Helldriver ヘルドライバー (2011)

Helldriver   Helldriver Film Poster

ヘルドライバー 「Herudoraiba」

Release Date: May 23rd, 2011

Running Time: 117 mins.

Directors: Yoshihiro Nishimura

Writer: Yoshihiro Nishimura, Daichi Nagisa (Screenplay)

Starring: Yumiko Hara, Eihi Shiina, Yurei Yanagi, Takumi Saito, Kazuki Namioka, Mizuki Kusumi, Yukihide Benny, Asami, Cay Isumi, Maki Mizui,

Splatter film director Yoshihiro Nishimura has one setting: extreme. His creatures designs are extreme. His action scenes are extreme. His use of special effects and blood splashed around on screen is extreme. If you thought that Tokyo Gore Police (2008) and Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl (2009) were extreme, you have seen nothing. Helldriver (2011) is a bone-crunching, head-splitting, and grotesque attempt at a zombie apocalypse epic on a shoestring budget and it is extreme action for its entire near two hour running time for better and for worse.

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Tamami: The Baby’s Curse 赤んぼ少女 (2008)

Tamami: The Baby’s Curse    Tamami The Baby's Curse Film Poster

Japanese: 赤んぼ少女

Romaji: Akanbo Shojo

Release Date: August 02nd, 2008

Running Time: 100 mins.

Director: Yudai Yamaguchi,

Writer: Kazuo Umezu, Hirotoshi Kobayashi (Screenplay),

Starring: Naoko Mizusawa, Goro Noguchi, Takumi Saito, Asami, Atsuko Asano, Etsuko Ikuta, Itsuji Itao, Keisuke Horibe,

Director Yudai Yamaguchi followed up Meatball Machine (2008) withtamami-the-babys-curse-manga-image-2.jpg this schlocky horror film based on a manga by horror maestro Kazuo Umezu and it is a fun horror film full of death, destruction and a creepy baby-like creature brought to life by some “imaginative” CG/acting/physical effects. With a loony story, a classic haunted house setting, an OTT villain, and some ropey effects, every minute is perpetual fun to watch.

Continue reading “Tamami: The Baby’s Curse 赤んぼ少女 (2008)”

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)”

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.

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”

Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl 吸血少女対少女フランケン (2009)

Monami (Yukie Kawamura) in Vampire girl vs Frankenstein Girl Yoshihiro Nishimura followed Tokyo Gore Police a year later with Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl, a movie based on a manga by Shungiku Uchida and far more accessible than Tokyo Gore Police thanks to its shorter running time and its utter adherence to care-free comedy.

The film takes place around Valentine’s Day in what seems like a typical Tokyo High School. On Valentine’s Day girls give boys chocolate in order to declare their love. Gothic-lolita Keiko (Eri Otoguro) has her sights set on handsome Jyugon Mizushima (Takumi Saito) but he is about to get snatched away by the quiet and devious care-free vampire Monami (Yukie Kawamura) who tricks Mizushima into eating her which is filled with her vampiric blood and turns him into a half-vampire. This sparks a war between the two which reveals that the school and its pupils are far from typical.

Franken-chicks in Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl Anybody suspicious that this whole rival monsters and human love-triangle might be the Japanese Twilight fear not. It loves gore and silliness too much.

Continue reading “Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl 吸血少女対少女フランケン (2009)”