Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2018 Preview – (Un)true Colours Secrets and Lies in Japanese Cinema

The 2018 Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme (February 02nd to March 28th) has had its line-up of films revealed by the organisers and its a veritable feast of excellent contemporary titles with a classic and an anime added which looks/is fantastic respectively. I’ll come out cheering for The Long Excuse which is just fantastic. I cannot recommend this film enough. There’s also Sword of the Stranger which is pure action thrills, and Joy of Man’s Desiring and Room for Let which look exquisite. What’s the theme behind all of these films? Here’s more from the organisers:

Everybody has once told a lie or kept something hidden from others. Whether for good intentions or otherwise, it is a fundamental and intriguing aspect of human nature which has provided inspiration to countless storytellers and filmmakers.

With diverse cinematic voices, The Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2018 features some of the best examples of cinema from Japan and will look at how the country’s filmmakers have been drawn to portraying the “(un)true” colours of human nature. The twists and turns of life portrayed in the programme are at times heart-rending, at other times hilarious, but always enthralling.

Without further ado, here are the films!

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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!

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The Mole Song: Undercover Agent Reiji, The Tale of Iya, Fankī Katō My Vu~oisu Fan Mon kara Aratana Mirai E, Exte Girl The Movie, `Taberu koto’ de Miete Kuru mono, Dear Girl Stories THE MOVIE2 ACE OF ASIA Japanese Film Trailers

An Actors Revenge Film ImageThe first trailer post of the week features all sorts of different films but the most impressive is The Tale of Iya. Watch the trailer and tell me you aren’t impressed by it. I’m so impressed that I’m tempted to attend a UK screening. It’s a temptation that is hard to resist much like women, meat, and uniforms (that’s a Wooser reference, by the way, and Wooser continues being funny). It looks better than The Mole Song, Takashi Miike’s latest title, the big-budget release of the week. The rest of the trailers include documentaries and awful J-hora. There are more films tomorrow.

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.

Release Date: February 13th, 2014

Director: Takashi Miike

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

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

When I first read the synopsis I thought of the Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs but this is based on a manga by Noboru Takahashi. The trailer is crazy but that’s par for the course with Takashi Miike (For Love’s Sake). The film has a great cast of characters like Shinichi Tsutsumi (Why Don’t You Play in Hell? – review coming next week), Ren Osugi (Exte) and Mitsuru Fukikoshi (Cold Fish). The film was at this year’s Rotterdam Film Festival!

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!

Website

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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.

 

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