Genkina hito’s Top Fourteen Films of 2020

祖谷物語 おくのひと Rina Takeda

Wow, I had no idea that 2020 would turn out like this when I wrote last year’s end post. We’re a few days away from the end of what has been a plague year. I almost got caught out at the start when I was in Japan and the borders were going to be closed, back at the end of March, but I escaped with the help of some friends. Since then, I have been in work on reduced duties or at home waiting to be called in for odd jobs. When not working, I was doing shopping with my mother and checking in on my grandmother.

During this time of waiting, I watched a lot of films, some as part of the Osaka Asian Film Festival, Nippon Connection, Japan Cuts and the New York Asian Film Festival, a lot just for pleasure. I took part in a physical film festival in Japan and I helped organise and execute an online film festival twice and during all of this I wrote a lot of reviews. Probably more reviews than in previous years. On top of it all, I also helped start a podcast about Asian films called Heroic Purgatory where I discuss films with fellow writer John Atom (the Christmas special is already out and the second season coming in 2021!).

When I was able to go to the cinema I watched a wide variety of things. In the UK, the last film I watched was Parasite with my mother. In Japan, I went to numerous screenings at the Osaka Asian Film Festival and an animation festival at the Yujiku Asagaya (just before Tokyo’s lockdown). At home with a lot of time on my hands I got into the cinema of Mario Bava and re-watched lots of Lucio Fulci and Dario Argento movies. I waded through hours of 70s and 80s horror movies from America and I went back to some tried and trusted Japanese classics. Most of all, I tried to get more Japanese indie films out there and so I think this is reflected in my list of top films from 2020.

So, what are they?.  

Continue reading “Genkina hito’s Top Fourteen Films of 2020”

Milocrorze: A Love Story  ミロクローゼ Dir: Yoshimasa Ishibashi (2011)

Milocrorze: A Love Story Milocrorze A Love Story Film Posterr

ミロクローゼ   「Mirokuroze」

Release date:  May 08th, 2011

Duration: 90 mins.

Director: Yoshimasa Ishibashi

Starring: Takayuki Yamada (Bresson, Tamon, Ovreneli), Anna Ishibashi (Yuri), Seijun Suzuki (Tattooist), Maiko (Milocrorze), Eiji Okuda (Onsen Owner),

IMDB

Milocrorze: A Love Story is a film all about love. How it shows love in its many-splendoured forms is what makes it a treat as its endlessly inventive and surprising visual execution has maximum impact and much fun.

Milocrorze follows three stories about love from the perspective of three characters and they are done in varying styles. The perspectives audiences are given include a one-eyed ronin named Tamon who inhabits a warped samurai drama, an unconventional relationship therapist named Kumagai Bresson, and Ovreneli Vreneligare, a man-child at the mercy of a mysterious woman’s whims.

All but one of the characters is played entirely by Takayuki Yamada and he approaches the roles as caricatures through which he displays loud emotions.

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Japanese Films at the Fantasia International Film Festival 2020 (August 20th – September 02nd)

The Fantasia International Film Festival will be celebrating its 24th edition as a virtual event due to Covid-19. A variety of film screenings, panels and workshops will be accessible to viewers across Canada from August 20th through to September 2nd, 2020. There is a decent Japanese contingent of contemporary films and some recent titles stretching back 10 years.

The festival’s full lineup was announced last week. Here are the Japanese titles:

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Tug of War!, Crow’s Thumb, The Ear Cleaner, Joshi Camera, Milocrorze – A Love Story and the Japanese Movie Box Office Chart

Persona Saturday FaceThis week I started writing my submission for an art prize and I started my Christmas shopping… Two gifts for other people and I just ordered an awesome movie collection as highlighted by Goregirl! I also know when the Christmas party for Japanese class is going to be and I know that the restaurant sells green tea ice cream (lovely!). As far as blogging goes I started this week with two trailers for two major anime titles in the form of Berserk Golden Age Arc III: Descent and One Piece Film Z. I then followed up with a review for Key of Life, an excellent comedy with great performances that I saw at the 56th BFI London Film Festival and news on the UK release of Mystical Laws, an anime movie I was not taking too seriously during its original Japanese release due to its backers but I am eager to hear whether it is any good.

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

  1. Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo
  2. Lesson of the Evil
  3. The Floating Castle
  4. Ninkyo Helper: Beautiful World.
  5. A Chorus of Angels
  6. Smile Precure!
  7. Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away
  8. Fly with the Gold
  9. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
  10. Paranormal Activity 4

When writing the previews for the latest Eva movie I mentioned it being the type of anime that is a licence to print money. Here is the proof. Since its opening last week, the movie has accrued about $19,183,750. According to Anime News Network, the film’s opening box office weekend was $13,913,200, the highest earnings in Japan this year. Incredible. The other new entry from last week was Ninkyo Helper, a movie adaptation of a television series. Far more importantly is the return of Takashi Miike… actually he’s so prolific he never really goes away… with the brilliant looking Lesson of the Evil where a psychotic teacher takes out pupils, parents and teachers played by half the cast of Himizu.

Enough about last week! What is released in Japan today? And yesterday!?

Tug of War!                                      Tug of War Movie Poster

Japanese Title: 綱引いちゃった!

Romaji: Tsuna Hiichatta!

Release Date:  23rd November 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Nobuo Mizuta

Writer:  Daisuke Habara

Starring: Mao Inoue, Keiko Matsuzaka, Tetsuji Tamayama, Naomi Nishida, Sonim, Naomi Watanabe, Inuko Inuyama, Takashi Sasano, Morio Kazama

I have to admit that I did crack a smile with this. The antics of the cute Mao Inoue (My Tug of War Movie Poster 2Darling is a Foreigner, Kaidan)  caught me off-guard. She is joined by Keiko Matsuzaka (Instant Swamp), Tetsuji Tamayama (Norwegian Wood), Naomi Nishida (Train Man, Swing Girls, A Man with Style, The Happiness of the Katakuri’s) and Takashi Sasano (Thermae Romae, Insight into the Universe). The director is Nobuo Mizuta who is the chap who helmed Maiko haaaan!!!, a very influential comedy, the writer is Daisuke Habara who wrote Hula Girls and the Suicide Song, two films I hope to review sometime in the new year. Anyway… This looks like it could be fun.

Chiaki Nishikawa (Inoue) helps handle the public relations department for Oita city. Oita is a city that has won the tug-of-war world championship three times in the past and so in order to promote the city the mayor has a bright idea: an all-girl tug-of-war team. Luckily Nishikawa is an enthusiast for the game and she is the perfect person to rope a few people in and make them pick up the rope!!!

 

 

Crow’s Thumb                                      Crows Thumb

Japanese Title: カラス の 親指

Romaji: Karasu no Oyayubi

Release Date:  23rd November 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 160 mins.

Director: Tadafumi Ito

Writer:  Tadafumi Ito (Script), Shusuke Michio (Original Novel)

Starring: Hiroshi Abe, Satomi Ishihara, Shoji Murakami, Rena Nounen, Yu Koyonagi, Shingo Tsurumi, Shigeyuki Totsui, Takeshi Nadagi, Bengal

Hiroshi Abe is insanely handsome, insanely successful and insanely talented as his

Crows Thumb Book

turns in Survive Style 5+, Summer of Ubume, and Still Walking showed me. He is also insanely popular as the 2012 mega-hit Thermae Romae revealed (as the trailer points out) so I am not alone in thinking he is great. Well now he is back and in a film called Crow’s Thumb which is based on Shusuke Michio’s 2008 novel of the same name.  His co-stars are Satomi Ishihara (Sadako 3D), Bengal (Boiling Point), Yu Koyonagi (Tokyo Sonata), Shoji Murakami (Kaidan), Rena Nounen (Confessions). The trailer looks okay. I was with it through the funky opening until the dramatic music and crying child but then I was won over by the J-pop and sequences showing the elaborate con including Hiroshi Abe sporting silver hair and a mean stare.

 

Take (Abe) and Tetsu (Murakami) are two veteran conmen who live in an old house with two beautiful sisters named Yahiro (Ishihara) and Mahiro (Nounen) and Yahiro’s boyfriend Kantaro (Koyanagi) and a baby cat. When a girl is placed in the care of Take and Tetsu they decide to change their lives and so all five will take part in an elaborate con.

 

  Continue reading “Tug of War!, Crow’s Thumb, The Ear Cleaner, Joshi Camera, Milocrorze – A Love Story and the Japanese Movie Box Office Chart”