Cold Bloom, The Great Passage, HK Hentai Kamen, Travellers: Dimensional Police, Samurai Dash and Other Movie Trailers and the Japanese Movie Box Office Chart

Kiki's Delivery ServiceAnother week stuffed full of anime as I try and finish off the winter season and get into my first impressions of the spring selections I made. That written I did write about films! I made a longer than expected review Mushishi which is based on a manga and anime. I loved the film and found it a beautiful and relaxing watch which I can keep indulging in. I also posted about the trailer for Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s film Real. I went way overboard compared to my usual trailer posts and indulged my love of Kiyoshi Kurosawa films!

The majority of my film-watching time was spent with Film4 and its Studio Ghibli season which draws to a close later today with the screening of Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind. It capped a wonderful fortnight where I managed to watch nearly all of the titles. I re-watched The Cat Returns, Only Yesterday, Howl’s Moving Castle and Laputa: Castle in the Sky while doing Japanese homework and made a point of watching The Little Norse Prince and I enjoyed them all.

In terms of other anime I finished Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan in preparation for a review while the Anime UK News Serial Experiments Lain simul-watch has ground to a halt because it seems the participants are either too busy or too confused (the former for me). Level E surprised me with its 4th episode which the comedy is toned down to miniscule proportions and the drama turned up and it works really effectively because I was engaged with the story right until (SPOILER) its ironic ending where I burst out into a fit of laughter. It showed the creativity of the creators. I finally finished Maoyu (review coming soon!). 

What do the Japanese film charts look like this week (April 06th-07th)?

  1. Dragon Ball Z Battle of the Gods
  2. Wreck-It Ralph
  3. Doraemon Nobita’s Dinosaur
  4. Platina Data
  5. Aibou Series X Day
  6. Precure All Stars New Stage 2
  7. Oz the Great and Powerful
  8. Jack the Giant Slayer
  9. Himawari and Her Puppies
  10. My Diary of Our Exchange

No real change in the top ten although Orpheus’ Lyre, one of last week’s big dramas starring Ryoko Hiosue, opens at 15 with a modest $178,145 earned from 109 screens.

What’s released this weekend?

Cold Bloom                                                            Cold Bloom Film Poster

Japanese Title: 桜並木の満開の下に

Romaji: Sakura Namiki no Mankai no Shita ni

Release Date: April 13th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 120 mins.

Director: Atsushi Funahari

Writer: Atsushi Funahari, Murakoshi Shigery

Starring: Asami Usuda, Takahiro Miura, Yurei Yanagi, Taro Suwa, You Takahashi

Atsushi Funahari premiered this at the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year. It is a film with the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami as its subject matter much like his previous film, the documentary Nuclear Nation which looked at nuclear power after the disaster in 2011. This drama looks at the economic and emotional impact as felt by a group of workers at a factory. It stars a collection of new and old actors like Asami Usuda (The Woodsman & the Rain), Takahiro Miura (Ninja Kids!!!), Yurei Yanagi (Boiling PointRing) and Taro Suwa (Cold FishHimizu). A review on the Japan Times Website makes this sound good, a tough watch with some limited but focussed performances that make it emotionally rewarding. The first film of the week I want to watch.

Ever since the tsunami struck the workers of a metal factory in the industrial town of Hitachi have been in something of a malaise, the only thing keeping them afloat being a skilled worker named Kenji (Takahashi) who has secured them a contract. Then he dies on the first day at the client’s site. His colleague Takumi (Miura) is responsible and the factory worker turn on him, taking sides with Kenji’s widow Shiori (Usuda) but her hatred turns to love. 

 

The Great Passage                We Knit Ship Film Poster

Japanese Title: 舟を編む

Romaji: Fune wo Amu

Release Date: April 13th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 133 mins.

Director: Yuya Ishii

Writer: Shion Miura (Original Novel), Kensaku Watanabe (Screenplay),

Starring: Ryuhei Matsuda, Aoi Miyazaki, Joe Odagiri, Haru Kuroki, Misako Watanabe, Kumiko Aso, Shingo Tsurumi, Chizuru Ikewaki, Hiroko Isayama, Kaouru Kobayashi, Go Kato, Kaoru Yachigusa, Ryu Morioka, Shohei Uno, Kazuki Namioka

After watching Sawako Decides I was ready to join the Yuya Ishii fan-club. Then I watched Mitsuko Delivers, a stolid film hampered with a frustratingly docile story and wooden comedy. I was genuinely bewildered that he could have come out with something like that. Then I saw the trailer for The Great Passage when it was featured over at Otherwhere in one of Alua’s trailer weeklies. I was moderately interested in it as it seemed a return to form for Yuya Ishii. A lack of a genki girls and wooden comedy and a return to the low-key observational and character-based humour that marked Sawako Decides. Anyway…

The literal title is Fune wo Amu – Fune = Ship and Amu = knit so the Japanese title is We Knit Ship but the English title is The Great Passage. The film looks like a really smart intellectual rom-com  where a talented man of letters cannot find the words to say “I love you” to the girl of his dreams.

Mitsuya Majime (Matsuda) is has the talent to comprehend different languages and is the most important member of the editorial team of a dictionary but he struggles to tell Kaguya Hayashi (Miyazaki), a cook and the granddaughter o the owner of Majime’s boarding home, how he feels about her.

It is based on Shion Miura’s novel. She’s a pretty big deal considering she’s had mega successes with her scripts for Tada’s Do-It-All House and its dorama spin-off Mahoro Eki Mae Bangaichi. It has a cast list which is full of stars: Ryuhei Matsuda (Nightmare Detective), Aoi Miyazaki (Eureka), Joe Odagiri (Mushishi, Adrift in Tokyo), Haru Kuroki (The Wolf Children), Kumiko Aso (Pulse), Kazuki Namioka (Thirteen Assassins), Chizuru Ikewaki (Josee, the Tiger and the Fish, The Cat Returns) and Shohei Uno (The Drudgery Train).

I like the concept, I like the talent, I like the trailer – I want to watch this film!

HK Hentai Kamen                                         Hentai Kamen Film Poster

Japanese Title: HK 変態仮面

Romaji: HK Hentai Kamen

Release Date: April 13th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Yuichi Fukuda

Writer: Yuichi Fukuda, Shun Oguri (Screenplay), Keishu Ando (Original Manga)

Starring: Ryohei Suzuki, Fumika Shimizu, Ken Yasuda, Tsuyoshi Muro, Jiro Sato Narushi Ikeda, Takashi Tsukamoto, Yoshinori Okada

Yuichi Fukuda had his Child Police film released a few weeks back and he continues with Hentai Kamen Mangahis comic film form with this film he co-wrote with Shun Oguri (The Woodsman & the Rain). The two have adapted Keishu Ando’s manga “Kyukyuko!! Hentai Kamen” which I have not read but seems like a male version of Go Nagai’s Mask the Kekkou Reborn which had a live-action film adaptation which was released last year and starred AV star Aino Kishi. I must admit that when I first saw the trailer I almost spat my coffee out from laughing so hard. I think I would see this at a cinema regardless of whether I had friends with me or not. Chalk this up as another film I would watch because it looks fun!

Anyway Ryohei Suzuki is ballsy enough to display his well-sculpted body on screen. Some may have seen him in Train Brain Express. Fumoika Shimizu, stars of many Kamen Rider films, is the love interest. Ken Yasuda (The Cat Returns, Rakugo the Movie), Tsuyoshi Muro (After School, A Story of Yonosuke) Takashi Tsukamoto (Battle Royale) and Yoshinori Okada (Fine, Totally Fine) also co-star. Check the trailer and admit that you laughed as well!

Kyosuke Shikijo (Suzuki) is a high school student and the most talented member of his school’s martial arts club. His late father was a detective and has passé on his sense of justice. On top of being a detective Kyosuke’s father was a masochist while his mother was a sadist which partly explains why Kyosuke love of wearing women’s underwear! When he does wear panties and what not he transforms into his alter ego “Pervert Mask” and gains superhuman powers. Said superpowers come in handy when he has to protect Aiko Himeno (Shimizu) from their dirty and evil teacher (Yasuda). Fortunately Aiko’s underwear gives Kyosuke super pervert techniques.

I’m not making this up! Someone else beat me to it! Here’s HK Hentai Kamen’s take on cinema etiquette:

  Continue reading “Cold Bloom, The Great Passage, HK Hentai Kamen, Travellers: Dimensional Police, Samurai Dash and Other Movie Trailers and the Japanese Movie Box Office Chart”

Great East Japan Earthquake Aftermath on Film

311 Film ImageI remember the morning of the Great East Japan Earthquake quite vividly. I finished work early and watched the unfolding disaster online. It was terrifying and it was bewildering and it seemed so overwhelming. I also remember the (ani)blogging community coming together quick sharp to relay news and to set up charity appeals. The charity appeals are still needed as rebuilding is moving slowly and people are still displaced which is why I posted about a Japan Foundation film event on the anniversary earlier this week. It is strange to think that the disaster was two years ago because it seems closer and I suspect that the reason it still seems so close is because of the many films that have use it as subject matter.

One of the things I do on my blog is write up trailer posts for most of the Japanese films released in cinemas and for the films touring the festival circuit. Through doing this I have seen that Japanese filmmakers are intensely interested. Not a month goes by without two or three titles and with the recent anniversary the number of films has intensified. The range of filmmakers covers documentarians, directors who are better known for horror films and bleak dramas (bleakies as fellow film-blogger Alua calls them), veterans and directors making their debuts. It stands in complete contrast to other disasters and countries. How many films are there directly or indirectly about Hurricane Katrina (a handy wikipedia list)? There are probably more because The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans isn’t present in that list but still it just does not compare to the efforts that the Japanese filmmaking community has made to highlight document disaster and the continuing problems. Whatever the case, I present this list to you. I can’t claim that it’s exhaustive but it’s somewhere to start. It is shows how unique cinema can be and it is something we can use to remember the event and the impact it had on people’s lives and hopefully chart the recovery of the region.

Here are some of the films:

 

A Gentle Rain Falls for FukushimaA Gentle Rain Falls for Fukushima

Director: Atsushi Kokatsu, Writer: Atsushi Kokatsu, Uichiro Kitazato

Starring: Kosuke Toyohara, Chieko Matsubara, Jurina, Shono Hayama, Gitan Otsuru, Hitomi Sato

This was the directorial debut of Kokatsu. When preproduction of the film was finished in early 2011 and funding was secured from the Fukushima government the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami struck. After initially suspending the film the filmmakers continued with production and donated some of the profits to charity. The film is a mix of heartfelt drama and light comedy that comes with the role-swapping like finding out a girl younger than you used to be your mother in a past life. It centres around a diverse group of people who are all lonely and struggling in life. They meet in Fukushima where they discover that they were a family in a previous life. At first uneasy with each other, the more they talk the better they feel about their problems and their bond grows but their time together remains short as they must soon leave.

 

Himizu PosterHimizu

Director: Sion Sono, Writer: Sion Sono (script adaptation), Minoru Furuya (manga)

Starring: Shota Sometani, Fumi Nikaidō, Tetsu Watanabe, Denden, Jun Murakami, Makiko Watanabe, Ken Mitsuishi, Mitsuru Fukikoshi, Megumi Kagurazaka, Asuka Kurosawa, Taro Suwa,

Himizu is Sion Sono’s adaptation of Minoru Furuya’s manga of the same name and the only film on this list I have seen. I was in tears at the end. Sono takes a manga already full of anger and tough subject matter like child abuse and murder, and weaves in the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami to create a film which is ultimately a moving exploration of life, identity, redemption and the will to live. I’m quoting my review now. Here are more quotes “Sono hammers the references home with scenes of actors wandering around the disaster hit areas complete with the skeletal remains of buildings and mounds of rubble surrounding them. The sight of the destruction is a terrifying testament to the power of the disaster. The scenes are accompanied by the sound of Geiger counters and a menacing rumbling reminding us the events even more. It feels like a natural part of the film and added to the theme of enduring whatever life throws at you.” I would consider Himizu to be one of the best films I saw last year.

Junior high school kid Yuichi Sumida (Sometani) wants a quiet life but his mother (Watanabe) comes home with different men every night, and his drunken, hate-filled father (Mitsuishi) only pays him visits when he needs money. Yuichi carries on running the family boat rental business and lives surrounded by homeless people who are victims of the tsunami. Meanwhile at school he is ignoring class-mate Keiko Chazawa (Nikaidō) who has a massive crush on him. Things get tough when his mother abandons him and Kaneko (Denden), a Yakuza loan-shark, shows up looking for Yuichi’s father and ¥6 million. Pushed to breaking point by his situation Yuichi finds himself unable to control his anger and a series of events leads him to the brink of madness.

Women on the Edge Movie PosterWomen on the Edge                                         

Director: Masahiro Kobayashi, Writer: Masahiro Kobayashi

Starring: Miho Fujima, Yuko Nakamura, Makiko Watanabe

Masahiro Kobayashi, writer and director of grim films like Bashing is back with Women on the Edge which stars Miho Fujima (Ju-On: The GrudgeTajomaru), Yuko Nakamura (Blood and Bones), and Makiko Watanabe (Himizu, Love Exposure).

The three Onodera sisters return to the home of their deceased parents’ in Kesennuma, Miyagi, a place affected by the Tohoku Earthquake. The house has survived the earthquake and tsunami and the three are looking to claim an inheritance. Nobuko (Nakamura) moved to Tokyo and is a divorcee, Takako (Watanabe) moved to New York and works as a butoh dancer. Third sister Satomi (Fujima) stayed behind. There are deep resentments and over the course of the film they will come out.

 

Odayaka Film PosterOdayaka                                                                      

Director: Nobuteru Uchida, Writer: Nobuteru Uchida (Script),

Starring: Kiki Sugino, Yukiko Shinohara, Takeshi Yamamoto, Ami Watanabe, Ami Watanabe, Yu Koyanagi, Makiko Watanabe, Maho Yamada, Susumu Terajima, Maki Nishiyama, Kotaro Shiga, Kanji Furutachi, Yuko Kibiki, Yuya Matsumura,

This is a film which covers the March 11th earthquakes. This is another fiction film addressing the March 11th Earthquake and Tsunami following Women on the EdgeThe Ear Cleaner and The Land of Hope. It is written and directed by Nobuteru Uchida (Love Addiction).

Saeko (Sugino) and Yukako (Shinohara) are neighbours in a Tokyo apartment complex. Following the March 11th Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami both find their lives affected by newfound fears. Saeko is undergoing a divorce and fears her daughter may get radiation exposure. Yukako also fears the radiation and asks her husband to move. When Saeko saves Yukako from suicide, the two become close.

The Intermission Film PosterThe Intermission                 

Director: Naofumi Higuchi, Writer: Naofumi Higuchi, Minato Takehiko (Screenplay),

Starring: Kumiko Akiyoshi, Shota Sometani, Kyoko Kagawa, Akiko Koyama, Kumi Mizuno, Naoto Takenaka, Shiro Sano,

An indie film which deals indirectly with the effects of March 11th as we get the real life story of an old movie theatre in Ginza, Tokyo was closed in March. It stars Shota Sometani (Himizu), Kumiko Akiyoshi (Deep River), Kyoko Kagawa (Shall We Dance?) and Kumi Mizuno (Godzilla Final Wars).

Kumiko (Akiyoshi) is the manager of the Ginza Shinepatosu and she has a younger husband named Shota (Sometani). The movie theatre faces closure following the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011 due to safety fears. As the final day approaches, Kumiko’s anxieties over earthquakes and radiation grow.

Continue reading “Great East Japan Earthquake Aftermath on Film”