Zigeunerweisen ツィゴイネルワイゼン (1980) Director: Seijun Suzuki

Zigeunerweisen

ツィゴイネルワイゼン 「Tsuigoineruwaizen」   Zigeunerweisen Film Poster 2

Running Time: 145 mins

Director:  Seijun Suzuki

Writer: Yozo Tanaka (Screenplay), Hyakken Uchida (Original Novel)

Starring: Yoshio Harada, Naoko Otani, Toshiya Fujita, Kisako Makishi, Akaji Maro, Kirin Kiki, Yuki Kimura, Nagamasa Tamaki, Sumie Sasaki,

Website IMDB

This is an unruly and long review for a great film! You have been warned.

Seijun SuzukiSeijun Suzuki’s (1923 – 2017) career as a director is split into two parts – as one of Nikkatsu studio’s stable of salaried directors, he was tasked with making rather generic low-budget yakuza films but Suzuki’s output was different because he had a keen sense of style and humour that subverted the genre products he was hired to write and direct. Brave use of dissonance in terms of arty visuals, sounds and music, and penning irreverent stories with outrageous twists made his films more memorable for audiences but less palatable for the guys running Nikkatsu who were not so enamoured with creating art and more interested in making a quick buck. This period came to an end with Branded to Kill which proved to be a critical and commercial flop and so the head honchos at Nikkatsu fired him for making, and I quote Suzuki-kantoku himself, “movies that make no sense and no money.” Suzuki successfully sued them for wrongful dismissal but successfully challenging industry figures tends to get a person blacklisted (just ask Kiyoshi Kurosawa after his run-in with Juzo Itami) and so he spent ten years in the movie making wilderness formulating ideas with other creatives. Continue reading “Zigeunerweisen ツィゴイネルワイゼン (1980) Director: Seijun Suzuki”

Wild Berries 蛇イチゴ (2003) Miwa Nishikawa

Wild Berries    

Wild Berries FIlm Poster
Wild Berries FIlm Poster

蛇イチゴ Hebi Ichigo

Release Date: September 06th, 2003

Running Time: 119 mins.

Director: Miwa Nishikawa

Writer: Miwa Nishikawa (Screenplay),

Starring: Hiroyuki Miyasako, Miho Tsumiki, Sei Hiraizumi, Naoko Otani, Toru Tezuka, Moeko Ezawa, Susumu Terajima, Matsunosuke Shofukutei, Shota Sometani,

Website    IMDB

 

This is a huge review because I really like the film. It goes into detail without spoiling anything but you may want to watch the film before reading any further. A quick summation of the review: this is a debut movie? It’s perfect! Miwa Nishikawa is a genius!

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The Land of Hope 希望の国 (2012)

Genki The Land of Hope Review Banner

The Land of Hope                               The Land of Hope Movie Poster

Japanese: 希望 の 国

Romaji: Kibou no Kuni

Release Date: October 20th, 2012 (Japan)

UK Release Date: August 26th, 2013

UK Distributor: Third Window Films

Running Time: 133 mins.

Director: Sion Sono

Writer: Sion Sono

Starring: Isao Natsuyagi, Naoko Otani, Jun Murakami, Megumi Kagurazaka, Yutaka Shimizu, Hikari Kajiwara, Denden, Mariko Tsutsui, Yusuke Iseya, Mitsuru Fukikoshi,

When Sion Sono’s last film Himizu came to its stunning open ending it was clear that he was far from finished addressing the issues surrounding the Tōhoku Earthquake and Tusnami. The Land of Hope is the powerful and important follow-up which is epic in scale and drama. For daring to take on such a taboo subject in Japan, Sono had to go to foreign investors but what has resulted is a film that is a key way of seeing the effects of a disaster. At two hours it captures all sorts of aspects about the disaster but remains incredibly humane as it centres on the travails of two families.

An old couple named Yasuhiko and Chieko Ono (Natsuyagi and Otani) live on a farm with their son Yoichi (Murakami) and his wife Izumi (Kagurazaka) near Ohara town in Nagashima prefecture.

 The Land of Hope Ono and Suzuki Families

It is a peaceful place whose only claim to fame is the nearby Nagashima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Yasuhiko’s days are spent farming land owned by his family for generations, taking care of Chieko who suffers dementia and talking with the neighbouring Suzuki family made up of father Ken (Denden), mother Meiko (Tsutsui), son Mitsuru (Shimizu) and his girlfriend Yoko (Kajiwara). 

Continue reading “The Land of Hope 希望の国 (2012)”

Land of Hope Trailer

The Land of Hope                                 The Land of Hope Poster

Japanese: Kibou no Kuni

Release Date: Autumn 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Sion Sono

Writer: Sion Sono

Starring: Isao Natsuyagi, Naoko Otani, Jun Murakami, Megumi Kagurazaka, Yutaka Shimizu, Hikari Kajiwara, Denden, Mariko Tsutsui, Yusuke Iseya, Mitsuru Fukikoshi,

There are a lot of documentaries that directly tackle the Tōhoku Earthquake and Tusnami (as the selection at the Berlin Film Festival revealed) and they far outweigh the number of fiction films. The biggest title to address the events of March 11th that I have seen has to be Sion Sono’s Himizu, a movie which went to great pains to weave elements of the disaster into its story which was made before the tragic events. Well Sono is back with another title that takes a look at the disaster and its effects on Japan and its people.

An old couple (Natsuyagi and Otani) live on a farm near a peaceful village with their son (Murakami) and his wife (Kagurazaka). When an earthquake strikes the nearby nuclear power plant explodes and the village’s residents are forced to evacuate. Things are different on the farm since only half of the farm is in the evacuation zone. The family are soon faced with a tough decision: evacuate with the rest of the village or stay on the land.

I first heard about this film when I attended a screening of Himizu organised by Third Window Films earlier this year. Judging by the content of Himizu Sono has a LOT to say and he will say it in his usual dramatic way. The cast includes many actors who crop up in Sono’s films including Denden, Mitsuru Fukikoshi, Hikari Kajiwara and Sono’s own wife Megumi Kagurazaka who all starred in Cold Fish. Interestingly Third Window Films is co-producing this. Filming began earlier this year in January and concluded in April.

 

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Apartment 1303 1303号室 (2007)

Apartment 1303 Review HeaderFrom the director of numerous adaptations of Junji Ito’s manga Tomie comes Apartment 1303, a horror film that makes me go “meh”.

Apartment 1303 in the Blue Palace Hiroaka has cheap rent. Why? The building is famous for being haunted by ghosts. Not really. The reason the rent is cheap is because it is far away from the train station. At least that is the story given by the Maple Housing real estate agent to Sayaka Imōto who is moving to her first apartment away from older sister Mariko (Noriko Nakagoshi) and their mother (Naoko Otani). All seems well Sayaka’s house-warming party until she leaps off her thirteenth floor balcony. Sayaka’s mother is devastated by the death and in an effort to prevent her from sliding into madness Mariko decides to investigate. She soon uncovers a history of suicides connected to the apartment stretching back to a tragic relationship which exerts a supernatural influence. Does a creepy little girl know more than she is letting on.

Apartment 1303 - When Chika Arakawa Tells You to Look, Look!

Continue reading “Apartment 1303 1303号室 (2007)”