The Dark Maidens 暗黒女子 Dir: Saiji Yakumo (2017)

The Dark Maidens    The Dark Maidens Film Poster

暗黒女子 Ankoku Joshi

Running Time: 105 mins.

Release Date: April 01st, 2017

Director: Saiji Yakumo

Writer: Mari Okada (Screenplay), Rikako Akiyoshi (Original Novel),

Starring: Fumika Shimizu, Marie Iitoyo, Yudai Chiba, Yuna Taira, Nana Seino, Tina Tamashiro, Riria Kojima.

Website IMDB

You can never truly know another person. This well-worn adage applies really well to this amusing adaptation of Rikako Akiyoshi’s novel where the pristine surface presented by places and people hide the ugliest of human behaviour.

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Japanese Foundation Event: Culinary Culture & Gastronomy in Japanese Cinema

The Japan Foundation in London recently ran an event dedicated to Japanese food as shown in films and it seems to have been super popular because there is another helping of food-based films for audiences to salivate over and it’s all free to attend (you just need to book a place). Prepare to gorge yourselves on some really delicious looking food served up amidst some great stories by a myriad of cooks!

Tampopo Film Image

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Japanese Food Films! Summer Explorers 3: A special free film programme all about food

Summer Explorers 3 Image

The Japan Foundation have put together a five-film programme dedicated to showing off some of the cinematic gems celebrating Japanese cuisine and culinary culture. It’s all totally free and more information can be found on this site. Trailers and information follow on below:

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Japan Now Talk: Hiromi Kawakami in London on March 01st

Following on from my last post about Momoko Ando presenting 0.5mm at a special screening, here’s a recent announcement sent out by the Japan Foundation regarding a new Japan Now talk:

The Japan Foundation is delighted partner with Foyles and Modern Culture for this
special talk by author 
Hiromi Kawakami as part of Japan Now 2017

Hiromi Kawakami Talk Information

Hiromi Kawakami has been a long standing favourite of Foyles customers and booksellers alike. Perfectly constructed, poetic and moving, Strange Weather in Tokyo was the first of Kawakami’s novels to be published in English, introducing readers to the dreamlike state of her writing.

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Japanese Author Mitsuyo Kakuta (Rebirth, Pale Moon) in London on October 26th

Ah, being in Japan means I get to miss so many cool Japan-related events in the UK such as this talk with the writer Mitsuyo Kakuta that will take place in London. She is a name that film fans may know of thanks to the adaptations of her works Pale Moon and Rebirth. She is a highly respected author who is visiting London on October 26th for a talk hosted by the Japan Foundation which sent an email out to alert anybody interested about the event. I’m in Tokyo right now but I know a few people who will be interested. Here are the posters for the film adaptations and the details of the talk:

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Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2016 Preview

Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2016 Ikiru

The 2016 edition of the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme launches in two week’s time and lasts from February 05th until March 26th as it visits different venues across the UK. It starts at the ICA in London and visits various cities across England, Wales, and Scotland as cinemas from Edinburgh to Bristol play host to the Japan Foundation’s showcase of a selection of Japanese films which capture the lives of people across the generations. These various stories are a mixture of live-action and animation, drama and comedy and there are classics to some of the most contemporary titles.

Here’s the line-up:

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Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2015 Preview

The Japan Foundation has announced their Touring Film Programme for 2015 and for the 12th festival the title is, “It Only Happens in the Movies?”

Japan Foundation It Only Happens in the Movies

 

The festival runs from January 30th to March 26th and it aims to provide “an exciting programme of films under the narrative framework of ‘encounters’.” Each film has characters who experience “unusual meetings, plunge into unexpected circumstances and new environments, as well as collide with different generations, ideals and ideas.”

The film line-up has a huge variety of styles, genres, and tones covered from comedy to serious drama and films from various eras with an adult drama set in1950s Japan all the way to one about teens in uni falling in love in contemporary Japan.

Here are the films, scroll down for trailers and more details (the English titles are the links to the pages so click on them for more info):

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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?

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Zero Focus ゼロの焦店 (2009)

Genki Zero Focus Review Banner

Zero Focus                                            

Japanese Title: ゼロの焦店

Romaji: Zero no Shoten       Zero Focus Film Poster

Release Date: November 14th, 2009

Running Time: 131 mins.

Director: Isshin Inudo

Writer: Seicho Matsumoto (Novel), Isshin Inudo, Kenji Nakazono (Screenplay)

Starring: Ryoko Hirosue, Miki Nakatani, Tae Kimura, Hidetoshi Nishijima, Takeshi Kaga, Tetta Sugimoto, Hiromi Sakimoto, Toru Nomaguchi, Fukumi Kuroda, Hirotaro Honda, Hana Matsumoto, Yoshie Ichige, Shunta Watanabe, Kansai Eto

The final film I saw at the Japan Foundation’s Touring Film Programme was the sold out screening of Zero Focus where the film’s director Isshin Inudo was present and gave an enlightening Q&A at the end (and I had my picture taken with him!). Part of the reason for my selection is because I like a good mystery but I had no idea how popular the source novel was in Japan. Lengthy review with some slight spoilers.

Sadako (Hirosue) has just married Kenichi Ubara (Nishijma) after meeting him through a matchmaker. The two know little about each other apart from surface details like the fact that she can read and write English and adores the classic English novel Jane Eyre and he enjoys swimming, he was wounded in war and now works for Toyo Advertising and is stationed in Kanazawa in the snowy north of the country. His marriage means that he asks for a transfer back to Tokyo. Despite not knowing each other they feel comfortable together and look forward to starting a new life.

1 week later, December 01st, 1957

Zero Focus Bye Kenichi (Nishijima) Hellooo Sadako (Ryoko Hirosue)

Sadako is at Ueno Station with Kenichi. He must depart for Kanazawa to wrap up his business dealings and pass on contracts to his replacement. “It’s only a week,” he assures her but he never returns. He just vanishes.

Against the advice of her brother-in-law Sotaro (Sugimoto), Sadako heads to Kanazawa where Kenichi’s replacement Yoshio Honda (Nomaguchi) guides her around a town which undergoing tumultuous political changes thanks to a woman named Sachiko Murota (Nakatani) the wife of a powerful industrialist named Gisaku (Kaga). Zero Focus Sachiko Murota (Mikitani) and Her HusbandSachiko is helping a woman become the first female mayor of the city. With her organisational skills, money and her influence it could happen. Sadako approaches Sachiko for help when she learns that her husband once worked with Kenichi. Sachiko and her husband Gisaku comply but they seem to be hiding something.

Whilst at Murota’s company, Sadako encounters a receptionist named Hisako Tanuma (Kimura) who seems to act oddly around her and has poor secretarial skills. As Sadako meets these people she learns that they are connected to Kenichi in more ways than she could ever have imagined and she knew so little about him.

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