Japan Cuts 2014 Preview

Japan Cuts Logo

New York, New York, what a wonderful town. I have never wanted to live in New York as much as I did after reading the line-up for Japan Cuts 2014.

The Japan Society will host a series of awesome Japanese films from July 10th to July 29th with titles like Sion Sono’s ultra-violent black comedy Why Don’t You Play in Hell? coupled with crime thriller The Devil’s Path and recent (controversial) World War II blockbuster The Eternal Zero. These are just some of the headline titles, there are even more listed, many of which were released in the last few weeks and some of which are crazy and bizarre and speak to the sharp and unique sense of cinema that the curators have – respect has to be paid for the programming of the documentaries on this list. There’s definitely something for everyone! Here’s a trailer:

I am blown away by the titles and the guests that have been announced with many actors coming over for Q&As (FUMI NIKAIDO!!!). For a fan of cinema in general and Japanese cinema in particular, this is a festival rich with great films and events!

Here’s a list of the films and trailers with comments from me. Click on the title for more info such as times and buying tickets. Tickets are already on sale!

 

Thursday July 10th, Opening Night

 

6 P.M.

The Mole Song: Undercover Agent Reiji   The Mole Song Film Poster

Japanese Title: 土竜の唄 潜入捜査官 REIJI

Romaji: Mogura no Uta Sennuu Sosakan REIJI

Running Time: 130 mins.

Director: Takashi Miike

Writer: Kudo Kankuro (Screenplay), Noboru Takahashi (Original Manga)

Starring: Toma Ikuta, Ren Osugi, Shinichi Tsutsumi, Riisa Naka, Takayuki Yamada, Mitsuru Fukikoshi

This is based on a comedy manga by Noboru Takahashi and directed by Takashi Miike (For Love’s Sake). The film has a great cast of characters like Shinichi Tsutsumi (Why Don’t You Play in Hell?), Ren Osugi (Exte) and Mitsuru Fukikoshi (Cold Fish). It seems like a great way to open the film festival since it looks absolutely funny.

Reiji Kikukawa (Ikuta) has a strong sense of justice but graduates at the bottom of his class from the police academy. He is so useless his superiors send him on what should be a suicide mission. First the police chief fires him for disciplinary issues and then sets him up as a mole in the Sukiyaki gang, the largest crime group in the Kanto area. His target is Shuho Todoroki, the boss, and so Reiji goes through hell to get his man!

 

8:30 P.M.

Why Don’t You Play in Hell?
Why Don't You Play In Hell Film Poster

Japanese Title: 地獄 で なぜ 悪い Why Don’t You Play in Hell?

Romaji: Jigoku de Naze Warui Why Don’t You Play in Hell?

Running Time: 126 mins

Director: Sion Sono

Writer: Sion Sono (Screenplay),

Starring: Jun Kunimura, Shinichi Tsutsumi, Fumi Nikaido, Tomochika, Hiroki Hasegawa, Kotou Lorena, Gen Hoshino, Tak Sakaguchi

Sion Sono blew my mind with this one. After a short run of issue films like the critically lauded Himizu and The Land of Hope, he made this hilarious and blood-thirsty film which was both entertainment and a love letter to cult films and yakuza classics. I found it absolutely hilarious and one of the best films of last year.

Muto (Kunimura) and Ikegami (Tsutsumi) are rival gangsters who despise each other especially since Muto’s wife Shizue (Tomochika) butchered a boss in Ikegami’s gang. She gets sent to prison which jeopardises her daughter’s acting career. Ten years later and days before Shizue is due to be released, Muto is desperate to make his daughter a big-screen star as a reward for Shizue’s loyalty and kidnaps Koji (Hoshino), a timid passer-by who is mistaken for being a film director.

When dealing with gangsters you don’t mess about so Koji recruits the help of a mad-cinephile Hirata (Hasegawa) who dreams of being a movie director and has a ragtag film crew named The Fuck Bombers. Hirata seizes his chance and loses his mind as he casts Mitsuko in a fictional gang war but it soon goes wrong when it turns real.

Introduction and Q&A with actress Fumi Nikaido (I so want to be in her presence!!!)

Followed by the LET’S PLAY IN HELL Opening Night Party!

Continue reading “Japan Cuts 2014 Preview”

Films I Wish I Had Seen in 2013 and will Hopefully see in 2014

Genki Fuse Best of 2013 Header Banner

2013 has ended and I haven’t published my best ofs yet. I better start now. I have to admit that 2013 year has been rather excellent in terms of my experience with Japanese films considering I saw so many in their year of release, played a small part in helping bring one over to the UK and interviewed a few directors and yet, and yet… There were a few releases that I wish I had seen. Every trailer post always brings up a few titles I wish I could see in a cinema and so here’s a list of 14 Japanese films released in 2013 I hope I get to see in 2014!

Shin Shin Shin                               Shin Shin Shin Film Poster

Japanese Title: しんしんしん

Romaji: Shin Shin Shin

Running Time: 135 mins.

Release Date: January 12th 2013 (Japan)

Director: Kouhei Sanada

Writer: Kouhei Sanada

Starring: Ikeda Houshi, Miwako Wagatsuma, Kazuhiro Sano, Yuya Okutsu. Megumi Kagurazaka

Shin Shing Shin is a film which was directed by Kouhei Sanada who was mentored by Kiyoshi Kurosawa at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. That same university played a massive part in another title below, Fairy Tale. The film’s title comes from a song of the same name by the folk rock band Happy End who hail from the 70’s. Is this it and it is a road movie which stars Miwako Wagatsuma who was in Sentimental Yasuko and End of Puberty and Megumi Kagurazaka who was in Cold Fish and The Land of Hope.

 

Tomoyuki (Ishida) is a high school student who lives with the Tekiya family, a group of strangers with no other place to go. A girl named named Yuki (Wagatsuma) joins the group but when their home is demolished they head off on a journey that leads them from town to town with no particular destination in mind.

Website

 

A Fairy Tale        Yuki Sasaki Film Poster

Japanese Title: あるいは佐々木ユキ

Romaji: Aruiwa Sasaki Yuki

Running Time: 79 mins.

Release Date: January 12th 2013 (Japan)

Director: Kenji Fukuma

Writer: Keiko Fukuma (Screenplay),

Starring: Saori Kohara, Akira Yoshino, Hideyo Sengoku, Makiko Kawano, Yumi Fuzuki

This was a victim of my bad translation skills… The first in a long line of victims… Anyway this is written and directed by the poet Kenji Fukuma, a man with two other directorial efforts to his name – Summer for the Living (2011), which starred Saori Kohara, and My Dear Daughter of Okayama (2008). He reunites with the actress Kohara for this fantasy drama about the emotions of a 20-year-old Tokyoite which interweaves interviews, poetry and dances so that the film blurs dreams and reality.

 

Watashi wa Sasaki Yuki. Hatachi desu. 

20-year-old Yuki Sasaki who lives by herself in Tokyo. One day she chances upon a poetry reading by poetess Yumi Fuzuki and the experiences makes her lose sight of her purpose in life. In the process, another Yuki (Kawano) appears before her. We see her reality and dreams in a series of interviews and performances like dancing and poetry that are captured on film. 

Website

  Continue reading “Films I Wish I Had Seen in 2013 and will Hopefully see in 2014”

The Tale of Princess Kaguya, Tamako in Moratorium, The Extreme Sukiyaki, Honto Ni Atta! Noroi Video 55, Ties, Persona 3 The Movie #1 Spring of Birth, Bayonetta Bloody Fate, No Voice Japanese Film Trailers

Coffee Time This is my second trailer post of the week! The first post contained a quirky selection of titles but this is where we get to the big names, anime and alternative programming. In anime terms we have the much hyped Persona 3 movie and the cult title Bayonetta Bloody Fate full of supernatural action. The big anime release has to be Isao Takahata’s Princess Kaguya, his first work as a director in fourteen years. The more I see of it the more I want to watch it. Other interesting titles include Tamako in Moratorium and The Extreme Sukiyaki which have writers, directors and actors who have been in plenty of quality titles I have already reviewed. We’re talking about Nobuhiro Yamashita and Shiro Maeda, Kengo Kora and Shuichi Okita, Atusko Maeda and Arata. If I had to choose one to see it would be Tamako in Moratorium because it has the quirky sense of humour and easy to identify with character plus it looks so freaking adorable.

The Tale of Princess Kaguya  The Story of Princess Kaguya Film Poster

Japanese: かぐや 姫 の 物語

Romaji: Kaguya Hime no Monogatari

Running Time: 137 mins.

Release Date: November 23rd, 2013

Director: Isao Takahata

Writer: Isao Takahata, Riko Sakaguchi (Screenplay)

Starring: Aki Asakura (Kaguya), Kengo Kora (Sutemaru), Nobuko Miyamoto (ouno), Takeo Chii (Okina)

This is the big release for the weekend, the latest Studio Ghibli project! It’s helmed by Studio Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata, writer and director of Only Yesterday, Pom Poko Grave of the Fireflies and Little Norse Prince Valiant. I can vouch for them all being very good since they come on British television regularly.

What is he bringing his considerable talents to? An adaptation of a famous ancient Japanese folktale originally called Taketori Monogatari (The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter) which is about a princess named Kaguya who is discovered as a bab inside the stalk of a growing plant by a bamboo cutter and adopted. Joe Hisaishi (The Kids Return, Spirited Away) is composing the film’s soundtrack. Check out Alua Luna’s fascinating post about the different re-tellings of this folk-tale.

Website

Continue reading “The Tale of Princess Kaguya, Tamako in Moratorium, The Extreme Sukiyaki, Honto Ni Atta! Noroi Video 55, Ties, Persona 3 The Movie #1 Spring of Birth, Bayonetta Bloody Fate, No Voice Japanese Film Trailers”