nana Komatsu, Satoshi Tsumabuki, Joe Odagiri, Fumi Nikaido, Ai Hashimoto, Miki Nakatani, Jun Kunimura, Asuka Kurosawa,

Website

On paper The World of Kanako sounds incredibly formulaic: based on a novel by Akio Fukamachi, it’s about an ex-cop and bad father who goes in search of his missing daughter who may be involved in a world of trouble. The World of Kanako is anything but formulaic. It resists falling into cliché by being a visually and aurally staggering assault on the senses so meticulously designed, written, and directed by Tetsuya Nakashima, and acted out by big name actors given the chance to play evil characters that it makes an old plot feel new and exciting.

The film begins with the quote:

An era is only confused by a confused mind – Jean Cocteau

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Real リアル-完全なる首長竜の日- (2013)

Kiyoshi Kurosawa Real (11)

Real                                                                                 Real Film Poster

Japanese Title: リアル 完全なる首長竜の日

Romaji: Riaru Kanzen’naru Shuchou Ryuu no Hi

Release Date: June 01st, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 127 mins.

Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Writer: Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Screenplay), Rokuro Inui (Original Novel)

Starring: Takeru Sato, Haruka Ayase, Jo Odagiri, Miki Nakatani, Shota Sometani, Keisuke Horibe, Kyoko Koizumi, Yuki Kan

Real was one of two films directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa that were released last year, the other being Seventh Code which stars former AKB48 member, Atsuko Maeda. Real is Kurosawa’s biggest budgeted film in a long time. Based on an award-winning mystery novel and featuring two beautiful leads anchored by a supporting cast of familiar and excellent actors the biggest mystery is why the film turned out so dull.

Koichi (Sato), a physical fitness trainer, and Atsumi (Ayase), a manga artist, are beautiful people who seem to lead a blessed life.

Kiyoshi Kurosawa Real Image 2

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Zero Focus ゼロの焦店 (2009)

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Zero Focus                                            

Japanese Title: ゼロの焦店

Romaji: Zero no Shoten       Zero Focus Film Poster

Release Date: November 14th, 2009

Running Time: 131 mins.

Director: Isshin Inudo

Writer: Seicho Matsumoto (Novel), Isshin Inudo, Kenji Nakazono (Screenplay)

Starring: Ryoko Hirosue, Miki Nakatani, Tae Kimura, Hidetoshi Nishijima, Takeshi Kaga, Tetta Sugimoto, Hiromi Sakimoto, Toru Nomaguchi, Fukumi Kuroda, Hirotaro Honda, Hana Matsumoto, Yoshie Ichige, Shunta Watanabe, Kansai Eto

The final film I saw at the Japan Foundation’s Touring Film Programme was the sold out screening of Zero Focus where the film’s director Isshin Inudo was present and gave an enlightening Q&A at the end (and I had my picture taken with him!). Part of the reason for my selection is because I like a good mystery but I had no idea how popular the source novel was in Japan. Lengthy review with some slight spoilers.

Sadako (Hirosue) has just married Kenichi Ubara (Nishijma) after meeting him through a matchmaker. The two know little about each other apart from surface details like the fact that she can read and write English and adores the classic English novel Jane Eyre and he enjoys swimming, he was wounded in war and now works for Toyo Advertising and is stationed in Kanazawa in the snowy north of the country. His marriage means that he asks for a transfer back to Tokyo. Despite not knowing each other they feel comfortable together and look forward to starting a new life.

1 week later, December 01st, 1957

Zero Focus Bye Kenichi (Nishijima) Hellooo Sadako (Ryoko Hirosue)

Sadako is at Ueno Station with Kenichi. He must depart for Kanazawa to wrap up his business dealings and pass on contracts to his replacement. “It’s only a week,” he assures her but he never returns. He just vanishes.

Against the advice of her brother-in-law Sotaro (Sugimoto), Sadako heads to Kanazawa where Kenichi’s replacement Yoshio Honda (Nomaguchi) guides her around a town which undergoing tumultuous political changes thanks to a woman named Sachiko Murota (Nakatani) the wife of a powerful industrialist named Gisaku (Kaga). Zero Focus Sachiko Murota (Mikitani) and Her HusbandSachiko is helping a woman become the first female mayor of the city. With her organisational skills, money and her influence it could happen. Sadako approaches Sachiko for help when she learns that her husband once worked with Kenichi. Sachiko and her husband Gisaku comply but they seem to be hiding something.

Whilst at Murota’s company, Sadako encounters a receptionist named Hisako Tanuma (Kimura) who seems to act oddly around her and has poor secretarial skills. As Sadako meets these people she learns that they are connected to Kenichi in more ways than she could ever have imagined and she knew so little about him.

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Trailer for Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Latest Film Real

Kiyoshi Kurosawa Real Trailer Banner

Real                                                                                 Real Film Poster

Japanese Title: リアル 完全なる首長 竜の日

Romaji: Riaru Kanzen’naru Shuchou Ryuu no Hi

Release Date: June 01st, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 127 mins.

Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Writer: Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Screenplay), Rokuro Inui (Original Novel)

Starring: Takeru Sato, Haruka Ayase, Jo Odagiri, Miki Nakatani, Shota Sometani, Keisuke Horibe, Kyoko Koizumi, Keisuke Horibe, Yuki Kan

Ramble alert (I ramble because I love the subject!)

Kiyoshi Kurosawa LoftI am a big Kiyoshi Kurosawa fan. Massive. I have pretty much bought and reviewed most of his major titles available in the west and not one of them disappointed me. His critically acclaimed drama Tokyo Sonata I consider one of the most important films I have ever seen while I think highly of his divisive experimental film Bright Future. I really love his J-horror like Cure and Retribution which run along more fiendishly intelligent and psychologically disturbing lines than your average horror movie. Even films he rejects I find a lot to like about! Each title contains his unique aesthetics and deliberate approach to his subject matter. I am really excited about 2013 because he has a new film getting a release in Japan and the UK gets two of his 90’s crime thrillers thanks to Third Window Films.

Colour me happy when I caught a new trailer and teaser for his latest film Real. It is a title Kiyoshi Kurosawa Real Haruka Ayase and the Floating Pencilwith a sci-fi edge that reminds me a little of Inception what with its concept of entering a person’s subconscious, tilting camera angles, fantasy creatures, gravity defying stationary and ruined coastal town (Atsumi’s mind is the scene of the crime!). This also looks like a really big-budget title which is something Kurosawa tends not to handle but his critical cachet has never been higher. Check out the trailer!

Here is a shorter teaser released a bit earlier. It’s more action packed:

Koichi (Sato) and Atsumi (Ayase) are childhood friends who have become lovers. Despite this closeness when Atsumi attempts suicide Koichi is at a loss as to what the reason that drove her to do such a thing could be. Now she is in a coma and Koichi needs to find out the reason. Since Koichi is a neurosurgeon he has access to the latest studies and so he takes part in a medical procedure that will allow him to enter Atsumi’s subconscious through her central nervous system.

When he arrives she asks him to find a picture of a plesiosaur she drew as a child. It is the key to a suppressed memory connected to a childhood trauma. Finding this picture will allow Koichi to truly get close to knowing his love.

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Loft ロフト (2005)

Loft - Review BannerLoft Basic InformationIt is probably no secret that I am a major fan of Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s work. His use of locations dredges up the creepiest buildings in Tokyo, his direction is impeccable in creating an unnerving atmosphere, his interest in characters disjointed from reality leads to getting hypnotic performances from his actors, his ability to weave the supernatural into everyday urban decay is convincing, all of this makes for compelling stories, modern nightmares that leave me grinning at the imagination and suggestions regardless of the sense of an encroaching apocalypse in every ending. So when Loft’s ending caused me to burst into laughter that should be a bad thing right?

 

Reiko Haruna is a popular prize-winning romance novelist who is suffering writer’s block and sickness causing her to hallucinate and vomit black liquid. She decides to leave Tokyo and agrees with a move to an isolated house in the countryside, a suggestion her editor Kijima (Hidetoshi Nishijima) comes up with in the hope it will get her to write faster. Unfortunately the house has faulty lights and the previous occupant left all of their stuff after suddenly disappearing, not to mention the fact that there is a spooky vacant building behind it which is supposedly a training centre part of Sagami University. One night she goes to balcony and spots her neighbour unloading what looks like a body from back of his 4×4, taking it to the building. Intrigued she digs around and finds out that he is Makoto Yoshioka (Etsushi Toyokawa), an anthropologist who became famous after discovering a thousand year old mummy named Midori in a nearby swamp. Reiko and Makoto find themselves drawn together, their problems facilitating contact with each other. These problems include Reiko being bullied by her increasingly aggressive editor and Yoshioka having serious misgivings about handling the mummy. Soon both find themselves plagued by disturbing visions as multiple dangers converge on them.

A spooky forest in Loft

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