Third Window Films Release The Story of Yonosuke

Third Window Films follow up last month’s release of the ultra-brilliant “Shady” with a more heart-warming human drama about the power of friendship called “The Story of Yonosuke“. As I made clear in my review, I liked it a lot. Here are the release details:

The Story of Yonosuke

The Story of Yonosuke DVD Case

A film by Shuichi Okita (The Woodsman & the Rain)
Based on a novel by Shuichi Yoshida (Villain, Parade)

Japan / 2013 / 160 Mins / In Japanese with English subtitles / Colour

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The Story of Yonosuke 横道世之介 (2013)

Genki The Story of Yonosuke Review Header Yonosuke (Kora)

The Story of Yonosuke                      A Story of Yonosuke Film Poster

Japanese Title: 横道世余之介

Romaji: Yokomichi Yonosuke

Release Date: February 23rd, 2013 (Japan)

UK Release Date: N/A

UK Distributor: Third Window Films

Running Time: 160 mins.

Director: Shuichi Okita

Writer: Shiro Maeda (Screenplay), Shuichi Yoshida (Original Novel)

Starring: Kengo Kora, Yuriko Yoshitaka, Sosuke Ikematsu, Ayumi Ito, Gou Ayano, Arata, Kimiko Yo, Aki Asakura, Mei Kurokawa, Tasuku Emoto, Aimi Satsukawa, Keiko Horiuchi, Noriko Eguchi,

I was made a fan of Shuichi Okita after watching The Woodsman & the Rain, a film which is a wonderfully observed and rather touching comedy about the art of filmmaking and human bonds. Despite potentially weighty subjects I found it was an amusing and gratifying film that worked through its great characters and well-observed dry comedy. Okita is back a year after that film with a more complex one as he directs Shiro (Isn’t Anyone Alive?) Maeda’s adaptation of Shuichi’s Yoshida’s novel which flits between different time periods with a large cast of characters stretching between the ’80s and now.

The Story of Yonosuke Arrival in Tokyo (Kora)Tokyo 1987, Yonosuke Yokomichi (Kora) has left a small port city and lumbers into Tokyo to attend university. It blows his mind. There are huge buildings covered with ads for Sony and Kiss Mint gum, he sees amateur idol groups performing J-pop on the street and fashionable people everywhere.

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Terracotta Far East Film Festival Round-Up

Genki Terracotta Far East Film Festival Genkina hito Image

This has been a long time in coming. I attended the festival a couple of months ago and in the meantime I have only published a review for one of the four films I saw, The Berlin File. Now’s the time to get the three other films I watched. Here are previews:

 Genki Terracotta Far East Film Festival Round-Up Banner

These were the main reasons I was attending the festival. All three are Japanese and come from directors whose films I have reviewed before. Two of the three were also released in Japan earlier this year, one last year, so this is a great slice of what Japanese film culture can produce. Furthermore, all three will be released by Third Window Films during the rest of this year. 

First up is THE LAND OF HOPE  is from Sion Sono, one of my all-time favourite directors who I frequently post about. Released last year, this is his follow-up to the mighty drama Himizu. Like that film, The Land of Hope also deals with the after-effects of the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami that occurred on March 11th back in 2011 but it’s more of a disaster epic as it pretty much covers what happened to a larger number of people in the areas affected by the tsunami and nuclear power plant explosion. After I first watched it I was bewildered and I did not like it at all but I put that down to the fact that I was tired after a day packed full of tourist activities so I was in no condition to absorb what was going on. A second viewing has proven vital in improving my understanding and I think the film is a pretty staggering achievement. The DVD is released at the beginning of next week by Third Window Films. The review is published on Wednesday.

 

Next is Yoshihiro Nakamura’s SEE YOU TOMORROW, EVERYONE which was released in Japan in January. This one stars Gaku Hamada who has appeared in a number of his previous titles like Fish Story and The Foreign Duck, the Native Duck & God in a Coin Locker , I was very impressed by the latter title and placed it near the top of my Top Ten for 2013 (there’s going to be a major shake-up of that soon) and it received great review from Mark Schilling over at The Japan Times so I was confident that I would enjoy it and discussed the films merits (director/actors) with other festival attendees I had never met before. Would I walk out feeling the same things? Review on Friday.  

 

The final title I’ll review is THE STORY OF YONOSUKE which comes from Shuichi Okita who really (really!) impressed me with his title The Woodsman & the Rain, a film which contained a wonderfully observed and rather touching comedy about filmmaking and human bonds where he got great performances from his actors including the two lead stars, Koji Yakusho and Shun Oguri. The Story of Yonosuke was released in Japan back in February. Out of the films I saw in the festival this was easily my favourite because Okita once again brought all of the warmth, quirks and humanity out of his characters and created wonderful comedic scenes. Review on Sunday.

 

There’s a lot of nostalgia, love and drama over the next week on the cards but that’s okay because the rest of August and September sees an upsurge in dark yakuza tales due to a Takashi Ishii and a Kiyoshi Kurosawa season.

The Woodsman and the Rain キツツキと雨 (2012)

Genki Jason The Woodsman and the Rain Review Banner

The Woodsman & the Rain                            The Woodsman and the Rain Film Poster

Japanese Title: キツツキと雨

Romaji: Kitsutsuki to Ame

Release Date: February 11th, 2012

UK Release Date: January 28th 2013 (UK)

UK Film Distributor: Third Window Films

Running Time: 135 mins.

Director: Shuichi Okita

Writer: Shuichi Okita, Fumio Moriya

Starring: Koji Yakusho, Shun Oguri, Kengo Kora, Asami Usuda, Kanji Furutachi, Daisuke Kuroda, Kyusaku Shimada, Yoshiyuki Morishita, Tsutou Takahashi, Mitsuru Hirata, Masato Ibu, Tsutomu Yamazak

Ever since writing about this film last year I had been eagerly anticipating it, principally because it stars Koji Yakusho, a wonderful actor who has won my admiration through a series of performances in films by Kiyoshi Kurosawa. I was also impressed by the festival awards buzz it had acquired as it took the Special Jury Prize at the 2011 Tokyo International Film Festival and the Audience Award at Nippon Connection. The awards are richly deserved.

The Woodsman & the Rain opens in a dense forest outside Yamamura village. A lumberjack named Katsuhiko (Yakusho) is busy sawing a tree with a chainsaw. This short sequence reveals a gruff and pragmatic small town man who is comfortable working the land. He can even read the weather and predict when it will rain hence the title. He is soon distracted by the arrival of Torii (Furutachi), the assistant director of a film. Torii asks him to stop. “We’re in the middle of a take.” Katsuhiko does not quite understand movie jargon and he is not one easily swayed from his craft so Torii says, “We’re shooting a movie over there.” Katsuhiko understands now and asks “Can I prune?” Torii replies “If it isn’t noisy, sure.” Katsuhiko climbs a tree and starts cutting branches. From this vantage point both Katsuhiko and the audience see the town in distance with movie vans parked around.

Yamamura has been invaded by a small crew shooting a low-budget zombie film named Utopia. Katsuhiko is not concerned with any of this and goes about his work day routine and living very uneasily with his unemployed and directionless son Koichi (Kora) but a chance encounter with Torii on the road leads to Katsuhiko meeting the film’s director who is also named Koichi (Oguri), a man barely out of university and on his first major project. Pressure is getting to him and he suffers from severe lack of confidence which leaves Torii taking command and trying to make use of Katsuhiko’s local knowledge for some location scouting. This is just the first of many requests that the film crew ask of Katsuhiko.

The Woodsman and the Rain Zombie YakushoDespite being initially unimpressed with what he sees (especially Koichi) Katsuhiko is soon sucked into the film and even gets to act as a zombie. He even strikes up an unlikely friendship with Koichi as he falls in love with the story of the movie and the experience of making it. The more deeply he becomes involved with the film the more enthusiastic he is and discovers that the director, despite lacking in confidence and finding the demands of movie-making a little too much, is extremely talented. The two forms an unlikely friendship and help each other overcome personal problems.

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Third Window Films Release The Woodsman & the Rain

Third Window Films follow up their release of The Foreign Duck, The Native Duck & God in a Coin Locker with the release of the second film on my  preview of Asian films getting released in the UK, a film I have been interested in since it was released in Japan last year. That release is The Woodsman & The Rain. It has an all-star cast including the incredible Koji Yakusho and Shun Oguri. I’ve got my copy on pre-order!

Alua over at Otherwhere reviewed this film last year and gave it an excellent write-up, so without further ado, here are the details:

The Woodsman and the Rain DVD Case

The Woodsman & The Rain

A film by Shuichi Okita (Chef of the South Polar, Story of Yonosuke)

Starring: Koji Yakusho (13 Assassins, Cure, Retribution)
Shun Oguri (Crows Zero, Azumi, Space Brothers)
Kengo Kora (Norwegian Wood, Fish Story)

Japan / 2011 / 129 Mins / In Japanese with English subtitles / Colour / 35mm

Out on DVD January 28th, 2013

DVD Special Features:

Interviews with the Cast & Crew, Deleted Scenes, Theatrical Trailer

Katsu (Yakusho) is a 60 year-old lumberjack who lives in a small, tranquil village in the mountains. When a film crew suddenly arrives to shoot a zombie movie, Katsu finds himself unwittingly roped into assisting the production and becomes increasingly frustrated with the pushy crew, especially the young, seemingly spineless director Koichi (Oguri).

However, an improbable friendship soon develops between Katsu and Koichi, as Katsu comes to see joy in the filmmaking process, and gradually helps Koichi to recover his sense of self. Soon, their bond inspires an unusual collaboration between the villagers and the film crew.