Japan Cuts 2014 Preview

Japan Cuts Logo

New York, New York, what a wonderful town. I have never wanted to live in New York as much as I did after reading the line-up for Japan Cuts 2014.

The Japan Society will host a series of awesome Japanese films from July 10th to July 29th with titles like Sion Sono’s ultra-violent black comedy Why Don’t You Play in Hell? coupled with crime thriller The Devil’s Path and recent (controversial) World War II blockbuster The Eternal Zero. These are just some of the headline titles, there are even more listed, many of which were released in the last few weeks and some of which are crazy and bizarre and speak to the sharp and unique sense of cinema that the curators have – respect has to be paid for the programming of the documentaries on this list. There’s definitely something for everyone! Here’s a trailer:

I am blown away by the titles and the guests that have been announced with many actors coming over for Q&As (FUMI NIKAIDO!!!). For a fan of cinema in general and Japanese cinema in particular, this is a festival rich with great films and events!

Here’s a list of the films and trailers with comments from me. Click on the title for more info such as times and buying tickets. Tickets are already on sale!


Thursday July 10th, Opening Night


6 P.M.

The Mole Song: Undercover Agent Reiji   The Mole Song Film Poster

Japanese Title: 土竜の唄 潜入捜査官 REIJI

Romaji: Mogura no Uta Sennuu Sosakan REIJI

Running Time: 130 mins.

Director: Takashi Miike

Writer: Kudo Kankuro (Screenplay), Noboru Takahashi (Original Manga)

Starring: Toma Ikuta, Ren Osugi, Shinichi Tsutsumi, Riisa Naka, Takayuki Yamada, Mitsuru Fukikoshi

This is based on a comedy manga by Noboru Takahashi and directed by Takashi Miike (For Love’s Sake). The film has a great cast of characters like Shinichi Tsutsumi (Why Don’t You Play in Hell?), Ren Osugi (Exte) and Mitsuru Fukikoshi (Cold Fish). It seems like a great way to open the film festival since it looks absolutely funny.

Reiji Kikukawa (Ikuta) has a strong sense of justice but graduates at the bottom of his class from the police academy. He is so useless his superiors send him on what should be a suicide mission. First the police chief fires him for disciplinary issues and then sets him up as a mole in the Sukiyaki gang, the largest crime group in the Kanto area. His target is Shuho Todoroki, the boss, and so Reiji goes through hell to get his man!


8:30 P.M.

Why Don’t You Play in Hell?
Why Don't You Play In Hell Film Poster

Japanese Title: 地獄 で なぜ 悪い Why Don’t You Play in Hell?

Romaji: Jigoku de Naze Warui Why Don’t You Play in Hell?

Running Time: 126 mins

Director: Sion Sono

Writer: Sion Sono (Screenplay),

Starring: Jun Kunimura, Shinichi Tsutsumi, Fumi Nikaido, Tomochika, Hiroki Hasegawa, Kotou Lorena, Gen Hoshino, Tak Sakaguchi

Sion Sono blew my mind with this one. After a short run of issue films like the critically lauded Himizu and The Land of Hope, he made this hilarious and blood-thirsty film which was both entertainment and a love letter to cult films and yakuza classics. I found it absolutely hilarious and one of the best films of last year.

Muto (Kunimura) and Ikegami (Tsutsumi) are rival gangsters who despise each other especially since Muto’s wife Shizue (Tomochika) butchered a boss in Ikegami’s gang. She gets sent to prison which jeopardises her daughter’s acting career. Ten years later and days before Shizue is due to be released, Muto is desperate to make his daughter a big-screen star as a reward for Shizue’s loyalty and kidnaps Koji (Hoshino), a timid passer-by who is mistaken for being a film director.

When dealing with gangsters you don’t mess about so Koji recruits the help of a mad-cinephile Hirata (Hasegawa) who dreams of being a movie director and has a ragtag film crew named The Fuck Bombers. Hirata seizes his chance and loses his mind as he casts Mitsuko in a fictional gang war but it soon goes wrong when it turns real.

Introduction and Q&A with actress Fumi Nikaido (I so want to be in her presence!!!)

Followed by the LET’S PLAY IN HELL Opening Night Party!

Continue reading “Japan Cuts 2014 Preview”

Japanese Films at the Edinburgh Film Festival 2014

Edinburgh Film Festival 2014 Logo

The programme of films for this year’s Edinburgh Film Festival was announced on Wednesday and there’s a decent selection of Japanese films. No real surprises since most of these have been at various film festivals (most at Rotterdam) around the world and I have written about ALL of them at some point so I know which I’d want to watch if I had the choice.

For people interested in seeing some of the latest Japanese films who can’t make the Terracotta Far East Film Festival, they would do well to attend Edinburgh which shares Be My Baby an example of the latest trend in Japanese indie filmmaking. Anatomy of a Paperclip got an excellent write-up from Tony Rayns when it was at last year’s Vancouver International Film Festival. One title that has me super-intrigued is Miss Zombie by Sabu, a film director whose works I first became acquainted with when in high school and reacquainted myself with when I asked a friend to help me procure some of the 90’s titles. This is another title which got critics talking, an original take on the zombie genre.

Here are the Japanese films:


Be My Baby     Be My Baby Film Poster

Japanese Title: 恋の渦

Romaji: Koi no Uzu

Screened: 22 June at 20:10, 28 June at 15:00

Running Time: 138 mins

Director: Hitoshi One

Cast: Kenta Niikura, Naoko Wakai, Chihiro Shibata, Yuumi Goto, Aya Kunitake, Hiroki Ueda, Daisuke Sawamura, Kenta Enya,

This Japanese film is a product of the ‘workshop’ indie films that are released nearly every weekend in Tokyo. Be My Baby is a low-budget film shot I four days for under $10,000 in a couple of locations. It is based on a play by award-winning dramatist Daisuke Miura (which was screened at cinemas) and it’s directed by Hitoshi One, director of the big-budget Love Strikes!. It’s a very adult film about the aftermath of a party attended by a group of drop-out twenty-somethings who are all flawed and caught up in damaging relationships. It got its UK premiere at the Terracotta Far East Film Festival and Third Window Films are backing this.

Continue reading “Japanese Films at the Edinburgh Film Festival 2014”

Unforgiven, Taka no Tsume GO Utsukushiki Eriēru Shōshū Purasu , ATARU The First Love & The Last Kill, Miss Zombie, Code Geass: Akito the Exiled Second Volume: Wyvern Torn Apart, Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions The Movie, Venetia’s Garden of the Four Seasons and Other Japanese Film Trailers

Masayoshi Sukita David Bowie in Japan 1980How have you lot been? All’s well? Plenty of films and anime to watch like me? A good week at work? Great weather? Perfect. Yet today is going to be even better because I have a lot of time set aside for the thing I like most… gazing at gravure idols… I mean, writing reviews! By the time this is posted I will be finishing reviewing a lot ofMasako Natsume films the process of which started at 5am this morning. It’s a good thing too because after posting about the Japanese films at Raindance I launched into my Kiyoshi Kurosawa Season and then a review of Serpent’s Path. Right after this I will watch Gatchaman Crowds. This week I watched Insidious 2 and The Drudgery Train and my heart was torn to shreds by the latest episode of Watamote.

I have also discovered great soundtrack to write reviews to with some 80’s inspired music. My day is set for fun with more films and anime. Enjoy the trailers for the Japanese films released this weekend!

Unforgiven                                           Unforgiven Japanese Film Poster     

Japanese Title: 許されざる者

Romaji: Yurusarezaru Mono

Release Date: September 13th, 2013

Running Time: 119 mins.

Director: Lee Sang-Il

Writer: Lee Sang-Il  (Screenplay),

Starring: Ken Watanabe, Jun Kunimura, Eiko Koike, Yura Yagira, Koichi Sato, Akira Emoto, Shiono Kutsuna, Kenichi Takito, Youkiyoshi Ozawa, Takahiro Mirua, Sjiori Kutsuna

This is the remake of the 1992 Clint Eastwood film of the same name. It swaps out the US and cowboys for Japan in the late 1800’s and samurai. I have reviewed one Lee Sang-Il film and that was Villain where he got a fantastic performance from lead actor Satoshi Tsumabuki. This is his first film since Villain and he gets a star-studded cast with Ken Watanabe (Letters from Iwo JimaInceptionTampopo), the grizzled Akira Emoto (A Woman and WarStarfish Hotel), Koichi Sato (Infection), and two of my favourites, Eiko Koike (RebirthPenanceKamikaze Girls2LDK) and Jun Kunimura (Outrage,VitalAudition). It played at the Venice Film Festival.

Jubei Kamata (Watanabe) was once a loyal samurai for the Edo shogunate government. Famous for being a skilled and deadly fighter he killed many and became infamous in Kyoto but disappeared during the battle of Goryoukaku. Ten years later and he is living with his child, looking after his wife’s grave in peace after vowing never to pick up his sword again but being in poverty forces him to do just that as he accepts the assignment of being a bounty hunter.


Continue reading “Unforgiven, Taka no Tsume GO Utsukushiki Eriēru Shōshū Purasu , ATARU The First Love & The Last Kill, Miss Zombie, Code Geass: Akito the Exiled Second Volume: Wyvern Torn Apart, Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions The Movie, Venetia’s Garden of the Four Seasons and Other Japanese Film Trailers”