The Woodsman and the Rain キツツキと雨 (2012)

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The Woodsman & the Rain                            The Woodsman and the Rain Film Poster

Japanese Title: キツツキと雨

Romaji: Kitsutsuki to Ame

Release Date: February 11th, 2012

UK Release Date: January 28th 2013 (UK)

UK Film Distributor: Third Window Films

Running Time: 135 mins.

Director: Shuichi Okita

Writer: Shuichi Okita, Fumio Moriya

Starring: Koji Yakusho, Shun Oguri, Kengo Kora, Asami Usuda, Kanji Furutachi, Daisuke Kuroda, Kyusaku Shimada, Yoshiyuki Morishita, Tsutou Takahashi, Mitsuru Hirata, Masato Ibu, Tsutomu Yamazak

Ever since writing about this film last year I had been eagerly anticipating it, principally because it stars Koji Yakusho, a wonderful actor who has won my admiration through a series of performances in films by Kiyoshi Kurosawa. I was also impressed by the festival awards buzz it had acquired as it took the Special Jury Prize at the 2011 Tokyo International Film Festival and the Audience Award at Nippon Connection. The awards are richly deserved.

The Woodsman & the Rain opens in a dense forest outside Yamamura village. A lumberjack named Katsuhiko (Yakusho) is busy sawing a tree with a chainsaw. This short sequence reveals a gruff and pragmatic small town man who is comfortable working the land. He can even read the weather and predict when it will rain hence the title. He is soon distracted by the arrival of Torii (Furutachi), the assistant director of a film. Torii asks him to stop. “We’re in the middle of a take.” Katsuhiko does not quite understand movie jargon and he is not one easily swayed from his craft so Torii says, “We’re shooting a movie over there.” Katsuhiko understands now and asks “Can I prune?” Torii replies “If it isn’t noisy, sure.” Katsuhiko climbs a tree and starts cutting branches. From this vantage point both Katsuhiko and the audience see the town in distance with movie vans parked around.

Yamamura has been invaded by a small crew shooting a low-budget zombie film named Utopia. Katsuhiko is not concerned with any of this and goes about his work day routine and living very uneasily with his unemployed and directionless son Koichi (Kora) but a chance encounter with Torii on the road leads to Katsuhiko meeting the film’s director who is also named Koichi (Oguri), a man barely out of university and on his first major project. Pressure is getting to him and he suffers from severe lack of confidence which leaves Torii taking command and trying to make use of Katsuhiko’s local knowledge for some location scouting. This is just the first of many requests that the film crew ask of Katsuhiko.

The Woodsman and the Rain Zombie YakushoDespite being initially unimpressed with what he sees (especially Koichi) Katsuhiko is soon sucked into the film and even gets to act as a zombie. He even strikes up an unlikely friendship with Koichi as he falls in love with the story of the movie and the experience of making it. The more deeply he becomes involved with the film the more enthusiastic he is and discovers that the director, despite lacking in confidence and finding the demands of movie-making a little too much, is extremely talented. The two forms an unlikely friendship and help each other overcome personal problems.

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Third Window Films Release The Woodsman & the Rain

Third Window Films follow up their release of The Foreign Duck, The Native Duck & God in a Coin Locker with the release of the second film on my  preview of Asian films getting released in the UK, a film I have been interested in since it was released in Japan last year. That release is The Woodsman & The Rain. It has an all-star cast including the incredible Koji Yakusho and Shun Oguri. I’ve got my copy on pre-order!

Alua over at Otherwhere reviewed this film last year and gave it an excellent write-up, so without further ado, here are the details:

The Woodsman and the Rain DVD Case

The Woodsman & The Rain

A film by Shuichi Okita (Chef of the South Polar, Story of Yonosuke)

Starring: Koji Yakusho (13 Assassins, Cure, Retribution)
Shun Oguri (Crows Zero, Azumi, Space Brothers)
Kengo Kora (Norwegian Wood, Fish Story)

Japan / 2011 / 129 Mins / In Japanese with English subtitles / Colour / 35mm

Out on DVD January 28th, 2013

DVD Special Features:

Interviews with the Cast & Crew, Deleted Scenes, Theatrical Trailer

Katsu (Yakusho) is a 60 year-old lumberjack who lives in a small, tranquil village in the mountains. When a film crew suddenly arrives to shoot a zombie movie, Katsu finds himself unwittingly roped into assisting the production and becomes increasingly frustrated with the pushy crew, especially the young, seemingly spineless director Koichi (Oguri).

However, an improbable friendship soon develops between Katsu and Koichi, as Katsu comes to see joy in the filmmaking process, and gradually helps Koichi to recover his sense of self. Soon, their bond inspires an unusual collaboration between the villagers and the film crew.

Terracotta Festival UK Tour Details

Asian film fans across the UK have the opportunity to see some of the best new titles to come out of Asia when a choice selection from the Terracotta Far East Film Festival show up at Manchester, Bristol, Nottingham, Brighton and London. Here are the details:

TERRACOTTA FESTIVAL TAKES 5 ASIAN FILMS ON A UK TOUR

Terracotta Far East Film Festival Tour Banner

For the first time in its four year history, Terracotta Festival is expanding its successful London residency of current Asian cinema showcase to selected venues in the UK.

The touring festival will kick off at the Cornerhouse cinema in Manchester on September 19th, followed by the Watershed in Bristol and will continue through October at the Genesis in London as well as dates in Brighton and Nottingham. More cities will be announced on the festival website.

Organisers are bringing a shortened programme of five contemporary films offering a taster of the best in current cinema in the Far East.

There will be two Japanese films, including Isn’t Anyone Alive? which marks the return of Sogo Ishii to filmmaking after a 10 year absence, and crowd-pleasing comedy The Woodsman and the Rain. Also in the line-up, two Korean films of different genres: pan-Asian WW2 blockbuster My Way and dark animation The King of Pigs. And the docu-drama Return to Burma which gives the audience a rare insider perspective into ordinary life in this fascinating and topical country.

Here are the films:

MY WAY

Terracott Festival Films My Way

Director: Kang Je-kyu, Duration: 137 mins, Starring: Jang Dong-gun, Joe Odagiri, Fan Bingbing Certificate: 18

The most ambitious and expensive film coming from South Korea directed by box office champion Kang Je-Kyu (Brotherhood: Taegukgi, Shiri), My Way is an explosive epic war drama spanning Japan, Korea, China, Russian gulags and the beaches of Normandy, packed with high octane action and heart-breaking emotion that tells, for the first time, the story of the Second World War from a Korean point of view. It stars Joe Odagiri (Bright Future, Adrift in Tokyo) and Jang Dong-Gun (Nowhere to Hide, Friend, The Warrior’s Way). It was one of the official selections at the Berlin Film Festival 2012 and the opening film for this year’s Terracotta Far East Film Festival.

ISN’T ANYONE ALIVE?

Terracott Festival Films Isn't Anyone Alive?
Director: Sogo Ishii, Duration: 113 mins, Starring: Shota Somentani, Rin Takanashi, Jun Murakami, Mai Takahashi Certificate: 15

Gakuryu Ishii aka Sogo Ishii has been amusing us with his talent of totally overstepping genre boundaries with striking images and music like Crazy Thunder Road and the twisted serial-killer films Angel Dust. In his latest feature film he has adapted the Shiro Maeda play Isn’t Anyone Alive, an avant-garde story of 18 young students dying one after another. It stars Shota Sometani (Himizu), Rin Takanashi (Goth: Love of Death), and Jun Murakami. It was part of the official selection Edinburgh Film Festival 2012 and appeared at the Fantasia Film Festival 2012

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4th Terracotta Far East Film Festival: Full Line-Up Announced

Terracotta Far East Film Festival Logo

With the 4th Terracotta Far East Film Festival kicking off next week now is the time to take a gander at the full line-up. This festival is London’s premier celebration of film from the Far East and shows a selection of the latest and most interesting titles getting on the big screen as well as bringing over the big names from the cast and crew of the films for Q&As and master-classes and parties. This year there are a selection of great titles from Taiwan, Burma, China, South Korea and Japan. On top of live action films there is even anime.

The Terracotta Far East Film Festival is also an event to socialise and a platform for Asian culture at all levels; for this purpose the organisers have organised a new FOOD PASS, giving access to a number of restaurants in Chinatown. There will be other related events such as photo exhibitions and competitions announced on social network sites.

Joey Leung, festival director says: “New look, same ethos. We worked with our creative agency, What is Bobo, to roll-out the re-brand of the festival with their ‘pixels’ concept. This lends maturity and longevity to our festival positioning, fitting now that we have passed the infancy of our festival and into our fourth edition.”

Here is the full line-up of films!

12th April Opening Film:

My WayUK premiere

Dir: Kang Je-Kyu Running Time: 137 mins. Starring: Jang Dong-gun, Joe Odagiri, Fan Bingbing

My Way Action ShotMy Way is the latest film from Kang Je-Kyu who directed the awesome action picture ‘Shiri’, and tells the story of two marathon runners, one Korean and one Japanese during Japan’s colonisation of Korea who are drafted into the Japanese army, and develop a close friendship through battles in Russia and Germany. It stars familiar actor Jo Odagiri (Bright Future, Adrift in Tokyo) and Jang Dong-gun who seems to have survived The Warrior’s Way.

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4th Terracotta Far East Film Festival

There are a plethora of exciting titles for anybody interested in far eastern films in the line-up for Terracotta Far East Film Festival next month. This festival is London’s premier celebration of the film and culture of the Far East because it selects the latest and most interesting titles from the region as well as bringing over the cast and crew of the films for Q&As and master-classes. Oh and there are parties.

One glance at the line-up shows that a lot of films that I followed in 2011 are getting a run at the festival including Himizu, Monsters Club, Poppy Hill and The Woodsman and the Rain. It’s a pretty awesome line-up featuring some of the most interesting talents from Japan that I rave about so enough from me! Here are the films!

Opening Film:

My Way

Dir: Kang Je-Kyu Running Time: 137 mins. Starring: Jang Dong-gun, Joe Odagiri, Fan Bingbing

My Way is the latest film from Kang Je-Kyu who directed the awesome action picture ‘Shiri’, and tells the story of two marathon runners, one Korean and one Japanese during Japan’s colonisation of Korea who are drafted into the Japanese army, and develop a close friendship through battles in Russia and Germany. It stars familiar actor Jo Odagiri (Bright Future, Adrift in Tokyo) and Jang Dong-gun who seems to have survived The Warrior’s Way.

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The Woodsman and the Rain, Hayabusa: Harukanaru Kikan, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker Trailers

There are a better set of Japanese films released this week namely Phoenix Wright!!! The Woodsman and the Rain also looks equally good with Koji Yakusho, who I can watch in any sort of film, and Shun Oguri. The Japanese box-office looks like this:

01. Always: Sunset on Third Street 3(Japan)
02. The Wings of the Kirin (Japan)
03. Japan’s Wildlife: The Untold Story(Japan)
04. Tower Heist (USA)
05. Robo-G (Japan)

There must be something to the top two films as they have maintained their positions from last week and Always: Sunset on Third Street has earned a lot of money. It’s still early days for the movie adaptation of Arakawa Under the Bridge and Berserk but I’m interested in seeing how well they do over the coming weeks.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

Release Date:  11th February 2012

Running Time: 109 min.

Director: Takashi Miike

Writer: N/A

Starring: Hiroki Narimiya, Mirei Kiritani, Takumi Saito, Akiyoshi Nakao, Shunske Daito, Ryo Ishibashi

Rejoice fellow Phoenix Wright fans! The film goes on general release in Japan today! This comes after it premiered at the International Film Festival Rotterdam where director Takashi Miike expressed the view that the film would probably get an international release.

Synopsis

In the near future, serious crime is on the rise and in response the justice system has changed the rules of court-room trials:

Cases last a maximum of three days and sentences are usually imposed immediately.

This change has led to exciting face-offs between public prosecutors and defenders who have to score points with the judge rapidly in order to win the case. Enter Phoenix Wright, Ace Attorney! In a series of cases based on the original games he will face off against rival prosecutors including the equally awesome Miles Edgeworth!

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