Interview with “The Modern Lovers” Director Atsuro Shimoyashiro at the Osaka Asian Film Film Festival 2020

Atsuro Shimoyashiro was at this year’s Osaka Asian Film Festival with The Modern Lovers, a sexually explicit story about two former lovers reuniting, raking over their past relationship and realizing their regrets. His path to the festival is an interesting example of an indie film warrior. After dropping out of college, Shimoyashiro studied at the Film School of Tokyo and has had an interesting career working in music and indie movies. He directed films like Walk in the Room (2016), which was selected for TAMA NEW WAVE and the Kanazawa Film Festival 2017, and Voyage Garden (2018), which was selected for O!!DO Short Film Festival. He has also produced music for films, including two by Shinji Imaoka, Long Goodbye: Private Detective Kurinosuke Furui (2017) and Reiko and the Dolphin (2019).

The Modern Lovers is something else. A hip movie with an atmosphere choked with longing, lust and a little bitterness. Due to the nudity involved and its brief story, it brings to mind the pink films of the Roman Porno genre despite being an indie drama. There seems to be some creative connection since legendary pink film director Shinji Imaoka makes a brief appearance in a bar scene and Shimoyashiro has collaborated with him. It may be tempting to see Shimoyashiro as a new generation of pink film director but he is firmly on the indie side of things, as he explained when he sat down to talk about The Modern Lovers and his inspirations. This interview was conducted with the help of translators Keiko Matsushita and Takako Pocklington.

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The Modern Lovers 東京の恋人 Director Atsuro Shimoyashiro (2019) [Osaka Asian Film Festival 2020]

The Modern Lovers    The Modern Lovers Film Poster

東京の恋人Tokyo no Koibito

Release Date: June 27th, 2020

Duration: 81 mins.

Director: Atsuro Shimoyashiro

Writer: Atsuro Shimoyashiro, Naoaki Akamatsu (Script),

Starring: Ryu Morioka, Nanami Kawakami, Mutsuo Yoshioka, Ruri Shinato, Tomoki Kumura, Shinji Imaoka, Teruko,

OAFF

The dreams we forgo and the promises we break can define our lives as we grow older, a realization that the protagonist of Atsuro Shimoyashiro’s steamy indie drama gradually comes to when he reconnects with an old flame for one last tryst.

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5 Million Dollar Life 五億円のじんせい Dir: Moon Sung-Ho [New York Asian Film Festival 2019]

5 Million Dollar Life    5 Million Dollar Life Film Poster

五億円のじんせい  Gooku Yen no Jinsei

Release Date: July 20th, 2019

Duration: 112 mins.

Director: Moon Sung-Ho

Writer: Naomi Hiruta (Screenplay),

Starring: Ayumu Mochizuki, Anna Yamada, Ryu Morioka, Satoru Matsuo, Sumire Ashina, Junko Emoto, Naomi Nishida, Taro Suwa,

Website IMDB

Moon Sung-Ho was first mentioned on this blog in 2014 with his NDJC film Michizure. Originally from Hiroshima, after graduating from high school, he studied film-making in South Korea and then returned to Japan to shoot commercials and short films according to the NYAFF biography. This is his debut feature based on an original screenplay by veteran writer Naomi Hiruta and it has a weird energy thanks to its dark heart, a story so concerned with death and exploitation, and a light delivery in terms of direction and the script/actor’s as well the sunny daytime action.

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Emi-Abi エミアビのはじまりとはじまり Dir: Kensaku Watanabe (2016)

Emi-abi    

Emi-Abi Film Poster
Emi-Abi Film Poster

エミアビのはじまりとはじまり 「Emiabi no Hajimari to Hajimari」 

Running Time: 88 mins.

Director: Kensaku Watanabe

Writer: Kensaku Watanabe (Screenplay)

Starring:  Ryu Morioka, Tomoya Maeno, Haru Kuroki, Hirofumi Arai, Mari Yamachi,

Website IMDB

Emi-Abi is a film marked by death but it is incredibly life-affirming. Written and directed by Kensaku Watanabe (he adapted the novel The Great Passage  into a script for the big screen), it tells the tale of artistic endeavour in the face of disaster and comes up trumps with a happy ending in a film that perfectly balances tragedy and comedy.

The story begins at the end of the manzai act Emi-Abi. The duo has lost its funny-man Unno (Tomoya Maeno) in an accident. All that remains is the handsome straight man Jitsudo (Ryu Morioka) and his dutiful manager Natsumi (Haru Kuroki) who has a comedy streak funnier than her remaining charge. With Unno’s funeral in the past and an uncertain future as a mere pretty-boy performer in a pretty crowded field, Jitsudo is on his way to his comedy sempai Kurosawa’s (Hirofumi Arai) home to pay respects and to get advice.

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