Yoshitaro Nomura Film Season at the ICA in April

Yoshitaro Nomura Film Season ImageThe name of director Yoshitaro Nomura has only been mentioned on this blog once and it was in relation to the anime “Coppelion” back in January. He’s a man I know from researching other titles. It’s a bit of an oversight because he is one of those directors who started work during the New Wave of Japanese filmmaking (think Nagisa Oshima) and carved out a mighty fine career tackling difficult subject matter and was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun by the Japanese government in 1995. I get the chance to rectify that oversight because the Institute of Contemporary Arts down in London is playing host to a season of his films during a 6-day run of his films from April 18th until April 23rd.

Yoshitaro Nomura Film Image

Yoshitaro Nomura was a popular director and pioneer of Japanese film noir. He made his debut in 1953 with “Pigeon” and directed, wrote and produced around 89 films up until his death in 2005, some of which are considered classics He worked a lot on adaptations of novels by the best-selling author Seicho Matsumoto and created what some critics consider the best version of “Zero Focus” (1961) which is one of the films getting screened at the ICA. The other films include the 1974 thriller, “Castle of Sand”, which is ranked as one of the greatest ever-Japanese films by domestic critics, as well as “The Demon” (1978), “Stakeout” (1958), and “The Shadow Within” (1970).

Here’s the breakdown of the films, just click on the titles for more information such as times and a more detailed synopsis:

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The Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2014 Line-Up

Japan Foundation Japanese Cinema Depicting Youth

The Japan Foundation have announced their Touring Film Programme for 2014 and it goes under the name of East Side Stories Japanese Cinema Depicting the Lives of Youth. It aims to offer ‘an enlightening and expansive introduction to Japanese cinema through showing features that focus on ‘youth’ and a variety of films which show a “vast variety of styles ad tones” and take “a broad look at how the adults of tomorrow have been portrayed in Japanese cinema over the years.”

The festival runs from January 31st to March 27th 2014. The festival starts in London at the ICA and then heads out to various regions including Belfast (Queens Film Theatre), Bristol (Watershed), Dundee (Dundee Contemporary Arts), Edinburgh (Filmhouse), Newcastle Upon Tyne (Tyneside Cinema), Nottingham (Broadway), and Sheffield (Showroom Workstation).

The line-up of films for the opening week at the ICA looks awesome and I intend to head to London and the ICA for weekend of February 01st,02nd when most of them are screened. I’m particularly psyched for Love Strikes! Because it has gorgeous Japanese actresses… Uh, I mean great comedy… Shindo and Parade for the great acting.

Here are the films (the English titles are the links to the pages):


The Drudgery Train                       Drudgery Train Movie Poster               

Japanese Title:  苦役 列車

Romaji: Kueki Ressha

Release Date: July 14th, 2012

Running Time: 114 mins.

Director: Nobuhiro Yamashita

Writer: Shinji Imaoka (Screenplay), Kenta Nishimura (Original Work)

Starring: Mirai Moriyama, Kengo Kora, Atsuko Maeda, Makita Sports, Tomorowo Taguchi, Mamiko Ito, Miwako Wagatsuma, Shohei Uno, Hiroshi Sato, Asuka Ishii, Kouji Tsujimoto

I reviewed this film back in September and it was released last year. I enjoyed it a lot, finding it a rewarding watch what with its tough to like character. Drudgery Train comes from Nobuhiro Yamashita (Linda, Linda, Linda), and is based on Kenta Nishimura’s Akutagawa Prize-winning novel Kueki Ressha which is based on his own experiences. This character-study stars Mirai Moriyama (Fish on Land, Fish Story), Kengo Kora (The Woodsman and the Rain, Norwegian Wood), and former AKB 48 leader Atsuko Maeda (Tamako in Moratorium, The Suicide Song).

Kanta Kitamichi (Moriyama) is a 19-year-old junior high drop out with a love for alcohol and peep shows. He works as a labourer in a warehouse and he has no friends and wastes his days doing very little apart from reading mystery novels and getting drunk. Then he meets Shoji Kusakabe (Kora), a new hire at the warehouse. The two become friends and Kanta reveals he has a crush on a girl named Yasuko (Maeda) who works in a book store. She takes a shine for the two guys but as the three live their lives differences appear… Can Kanta’s new-found friendships last?

Continue reading “The Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2014 Line-Up”

Mitsuko Delivers Get UK Theatrical Release

Third Window Films is giving Yuya Ishii’s “Mitsuko Delivers” a UK theatrical release. It opens at selected regional cinemas and the Institute of Contemporary Arts where it will play through until May 24th. For tickets and show times at the ICA visit their site.

The Poster for Yuya Ishii's Mitsuko Delivers

Mitsuko Delivers

UK Theatrical Release Date:   11th May 2012

Running Time: 109 min.

Director: Yuya Ishii

Writer: Yuya Ishii

Starring: Riisa Naka, Aoi Nakamura, Ryo Ishibashi, Shiro Namiki, Miyoko Inagawa, Miyako Takeuchi, Momoka Oono, Yoshimasa Kondo, Yukijiro Hotaru, Keiko Saito


Mitsuko (Naka) is a young woman who is nine-months pregnant, broke and alone in Tokyo. Her parents (serial failed entrepeneurs) think that she’s in America with the baby’s GI father but she’s actually in dire straits as she is forced to move out of her apartment and yet she remains positive and believes that things will turn out alright. She doesn’t know where she will go but decides to hop into a taxi she cannot pay for, and follows a cloud back to the ramshackle working-class alley where she grew up. The place reeks of destitution and bone idleness, but Mitsuko’s infectious get-up-and-go attitude soon compels the locals to roll up their sleeves and restore the alley to its former glory.  Mitsuko has so much to do and so little time before her baby arrives but she will find a new assertiveness and help those floundering around her.

Mitsuko (Riisa Naka), Jiro (Ryo Ishibashi) and Yoichi (Aoi Nakamura) in Mitsuko Delivers

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Remember Fukushima Charity Event

On March 11th, 2011 a devastating earthquake hit North Eastern Japan and triggered a melt down at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. Now, a year after the disaster, parts of Japan are still trying to recover. Third Window Films will have a charity screening of Mitsuko Delivers at the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Arts) to raise awareness of the on-going situation in Japan with 100% of the profits from the ticket and DVD sales going to charity. Tickets cost £10 and can be purchased from the ICA. For more information please visit the event’s page at the ICA website.

Mitsuko DeliversRemember Fukushima Charity Preiew Mitsuko Delivers

March 11th, 2012 at 7pm, Institute of Contemporary Arts, The Mall, London SW1Y 5AH

Director: Yûya Ishii. Cast: Riisa Naka, Aoi Nakamura, Ryo Ishibashi, Yukijirô Hotaru, Miyoko Inagawa

Japan 2011. 109 mins. Japanese with English subtitles

Electrifying Japanese talent Yûya Ishii’s (A Man With Style, Sawako Decides) breathless new comedy tells the story of a thirtysomething woman (Riisa Naka, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Summer Wars) who’s at a delicate juncture in life; alone, flat broke and to top it all nine-months pregnant. Her folks think she’s in California living the high life with her baby’s GI father. In fact she’s in Tokyo, searching for a purpose, and eventually finding one in the ramshackle working-class alley where she grew up. The place reeks of destitution and bone idleness, but Mitsuko’s infectious get-up-and-go attitude soon compels the locals to roll up their sleeves and restore the alley to its former glory. Mitsuko Delivers is original, fanciful and adventurous – quintessentially Japanese.

Whose Film Is It Anyway?

Sounds like an awesome TV game-show based on movies but it’s actually The Japan Foundation’s www.jpf-film.org.uk which sees a season of Japanese films by contemporary Japanese auteurs which will move between seven cities:

Belfast, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, London, Nottingham, Sheffield

The emphasis seems to be on originality which is pretty intriguing. Anybody who has read this blog or watched the Japanese film charts recently will be more than aware that many films are adaptations of manga, anime and novels (Berserk, Arakawa Under the Bridge and Villain). The organisers are well aware of this and have chosen a line-up that looks pretty exciting so here are the details straight from the website:

Whose Film Is It Anyway?

A Season of Japanese Films by Contemporary Japanese Auteurs

10 February to 28 March 2012

Following last year’s successful Back To the Future: Japanese Cinema since the mid-90s season, this year’s Japan Foundation touring film programme looks at narrative creativity in Japanese cinema, showcasing directors both young and emerging, such as Miwa Nishikawa and Takatsugu Naito, and the more established, such as Masayuki Suo (the director best-known for Shall We Dance)…

Having successfully forged and retained their own identities within what is one of the largest film markets in the world, these directors reject the “safe” formulaic film model and instead choose to pursue their own methods of expressing themselves through film. Audiences will be able to hear the individual directors’ voices, whilst also being exposed to characteristics and techniques of some of the best examples of auteur directors from Japan.

The Dark Harbour (Futoko)

When recording a video message for a matchmaking party, solitary fisherman Manzo makes an unusual discovery.

Dir: Takatsugu Naito, 2009, 101 mins, English subtitles


Dear Doctor


A young medical graduate opts for a job in a remote mountain village, where everything is not as it seems.

Dir: Miwa Nishikawa, 2009, 127 mins, English subtitles

  Continue reading “Whose Film Is It Anyway?”

Zipangu Film Festival

Following on from the ICA’s Korean Film Festival will be the Zipangu Film festival show-casing a mix of recent Japanese films, documentaries, short films and experimental anime from legendary directors to new talents and even foreigners. Of all the titles on offer the only one vaguely familiar to me is Shirome which looks like a hoot. The festival will run from the 18th to the 24th of November. For more information visit the site!


Blair Witch meets Morning Musume (or is that reference too old? AKB48 perhaps?) where the director, Kôji Shiraishi, stars in his own film as the director of a supernatural reality TV show who offers J-pop idol band Momoiro Clover the chance of appearing on NHK TV’s annual Kôhaku New Year’s Eve music show. What’s the catch? They are to perform their latest single in a haunted school where Shirome (white 白eyes 目), a ghost who can grant wishes and make people go insane if their wishes are insincere stalks the corridors. The stage is set for a lot of screaming and shaky camera.

Dir. Koji Shiraishi

Cast: Momoiro Clover (Kanako Momota, Ayaka Sasaki, Akari Hayami, Momoka Ariyasu, Reni Takagi, Shiori Tamai), Koji Shiraishi

The screening will take place on the 18th of November at 8:45pm.

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London Korean Film Festival 2011

The Institute of Contemporary Art will be exposing the latest films from South Korea at its 6th London Korean Film Festival which takes place from the 4th to the 11th of November. A mix of award winning animated films, dramas, short films and even the Korean submission for the 84th Academy Awards: The Front Line.

So, what’s on offer?


A film focusing on memories and friendship, Sunny tells the story of Na-mi a new girl in town who becomes the target if bullies. Thankfully a strange group of misfit girls rescue her and she finds friendship with them until a terrible accident splits them up. Twenty-five years later, Na-mi regrets the course life has taken and strives to bring the misfits back together.

Dir. Kang Hyung-chul, South Korea 2011, 124mins, subtitled

Cast: Yoo H-jeong, Jin Hee-gyeong, Kh Sui-hee

The screening will take place on the 4th of November at 6:00

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