I got a press release for The East Winds Film Festival and it announces the guests set to arrive and there are a variety of interesting characters, especially the first one I’m going to write about…
The East Winds Film Festival is one the UK’s major cinematic events that allows audience members to enjoy a selection of the latest East Asian cinema, and also be is possibly one of the best events found outside of London for viewing films from the region. The festival takes place in Coventry over three days between October 31st and November 02nd and it has a great line-up of films from Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Thailand and a strong Japanese horror film contingent.
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
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!
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!
After a strong selection of Japanese film releases over 2013 you couldn’t really blame Third Window Films from wanting to try something different and in 2014 it looked as if Korean titles were going to be dominant with only the magnificent Shady and The Story of Yonosuke representing Japan. Then, yesterday, Third Window Films released news of their latest acquisitions and it was major!
I was on my way to a Japanese lesson and checking my emails when I read that Adam had licensed Takashi Miike’s film Lesson of Evil and the indie title The Greatful Dead. My jaw dropped. If I had to sum it up in a word it would be OHMYGODYAY! for the former and Intriguing… for the latter. Both films will be released in the latter half of 2014! Here’s more info:
Japanese Title: 悪 の 教典
Romaji: Aku no Kyoten
Running Time: 129 mins.
Director: Takashi Miike
Writer: Takashi Miike (Screenplay), Yusuke Kishi (Original Novel)
I am most hyped about this one. Takashi Miike is a favourite director of mine as reviews of Audition, For Love’s Sake, Thirteen Assassins, and One Missed Call make clear. He had a major hit at the end of 2012 with this film and it travelled to different film festivals like Rotterdam. The film is based on a novel written by Yusuke Kishi who has twice won the Japan Horror Associated Award and it stars great actors like Hideaki Ito, Takayuki Yamada (MILOCRORZE, 13 Assassins), Mitsuru Fukikoshi (Cold Fish) Shota Sometani and Fumi Nikaidou who both blew me away in Himizu. The DVD/Blu-ray case on the right sensibly goes for a look similar to the poster which was pretty cool.
Hasumi (Ito) is a popular teacher among students at Shinko Academy, a private high school, and well respected by the faculty and the PTA. However, one of the students Reika (Nikaido) feels something menacing lurking beneath his shining reputation. While Hasumi brilliantly solves one problem after another, from a teacher-student sexual harassment to group cheating to bulling, he starts to take control of the school. As the problems go away, Reika is uneasy about the way they are solved. Tsurii (Fukikoshi), an unpopular teacher at the school, despises the popular Hasumi and starts investigating Hasumi’s past and discovers that Hasumi is a real psycho.
The films for the Raindance Film Festival (September 25th – October 06th ) have been announced and there are a lot of Japanese titles on offer in the Way Out East strand. There are some I have reviewed, some I have viewed and a lot that have come up in Saturday trailer posts I do every week. There are enough that I am willing to attend the festival. I will be heading down to London and watching Shindo, The Kirishima Thing, Shady and Remiges.
Here’s a trailer for the festival:
Here’s the line-up of titles:
Japanese Title: ソウル フラワー トレイン
Romaji: Souru Furawa- Torein
Running Time: 97 mins.
Director: Hiroshi Nishio
Writer: Miyuki Uehara, Hiroshi Nishio (Screenplay), Robin Nishi (Original Manga)
Starring: Mitsuru Hirata, Saki Seishi, Kensuke Owada, Mio Otani, Kaoru Kusumi, Megumi Wada, Shoichi Asano, Marin Sayoko
Robin Nishi, the mind behind the manga/anime Mind Game has another of his works adapted. It’s a road-trip movie with a soundtrack by Shounen Knife. This trailer was featured just last weekend and I liked it a lot but the screening date is a little too early for me so I’ll have to miss it.
In this tale, a father named Amamoto leaves his small village and heads to Osaka to track down his estranged daughter Yuki. He hooks up with a friendly young woman who helps him but ends up getting lost and caught up in a surreal adventure on the island before he finds her and discovers she is keeping secrets.