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.

Japanese Films at Cannes Film Festival 2012

65th Cannes Film Festival Banner

Cannes-chanThe 65th Cannes Film Festival takes place from the 16th to the 27th of May so Cannes-chan (left) is going to be following the festival. Every time you see her expect some news on the Japanese films competing. Major news came out at the end of last week when the organisers released the line-up of films that will screen at the glamorous event. There are some interesting titles taking part at this year’s festival with the likes of David Cronenberg and Brandon Cronenberg bringing projects. America has some great entries and there is a strong European presence with Ken Loach and Michael Haneke (if you want a proper run-down of the contenders then read Bonjour Tristesse’s blog). There is also a strong Asian selection but there are only four major Japanese films so here they are:

11.25 The Day He Chose His Own Fate

Release Date: 2nd June 2012 (Japan), Premieres atCannes11.25 Mishima Drama Poster

Running Time: N/A

Director: Koji Wakamatsu

Writer: Masayuki Kakegawa

Starring: Arata, Shinnosuke Mitsushima, Tasuku Nagaoka, Takatsugu Iwama

Prolific veteran director Koji Wakamatsu tackled the violent and tough story of an extreme far left group during the turmoil of 1960’s Japan in the award winning United Red Army and now he is tackling a controversial figure on the right in the shape of Yukio Mishima. Taking the lead role is Arata who was in United Red Army and also appeared in Kore-eda’s wonderful film After Life.

Taking place in 1960’s Japan at a time when economic growth sky-rocketed but the nation was wracked by political turmoil and social changes from sexual liberation to student riots over individual’s rights and the US military presence in Japan, author and intellectual Yukio Mishima was a major voice, a nationalist who espoused traditional values based on the Bushido code while having a controversial private life. He and his militia will attempt a coup d’Etat by taking a military commander hostage.


Like Someone in Love

Release Date: Premieres atCannes

Running Time: N/A

Director: Abbas Kiarostami

Writer: Abbas Kiarostami

Starring: Rin Takanashi, Tadashi Okuno, Denden, Ryo Kase

Like Someone in Love is Abbas Kiarostami’s follow-up to Certified Copy. A French/Japanese co-production and it is the only Japanese language film In Competition it stars Rin Takanashi (Goth: Love of Death), Denden (Cold Fish, Himizu) and Ryo Kase who starred in the recent box-office smash SPEC: The Movie. Kiarostami has form in Cannes having previously won the Palme d’Or for Taste of Cherry in 1997.

A young female student named Akiko (Rin Takanashi) works as a prostitute to pay off her university fees. One of her clients is an elderly academic (Tadashi Okuno) who is fond of her. Soon a relationship develops between the two.

  Continue reading “Japanese Films at Cannes Film Festival 2012”

Kaibutsu-Kun, Ai to Makoto, Ranma ½ , The Parasite Doctor Suzune, Thermae Romae Trailers

Lots and lots of trailers linked by the fact that they are manga adaptations. This post was put together with a D’Espairs Ray, the Nico Nico Chorus as well as some Madoka Magica covers for background music.

The Japanese film charts look similar to previous weeks with A Ghost of a Chance and Kaiji 2 still in the top three but there is a new number 1 in the shape of Kaibutsu-Kun.

Kaibutsu-Kun The Movie

Release Date:  26th November 2011

Running Time: 103 min.

Director: Yoshihiro Nakamura

Writer: Fujio A. Fujita (manga), Masafumi Nishida

Starring: Satoshi Ono, Umika Kawashima, Tatsuomi Hamada, Norito Yashima, Ryuhei Ueshima, Choi Hong-Man, Takeshi Kaga

Kaubutsu-kun (Satoshi Ono) is the prince of monster land. To prove that he is a worthy heir to his father’s (Takashi Kaga) throne he goes to earth accompanied by his friends Dracular (Norito Yashima), Wolfman (Ryuhei Ueshima) and Franken (Choi Hong-Man)  to visit his friends Utako (Umika Kawashima) and Hiroshi (Tatsuomi Hamada)

This looks bad… but it’s in 3Deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Ai to Makoto (Love and Sincerity)

Release Date:  16th June, 2012

Running Time: N/A

Director: Takashi Miike

Writer: Ikki Kajiwara (manga)

Starring: Satoshi Tsumabuki, Emi Takei

Fresh from Phoenix Wright, Miike’s latest film is based on Ikki Kajiwara’s romance manga of the same name which ran in Shonen magazine from 1973 to 1976 with illustrations from Takumi Nagayasu. It received the live-action television treatment in 1974 and three films which makes Miike’s effort the fourth. It stars Satoshi Tumabuki (Villain) and Emi Takei who will be in the forthcoming Rouroni Kenshin live-action movie.

Troubled high school student Makoto Taiga (Satoshi Tsumabuki) meets the innocent student Ai Saotome (Emi Takei) in a love story.

Continue reading “Kaibutsu-Kun, Ai to Makoto, Ranma ½ , The Parasite Doctor Suzune, Thermae Romae Trailers”

Villain UK DVD Release

Third Window Films has announced the DVD release date of the multi-award winning Japanese film Villain.

Villain DVD

UK DVD Release Date: 5th of December 2011

Running time: 140 mins

Certificate: 15

Director: Lee Sang-il

Starring: Eri Fukatsu, Satoshi Tsumabuki, Hikari Mitsushima, Masaki Okada,


Anamorphic Widescreen Transfer with 5.1 Surround Sound and optional English subtitles

1 Hour long ‘Making Of’

Discussion between director Lee Sang-il and actor Satoshi Tsumabuki

Theatrical Trailer

I personally liked this film a lot as my review shows and I wasn’t alone as it was nominated for 15 Japanese Academy Awards and won for Best Actress, Actor, Supporting Actress Supporting Actor and Music Score, beating out the magnificent 13 Assassins! Just look at the talent involved:

Eri Fukatsu: one of Japan’s best actresses and the lead in the current number one film in the Japanese box office, Once in a Blue Moon. For her performance in Villain she won the Best Actress at the Montreal Film Festival.

Continue reading “Villain UK DVD Release”

Japanese Films at the BFI London Film Festival

The BFI London Film Festival kicks off next month (12th – 27th October) and amidst a lot of genuinely exciting international films is a selection of brilliant new Japanese titles which I’ll list here. I have yet to see them but the directors are very familiar to me so here’s a run-down of what’s on offer and you better be quick in booking your tickets!

Kiseki / I Wish

Hirokazu Kore-eda became a favourite director of mine when I watched a BBC Four screening of his quirky second film After Life and the emotionally shattering Nobody Knows. Since then he has dabbled in a samurai tale and a family drama with his last film, Still Walking, which had shades of Ozu. A lot of his skill comes from his documentary background which allows him to create scenes and foster performances that seem naturalistic. Kiseki has a lot of actors from Still Walking so I’m eager to see what the results are.

Two young brothers find themselves caught in the aftermath of a messy divorce between their parents. Now separated and at opposite ends of the island of Kyushu they hatch a plan to unite their parents through a miracle that the Kyushu Shinkansen (bullet train) can create.

There are two screenings at the Vue West End cinema in Leicester Square which will take place on Saturday the 15th of October at 18:00 p.m and Monday the 17th of October at 18:oo p.m.. Visit the page to book your tickets!

  Continue reading “Japanese Films at the BFI London Film Festival”

Villain 悪人 (2010)

Villain   Villain Film Poster

Japanese: 悪人

Romaji: Akunin

Release Date: September 11th, 2010 (Japan)

Running Time: 139 mins.

Director: Sang-il Lee

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

Starring:  Satoshi Tsumabuki, Eri Fukatsu, Masaki Okada, Hikari Mitsushima, Ken Mitsuishi, Kimiko Yo, Kinuo Yamada, Akira Emoto, Kirin Kiki, ayaka Nakamura, kento Nagayama, Hanae Kan,

Knowing that Villain won the best director and acting categories at the 34th Japanese Academy Awards doesn’t prepare you for just how good the acting in this film is and I can see why Third Window Films has selected this as their major summer release.

Yuichi (Satoshi Tsumabuki) is a construction worker with no girlfriend or friends. He spends his days working and looking after his grandparents, with no enjoyment in life other than his car. Mitsuyo (Eri Fukatsu) also lives a monotonous life working at a men’s clothing store whilst living in an apartment with her sister. When the two meet using an online dating site, they immediately fall in love with each other despite clashing personalities and expectations. But there’s a secret Yuichi had been keeping from Mitsuyo: Yuichi is the one suspected of killing a young woman (Hikari Mitsushima) whose body was found at Mitsue Pass only a few days before. It is a murder that has left the families of all concerned reeling and as a society passes judgement, the victim’s father (Akira Emoto) searches for justice while Yuichi and his new lover try to elude the police. As the events that led up to the murder and its aftermath are revealed we learn the stories of the victim, the murderer, and their families and the emotions and desperation behind actions.

Villain Doomed Romance Continue reading “Villain 悪人 (2010)”

Villain Theatrical Release from the 19th of August

When Third Window Films announced that it had acquired the Japanese film Villain back in May/June I was intrigued by the film’s genre combination of thriller, character study and doomed romance so I reported it in my weekly trailer post. Now I’ve got more information on the film I’m very excited at the prospect of it being released theatrically across the UK, partly due to the awards buzz and critical acclaim but mostly because of the acting talent in it (including the rising talent that is Hikari Mitsushima!).

Villain (2010)

Villain Poster

UK Theatrical Release date: 19th of August 2011

Running time: 140 mins

Certificate: 15

Director: Lee Sang-il (Hula Girls)

Starring: Eri Fukatsu (The Magic Hour, Bayside Shakedown), Satoshi Tsumabuki (Tokyo!, Villon’s Wife, Pandemic), Hikari Mitsushima (Love Exposure, Death Note, Sawako Decides), Masaki Okada (Confessions)

In Japanese with English subtitles; Colour/35mm and Digital release

Villain Doomed Romance


Yuichi (Satoshi Tsumabuki) is a construction worker who has lived his entire life in a dreary fishing village. With no girlfriend or friends, he spends his days working and looking after his grandparents, with no enjoyment in life other than his car. Meanwhile, Mitsuyo (Eri Fukatsu) also lives a monotonous life pacing between the men’s clothing store where she works and the apartment where she lives with her sister. When the two lonely souls meet using an online dating site, they immediately fall in love with each other. But there’s a secret Yuichi had been keeping from Mitsuyo: Yuichi is the one suspected of killing the woman whose body was found at Mitsue Pass only a few days before…

As Yuichi and his new lover try to elude the police, the events that led up to the murder and its aftermath are revealed. We learn the stories of the victim, the murderer, and their families – stories of loneliness, love hotels, violence and desperation, exposing the inner lives of men and woman who are not everything they appear to be.

The talent behind this film is immense and I haven’t even mentioned that the musical score was provided by Studio Ghibli favourite Joe Hisaishi. Indeed, Villain comes with a lot of award buzz and has been heavily praised in Japan where it was nominated for 15 Japanese Academy Awards and won 5 including:

Best Actress, Actor, Supporting Actress, Supporting Actor and Music Score

Eri Fukatsu also won the Best Actress at the Montreal Film Festival while Satoshi Tsumabuki won Best Actor at the 53rd Blue Ribbon Awards. The film was also selected by the famous Kinema Junpo critics’ organization as best Japanese film of the year so you can see the high calibre of the film we have here. Just reading some reviews this looks like it could be one of the best films out this summer.

Interestingly, Villain is based on Shuichi Yoshida’s award-winning novel of the same name which sold over half a million copies in Japan. It has recently been translated into English and is due to be released by Random House publishing on the 18th of August – a day before the theatrical release of the film.

After reading the buzz I’m very excited but I was already sold when I heard it starred Hikari Mitsushima.

Hikari Mitsushima Villain

For more information including cinema screenings just go to the Third Window Films site.