Genkina hito’s Top 25 Films of the Decade

My WordPress blog birthday was December 20th and it has been a decade since I first started writing reviews and news articles here about what interests me.

Cure Yakusho Stares at City

It started with book reviews like World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie Apocalypse and big screen Hollywood fare such as Avatar and Alice in Wonderland. It shifted to American indies like Stake Land and 2 Days in New York with some European and central/South American films like Submarine, Certified Copy, I Am Love and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo before I transitioned quickly into Asian cinema, long a passion of mine from childhood, and I took to covering the latest UK releases and festival news for Asian movies and writing about my favourite filmmakers like Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Shinya Tsukamoto. My taste has changed from horror and action to more contemplative and experimental works but my passion for cinema burns bright and for good reason.

Through ten years of writing on this blog I have made friends and watched lots of great films. Indeed, I’ve covered a quite a range of titles and, as the years progressed, actually got involved with film culture through writing for magazines and other websites, doing festival press work at the likes of the Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival and the Osaka Asian Film Festival as well as doing plenty of writing like interviews at UK festivals like Raindance, Terracotta and the London Film Festival. It has almost always been fun and I’ve even had the chance to live and travel in Japan. I can honestly say this blog has been amazing for me by helping me make friends and find my voice in this world.

So, thanks to film and writing about it, I’ve had a fun time. Indeed, sometimes the process of writing about films has been just as much fun as the viewing experience and now I want to highlight my fifteen favourite films to watch and also write about.

Strap yourself in and turn on some music for the ramblings of a film fan:

Continue reading “Genkina hito’s Top 25 Films of the Decade”

Shady – Random Things Connected to the Film…

I was surprised by how taken with the film “Shady“, especially the performances of the lead-actresses and the skill of the writer and director. This post is full of random things connected to like how to pronounce the name of the lead actress and so forth. Researching these guys made me appreciate how talented they were (after doing this I’m intrigued enough to try my hand at writing about Fumie Nikaido and Shota Somatani). It’s interesting to know these things but hard to put them in a review without going off on a tangent. It’s info on the director and the two lead actresses.

Shady Film Guys

Continue reading “Shady – Random Things Connected to the Film…”

Shady: Different Opinions on an Awesome Film

Shady DVD Case

Shady” is released by Third Window Films on March 24th, and I want to support the film as much as possible. Why? Well, as I stated in my review published last week:

A film like “Shady” simply must be seen. It will grapple with your emotions and when the house lights are put on in the cinema you will want to discuss the plot, the way that Watanabe creates meta references to other films, dupes us into watching a narrative that refuses to follow traditional paths and ends on a rather unsettling note. You will want to discuss how he always finds a way to disrupt meaning and the way the actresses are so perfect in their roles that other actors or actresses could not do what they did. You will want to compare “Shady” to other school films or relationship dramas and probably find them lacking in some way. You will want to discuss “Shady” and re-experience it to confirm what you just saw. 

Genki Jason Genkinahito’s J Film Review (March 10th, 2014) – Yeah, I’m quoting myself!

I watch a lot of films and this one was a real stand-out that held me in its narrative grip from start to finish thanks to the excellent writing and direction of Ryohei Watanabe and the performances of lead actresses mimpi * β and Izumi Okamura. It left me breathless and tense throughout its running time. It is an example of perfect filmmaking. I loved it. I loved it so much, it took the top spot of my best films of the year! It even beat Sion Sono’s latest feature, “Why Don’t You Play in Hell?” which is mind-boggling when you consider I’m a huge Sono fan. How good is the film? Am I over-hyping it? Here are quotes from reviews written by others who have seen “Shady” – there is a lot of praise the film and its director Ryohei Watanabe! A word of warning, some reviews give a little away.

You can listen to music composed by the talented and performed by lead actress mimpi * β while looking!

Continue reading “Shady: Different Opinions on an Awesome Film”

Shady かしこい狗は、吠えずに笑う (2013)

Genki Fuse Best of 2013 Header Banner

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

UK Release Date: March 24th, 2014

Distributor: Third Window Films

Running Time: 94 mins.

Director: Ryohei Watanabe

Writer: Ryohei Watanabe (Screenplay)

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

One would be forgiven for thinking that the Japanese film industry has resorted to producing nothing more than big-budget adaptations of novels, books, and anime and retreads of tried and tested formulas. Original ideas are still alive and kicking, particularly in the indie scene, but sometimes hard to track amidst all of the noise that the bigger releases produce. When an original indie film does make a splash, word spreads quickly over the internet. “Shady” is a prime example.

The first post fellow blogger Alua made for 2013 contained the trailer for this film and I commented on it stating that I liked it. I kept an eye on it and finally got to see it at last year’s Raindance Film Festival and let me tell you what a surprise it was.

Continue reading “Shady かしこい狗は、吠えずに笑う (2013)”

Third Window Films Release Shady

Third Window Films have a great line-up of films from Korea and Japan getting a release this year but the one that I think everybody should be looking out for is Shady.

Shady DVD Case

SHADY

Japan / 2012 / 94 Mins / In Japanese with English subtitles / Colour

Starring:  Mimpi*β, Izumi Okamura

Out on DVD March 24th, 2014

DVD Special Features
Anamorphic Widescreen transfer with 5.1 Surround Sound
Interviews with director Ryohei Watanabe and actresses Mimpi*β & Izumi Okamura

 

Continue reading “Third Window Films Release Shady”

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

Shindo 

Ku_On 

Sake-Bomb + Interview 

Remiges + Interview 

Shady

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.

  Continue reading “Genkina hito at the Raindance Film Festival 2013”

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.

Continue reading “Japanese Films at the Raindance Film Festival 2013”

The Ravine of Goodbye, To Cry a 100 Times, Shady, Remiges, Ghost in the Shell: Arise border 1 Ghost Pain, Movie Version BUCK-TICK Firecrackers Phenomenon II, It’s a Glass Mask But… Love of a Woman Spy!, and Other Japanese Film Trailers

HitagiWell my holiday came to an end and it was back to work and I haven’t been as busy as this week had me. I got a bit of a surprise this week as well when I collected my post and excitedly got my Bakemonogatari DVD (just released in the UK) then checked my emails and saw a press release from the UK distributor asking AUKN to report that the Bakemonogatari set has the wrong discs in thanks to a mix up with the manufacturer. I now have Shakugan no Shana II instead of Bakemonogatari. It’s pretty bland. I want my Bakemonogatari. I want Hitagi Senjougahara.

The week opened with my Summer Anime Season Picks on this blog and on Anime UK News. I feel sad about the spring season passing but the summer shows I picked look pretty good. I followed up with a post showing the auditions for Sion Sono’s latest film Tokyo Tribes and a lot of the trailers were fun rather than cringe-worthy.

What films are released today?

The Ravine of Goodbye               The Ravine of Goodbye Film Poster

Japanese Title: さよなら渓谷

Romaji: Sayonara Keikoku

Release Date: June 22nd, 2013

Running Time: 116 mins.

Director: Tatsushi Omori

Writer: Shuichi Yoshida (Novel), Tatsushi Omori (Screenplay)

Starring: Yoko Maki, Shima Onishi, Nao Omori, Arata, Hirofumi Arai, Anne Suzuki, Jyo Hyuga

Tatsushi Omori is an interesting director. He’s worked on The Whispering of the Gods and Tada’s Do-It-All House, two interesting films, the first a drama and the second a comedy. His latest flick is Bozo which stood out as being a grim take on the real life incident of a loser who goes on a murder-spree. Omori’s name should be better known amongst cinephiles. This is his latest film and he’s adapted a novel by Shuichi Yoshida, the man who wrote Villain, Parade and The Story of Yonosuke, all three of which were turned into films. As the trailer shows this is going to be an emotionally intense film full of tears and shouting. The plot sounds really melodramatic and it makes me want to see this on the big screen! I’m also interested because the acting talent is immense with the director’s brother, Nao Omori who is a bloody good actor considering his roles – Ichi the Killer, Vibrator, Mushishi,  Rampo Noir – Yoko Maki (Infection, The Grudge) Anne Suzuki (she had a bit-part as a waitress in Himizu but was so beautiful I remember her clearly!) and Arata (After Life).

In a valley dense with trees a baby is killed and it’s mother, Satomi Tachibana (Suzuki) is the primes suspect. As the police are investigating the murder they are informed that Satomi is romantically involved with her next door neighbour Shunsuke Ozaki (Onishi), a man who seems to be happily married to his wife Kanako (Maki). Magazine reporter Watanabe (Omori) digs into the case to find out the real story and discovers that a strange connection exists between Kanako and Shunsuke which changes his perception of the truth.

To Cry a 100 Times                               To Cry a 100 Times Film Poster

Japanese Title: 100 回 泣くこと

Romaji: 100 Kai Naku Koto

Release Date: June 22nd, 2013

Running Time: 116 mins.

Director: Ryuichi Hirok

Writer: Shuichi Yoshida (Novel), Ko Nakamura, Izumi Takahashi (Screenplay)

Starring: Tadayoshi Okra, Mirei Kiritani, Rie Tomosaka, Shugo Oshinari, Haru, Ren Osugi, Yoshiko Miyazaki, Jun Murakami

And now for something completely different. This looks incredibland to me, a person who has grown up on horror and action. I guess regular dorama viewers will fit in perfectly but the trailer and plot put me off. The central couple looks so cute. The settings are picture perfect. The music is a cheesy ballad. The strange thing is that fact that it’s directed by Ryuichi Hiroki (River, April Bride) who usually makes more interesting dangerous films so forgive me if I say that this looks like a project designed to buy him a new boat. But maybe I’m wrong. There are great actors here like Jun Murakami (Land of Hope), and Ren Osugi (Exte) and recent discoveries like Haru (See You Tomorrow, Everyone) and Yoshiko Miyaaki (Detroit Metal City)… This could be secretly great and another look at the trailer will convince me… Or maybe they all want boats as well. Perhaps they all have memberships at the same yacht club. I’m not convinced. The next trailer better be an awesome action movie.

Shichichi (Okura) had a motorcycle accident 4 years ago and slost a year from his memory. While at a friend’s wedding, Shuichi meets Yoshimi (Kiritani) and the two fall for each other. Shuichi even considers trying to wife Yoshimi until she becomes sick and reveals a sad truth lost in Shuichi’s memory…

No action movies. I just checked the rest of the releases and it’s all dramas and documentaries. They look good.

 

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

Running Time: 94 mins.

Director: Ryohei Watanabe

Writer: Ryohei Watanabe (Screenplay)

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

The first post Alua made for 2013 contained the trailer for this film and I commented on it stating that:

“I liked the trailer for Shady. It reminds me of the K-horror Memento Mori. I’ll make Gifs out of that…” Genki Jason 

Ah, the things I promise to do. Well I have made a Gif which is at the bottom of this post. What? You want to know about the film that reminded me of Memento Mori?

Okay, this is an award winning youth drama about Misa Kumada (mimpi * β), an outcast at her school who hates the place but would like to get closer to Izumi Kiyose (Okamura). The two develop bonds of friendship but the seemingly angelic Kiyose has quite a dark side. Do I still want to see it? Yes. Thankfully Third Window Films have acquired it for UK distribution!

 

Remiges                                                  Remiges Film Poster

Japanese Title: 風切羽 かざきりば

Romaji: Kazekiribane ka Zakiriba

Release Date: June 22nd, 2013

Running Time: 88 mins.

Director: Masato Ozawa

Writer: Masato Ozawa (Screenplay)

Starring: Mika Akzuki, Junki Tozuka, Maiko Kawakami, Osamu Shigematu, Yuki Terada, Futoshi Sato, Nobuyuk Ishida, Michiko Godai

Remiges? A flight of feathers of a bird’s wing. A bleakie road movie… I have to invoke the name of Alua again because this is her type of film. Abuse, bullying, horrible parents and the trauma that has created in lead character Sayako which leads to an interesting character study. It looks to get even more interesting when Sayako hooks up with another outcast named Kenta. The film actually gets a bit of a playful tone when he enters but such things don’t last in the real world. With its outsider pair it reminds me of Aku no Hana only Kenta isn’t a spineless nothing like Kasuga. Damn, I want to Gif this as well. Lead actress Mika Akizuki starred in Another while lead actor Junki Tozuka appeared in Helter Skelter. Those two look really good (especially when compared to that film about crying 100’s of times or whatever…)

Sayako (Akizuk) was abused by her mother as a young child and has lived in a foster care facility with the emotional scars since then. She’s now a senior in high school and wants to attend a ballet school but she needs her parents to pay the tuition fees and so she turns to her father but he betrays her and pushes Sayako over the edge. She skips out on the foster care facility to search for her mother and sister but runs into another lost soul named Kenta (Tozuka) who cycles through town asking random people if they know him.

Continue reading “The Ravine of Goodbye, To Cry a 100 Times, Shady, Remiges, Ghost in the Shell: Arise border 1 Ghost Pain, Movie Version BUCK-TICK Firecrackers Phenomenon II, It’s a Glass Mask But… Love of a Woman Spy!, and Other Japanese Film Trailers”