The Great Passage TV Anime PV

The award-winning novel/live-action film The Great Passage (2013) is getting an anime adaptation which is due to air in October this year as part of Fuji TV’s Noitamina. It is being animated by Zexcs (Aku no Hana) and directed by Toshimasa Kuroyanagi (director on Say “I love you.”) and the series scripts are being overseen/written by Takuya Sato (writer/director on NieA_7 and Strawberry Marshmallow and storyboard artist on And Yet the Town Moves and Kino’s Journey). The big name for a lot of anime fans isn’t necessarily the writer/director but the character designer/manga author Haruko Kumota who won fans for her series Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu.

My review was super positive on how good the movie is and that went on to clean up at the Japan Academy Awards 2014. The anime looks classy and mature so I’m hoping to enjoy it as my re-entry into the world of anime after three months off.

Continue reading “The Great Passage TV Anime PV”

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”

Japan Academy Awards 2014 Results

The 37th Japan Academy Prize results were announced on Friday and two films, Like Father, Like Son and The Great Passage, dominated the proceedings.

37th Japanese Academy Awards

The Great Passage, the film about the making of a dictionary which turned out to be a lot more funnier than anticipate, allowed the cast and staff to win the prizes for best picture, best director (Yuya Ishii), best screenplay (Kensaku Watanabe), best art and editing and for best actor (Ryuhei Matsuda).

The Great Passage Kaguya and Majime

Continue reading “Japan Academy Awards 2014 Results”

The Great Passage 舟を編む (2013)

Genki The Great Passage Review Header

The Great Passage                We Knit Ship Film Poster

Japanese Title: 舟を編む

Romaji: Fune wo Amu

Release Date: April 13th, 2013 (Japan)

Seen at the BFI London Film Festival 2013

Running Time: 133 mins.

Director: Yuya Ishii

Writer: Shion Miura (Original Novel), Kensaku Watanabe (Screenplay),

Starring: Ryuhei Matsuda, Aoi Miyazaki, Joe Odagiri, Haru Kuroki, Misako Watanabe, Kumiko Aso, Shingo Tsurumi, Chizuru Ikewaki, Hiroko Isayama, Kaouru Kobayashi, Go Kato, Kaoru Yachigusa, Ryu Morioka, Shohei Uno, Kazuki Namioka

The year is 1995 and the place is the Dictionary Editorial Department of the publisher Genbu Books. The staff include Matsumoto (Kato), a veteran editor in chief of dictionaries who is assisted by his key right-hand man Araki (Kobayashi), a skilled editor who is on the verge of quitting because his wife is ailing and he wants to be by her side. Also in the department are Sasaki (Isayama), the oil for the team ensuring that word entries are logged on computers and filed away and young blade Nishioka  (Odagiri) who, while not as is good at defining words, is a pro at getting more up to date definitions and examples because he has skill with human contact.

And that’s it for the dictionary team. All dedicated to the beauty of words but considered weird by the rest of the staff at the publisher. Fact of the matter is that compiling dictionaries is not hot shot work in publishing terms because such things are boring and costly in an age when digital technology is coming to prominence and everybody else would rather work on glossy magazines.

With Araki seeking to retire it places great strain on the department at a time when Matsuoka wants to initiate a new project called The Great Passage, a 240,000 word dictionary that will capture everything from the most current youth slang to the most technical terms of different fields like theatre and literature making it the most comprehensive and representative dictionary in the country.

Genki-The-Great-Passage-Work-on-the-Jisho

Continue reading “The Great Passage 舟を編む (2013)”

Japanese Films at the Rotterdam International Film Festival 2014

The 43rd International Film Festival Rotterdam launches on January 22nd and finishes on February 02nd. The line-up of Asian films has been revealed and there are strong titles from Japan. A lot of these have played at other festivals but there are some really great indie titles. There are quite a lot and the choice is so great! Enough from me, here’s the selection!

Rotterdam Film Festival 2014

The Pinkie

Running Time: 65 mins.

Director: Lisa Takeba

Writer: Lisa Takeba (Screenplay),

Starring: Ryota Ozawa, Miwako Wagatsuma, Haruka Suenaga, Kanji Tsuda

Wow, this looks like a lot of fun which is why I put it first. It comes from Lisa Takeba who was at last year’s festival with a short film about an alien private detective who is wandering around earth. If that sounds a little random, this one reads a lot more interesting as it looks like a mash-up of anime, film and Japanese pop culture and fashion where a female stalker has her way with the guy of her dreams. Lisa Takeba has a background in advertising and writing videogames so she’s got a lot of experience with different styles to work with! It stars Miwako Wagatsuma who is an actress worth tracking because she is taking on interesting roles as can be seen from her filmography which includes Guilty of Romance, The End of Puberty, sentimental Yasuko, Kuro and Shing Shing Shing.

Since they were both five, Ryosuke has been stalked by Momoko – the ugliest girl in the village. Momoko’s love for Ryosuke is so boundless that she has her face surgically altered to suit his taste – but still he wants nothing to do with her. Ryosuke is more interested in the girlfriend of a gangster boss. But when the boss finds out about their affair, he has Ryosuke’s little finger hacked off. Magically, the finger falls into Momoko’s hands, and she uses it to clone Ryosuke, so she can finally have him (or almost him) for herself – and that’s the first five minutes.

 

Continue reading “Japanese Films at the Rotterdam International Film Festival 2014”

Japanese Films at the Vancouver International Film Festival 2013

Genki Vancouver International Film Festival 2013 Banner

Canada has two awesome film festivals at this time of year. The first is the Toronto International Film Festival and the second is the Vancouver International Film Festival. The line-up for Vancouver looks pretty good although a lot of the films have already been screened at events like London. I didn’t cover the Japanese films at Vancouver last year but I did follow the coverage (Amusing! Insightful!) from great cinebloggers Goregirl and Bonjour Tristesse so check in on them every day of the festival to see what they thought. There are some little gems here in terms of the Japanese line-up so let’s take a look.

Like Father, Like Son                          Like Father Like Son Cannes Poster

Japanese Title: そして 父 に なる

Romaji: Soshite Chichi ni Naru

Running Time: 119 mins.

Director: Hirokazu Koreeda

Writer: Hirokazu Koreeda (Screenplay)

Starring: Masaharu Fukuyama, Machiko Ono, Yoko Maki, Jun Fubuki, Keita Ninomiya, Lily Franky, Jun Kunimura, Kiki Kirin, Isao Natsuyagi

Hirokazu Koreeda’s Like Father Like Son won an award for Cannes and was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival will be screened at the BFI London Film Festival. Awesome. It’s worth making a trip out not just because of the awards buzz but the fact that Koreeda is a great filmmaker. A modern-day Ozu with his interest in family life. The film stars Masaharu Fukuyama (Suspect X), Machiko Ono (EurekaThe Floating Castle), Yoko Maki (InfectionThe Grudge), Lily Franky (Afro Tanaka), Jun Fubuki (SéanceRebirth) Kirin Kiki (Kiseki) and Jun Kunimura (OutrageVital) and Isao Natsuyagi (The Land of HopeWarm Water Under a Red Bridge).

 

Successful architect Ryota (Fukuyama) and his wife Midori (Ono) have a happy family life with their six-year-old son Keita (Nonomiya) but a phone call from the hospital informing them of the fact that their child was mixed up with another at birth shatters their happiness. Their birth-son Ryusei has been raised by a poorer but more easy-going family run by Yudai (Franky) and Yukari (Maki) Saiki. Ryota and Midori must decide whether to hand over the son they have carefully raised for the last six years and take back their biological son or not.

  Continue reading “Japanese Films at the Vancouver International Film Festival 2013”

Japanese Films at the BFI London Film Festival 2013

Genki BFI London Film Festival 2013 Banner

The 57th BFI London Film Festival is running from Wednesday 09th October to Sunday 20th October, a mere week after the end of the Raindance Film Festival. The London Film Festival programme was announced earlier today and the Japanese selection is rather good. The big news for me is that Sion Sono’s latest film, Why Don’t You Play in Hell? has been selected to play! Other entries include Yuya Ishii’s Great Passage and Hirokazu Koreeda’s Like Father, Like Son. The latter was probably the most obvious choie for inclusion but it’s great to see Ishii getting noticed.

Here are the films (click on the titles for more info like dates and times):

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

Why Don’t You Play in Hell? is coming to the UK? OHMYGOD! YES! SONOOOOOO is here and the day is won. So does this prove that if I cry loud enough and often enough about something, some big festival will pick it up? Because I posted about three different versions of the trailer before it was screened at Venice and then Toronto and finally London. I’m a Sion Sono fan and while I may not be the most eloquent, handsome or talented, I at least try to keep track of what he’s doing and covering his titles so it’s gratifying to see that in the year of release I get to see it and on the big screen.  I get to see the blood slide on screen!

Genki-Why-Don't-You-Play-in-Hell-Blood-Slide-with-Mitsuko-(Nikaidou)

He has had a short run of issue films. The critically lauded Himizu and The Land of Hope are serious dramas that look at the after-effects of the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami and radiation in Japan. Now he’s back making entertainment films like Love Exposure and Strange Circus , films that play with cinematic techniques, genre tropes, the audience and are bloody fun. The festival page has this descriptive line: “ingenious slice of high-octane insanity that is both a fresh take on the yakuza film and an affectionate tribute to the death of celluloid.” It forgot to mention the blood slide and the fact it’s probably God-tier entertainment as other reviewers have noted. Check out Bonjour Tristesse’s coverage of the critical reaction from the Venice Film Festival for more. Let’s go!

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 and 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 and recruits 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 gets a cinephile friend named 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.

Continue reading “Japanese Films at the BFI London Film Festival 2013”

Cold Bloom, The Great Passage, HK Hentai Kamen, Travellers: Dimensional Police, Samurai Dash and Other Movie Trailers and the Japanese Movie Box Office Chart

Kiki's Delivery ServiceAnother week stuffed full of anime as I try and finish off the winter season and get into my first impressions of the spring selections I made. That written I did write about films! I made a longer than expected review Mushishi which is based on a manga and anime. I loved the film and found it a beautiful and relaxing watch which I can keep indulging in. I also posted about the trailer for Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s film Real. I went way overboard compared to my usual trailer posts and indulged my love of Kiyoshi Kurosawa films!

The majority of my film-watching time was spent with Film4 and its Studio Ghibli season which draws to a close later today with the screening of Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind. It capped a wonderful fortnight where I managed to watch nearly all of the titles. I re-watched The Cat Returns, Only Yesterday, Howl’s Moving Castle and Laputa: Castle in the Sky while doing Japanese homework and made a point of watching The Little Norse Prince and I enjoyed them all.

In terms of other anime I finished Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan in preparation for a review while the Anime UK News Serial Experiments Lain simul-watch has ground to a halt because it seems the participants are either too busy or too confused (the former for me). Level E surprised me with its 4th episode which the comedy is toned down to miniscule proportions and the drama turned up and it works really effectively because I was engaged with the story right until (SPOILER) its ironic ending where I burst out into a fit of laughter. It showed the creativity of the creators. I finally finished Maoyu (review coming soon!). 

What do the Japanese film charts look like this week (April 06th-07th)?

  1. Dragon Ball Z Battle of the Gods
  2. Wreck-It Ralph
  3. Doraemon Nobita’s Dinosaur
  4. Platina Data
  5. Aibou Series X Day
  6. Precure All Stars New Stage 2
  7. Oz the Great and Powerful
  8. Jack the Giant Slayer
  9. Himawari and Her Puppies
  10. My Diary of Our Exchange

No real change in the top ten although Orpheus’ Lyre, one of last week’s big dramas starring Ryoko Hiosue, opens at 15 with a modest $178,145 earned from 109 screens.

What’s released this weekend?

Cold Bloom                                                            Cold Bloom Film Poster

Japanese Title: 桜並木の満開の下に

Romaji: Sakura Namiki no Mankai no Shita ni

Release Date: April 13th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 120 mins.

Director: Atsushi Funahari

Writer: Atsushi Funahari, Murakoshi Shigery

Starring: Asami Usuda, Takahiro Miura, Yurei Yanagi, Taro Suwa, You Takahashi

Atsushi Funahari premiered this at the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year. It is a film with the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami as its subject matter much like his previous film, the documentary Nuclear Nation which looked at nuclear power after the disaster in 2011. This drama looks at the economic and emotional impact as felt by a group of workers at a factory. It stars a collection of new and old actors like Asami Usuda (The Woodsman & the Rain), Takahiro Miura (Ninja Kids!!!), Yurei Yanagi (Boiling PointRing) and Taro Suwa (Cold FishHimizu). A review on the Japan Times Website makes this sound good, a tough watch with some limited but focussed performances that make it emotionally rewarding. The first film of the week I want to watch.

Ever since the tsunami struck the workers of a metal factory in the industrial town of Hitachi have been in something of a malaise, the only thing keeping them afloat being a skilled worker named Kenji (Takahashi) who has secured them a contract. Then he dies on the first day at the client’s site. His colleague Takumi (Miura) is responsible and the factory worker turn on him, taking sides with Kenji’s widow Shiori (Usuda) but her hatred turns to love. 

 

The Great Passage                We Knit Ship Film Poster

Japanese Title: 舟を編む

Romaji: Fune wo Amu

Release Date: April 13th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 133 mins.

Director: Yuya Ishii

Writer: Shion Miura (Original Novel), Kensaku Watanabe (Screenplay),

Starring: Ryuhei Matsuda, Aoi Miyazaki, Joe Odagiri, Haru Kuroki, Misako Watanabe, Kumiko Aso, Shingo Tsurumi, Chizuru Ikewaki, Hiroko Isayama, Kaouru Kobayashi, Go Kato, Kaoru Yachigusa, Ryu Morioka, Shohei Uno, Kazuki Namioka

After watching Sawako Decides I was ready to join the Yuya Ishii fan-club. Then I watched Mitsuko Delivers, a stolid film hampered with a frustratingly docile story and wooden comedy. I was genuinely bewildered that he could have come out with something like that. Then I saw the trailer for The Great Passage when it was featured over at Otherwhere in one of Alua’s trailer weeklies. I was moderately interested in it as it seemed a return to form for Yuya Ishii. A lack of a genki girls and wooden comedy and a return to the low-key observational and character-based humour that marked Sawako Decides. Anyway…

The literal title is Fune wo Amu – Fune = Ship and Amu = knit so the Japanese title is We Knit Ship but the English title is The Great Passage. The film looks like a really smart intellectual rom-com  where a talented man of letters cannot find the words to say “I love you” to the girl of his dreams.

Mitsuya Majime (Matsuda) is has the talent to comprehend different languages and is the most important member of the editorial team of a dictionary but he struggles to tell Kaguya Hayashi (Miyazaki), a cook and the granddaughter o the owner of Majime’s boarding home, how he feels about her.

It is based on Shion Miura’s novel. She’s a pretty big deal considering she’s had mega successes with her scripts for Tada’s Do-It-All House and its dorama spin-off Mahoro Eki Mae Bangaichi. It has a cast list which is full of stars: Ryuhei Matsuda (Nightmare Detective), Aoi Miyazaki (Eureka), Joe Odagiri (Mushishi, Adrift in Tokyo), Haru Kuroki (The Wolf Children), Kumiko Aso (Pulse), Kazuki Namioka (Thirteen Assassins), Chizuru Ikewaki (Josee, the Tiger and the Fish, The Cat Returns) and Shohei Uno (The Drudgery Train).

I like the concept, I like the talent, I like the trailer – I want to watch this film!

HK Hentai Kamen                                         Hentai Kamen Film Poster

Japanese Title: HK 変態仮面

Romaji: HK Hentai Kamen

Release Date: April 13th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Yuichi Fukuda

Writer: Yuichi Fukuda, Shun Oguri (Screenplay), Keishu Ando (Original Manga)

Starring: Ryohei Suzuki, Fumika Shimizu, Ken Yasuda, Tsuyoshi Muro, Jiro Sato Narushi Ikeda, Takashi Tsukamoto, Yoshinori Okada

Yuichi Fukuda had his Child Police film released a few weeks back and he continues with Hentai Kamen Mangahis comic film form with this film he co-wrote with Shun Oguri (The Woodsman & the Rain). The two have adapted Keishu Ando’s manga “Kyukyuko!! Hentai Kamen” which I have not read but seems like a male version of Go Nagai’s Mask the Kekkou Reborn which had a live-action film adaptation which was released last year and starred AV star Aino Kishi. I must admit that when I first saw the trailer I almost spat my coffee out from laughing so hard. I think I would see this at a cinema regardless of whether I had friends with me or not. Chalk this up as another film I would watch because it looks fun!

Anyway Ryohei Suzuki is ballsy enough to display his well-sculpted body on screen. Some may have seen him in Train Brain Express. Fumoika Shimizu, stars of many Kamen Rider films, is the love interest. Ken Yasuda (The Cat Returns, Rakugo the Movie), Tsuyoshi Muro (After School, A Story of Yonosuke) Takashi Tsukamoto (Battle Royale) and Yoshinori Okada (Fine, Totally Fine) also co-star. Check the trailer and admit that you laughed as well!

Kyosuke Shikijo (Suzuki) is a high school student and the most talented member of his school’s martial arts club. His late father was a detective and has passé on his sense of justice. On top of being a detective Kyosuke’s father was a masochist while his mother was a sadist which partly explains why Kyosuke love of wearing women’s underwear! When he does wear panties and what not he transforms into his alter ego “Pervert Mask” and gains superhuman powers. Said superpowers come in handy when he has to protect Aiko Himeno (Shimizu) from their dirty and evil teacher (Yasuda). Fortunately Aiko’s underwear gives Kyosuke super pervert techniques.

I’m not making this up! Someone else beat me to it! Here’s HK Hentai Kamen’s take on cinema etiquette:

  Continue reading “Cold Bloom, The Great Passage, HK Hentai Kamen, Travellers: Dimensional Police, Samurai Dash and Other Movie Trailers and the Japanese Movie Box Office Chart”