Gukoroku – Traces of Sin 愚行録 Dir: Kei Ishikawa (2017)

Gukoroku – Traces of Sin   Gukoroku Film Poster

愚行録  Gukoroku」    

Running Time: 120 mins.

Director: Kei Ishikawa

Writer: Kosuke Mukai (Screenplay), Tokuro Nukui (Original Novel),

Starring: Satoshi Tsumabuki, Hikari Mitsushima, Keisuke Koide, Asami Usuda, Yui Ichikawa,

Website IMDB

A brutal crime is committed in Tokyo where a picture-perfect family is knifed to death by an unknown assailant. With the killer having disappeared, questions are left unanswered but the central protagonist of this film aims to answer them. Kei Ishikawa’s tightly controlled directorial debut ostensibly looks like a murder mystery similar to Rage (2016) where an ensemble cast lead the audience into the conclusion of a terrible atrocity but this is a mystery where it is less about the how and more about the why the perpetrator committed the crime. Based on a novel by Tokuro Nukui and adapted by veteran scriptwriter Kosuke Mukai, this is a disturbing film gives us a chilling portrait of people driven to murder by issues of class and background in a society where hierarchy is everything. In this tale, lies and deceit are inherent in everyone who bears traces of sin.

Continue reading “Gukoroku – Traces of Sin 愚行録 Dir: Kei Ishikawa (2017)”

Rage 「怒り」 Dir: Sang-il Lee 2016

Rage Rage Film Poster

怒り 「Ikari

Running Time: 142 mins

Director:  Sang-il Lee

Writer: Sang-il Lee (Screenplay), Shuichi Yoshida (Novel),

Starring: Ken Watanabe, Aoi Miyazaki, Satoshi Tsumabuki, Gou Ayano, Suzu Hirose, Pierre Taki, Mirai Moriyama, Takahiro Miura, Chizuru Ikewaki, Kenichi Matsuyama,

Website IMDB

Rage is about the desperate need for human connections and the difficulties in maintaining trust when paranoia grips people. It takes place in four different communities in three separate regions of Japan following a grisly crime and the ambitious story allows a star-packed ensemble cast to go for glory in its bid for human drama but not everything resonates.

Continue reading “Rage 「怒り」 Dir: Sang-il Lee 2016”

The World of Kanako 渇き (2014)

The World of Kanako      The World of Kanako Film Poster 2

Japanese Title:

Romaji: Kawaki

Running Time: 113 mins

Release Date: June 27th, 2014 (Japan)

Seen at the BFI London Film Festival

Director: Tetsuya Nakashima

Writer: Tetsuya Nakashima (Screenplay), Akio Fukamachi (Novel),

Starring: Koji Yakusho, Nana Komatsu, Satoshi Tsumabuki, Joe Odagiri, Fumi Nikaido, Ai Hashimoto, Miki Nakatani, Jun Kunimura, Asuka Kurosawa,

Website

On paper The World of Kanako sounds incredibly formulaic: based on a novel by Akio Fukamachi, it’s about an ex-cop and bad father who goes in search of his missing daughter who may be involved in a world of trouble. The World of Kanako is anything but formulaic. It resists falling into cliché by being a visually and aurally staggering assault on the senses so meticulously designed, written, and directed by Tetsuya Nakashima, and acted out by big name actors given the chance to play evil characters that it makes an old plot feel new and exciting.

The film begins with the quote:

An era is only confused by a confused mind – Jean Cocteau

Continue reading “The World of Kanako 渇き (2014)”

Judge! ジャッジ!(2014)

Judge! (2014)   Judge 2014 Film Poster

Japanese Title: ジャッジ!

Romaji: Jajji!

Running Time: 105 mins.

Release Date: January 11th, 2014

Director: Akira Nagai

Writer: Yoshimitsu Sawamoto (Screenplay)

Starring: Satoshi Tsumabuki, Keiko Kitagawa, Lily Franky,
KyokaSuzuki, YosiYosi Arakawa, Yoji Tanaka, Denden, Ryo Kase, Etsushi Toyokawa, Iyo Matsumoto,

What I am about to say is very important…

The final film I saw at the Terracotta Far East Film Festival 2014 was the international premiere of Judge! and it was a fantastic way to finish the event. Akira Nagai flew in to introduce the film and even took the time to talk to me.

Taking a break from an award-winning career in a Tokyo-based advertising company, director Akira Nagai makes his feature film debut with the 2014 comedy Judge! Both Akira Nagai and writer Yoshimitsu Sawamoto have careers in advertising which they both draw on to make a sleek, light-hearted, and hilarious satire on the international ad industry which made me roar with laughter.

Continue reading “Judge! ジャッジ!(2014)”

Third Window Films Release For Loves Sake on DVD & Blu-Ray

Long time readers of the blog will remember that I attended last years BFI London Film Festival and saw For Love’s Sake. My review was positively overflowing with love, praise and fervour for the film and it landed at number 2 in my Top 10 Films of 2012. I can still remember whole swathes of the film and how I felt during the screening. When I found out that Third Window Films was releasing it I was rather pleased and I highly, highly (very, very highly) recommend it. Enough from me, here’s the details:

 For Loves Sake DVD Case

FOR LOVE’S SAKE

Director: Takashi Miike (13 Assassins, One Missed Call, Audition, Ninja Kids!!!)

 Starring: Satoshi Tsumabuki (Villain, Tokyo Family, Tokyo!, Dororo)

Emi Takei (Rurouni Kenshin)
Sakura Ando (Love Exposure, Our Homeland, Penance)

Japan / 2012 / 134 Mins / In Japanese with English subtitles / Colour

Out on Double-disc DVD & Blu-ray 

June 10th, 2013

DVD and Blu-ray Special Features
Anamorphic Widescreen transfer with 5.1 Surround Sound
Making Of, Skip to a Song Selection, Theatrical Trailer

 Ai to Makoto's Ai (Takei) Looking to the Future

Takashi Miike, the director of ’13 Assassins’, ‘Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai’ and ‘Audition’ brings us as Bollywood-style musical action/comedy/love story!
 
Not exactly a director that plays along with genre rules, the prolific Takashi Miike now takes his talent in genre bending to the pure romance world with For Love’s Sake (a.k.a. Ai to Makoto), based on Kajiwara Ikki’s 1973 manga series. An epic story of a rich high school girl who falls in love with a tough young gangster, Miike’s take on the story breaks all the rules with musical numbers (with music by popular music producer Kobayashi Takeshi), tongue-in-cheek humour, and in-your-face violence. Starring Satoshi Tsumabuki (Villain) and Emi Takei (Rurouni Kenshin) as the star-crossed lovers, For Love’s Sake is a unique and incredibly wild ride that will change your definition of what a pure romance can be.

Ai to Makoto Love is in the Air Makoto (Tsumabuki) and Ai (Takei)

For Love’s Sake 愛と誠 (2012)

For Love’s Sake                                              

Japanese Title: 愛と誠

Romaji: Ai to Makoto

Japanese Release Date: June 16th, 2012

Running Time: 134 mins.

Director: Takashi Miike

Writer: Takayuki Takuma (script), Ikki Kajiwara (manga)

Starring: Satoshi Tsumabuki, Emi Takei, Takumi Saito, Sakura Ando, Ito Ono, Tsuyoshi Ihara, Kimiko Yo, Ken Maeda, Yo Hitoto, Masachika Ichimura

For Love’s Sake was the final film I saw during the 56th BFI London Film Festival. Despite my dislike for musicals I expected this film to be highly entertaining because it was directed by Takashi Miike.

Can he change how I view a genre? Definitely.

I love Takashi Miike’s sensibilities. Miike is the type of director who can take any genre and transform it into something uniquely his own. When he made The Happiness of the Katakuris I found a musical I could love what with its inventive designs, amusing song and dance numbers, cracked performances and black humour. For Love’s Sake is another musical I can embrace thanks to its ultra-stylish and gleefully over the top and energetic execution. 

1972, Tokyo, Ai Satome (Takei) is an angelic high school student who comes from a respectable family. She leads a charmed life until Makoto Taiga (Tsumabuki), the boy who stole Ai’s heart as a child and an ultra-delinquent, arrives in Tokyo to settle a score from his past. He soon gets arrested after a rumble with some local toughs and is sent to reform school. Ai is still in love with Makoto and manages to get him released. She brings him to Aobodai Prep School where she studies. Ai’s love for Makoto inspires jealousy in Iwashimizu (Saito), the President of the Student Council, who loves Ai. Soon Makoto is sent to Hanazono Trade School where girl gang leader Ango Gumko (Ando) and Yuki, a “sad chick”, soon develop feelings for him. With Makoto in the centre of this tangled web of love things get extremely complicated and melodramatic.

Ai to Makoto will be familiar for a Japanese audience as it originates from a massively popular manga written in 1973 by Ikki Kajiwara which has been adapted for film in 1974, 75, and 76, Takashi Miike’s live-action film adaptation being the fourth so far and with Miike’s unique vision this is a case of adapting the classic story of bad boy meets good girl who tries to redeem him and adding a megaton of spectacle.

This missy is downright crazy

For Love’s Sake is an entertaining romp through the popular school melodrama genre. While I haven’t read the original manga this feels like a parody of said genre thanks to the excessiveness of style and the combination of the musical genre. With the knowing lines, sudden bursts of dancing and the presence of plenty of pop music from the 1970’s laced with hilarious lyrics, it is too funny, melodramatic, ironic, and openly genre savvy to be anything else.

The mise-en-scene is perfect and points to the high degree of skill in putting the whole film together. The film starts off with animation, a ski sequence gone awry which is where Makoto and Ai first meet. Then, after the titles hit us, things get a bit normal (apart from one inventive sequence set on stage with props) and we are transported into 1970’s Tokyo, a place of loud shirts, flares and bad clothing in general (except for the classic school uniforms). The look is, to my eye, as convincing as the one seen in Norwegian Wood.

The locations vary from the ostentatious and gaudily decorated home of the Satome family to the post-apocalyptic Hanazono trade school. Each location is wonderful with plenty of details to bask in. One highlight, only used for a few minutes, is a maid café which is straight from a lurid fantasy like Strange Circus. It is full of creeps and creepy solid gold dancers, a place where the cute waitresses wear pink frilly outfits and red shoes.

All of it fits the melodramatic tone of the film and the musical sequences add to the atmosphere as they perfectly illustrate the emotions of the characters in the scenes.

Continue reading “For Love’s Sake 愛と誠 (2012)”

Hana no Utame Gothicmade, The Floating Castle, A Chorus of Angels, Be My Slave, Fly with the Gold Trailers and the Japanese Movie Charts

Persona SaturdayThis week began with my excitement over some of Manga Entertainment’s 2013 releases which includes The Wolf Children and Blood-C: The Last Dark, then I watched The Pact (2012) and Zombie Apocalypse (2011). Then I posted Genkinahito and It Came From Japan, which saw me submit five Japanese horror movie reviews for a Halloween special run by The LAMB.  I then posted a review of  Sion Sono’s excellent ero-guro title Strange Circus for my Halloween review (it is proving most popular, not least a certain picture…) and another trailer for the forthcoming Evangelion movie. Still no word on Premiere Japan, which I have Googled every day this week…

What does the Japanese movie box office chart look like this week? 

  1. Smile Precure! Everyone is all Mixed Up in the Picture Book
  2. The Expendables 2
  3. Tsunagu
  4. Bayside Shakedown 4: The Final New Hope
  5. 009 Re:Cyborg
  6. Outrage Beyond
  7. Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax
  8. The Terminal Trust
  9. The Mystical Law
  10. Resident Evil: Retribution

Well colour me unsurprised that the mega phenomena that is Precure dominates the charts. The three anime films released last week make an impressive splash. Despite opening on less than 200 screens, Precure has posted impressive figures. Also impressive is 009 Re:Cyborg, Production I.G’s 3D film. Resident Evil: Retribution sneaks in at ten. Also entering the chart is The Terminal Trust at eight (KOJI YAKUSHO!).

What films are released today (yesterday in the case of one and the day before in the case of another)?

Hana no Utame Gothicmade                                   Gothicmade Film Poster

Japanese Title: ゴテイック メード 花 の 詩女

Romaji: Goteikku Me-do Hana no Uta Me

Release Date: 01st November 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Mamoru Nagano

Writer: Mamoru Nagano

Starring: Maria Kawamura, Nozomu Sasaki, Akio Ohtsuka, Yoshiko Sakakibara, Ikue Ohtani

Kadokawa initiated this anime movie to celebrate 65 years since the founding of their business. It looks like a slice of great old school anime. Gothicmade is the directorial debut of designer and manga creator Mamoru Nagano. On top of directing he also takes on other major roles such as screenwriting, storyboarding and character design. If the anime looks old school then it reflects the fact that he has been in the animation industry for quite some time, his biggest project being the manga/anime franchise Five Star Stories (1986!!!) which is also handled by Kadokawa and is still being released today. Every time I post this here it is met with indifference but on AUKN it has been a very popular news article.

Carmine is a tiny colony world under the harsh control of the ruling interplanetary league. It would be unremarkable except that this planet special is that it has a special tradition: young women known as songstresses inherit and pass down the memories of the generations that came before them. They then use this knowledge to help the people of their planet.

A 16-year-old named Berin Ajelli has been reborn as a songstress and must set out on a holy pilgrimage across the planet to the capital. After hearing rumours of a possible terrorist attack the militant Donau Empire send Prince Toriharon to protect her but he is the antithesis of everything Bellin believes in. The two are stuck together on their journey to the capital of Carmine.

The Floating Castle                                 Floating Castle Movie Poster

Japanese Title: のぼう の 城

Romaji: Nobo no Shiro

Release Date:  02nd November 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 144 mins.

Director: Shinji Higuchi, Isshin Inudo

Writer:  Ryo Wada (Original Novel)

Starring: Mansai Nomura, Nana Eikura, Hiroki Narimiya, Koichi Sato, Masachika Ichimura, Takehiro Hira, Takayuki Yamada, Yusuke Kamiji, Tomomitsu Yamaguchi

This film was delayed from release last year due to the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. It looks like a complete blast and it stars Nana Eikura who will be in next year’s live-action adaptation of library war, Koichi Sato (Infection, Sukiyaki Western Django) and Takayuki Yamada (Thirteen Assassins).

The year is 1590 and the daimyo Hideyoshi Toyotomi (Ichimura) is going to unify Japan… until he comes across a floating fortress known as Oshi Castle. Well he isn’t going to let that stop him and so he sends an army of 20,000 men to lay siege to it. The only thing standing between the castle and capitulation is Nagachika Narita (Nomura) and his army of 500 men. Let battle commence.

 

A Chorus of Angels                                           Kita no Kanariatachi Movie Poster

Japanese Title: 北 の かなりあたち

Romaji: Kita no Kanariatachi

Release Date:  03rd November 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 130 mins.

Director: Junji Sakamoto

Writer:  Yusuke Kishi

Starring: Sayuri Yoshinaga, Mirai Moriyama, Hikari Mitsushima, Ryo Katsuji, Aoi Miyazaki, Eiko Koike, Ryuhei Matsuda, Toru Nakamura,

A Chorus of Angels has quite the cast what with Sayuri Yoshinaga, a veteran of more than a hundred films, leading a battery of young talent like Hikari Mitsushima (Sawako Decides, Love Exposure), Aoi Miyazaki (The Wolf Children, Eureka) and Ryuhei Matsuda (Gohatto, Nightmare Detective). The film is based on a novel written by Yusuke Kishi who has had a few of his novels turned into films (Black House for one).

Haru (Yoshinaga) was once a dedicated teacher working in Hokkaido with various problems and disabilities but since retiring she has worked in a library in Tokyo. Then the police question her about a murder committed by a former student named Nobuto (Moriyama). Spurred on by her curiosity, she decides to investigate what happened to her former students like Manami (Mitsushima) a park worker, Yuka (Miyazaki) a kindergarten teacher and Isamu (Matsuda) a policeman.

Be My Slave                                          Be My Slave Movie Poster

Japanese Title: のぼう の 城

Romaji: Watashi no Dorei ni Narinasai

Release Date:  03rd November 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Toru Kamei

Writer:  Takehiko Minato,Shu Satami (Original Novel)

Starring: Mitsu Dan, Akihiro Mayama, Itsuji Itao

Despite the sexy poster, this film seems to be more in the vein of a psychological piece which reveals the sexual hang-ups of three characters. There are shades of Shame and A Snake of June. Toru Kamei is the director. He is familiar from a film named Black Cat Lucy which was released a few weeks ago. This is the big-screen debut of Mitsu Dan. She is supported by Akihiro Mayama (Carved 2) and Itsuki Itao (Love Exposure, One Missed Call Final).

 

Fly with the Gold               Fly with the Gold Movie Poster

Japanese Title: 黄金 を 抱いて 翔べ

Romaji: Ougon O Daite Tobe

Release Date:  03rd November 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Kazuyuki Izutsu

Writer:  Kaoru Takamura (Original Novel)

Starring:  Tadanobu Asano, Satoshi Tsumabuki, Kenta Kiritani, Shim Chang-Min, Toshiyuki Nishida, Junpei Mizobata, Munetaka Aoki, Yuri Nakamura, Tomorowo Taguchi, Shingo Tsurumi

Wow, just when I’m stock-piling crime thrillers from Japan and Korea, this comes along. Kazuyuki Izutsu makes his first film since Swing Man (2000) with this cool looking heist thriller. The cast is particularly strong what with Satoshi Tsumabuki (For Loves Sake) and Tadanobu Asano (Vital, Bright Future), taking the lead roles with support from the ever reliable Tomorowo Taguchi (Tetsuo: The Iron Man) and Toshiyuki Nishida (Outrage Beyond, The Magic Hour). Yuri Nakamura (The Grudge: Girl in Black) provides some femininity to balance things out.

Sumita Bank has a lot of gold sitting in its basement. When Kota (Tsumabuki) runs into his former college classmate Kitagawa (Asano) he hears about a heist which will take place. Helping them beat the bank’s security is a North Korean spy pretending to be a college student (Shim Chang-Min), Kitagawa’s brother Haruki (Mizobata), an elevator engineer known as Zii-chan (Nishida) and a bank employee known as Noda (Kiritani) Can they do it?

The Legend of Love & Sincerity, Empty, Library War: The Wings of Revolution Trailers Japanese Box Office Charts

The week consisted of a review of Prometheus, and a clip for Ai to Makoto and a trailer for キノ Redan exquisite looking anime named School in the Crosshairs. I’m putting together a new podcast which will materialise next week. As far as Anime UK News goes, three of four articles I put together previewing the summer anime season are up with the final one due tomorrow and I’m also taking part in a simulwatch for Kino’s Journey (キノ の 旅) which gives me an excuse to place a picture here.

The Japanese movie box-office chart looks different this week.

  1.  Hotaru: It’s Only a Little Light in my Life
  2.  Men in Black III
  3.  Thermae Romae
  4.  Dark Shadows
  5.  We Bought a Zoo

One of last week’s releases, Hotaru: It’s Only a Little Light in my Life, dominates the charts bringing its TV/manga audience to the cinema. We Bought a Zoo is the only other new release. Amazingly Thermae Romae is still in the top three after seven weeks. Sadako 3D is hanging on at eight while Space Brothers is at ten.

What new Japanese films get released this weekend? Takashi Miike’s latest, that’s what!

 

The Legend of Love & Sincerity                       Ai to Makoto Film Festival

Romaji: Ai to Makoto

Japanese Title: 愛 と 誠

Release Date: 16th June 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 134 mins.

Director: Takashi Miike

Writer: Takayuki Takuma (script), Ikki Kajiwara (manga)

Starring: Satoshi Tsumabuki, Emi Takei, Takumi Saito, Sakura Ando, Ito Ono, Tsuyoshi Ihara, Kimiko Yo, Ken Maeda, Yo Hitoto

This is Takashi Miike’s most recent film and it was at Cannes where it received great reviews. It is an adaptation of Ikki Kajiwara’s romance manga of the same name. Kajiwara is a famous name for manga fans from his work on Tiger Mask and Ashita no Joe. The film sees Miike reunite with Emi Takei and Takumi Saito (13 Assassins), the two stars from his previous film Ace Attorney. It also stars Satoshi Tsumabuki (Villain) and Sakura Ando (Love Exposure).

 

High school student Makoto Taiga (Tsumabuki) is an ultra-delinquent who has arrived in Tokyo to avenge an incident from his past. That will have to wait as he falls in love with the angelic Ai (Takei) who comes from a respectable family. Things will get complicated as Iwashimizu (Saito) is in love with Ai while Gamuko (Ando) has feelings for Makoto.

Empty                                                      Empty Movie Poster

Romaji: Karappo

Japanese Title: からっぽ

Release Date: 16th June 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 117 mins.

Director: Shogo Kusano

Writer: Shogo Kusano (script), Yokoawa (manga)

Starring: Naoya Shimizu, Airi Taira, Ren Osugi, Makoto Yuki Miura, Junko Miyashita, Toru Shinagawa, Hiroshi Yamamoto, Masaki Miura

This sci-fi tale has shades of Moldiver (a protagonist who loses their clothes when they use their special powers). It stars Naoya Shimizu (Confessions), Airi Taira (20th Century Boys), Ren Osugi (Cure, Exte) and Masaki Miura (Cold Fish).

 

Coban Kato (Shimizu) is a high school student with the ability to teleport to different places. There’s one drawback: he loses his clothes when teleporting. When Kato is kicked out of his family home he teleports and just happens to reappear right in front of a beautiful woman named Sheena (Taira). Far from being freaked out at the sight of a teleporting naked guy, Sheena is fascinated by Coban’s abilities and the two begin to live together.

Library War: The Wings of Revolution

Production I.G. turns its successful TV anime into a movie. Adapting Hiro Arikawa’s light novel into an anime movie is director Takayuki Hamana who has worked on titles as diverse from Jin-Roh: The Wolf Bridgade to Prince of Tennis to Chocolate Underground. J-Rock act Base Ball Bear are providing the theme song which can be heard in the trailer.

Synopsis

In near future Japan, the Media Enhancement Law has led to the censoring of all media including books To counter this, the Library Defence Force s created and act as a military task force attached to all libraries. Iku Kasahara is the first woman to join the Library Task Force and we follow her and her squad as they protect books and other artefacts from the Media Enhancement Law commission.

Library War: Wings of Revolution Movie PosterThe voice actors involved are reprising their roles from in the original TV series with Tomoaki Maeno (Junichi in Amagami SS) taking the role of Atsushi, Marina Inoue (Yoko in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann) taking the role of Iku Kasahara and Haruo Satou (Teillagory in Le Chealier D’Eon) voicing Kazuichi.

Staff: Takayuki Hamana (Director), Takeshi Konuta (Screenplay), Hiro Arikawa (Light Novel), Sukumo Adabana (Original Character Design), Base Ball Bear (Theme Song)

Voice Actors: Tomoaki Maeno (Atsushi Doujou), Marina Inoue (Iku Kasahara), Kanji Suzumori (Genda Ryuusuke), Haruo Satou (Kazuichi Inamine)

Studio: Production I.G.

Ai to Makoto Movie Clip

Takashi Miike was at this year’s Cannes Film Festival with his adaptation of Ikki Kajiwara’s romance manga Ai to Makoto  which was screened as part of the Midnight Screenings selection and won over critics (I’ve updated the reviews part of that post). Now with the film’s Japanese theatrical release edging closer, Japanese movie site Cinema Today has released a four minute musical sequence from the film which makes this look a lot like The Happiness of the Katakuris.

 

Ai to Makoto (The Legend of Love and Sincerity)              Ai to Makoto Film Festival

Romaji: Ai to Makoto

Japanese Title: 愛 と 誠

Release Date: 16th June 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 134

Director: Takashi Miike

Writer: Takayuki Takuma (script), Ikki Kajiwara (manga)

Starring: Satoshi Tsumabuki, Emi Takei, Takumi Saito, Sakura Ando, Ito Ono, Tsuyoshi Ihara, Kimiko Yo, Ken Maeda, Yo Hitoto

The film sees Miike reunite with Emi Takei and Takumi Saito (13 Assassins) two stars from his previous film, Ace Attorney. It also stars Satoshi Tsumabuki (Villain) and Sakura Ando (Love Exposure). Takashi Miike’s live-action film adaptation of Ai to Makoto is the fourth so far, the previous three being made in 1974, 75, and 76.

High school student Makoto Taiga (Tsumabuki) is an ultra-delinquent who has arrived in Tokyo to avenge an incident from his past. That will have to wait as he falls in love with the angelic Ai (Takei) who comes from a respectable family. Things will get complicated as Iwashimizu (Saito) is in love with Ai while Gamuko (Ando) has feelings for Makoto.

 

Cannes 2012 Ai to Makoto (The Legend of Love and Sincerity) Press Reviews

Cannes-chanWe’re halfway through the 65th Cannes Film Festival and the first two of three Japanese films at the festival have been screened with one left to go (for more information on the Japanese films screening check out my preview post and for a better overview of the festival check in with Bonjour Tristesse). So far Abbas Kiarostami’s Like Someone in Love has failed to set the world on fire as reviews published soon after its first screening revealed. So it was left to the legendary Takashi Miike to come to the rescue with Ai to Makoto as part of the Midnight Screenings selection.

Day 6 – Ai to Makoto (Midnight Screening)

 Ai to Makoto Film Clip

Director: Takashi Miike, Writer: Takayuki Takuma (script), Ikki Kajiwara (manga), Starring: Satoshi Tsumabuki, Emi Takei, Takumi Saito, Sakura Ando, Ito Ono

Ai to Makoto Film FestivalLast year Takashi Miike was at Cannes with his 3D remake of Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai which was met with a lukewarm critical reception. This year Miike is not attending the festival but his latest film is present and was screened last night. Ai to Makoto is an adaptation of Ikki Kajiwara’s romance manga and stars Emi Takei (Ace Attorney), Takumi Saito (13 Assassins), Satoshi Tsumabuki (Villain) and Sakura Ando (Love Exposure). Unfortunately reviews for this are thin on the ground. According to the one review I could find from Filmoria the crowd at the screening was rather sparse:

“Screened as a midnight movie here in Cannes, to say the Grand Théâtre Lumière was full would be a terrible lie – in fact it has been the quietest and most relaxed screening I’ve attended thus far…”

I suppose slow-cinema and Hollywood fare have sucked the energy out of those attending Cannes while those few who did watch the film are too busy to post anything yet. I’ll keep checking back and will add reviews as they pop up for this one because this film looks really great. Anyway the review gave a glowing write-up of Ai to Makoto:

Using his signature directorial flair, Miike captures a world with neon-soaked nights and magnolia-streamed days – the visual aesthetics of Ai To Makoto are breathtaking in their stark and beautiful contrasts. At times the film feels as urban and dangerous as Audition, whilst at points it’s as delicate and hopelessly gorgeous as, say, a live-action Studio Ghibli feature. Chris Haydon (Filmoria)

UPDATE: More reviews added. The two critics are divided on the performance of Satoshi Tsumabuki but love Emi Takei’s performance.

The young actors fill their tongue-in-cheek roles with earnest abandon. Satoshi Tsumabuki(Waterboys, Villain) is particularly effective as the deeply scarred outsider Makoto. Deborah Young (Hollywood Reporter)

This adaptation of a 1973 manga that spawned the Nipponese genre of jun-ai (pure love) arguably reps the protean helmer’s first full-blown romance; not surprisingly, it ends up a scornful lampoon of pulpy sentimentality as Miike upstages the genre’s conventions with riotous musical numbers and schlocky violence. Maggie Lee (Variety)

Based on these reviews alone I think this would be my film of the festival but then I am biased  because I really love Japanese films.