Japanese Films at L’Etrange Festival 2018

The L’Etrange Festival runs from September 05 to 16 in Paris and it continues in its L'Etrange Festival Postermission to show rare and unusual films that might be passed over by other festivals and it also shows classic films that fit that criteria. I saw a previous edition of the festival which had a special focus on Kiyoshi Kurosawa and, just for a little while, I wanted to be French. This year’s festival has a feast of 60’s and 70’s Nikkatsu movies, like whole series of films not normally shown on screen together at the same place, as well as contemporary films that have cropped up on the festival circuit this year ranging from geki-animation to live-action.

What Japanese films are programmed at L’Etrange this year?

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Aroused by Gymnopedies「ジムノペディに乱れる」 Director:  Isao Yukisada (2017)

Aroused by Gymnopedies   Aroused by Gymnopedies Film Poster

ジムノペディに乱れる 「Gymnopedies ni Midareru

Running Time: 83 mins

Director:  Isao Yukisada

Writer: Isao Yukisada, Anne Horizumi (Screenplay),

Starring: Itsuji Itao, Sumire Ashina, Izumi Okamura, Noriko Kijima, Yuko Miyamoto, Masaki Miura, Kenji Iwatani, Mayumi Tajima,

Website IMDB

Aroused by Gymnopedies is one of the five films commissioned by Nikkatsu to be part of its reboot of the Roman Porno genre. Isao Yukisada directs and co-writes a self-reflexive story about the craft of filmmaking involving a once-great director who finds himself on skid-row and carrying a sadness that seemingly not even sex with a series of beautiful women can relieve.

The has-been director is fifty-something Shinji Furuya (Itsuji Itao). He was once a rising star in arthouse cinema capable of making great works that won awards at places like the Venice Film Festival but over the course of time his taste for womanising ballooned and something happened to him that made him fall from the heavens of the film industry and into a hellish landscape of melancholy and self-pity. He is now reduced to directing pink films for money, a stony-faced chain-smoking presence on set and a silent solitary man juggling debts in private. His latest production has turned into a disaster because his lead actress Anri (Izumi Okamura) has dropped out and he’s going to lose a desperately-needed paycheck.

Aroused by Gymnopedies Film Image

Thrown deeper into his mire of depression and with bills to pay he shambles around Tokyo over the course of seven days he alternately looking for money and slumps from one female acquaintance’s bed to another. Alas, he seems to get no joy from the sex he has with beautiful woman and he even rejects their offers of comfort. He soldiers on in being miserable because he carries an emotional burden too great for others to solve and it seems to be connected to a woman who plays the Erik Satie piano piece Gymnopedies in flashbacks he experiences

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Wet Woman in the Wind「風に濡れた女 」 2017 Dir: Akihiko Shiota

Wet Woman in the Wind   Wet Woman in the Wind Film Poster

風に濡れた女 Kaze ni nureta onna

Running Time: 78 mins.

Director:  Akihiko Shiota

Writer: Akihiko Shiota (Screenplay),

Starring: Tasuku Nagaoka, Yuki Mamiya, Ryushin Tei, Takahiro Kato, Hitomi Nakatani, Michiko Suzuki, Yuumi Akagi,

Website IMDB

The Roman Porno label is back for a series of five films to celebrate 45 years since the Nikkatsu film studio launched the originals.

Over the last year or so this specific sub-genre of soft-core porn films has been resurrected and they have cropped up at various festivals such as International Film Festival Rotterdam and Nippon Connection. Audiences have been able to see these newer entries in the series celebrate their antecedents by following the same rules of creation laid out by their predecessors – a short shoot of about a week to create something lasting 80 minutes with sex scenes every ten minutes or so. Writers and directors were free to explore various themes and settings whether it be sexual politics to historical tales to self-reflexive comedies based on the film world.

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Tokyo Tribe Trailer and Information

Tokyo Tribe    

Tokyo Tribe Film Poster

Japanese: トーキョー トライブ

Romaji: To-kyo- Toraibu

Release Date: August 30th, 2014 (Japan)

Running Time: 116 mins.

Director: Sion Sono

Writer: Sion Sono (Screenplay), Santa Inoue (Original Manga)

Starring: Ryohei Suzuki, Young Dais, Nana Seino, Ryuta Sato, Riki Takuechi, Denden, Shota Sometani, Shoko Nakagawa, Yosuke Kubozuka, Takuya Ishida, Shunsuke Daito, Yui Ichikawa, Mika Kano,

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A Woman Called Abe Sada 実録阿部定 (1975)

A Woman Called Abe Sada Genki Review Banner

A Woman Called Abe Sada                A Woman Called Abe Sada Film Poster

Japanese Title: 実録阿部定

Romaji: Jitsuroku Abe Sada

Release Date: February 08th, 1975

Running Time: 76 mins.

Director: Noboru Tanaka

Writer: Akio Ido (Screenplay),

Starring: Junko Miyashita, Hideaki Ezumi, Nagatoshi Sakamoto, Yoshi Kitsuda

A Woman Called Abe Sada is based on the infamous story of a real woman named Abe Sada¹ that took place in 1936. The case is so well-known it has been turned into film multiple times, the most famous being Nagisa Oshima’s In the Realm of the Senses (1976). A Woman Called Abe Sada was released the year before and was been largely overshadowed by Oshima’s title despite being voted one of the best ten films of 1975 by the high-brow movie institution Kinema Junpo. For me, this is the version I prefer and it comes down to Junko Miyashita’s beauty and emotive performance and Noboru Tanaka’s tight direction and Akio Ido’s intelligent script.

 “Whatever happens to us, I don’t care.”

A Woman Called Abe Sada Gaze into the Future(Miyashita)

Abe Sada is a geisha who has been locked in a passionate affair with and Kichi, the owner of a hotel she works in. They have spent a month travelling between machiai (teahouses) where they stay for a few days of sex and drink while geisha sing. Sada is deeply in love with Kichi and asks him, “Will you give them up? Hotel, wife and children”

Kichi replies, “I’ll go to hell if you want me to. I’ve never known a woman like you.”

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BFI Nikkatsu Studio Season

This year marks the centenary of the founding of Nikkatsu Studio and because of this a lot of their old titles are getting restored and re-released. The BFI are joining in with the celebrations by screening a selection of works that came out of Nikkatsu Studio in the 50’s and 60’s with titles from important Japanese directors like Yuzo Kawashima, Shohei Imamura and Seijun Suzuki. The season runs from June 01st to June 30th at the BFI Southbank.

What this season looks good at doing is revealing the grittier edge of post-war Japanese cinema, the changes in sexual politics and just what the taiyozoku (sun tribe) strand of films was like with their focus on nihilistic affluent youth. A lot of the stories are adapted from the books of Shintaro Ishihara, the man who would later become Governor of Tokyo. As far as the actors go well there are some familiar names like Meiko Kaji (Lady Snowblood) and Jo Shishido (A Colt is My Passport) but most are unknown to me.

Here is the selection and the dates and info taken from the site (only a few comments from me edited in). Click on the titles for more information and to order tickets:

Seasons in the Sun: The Heyday of Nikkatsu Studios

Season Introduction: Seasons in the Sun: The Heyday of Nikkatsu Studios

June 03rd, 6:15 PM

Film critic Jaspar Sharp (author of Behind the Pink Curtain and The Historical Dictionary of Japanese Cinema) is the season curator for the season and he will provide a talk on the films guiding the audience through some of the films that best exemplify the studios output throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Suzuki Paradise: Red Signal

June 01st, 6:20 PM, June 07th, 8:50 PM

Director: Yuzo Kawashima, Starring: Michiyo Aratama, Tatsuya Mihashi, Yukiko Todoroki
Running Time: 81 mins

Director Yuzo Kawashima’s reputation is in the middle of a revival at the moment, starting with a retrospective of his films at last year’s Berlin International Film Festival and continuing with reissues of his titles like Bakumatsu Taiyo-den (courtesy of Masters of Cinema). This was one of the films screened at Berlin.

Michiyo Aratama, Tatsuya Mihashi in Suzaki Paradise: Red Light

A newlywed couple drawn to the bright lights of Tokyo find their relationship in jeopardy when the pretty young wife Tsutae sees an easy escape route from poverty in the neighbouring red-light district.

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Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival

Yubari Film Festival BannerThe Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival (YIFFF) kicks off today in its glamorous snowy, ski-resort in Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaidō. YIFFF is a great place to get a look at the latest in Japanese indie films with many world premieres from directors both new and old. The diversity and originality of films is heartening considering every trailer post I have written has had at least one movie adaptation of a manga/anime/book etc. It’s the first year I have paid attention to it and so with the aid of Google translate, Twitch for the more obscure titles and some trailer round-ups I wrote months ago here are some of the films on offer that have caught my eye.

Official Selection

There are many world premieres here but the only one that jumps out at me is Warped Forest.

The Warped Forest

Directed by Shunichiro Miki and starring Rinko Kikuchi, Fumi Nikaido, Boba, Kanji Tuda, Yoshiyuki Morishita

A collection of weird characters in a weird world are put on display. This is a world where there is a giant shop-girl unable to fit into the store she works in, nymphs harass a heart-broken woman with suggestive fruit and bedroom’s have weird green pods in them.

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