Dreams for Sale 夢売るふたり (2012) Dir: Miwa Nishikawa

Dreams for Sale                                  Dreams for Sale Movie Poster

夢売るふたり  Yume Uru Futari

Release Date: September 08th, 2012

Running Time: 137 mins.

Director: Miwa Nishikawa

Writer: Miwa Nishikawa (Screenplay/Original Novel)

Starring: Takako Matsu, Sadao Abe, Lena Tanaka, Sawa Suzuki, Tamae Ando, Yuka Ebara, Tsurube Shoufukutei, Tae Kimrua, Teruyuki Kagawa, Yusuke Iseya, Kanji Furutachi,

Website    IMDB

“Dreams for Sale” is the award-winning fourth feature film from Miwa Nishikawa and it was released in 2012 after having travelled around international film festivals such as the London Film Festival and the Toronto Film Festival. It follows on from her previous film by being a tale of a family riven by deceit and compromised morals but it is far darker than “Wild Berries” and “Dear Doctor”, this feels more akin to “Sway”, tougher.

Continue reading “Dreams for Sale 夢売るふたり (2012) Dir: Miwa Nishikawa”

Dear Doctor ディア ドクター (2009) Miwa Nishikawa

Dear Doctor    Dear Doctor Film Poster

ディア・ドクター  Dea Dokuta-

Release Date: June 27th, 2009

Running Time: 127 mins.

Director: Miwa Nishikawa

Writer: Miwa Nishikawa (Screenplay/Original Novel)

Starring: Tsurube Shofukutei (Dr. Osamu Ino), Eita (Keisuke Soma), Kimiko Yo (Akemi Ohtake), Teruyuki Kagawa (Masayoshi Saimon), Kaoru Yachigusa (Kaduko Torikai), Haruka Igawa (Ritsuko Torikai), Ryo Iwamatsu (Lieutenant Yoshifumi Okayasu), Yutaka Matushige (Sergeant Hatano),

Website    IMDB

Miwa Nishikawa follows up her perfect twisted Tokyo-based family drama Wild Berries with this title about a countryside doctor who may not be what he appears to be. Despite the bucolic setting replacing Tokyo the themes are much the same as in her debut film, deception and desperation.

Dear Doctor takes place in a remote town in the middle of the countryside. It’s nighttime and creatures lurking in the rice fields croak and murmur in the darkness.  A man riding into town on a bicycle along a poorly lit road stops and puts on a doctor’s coat he finds lying on the ground. He continues cycling all the way to the clinic where a cluster of elderly villagers and police officers question him. Where did he find the coat? Where’s the doctor it’s normally attached to?

Continue reading “Dear Doctor ディア ドクター (2009) Miwa Nishikawa”

Sway ゆれる (2006)

Sway   Yureru Sway Film Poster

ゆれるYureru

Release Date: April 08th, 2006

Running Time: 119 mins.

Director: Miwa Nishikawa

Writer: Miwa Nishikawa (Screenplay),

Starring: Joe Odagiri, Teruyuki Kagawa, Yoko Maki, Keizo Kanie, Tomorowo Taguchi, Hirofumi Arai, Masato Ibu, Pierre Taki, Mayu Kitaki,

Website    IMDB

Sway is an innocuous title but it harbours many powerful meanings. It refers to memories, one of the most profound elements that make a person unique. It refers to the ever changing personalities of people. It also refers to the sibling relationship at the centre of the film. These elements are something which writer and director Miwa Nishikawa crafts a film about in a story where the return of a younger brother to his hometown results in his older brother going on trial for murder. What is ostensibly a mystery/crime thriller becomes a dissection of modern male pride and the strain that society puts on people as revealed in a riveting character drama.

Continue reading “Sway ゆれる (2006)”

Rurouni Kenshin るろうに剣心 (2012)

Rurouni Kenshin                                              るろうに剣心 Poster

Romaji: Rurouni Kenshin

Japanese Title: るろうに剣心

Release Date: August, 25th 2012 (Japan)

UK Release Date: August 2013 (UK)

Running Time: 134 mins.

Director: Keishi Ohtomo

Writer: Watsuki Nobuhrio (Original Manga), Kiyomi Fujii, Keishi Ohtomo (Screenplay)るろうに剣心 Poter

Starring: Takeru Sato, Emi Takei, Yu Aoi, Teruyuki Kagawa, Taketo Tanaka, Munetaka Aoki, Yosuke Eguchi, Koji Kikkawa,

The live-action adaptation of Nobuhiro Watsuki’s classic chanbara manga Rurouni Kenshin is the latest release from Warner Bros. Japan. The company is building a large portfolio of live-action adaptations of anime and manga for the big screen. Previous projects from the Warner Bros. include releases like Wild 7, Ninja Kids!!!, the Death Note films and the Berserk anime. These are titles which are popular in and outside of Japan, safe properties which come with an in-built fan-base. A safe bet if you will and it seems to have payed off because Rurouni Kenshin was one of the highest grossing film in Japan in 2012 and not without reason because it is one of the best adaptations of an anime or manga that I have seen in a while. This post is full of Gifs so apologies for slow loading times.

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Penance Shokuzai 贖罪 (2012)

Penance Eiko Koike Banner

Penance                   Shokuzai Drama Poster

Romaji: Shokuzai

Japanese Title: 贖罪

Running Time: 300 mins.

Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Writer: Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Script), Kanae Minato (Original Novel)

Starring: Kyoko Koizumi, Eiko Koike, Sakura Ando, Chizuru Ikewaki, Yu Aoi, Mirai Moriyama, Ryo Kase, Teruyuki Kagawa, Hirofumi Arai

For the last few years I have reviewed a J-horror film or something twisted for this blog for Halloween. Well, I was reviewing lots of J-horror anyway but I would only write about something really good, usually from my favourite directors like Nightmare Detective (Shinya Tsukamoto) and Strange Circus (Sion Sono). This year I will review Penance directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa.

kurosawa-penance

It was originally broadcast on the Japanese TV station WOWOW in five parts. A shorter version running at 270 minutes toured western film festivals like Venice and the East End Film Festival so it could be watched in one go. It has picked up for distribution by Music Box Films for release in the UK/Canada and US some time next year. I have watched the original episodes made for Japanese TV.

Penance is a five-episode TV drama based on Kanae Minato’s 317 page novel of the same name (Minato also wrote the novel which the film Confessions is based on) and is Kurosawa’s follow-up to the magnificent Tokyo Sonata.

Penance Emiri in School

Emiri Aachi is an elementary school student whose family have moved from urban Tokyo to sleepy Ueda due to her father’s work. She makes friends with four girls named Sae, Maki, Akiko and Yuka. Emiri is the fashionable one who has all of the latest things and she brings some excitement into the lives of the girls but strange things are going on including the theft of French dolls. One day when the five girls are playing volleyball at school they are approached by a man dressed in work-clothes. He has been watching them intently and asks for their help in repairing the ventilation system in the school gym.

Penance Inciting Incident  Continue reading “Penance Shokuzai 贖罪 (2012)”

Serpent’s Path 蛇の道 (1998)

Genki The Serpents Path Film Review Header

I’m a big Kiyoshi Kurosawa fan but when Third Window Films announced they had two Japanese films made by Kurosawa in the 90’s I had no idea what they could be and I had little to guide me but posters and a brief plot synopsis. Less than a year on from that announcement and Third Window Films has released the two films in a set. I have watched them and I have to admit that these are two excellent crime films.

The films originate from a single offer. Kurosawa was offered the chance to make two low-budget V-cinema films in two weeks with the same cast and so he came up with Eyes of the Spider and Serpent’s Path. Both have many similarities not least the cast and story about a about a man seeking revenge for the murder of his daughter but the similarities end there as Kurosawa’s execution of both films differ. This review covers Serpent’s Path.

Serpent’s Path                             Serpent's Path Poster

Japanese Title: 蛇の道

Romaji: Hebi no Michi

Release Date:  February 21st,  1998 (Japan)

Running Time: 85 mins.

Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Writer:  Hiroshi Takahashi

Starring: Sho Aikawa, Teruyuki Kagawa, Yurei Yanagi, Shiro Shitamoto, Hua Rong Weng

The film starts with two men travelling by car in a bland urban environment. The two couldn’t be more different. The calm one who is driving is Nijima (Aikawa), a physics tutor, while his passenger who is tense and on edge is Miyashita (Kagawa) a former yakuza. The two pull up in their car outside an anonymous house. Pretending to be a deliveryman, Nijima forces his way into the house of a middle-aged man and kidnaps him, taking him to a warehouse, where he and Miyashita chain him to a wall and proceed to mistreat the man and threaten him with violence.

As Nijima hovers in the background with an air of indifference, Miyashita looks about ready to explode as he howls and paces about. He soon drags a television in front of the increasingly angry and defiant man and plays footage of a girl in a playground.

Eyes of the Spider Television

The man watches the footage incredulously but begins to get really scared when Miyashita paws at the video image of the girl and reveals she is his daughter then tells him she was brutally murdered and he wants a confession of guilt. The man is horrified and starts blaming others. Nijima and Miyashita have no choice but to continue down the path of vengeance.

Continue reading “Serpent’s Path 蛇の道 (1998)”

Key of Life 鍵泥棒のメソッド (2012)

Genkina hito Jason Key Of Life Review Banner

Key of Life                                                        Key of Life Movie Poster

Japanese Title: 鍵 泥棒 の メソッド

Romaji: Kagi Dorobou no Mesoddo

Release Date:  15th September 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 128 mins.

Director: Kenji Uchida

Writer: Kenji Uchida

Starring: Masato Sakai, Teruyuki Kagawa, Ryoko Hirosue, YosiYosi Arakawa, Yoko Moriguchi

This was the second film I saw at the 56th BFI London Film Festival after The Wolf Children. While I was familiar with the actors involved I had little knowledge about the director or his past works other than the fact that they are considered extremely funny. I selected this as one of my festival picks because I was willing to bet that with its excellent cast it was going to be extremely funny. Thankfully I was right! 

Continue reading “Key of Life 鍵泥棒のメソッド (2012)”

Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo, The Samurai That Night, The Cowards Who Looked to the Sky, Beautiful World Trailers and the Japanese Movie Box Office Chart

Ikaruga IdealThis week I started with a trailer for World War Z which looks like it will be a botched adaptation of the wonderful source novel. I then posted a rather late report about my experiences at the 56th BFI London Film Festival and I posted a review of The Wolf Children on Thursday after watching The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. Here’s a short version of my review of The Wolf Children – one of the best animated films I have ever seen. The reviews for the other films I saw at the festival will appear over the next week before I start off a new season.

What do the Japanese movie charts look like this week?

  1. The Floating Castle
  2. Lesson of the Evil
  3. A Chorus of Angels
  4. Smile Precure!
  5. Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away
  6. Fly with the Gold
  7. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
  8. Paranormal Activity 4
  9. The Expendables 2
  10. Tsunagu

The Floating Castle remains at number one for its second week and Takashi Miike menaces the charts with his latest him, The Lesson of Evil hitting number two after being released last week. Interestingly Tsunagu hangs on in the top ten after six weeks and rakes in the money. I did not think it would have the staying power…

What Japanese films are released today?

Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo                       Evangelion 3 Film Poster

Japanese Title: ヴァンゲリ新 新劇場版:Q Quickening

Romaji: Evangelion Shin Gekijoban: Kyu

Release Date:  17th November 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Hideaki Anno, Masayuki, Kazuya Tsurumaki, Mahiro Maeda

Writer:  Hideaki Anno

Starring: Megumi Hayashibara, Megumi Ogata, Akira Ishida, Yuko Miyamura, Kotono Mitsuishi, Takehito Koyasu, Fumihiko Tachiki, Yuriko Yamaguchi, Motomu Kiyokawa, Hiro Yuuki, Miki Nagasawa, Maaya Sakamoto

Neon Genesis Evangelion makes an impact on the Japanese charts today! This seminal 90’s anime re-wrote the rules for the mecha genre as it was a post-modern take that combined mecha tropes with crazed religion, science and the twisted imagination and state of near depression of anime veteran Hideaki Anno. With Evangelion he did what Lars von Trier did with Melancholia and gave us a devastating visual view of depression and other psychological maladies. Watching the teen pilots navigate the hell that is adolescence and deal with the psycho-sexual nightmarish monsters and emotionally complex adults was gripping, disturbing but ultimately uplifting (although very apocalyptic).

Hideaki Anno claimed he was not happy with the way the series developed and released a number of films which tried to retell the ending of the show, ending on an even darker note. Since then Evangelion has been a merchandise machine and has retained its popularity which is why Anno has been given a chance to remake the TV series into a number of film which offer what he considers to be his ultimate vision. The first two films in the four-part series have been released in the west to rapturous reviews, this is the third. To celebrate the release of the film, numerous videos have been released including a music video for Hikaru Utada.

While the six-minute preview is not flashy it looks promising. The cast has the familiar seiyuu from the television shows including major stars like the prolific and wonderful voice actress Megumi Hayashibara (Paprika in Paprika – she also turned up in The Wolf Children) who voices Rei Ayanami and Pen Pen, Megumi Ogata who plays Shinji Ikari, Akira Ishida (Keiju Tabuki in Mawaru Penguindrum), Yuko Miyamura (Casca in Berserk – the girl in the training video in Battle Royale), Hiro Yuuki (Takaomi in Mysterious Girlfriend X), Miki Nagasawa (Mutio in Blue Submarine No.6), Maaya Sakamoto (Hitomi in Escaflowne). All of these anime listed I love which is just more reason to love the film.

The Samurai That Night                                    The Samurai That Night Movie Poster

Japanese Title: その よる の 侍

Romaji: Sono Yoru no Samurai

Running Time: 119 mins.

Director: Masaaki Akahori

Writer: Masaaki Akahori

Starring: Masato Sakai, Takayuki Yamada, Hirofumi Arai, Gou Ayano, Maki Sakai, Tomorowo Taguchi, Haruka Kinami, Tsutomu Takahashi, Mitsuki Tanimura, Sakura Ando, Denden

Stage actor Masaaki Akahori makes his debut film by adapting one of his plays for the screen. It screened at this year’s BFI London Film Festival. The trailer looks good and it stars familiar names like Sakura Ando (Our Homeland, Love Exposure, For Love’s Sake), Denden (Cure, Cold Fish, Himizu), Hirofumi Arai (Blazing Famiglia, Helter Skelter), Takayuki Yamada (Thirteen Assassins, The Cat Returns, The Seaside Motel), Gou Ayano (Gantz, A Man with Style) and Masato Sakai who stars in Key of Life and I will have a review of that film ready for Monday!

Kenichi Nakamura (Masato Sakai) is the manager of a small ironworks who lost his wife (Maki Sakai) in a hit-and-run incident five years ago. Since then his life has become mundane. After the loutish driver Kijima (Yamada) who committed the crime is released from prison he receives threatening letters daily which state that both he and the anonymous writer will die on the anniversary of the incident. Kenichi’s friends and relatives try to stop him from embarking on his path of revenge but he is determined to avenge his wife.

 

The Cowards Who Looked to the Sky                     The Cowards Who Looked to the Sky Movie Poster

Japanese Title: ふがいない 僕 は 空 を 見た

Romaji: Fugainai Boku wa Sora wo Mita

Release Date: 17th November 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 142 mins.

Director: Yuki Tanada

Writer: Kosuke Mukai, Misumi Kubo (Novel)

Starring: Tomoko Tabata, Kento Nagayama, Masataka Kubota, Mieko Harada, Takahiro Miura, Miharu Tanaka Takashi Yamanaka

The Cowards Who Looked to the Sky is based on a novel written by Misumi Kubo. It played at this year’s Toronto Film Festival and from this trailer and a review on the Japan Times it looks quite dramatic. It stars the beautiful Tomoko Tabata (Blood and Bones,The Hidden Blade), the handsome Kento Nagayama (Crime or Punishment?!?), the young Masataka Kubota (13 Assassins), Takahiro Miura (Tokyo Playboy Club), and Mieko Harada (Helter Skelter). This looks like a good realist drama.

Anzu (Tabata) is a depressed housewife who lives with a nagging mother-in-law and indifferent husband. When she attends an anime convention in cosplay she meets a teenager named Takumi (Nagayama). The two start an affair at Anzu’s home. At this point, those already in Takumi’s life go through emotional upheaval of their own as a classmate (Tanaka) confesses her love for him and his friend Fukuda (Kubota) finds himself at the mercy of a loan shark who has come to collect his mother’s debts. This is just the start of the emotional turmoil for all characters involved.

 

Beautiful World                                Beautiful World Film Poster

Japanese Title:任侠 ヘルパー

Romaji: Ninkyo Herupa-

Release Date: 17th November 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 134 mins.

Director: Hiroshi Nishitani

Writer: N/A

Starring: Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, Narumi Yasuda, Teruyuki Kagawa, Meisa Kuroki, Rei Akimoto, Ayane Omori, Kaho, Shunsuke Kazama, Ryudo Uzaki, Tetta Sugimoto, Masaaki Sakai

When I saw the title Beautiful World I immediately thought of Kino’s Journey and I smiled… Then I read the details and my heart broke a little bit. Alas, this has no connection to the wonderful anime. This is a drama set in the real world and it is directed by Hiroshi Nishitani who has had a varied career but his most interesting film, for me, is Suspect X based on the decent crime thriller The Devotion of Suspect X written by Keigo Higashino. For Beautiful World, he adapts a TV series which stars SMAP member Tsuyoshi Kusanagi who was last seen on the big screen in Dearest. Tsuyoshi is supported by Teruyuki Kagawa (Key of Life, Tokyo Sonata), Narumi Yasuda (Time Traveller: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time), Kaho (Funky Forest: The First Contact), Meisa Kuroki (Who’s Camus Anyway, Vexille), Shunsuke Kazama (From Up on Poppy Hill), and Tetta Sugimoto (Outrage, Departures). The trailer seems to be leaning towards the sentimental but Tsuyoshi looks like he might be capable of giving a great performance.

Former gangster Hikoichi (Kusanagi) is trying to live a straight life and takes up work at a convenience store. One day an old man named Yuzo (Sakai) robs the store but when the police arrest Yuzo they also arrest Hikoichi. Yuzo tells him that when he is in trouble he should see a man named Asahina (Uzaki). When Hikoichi is released from prison he travels to Taikai city to meet Asahina where a local government official named Teruo Yashiro (Kagawa) is running a welfare project that will cause problems for a community. The paths of these men will collide as Hikoichi comes to the aid of the community. 

Genkina hito at the 56th London Film Festival

Getting Any Genki Film Festival Banner

Yep, after months of reporting about international film festivals like Berlin, Cannes, Venice, and Toronto and complaining about not being able to be at them and watching Japanese films, I am finally attending one myself for this is the year I try and increase my coverage by taking part in The 56th London Film Festival. The festival takes place from the 10th until the 21st of October and I will be seeing The Wolf ChildrenKey of Life, and For Love’s Sake.

 

For Love’s Sake              Ai to Makoto Film Festival

Japanese Title: 愛 と 誠

Romaji: Ai to Makoto

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 will be the final film I see in the festival and I am expecting this to be highly entertaining because it is directed by Takashi Miike. I hate musicals but Miike made The Happiness of the Katakuris which I loved. Tony Rayns, a highly experienced Japanese film expert states, “you can only gasp in disbelief at Miike’s inventiveness: performances, design, choice of golden-oldie hits and fight choreography are all beyond ace.”  Sounds awesome! Anyway 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.

 

 

Key of Life                                                          Key of Life Movie Poster

Japanese Title: 鍵 泥棒 の メソッ

Romaji: Kagi Dorobou no Meoddo

Running Time: 128 mins.

Director: Kenji Uchida

Writer: Kenji Uchida

Starring: Masato Sakai, Teruyuki Kagawa, Ryoko Hirosue, YosiYosi Arakawa, Yoko Moriguchi

This film gets a glowing write up from Tony Rayns who describes it as “deliciously funny, not to mention brilliantly timed and acted with relish by the all-star cast.”  Some of that cast includes Teruyuki Kagawa (Tokyo Sonata), Masato Sakai (Sky High, The Samurai that Night), Ryoko Hirosue (Departures), YosiYosi Arakawa (Fine, Totally Fine, Quirky Guys & Girls), and Yoko Moriguchi (Casshern). I was sold on this from the cast and the trailer and so I will be watching this at the festival.

 

Sakurai (Kondo) is an aspiring but unsuccessful actor who has recently attempted suicide but is unsuccessful at that. He decides to head to a local bathhouse to ease his suffering and whilst there he witnesses a stranger in the neighbourhood named Kondo (Kagawa) who slips and knocks himself unconscious. Sakurai takes advantage of this and helps himself to Kondo’s locker key. He loots Kondo’s belongings and assumes his identity which is a pretty bad idea considering that Kondo is an assassin working for a yakuza. For his part Kondo wakes up in hospital minus his memory and so assumes Sakurai’s life as an actor but applies his dedicated nature to the craft while trying to recover his memory. 

 

The Wolf Children             The Wolf Children Poster

Running Time: 117 mins.

Director: Mamoru Hosoda

Writer: Mamoru Hosoda, Satoko Okudera

Starring: Aoi Miyazaki, Takao Osawa, Yukito Nishii, Haru Kuroki, Amon Kabe, Momoka Oona, Shota Sometani, Kumiko Aso, Mitsuki Tanimura,

This is the biggest draw of the festival for me. I have been posting about this film since the earliest trailers were released in Japan and it hit the Japanese movie box office charts. I am a major fan of Mamoru Hosoda’s first film, The Girl who Leapt Through Time, but Summer Wars left me cold despite the excellent animation and assured script. The Wolf Children could be the film that reaffirms my interest in him or kill it off. Just watching the trailer I figure I will get emotional at some point and get swept up in the story and there is every possibility that this will happen because Hosoda is aided with scripting duties by Satoko Okudera who has worked on major anime movies like Summer WarsMiyori’s ForestThe Girl Who Leapt Through Time, and The Princess and the Pilot and legendary character designer Yoshiyuki Sadamoto (Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, FLCL, Evangelion) is the character designer. The voice actors are familiar from the world of live action movies. Hana is voiced by the actress Aoi Miyazaki who starred in Shinji Aoyama’s 2000 film Eureka (which I received a couple of weeks ago), Ōkami is voiced by Takao Osawa (All About Lily Chou-Chou – a film that I dread watching because I was left emotionally drained), Yuki is voiced by Haru Kuroki, and Ame is voiced by Yukito Nishii (Confessions). Other notable names include Momoka Oona (Mitsuko Deliversa film that was blah) who plays an even younger version of Yuki, Amon Kabe who plays an even younger version of Ame, Shota Sometani (HimizuSadako 3DIsn’t Anyone live?), Mitsuki Tanimura (13 Assassins), and Kumiko Aso (Pulse – an awesome J-horror!).

A story of love between parents and children that takes place over thirteen starts when a university student named Hana falls in love with Ōkami who is a “wolf man”. The two marry and have children named after the weather on the day they were born – Yuki (snow) the older sister and Ame (rain) the younger brother. The four live quietly in a city concealing the true existence of their relationship until Ōkami dies and Hana decides to move to the country.

Check out Alua’s post for more information on other titles worth checking out. I bet nobody will be able to guess which film the image comes from!

Insight into the Universe, Vampire, Key of Life, Like Someone in Love Trailers and the Japanese Movie Box Office Chart

Maharu from Steins;GateThis week I previewed the BFI London Film Festival and detailed some of the movies I will be seeing. I also started my Shinya Tsukamoto Season which is ahead of digitally re-mastered re-release of Tetsuo: The Iron Man and Tetsuo: Body Hammer. I then celebrated my birthday by being stuck in work all day and I banged my head on a museum exhibit (I did get lots of cards and two cakes and I talked all day to a Chinese girl about Kanji/Hanzi) before I reviewed Tetsuo: The Iron Man and was stunned at the brilliant use of cinematic technique and imagination in Tsukamoto’s landmark film. If you consider yourself a cinephile get this movie!

What changes have happened with the Japanese movie box office charts?

  1. Bayside Shakedown 4: The Final New Hope
  2. Rurouni Kenshin
  3. Dear
  4. The Avengers
  5. Prometheus
  6. Safe House
  7. Dreams for Sale
  8. Akko-chan: The Movie
  9. Intouchables
  10. The Wolf Children Ame and Yuki
  11. Umizaru 4: Brave Hearts

The massively popular Bayside Shakedown series has released its final movie and it has taken the top spot. It was released last week alongside the critically acclaimed (okay, the Japan Times gave it an excellent write-up) Dreams for Sale (soon to be seen at the London Film Festival) which has taken the number seven spot. Rurouni Kenshin drops into second place in its third week while Dear, with all its star power, climbs up to three. The Wolf Children Rain and Snow and Umizaru 4 hold on at ten and eleven after earning insane amounts of money.

What Japanese films are getting released today?

Insight into the Universe               Insight into the Universe Movie Poster                                                             

Japanese Title: 天地 明察

Romaji: Tenchi Meisatsu (Tenchi: The Samurai Astronomer)

Release Date:  15th September 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 141 mins.

Director: Yojiro Takita

Writer: Tow Ubukata (Novel), Masato Kato, Yojiro Takita (Script)

Starring: Junichi Okada, Ennosuke Ichikawa, Aoi Miyazaki, Ryuta Sato, Koshiro Matsumoto

An adaptation of Tow Ubukata’s novel about a samurai who makes a calendar… Sounds boring unless you have a thing for maths/physics but since Tow Ubukata is the man behind Mardock Scramble and Le Chevalier D’Eon, the latter is a supernatural take on European history and is pretty good (I’m four episodes from the end). Also of interest is the crew behind the film including the director Yojiro Takita who directed the brilliant Departures (his early career is littered with awful sounding pink films) with a cast that includes Junichi Okada of the J-pop idol group V6 and lead in Tokyo Tower and From Up on Poppy Hill, with the main female role played by Aoi Miyazaki who starred in Eureka which I still need to watch… Music comes from Joe Hisaishi who has worked on many of Studio Ghibli’s films and produced the magnificent OST’s for Takeshi Kitano’s films!

Yasui Santetsu (Okada) is the son of a samurai class family known for its prowess at the board game go but he is a rebel and would rather solve math puzzles and observe the sky at night! He has many friends with who share his enthusiasms including Seki Takakazu (Ichikawa), math instructor Murase Gieki (Sato) and his sister En (Miyazaki). When a clan lord named Hoshina Masayuki (Matsumoto) appoints him to an expedition to map Japan using the North Star as a guide he discovers that the current calendar does not accurately predict the eclipse of the moon and it may not be keeping time as well as believed.

 

Vampire                                                                     Vampire Movie Poster

Japanese Title: ヴァンパイア

Romaji: Vampaia

Release Date:  15th September 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Shunji Iwai

Writer: Shunji Iwai

Starring: Yū Aoi,Kevin Zegers, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Adelaide Clemens, Travor Morgan, Amanda Plummer, Kristin Kreuk, Rachael Leigh Cook

The beautiful and talented Yū Aoi is back with Shunji Iwai who gave her her big break in his 2001 film All About Lily Chou-Chou (a beautiful OST and emotionally draining). Since then she has starred in Hula Girls, Tekkon Kinkreet and Rurouni Kenshin. She is surrounded by a diverse cast in terms of experience – Amanda Plummer (Pulp Fiction), Kristin Kreuk (Smallville) and Adelaida Clemens (soon to be seen in the forthcoming Silent Hill Revelation 3D). It sounds a lot like George A. Romero’s Martin mixed with Lily Chou-Chou. This is Iwai’s English language debut and it premiered at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, where, according to Wildground, it received harsh reviews.

Simon (Zegers) is a high school biology teacher and a serial killer who preys on suicidal girls who are drawn to him and let him feast on their blood. To find the girls he searches for are on suicide websites and he portrays himself as an equally suicidal chap who will perform double-suicide with them but he has no intention of ending his own life and so he carries on with his evil escapades. But the police are tracking him.

 

 

Key of Life                                                        Key of Life Movie Poster

Japanese Title: 鍵 泥棒 の メソッ

Romaji: Kagi Dorobou no Meoddo

Release Date:  15th September 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 128 mins.

Director: Kenji Uchida

Writer: Kenji Uchida

Starring: Masato Sakai, Teruyuki Kagawa, Ryoko Hirosue, YosiYosi Arakawa, Yoko Moriguchi

Key of Life is one of the films I will see at the BFI London Film Festival and I am so excited at the prospect of seeing this comedy primarily because ofthe all-star cast which includes Teruyuki Kagawa (Tokyo Sonata), Masato Sakai (Sky High, The Samurai that Night), Ryoko Hirosue (Depatures), YosiYosi Arakawa (Fine, Totally FineQuirky Guys & Girls), and Yoko Moriguchi (Casshern).

 

Sakurai (Kondo) is an aspiring but unsuccessful actor who has recently attempted suicide but is unsuccessful at that. He decides to head to a local bathhouse to ease his suffering and whilst there he witnesses a stranger in the neighbourhood named Kondo (Kagawa) who slips and knocks himself unconscious. Sakurai takes advantage of this and helps himself to Kondo’s locker key. He loots Kondo’s belongings and assumes his identity which is a pretty bad idea considering that Kondo is an assassin working for a yakuza. For his part Kondo wakes up in hospital minus his memory and so assumes Sakurai’s life as an actor but applies his dedicated nature to the craft while trying to recover his memory.

 

Like Someone in Love                                       Like Someone in Love Poster

Japanese Title: ライク サムワン イン ラブ

Romaji: Raiku Samuwan In Rabu

Release Date: 15th September 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Abbas Kiarostami

Writer: Abbas Kiarostami

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

The film was released in Cannes where it met so-so reviews. The cast includes Rin Takanashi who starred in Goth: Love of Death, Denden who stars in Cold Fish and Himizu and Ryo Kase who is in  SPEC: The Movie which is hanging on in the Japanese charts. Kiarostami has previously won big at Cannes by taking 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 univeisty 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 “Insight into the Universe, Vampire, Key of Life, Like Someone in Love Trailers and the Japanese Movie Box Office Chart”