Third Window Films Release Japanese American Culture Clash Comedy Sake-Bomb

Sake-Bomb                                 Third Window FIlms Sake-Bomb Release                                           

Running Time: 82 mins

UK Release Date: August 25th, 2014

Release Date: May 24th, 2014 (Japan)

Director: Junya Sakino

Writer: Jeff Mizushima (Screenplay),

Starring: Gaku Hamada. Eugene Kim, Marlane Barnes, Josh Brodis, Samatha Quan, Hiroyuki Watanabe

Third Window Films are going to release Sake-Bomb at the end of August. I saw Sake-Bomb and interviewed its director at last year’s Raindance Film Festival, well ahead of its release in Japan. I wasn’t totally enamoured with the film but it is well-done and other critics have loved it. Here are the details:

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Haunted School: The Curse of the Word Spirit, Bolt from the Blue, Eagle and Hawk, Oh! Father, Our Family, The Right Way to Forget, Death Blog the Movie Japanese Film Trailers

Still the Water On SetCannes is underway and I’ve been sucked into the hype by constantly checking the film reviews and videos over at The Guardian and the info on Bonjour Tristesse. The Japanese entries are splitting the critics; The Tale of Princess Kaguya is wowing everyone while Naomi Kawase’s Still the Water is receiving mixed reviews (Peter Bradshaw reviews it in this video an does a better job of explaining it on film… digitally, I should say, than in text). Alas, I’m not at Cannes but I can watch films and so on Monday I did a double-bill of Blue Ruin followed by The Wind Rises and both films blew me awaaaaaaaay. Expect long reviews next week.

This week I posted about Third Window Films and its release of the Korean drama Bleak Night. Bringing things back to festival hype, I posted about the Kotatsu Japanese Animation Film Festival which takes place next month. I also updated the Japanese Films at Cannes post with a trailer and a clip for Still the Water.

What’s released in Tokyo this weekend???

Haunted School: The Curse of the Word SpiritHaunted School The Curse of the Word Spirit Film Poster

Japanese Title:  学校の怪談 呪いの言霊

Romaji: Gakko no Kaidan Noroi no Kotodama

Running Time: 105 mins

Release Date: May 23rd, 2014 (Japan)

Director: Masayuki Ochiai

Writer: Toru Tsunemitsu (Original Novel), Masayuki Ochiai (Screenplay),

Starring: Ayano Konishi, Miyu Yamabe, Hitomi Arai, Yuri Nakae, Mei Shoji, Shono Hayama, Kai Inowaki, Tatsuya Kuroki, Kohei Takeda, Anna Ishibashi

The first and only Ochiai film I have reviewed was Infection which I thought was a fun and gooey J-horror.  He now enters the teen horror realm with an adaptation of a novel.

Ayano (Konishi) and her friends discover that a school was the location of a fatal gas attack. After finding out about this, the girls start experiencing strange things like hearing breathing in empty classrooms and seeing shadows… Another girl, Hitomi (Arai) enters the school to shoot a horror video and capture sight of a fox’s window which leads to the spirit world…


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Genki Sake-Bomb Header

Sake-Bomb                                                                           Sake bomb film poster

Seen as part of the Raindance Film Festival     

Running Time: 91 mins.

Director: Junya Sakino

Writer: Jeff Mizushima (Screenplay),

Starring: Gaku Hamada. Eugene Kim, Marlane Barnes, Josh Brodis, Samatha Quan, Hiroyuki Watanabe

A Sake-Bomb is a type of drink created when a cup of sake is balanced on chopsticks on a glass of beer. When the table is hit the chopsticks move and the sake falls into the beer and the beer is then drunk in one go. Effectively this is a mixing of East and West (through alcohol) which is what this film hopes to achieve in what is almost a refreshingly new take on a comedy staple the road-trip movie.

Sake-Bomb Naoto and his Boss

Naoto (Hamada) is an unassuming looking chap who works at a brewery in a rural part of Japan. Because his soon-to-retire boss (Denden) considers him the best employee at the brewery Naoto finds himself named as the successor for the business. Before that can happen his boss tells him to take a week off and do something he has always wanted to do so he can settle down and devote his life to brewing alcohol. With this advice in mind Naoto heads to America to track down a former girlfriend who taught him English before disappearing without a trace.

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Genkina hito at the Raindance Film Festival 2013

Genki Raindance Film Festival 2013 Review Banner

I’m back in London at another film festival a week after this year’s Raindance Independent Film Festival finished.

The thing about this festival is that it screens titles that would be hard to find even in their native countries. Indie films that would have a narrow release, usually in a capital city (Tokyo, London) and perhaps at some regional third-tier film festivals. If I had to describe the titles I watched with simple words then I would use confident and stylish. Every story was told with an assured skill and was highly absorbing. The only downside was the small turn-out for each of the films I attended. It was most disappointing during the Remiges screening because I played a part in getting it into the festival and the director came all the way from Japan to perform a Q&A!

The most positive thing is that I met friends and watched excellent films that have shot to the top of my favourite films of the year list – oh how I loved watching Shady, The Kirishima Thing, and Remiges – and I’ve become immersed even more in cinema culture.

Even more immersed in the culture?

Well, I write for Gigan magazine and some of my reviews for the festival appeared in the paper edition (no sign of digital yet). Thanks to Adam of Third Window Films I was able to conduct a couple of interviews with directors. So what reviews do I have in connection with the festival? Here are the reviews and interviews:

The Kirishima Thing



Sake-Bomb + Interview 

Remiges + Interview 


The Kirishima Thing                                         The Kirishima Thing Poster          

Romaji: Kirishima, Bukatsu Yamerutteyo

Japanese Title: 桐島、 部活 やめるってよ

Running Time: 103 mins.

Director: Daihachi Yoshida

Writer: Ryo Asai (Original Novel), Kohei Kiyasu, Daihachi Yoshida (Screenplay)

Starring: Ai Hashimoto, Ryunosuke Kamiki, Suzuka Ohgo, Mayu Matsuoka, Motoki Ochiai, Masahiro Higashide, Kurui Shimizu, Mizuki Yamamoto,   

The Kirishima Thing is a teen drama featuring a collection of bright young things of the Japanese acting world that show they are a new and strong generation of talent. Its depiction of the social mores and strata in high school is well-observed and real and for its efforts it was the big winner at the recent Japanese Academy Awards scoring Best Film and Best Director prizes. I already watched and reviewed it before the festival so expect a re-review or lots of picture/Gifs.

When high school volleyball star player Kirishima quits the team shockwaves are sent through the school. This is the story of the students surrounding Kirishima from his friend Hiroki Kikuchi (Higashide), girlfriend Risa (Yamamoto), Aya (Ohgo) a brass band musician with a crush on Kirishima, badminton player Kasumi (Hashimoto), and the president of the film club Maeda (Kamiki). The students will cross social boundaries and defy groups as they attempt to redefine themselves.


Shady                                                                           Shady Film Poster 

Japanese Title: かしこい狗は、吠えずに笑う

Romaji: Kashikoi Inu wa, Hoezu ni Warau

Release Date: June 22nd, 2013

Director: Ryohei Watanabe

Writer: Ryohei Watanabe (Screenplay)

Starring: mimpi * β, Izumi Okamura, Isao Nakazawa, Gota Ishida, Ayumi Seko

I’ve been hyped for this ever since seeing at on Alua’s blog back in January. This film was released in June 2013 and it has been wowing critics and distributors (Winner of the Entertainment Award at the PIA Film Festival) and has been picked up by Third Window Films for the UK. This was my film of the festival. It was a genuinely unexpected treat that kept me hooked from start to finish. I want the soundtrack as well!


Misa Kumada (mimpi * β), an outcast at her school who is mercilessly teased and has no friends. She hates the place but when the popular and pretty Izumi Kiyose (Okamura) befriends her the two develop bonds of friendship. What Misa doesn’t know is that the seemingly angelic Kiyose has quite a dark side.

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Japanese Films at the Raindance Film Festival 2013

Genki Raindance Film Festival 2013 Banner

The films for the Raindance Film Festival (September 25th – October 06th ) have been announced and there are a lot of Japanese titles on offer in the Way Out East strand. There are some I have reviewed, some I have viewed and a lot that have come up in Saturday trailer posts I do every week. There are enough that I am willing to attend the festival. I will be heading down to London and watching Shindo, The Kirishima Thing, Shady and Remiges.

Here’s a trailer for the festival:

Here’s the line-up of titles:

Soul Flower Train            Soul Flower Train Film Poster

Japanese Title:  ソウル フラワー トレイン

Romaji: Souru Furawa- Torein

Running Time: 97 mins.

Director: Hiroshi Nishio

Writer: Miyuki Uehara, Hiroshi Nishio (Screenplay), Robin Nishi (Original Manga)

Starring: Mitsuru Hirata, Saki Seishi, Kensuke Owada, Mio Otani, Kaoru Kusumi, Megumi Wada, Shoichi Asano, Marin Sayoko

Robin Nishi, the mind behind the manga/anime Mind Game has another of his works adapted. It’s a road-trip movie with a soundtrack by Shounen Knife. This trailer was featured just last weekend and I liked it a lot but the screening date is a little too early for me so I’ll have to miss it.

In this tale, a father named Amamoto leaves his small village and heads to Osaka to track down his estranged daughter Yuki. He hooks up with a friendly young woman who helps him but ends up getting lost and caught up in a surreal adventure on the island before he finds her and discovers she is keeping secrets.

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