One Cut of the Dead was created by the ENBU Seminar guys, an outfit who do indie films on a shoestring budget with somewhat experienced crews working with newbie actors. Originally released in November 2017, it disappeared before being picked up by film distribution house Third Window Films and soon it was touring international festivals racking up awards and buzz throughout 2018. It won runner-up in the audience vote in the Udine Far East Festival while taking audience awards at a variety of fests like Yubari in Japan, Camera Japan in Holland, Reel Asian in Canada, and more. In 2019 it is unleashed across the UK as Third Window Films gives it a theatrical and then home release.
With so many awards and nothing but praise from fans and critics, film-makers and publicists, the hype is big for this film so I went into it with some trepidation, that I might be out of step with nearly the rest of the world and not feel anything. Thankfully I was charmed and enjoyed it a lot. Before I go further, part of my enjoyment was not knowing what happens in the story and so I make this request to those who have not watched it: avoid trailers and reviews and just watch the film however you can.
The biggest surprise hit of 2018 is a low-budget zombie movie which has become one of the biggest box-office hits in Japan. International film outfit Third Window Films are bringing this “one-in-a-million success” to UK cinemas and homes early next year!
This is a workshop film with non-professional actors made with a budget of just $27,000 which has grossed $30 MILLION domestically despite opening on just 2 screens and with an advertising budget of $0! Since then it has toured the world and won lots of awards and has earned 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Every day on Film Twitter sees more news of its popularity and success so everyone should be getting hyped for this one as it comes to cinemas from Scotland to Wales and England. Here are the details:
Third Window Filmsare back again with the release of a 90s classic Dangan Runnerby the director SABU (Mr. Long, Happiness, Miss Zombie). It is his directorial debut and is the world’s first Blu-ray and remastered DVD release and it contains a treasure trove of extras including an interview with the director. It gets released on November 12th on Blu-ray and DVD. Here are the details.
Special Features: Dual format DVD & BLURAY
45 minute interview with the director
“Strawberry Jam” Short film
Director Norihiro Niwatsukino trades in combining animation and live-action to make a fun horror comedy with shades of shunga and samurai action as well as plenty of earthy humour. With beautiful women and ghosts aplenty, this comes close to being like the 70s exploitation films many fans of Japanese cinema will recognise. Here’s more about the film:
The Roman Porno Reboot is a celebration of the series of softcore films put out by Nikkatsu from the 70s to the late 80s. Roman Porno is a realm where writers and directors can exercise creative freedom in content so long as they adhere to tight shooting deadlines and insert a sex scene in the proceedings every so often. Sion Sono is one of the veteran directors who took part in this reboot and he has taken this freedom to creative extremes and made a challenging film, an overwhelming visual and aural assault on the senses that delivers a feminist diatribe against the subjection of women.
The story starts with Kyoko (Ami Tomite), a highly-strung celebrity novelist and artist who also considers herself a super whore exploring the furthest reaches of sex. She is feeling the nerves before an interview and photo shoot with a major magazine writer and fashion photographer so she decides to take her insecurities out on her older eager-to-please assistant Noriko (Mariko Tsutsui) whom she sadistically humiliates through various lewd acts. The intensity ratchets up through the actual interview as Noriko, in an effort to be a whore like Kyoko, allows herself to be violated by the photographer’s assistants whilst being denigrated by Kyoko.
Third Window Films’ recent release of The Whispering Star(2016) was paired up with The Sion Sono, a documentary directed by Arata Oshima, son of legendary filmmaker Nagisa Oshima. Both films were originally released on the same day in Japan and prove to be the perfect partners for a home format release since they capture moments in the evolving career of Sion Sono, Japan’s most maverick multi-hyphante talent.
Sono is a poet, painter, writer, filmmaker, and rebel who decries convention and has taken on the role of subversive provocateur daring to tackle all manner of subjects and genres in his films. Gory horror, family drama, political and social diatribes, comedy, and everything in between have been mined to create a truly unique filmography of over 40 films and this documentary traces the origins of his work ethic, his love of films, and give a glimpse of the real character behind the cult figure.
The Whispering Star was originally created and screened as part of an art exhibition which had the theme of dystopia running through it. That theme is more than adequately captured in this black fable about a robot travelling amidst the remnants of humanity. It was shot in different locations in Fukushima prefecture, turning depopulated and irradiated areas into a futuristic landscape that speaks of hopelessness, pollution, and abandonment delivered in slow sketches until the film ends on a touching note of human contact. It shows good control of material from Sion Sono but that’s to be expected from a man who has been in the industry since the 80s.
At the start of the film we learn that multiple nuclear disasters and other mistakes have forced people to migrate to the stars. Humans are scattered across a myriad of planets and are on the verge of extinction as their will to live and explore flickers out in the face of technology and ennui. What keeps people hanging on are robots with AI who operate an interplanetary delivery system, facilitating a new sort of human contact.
Regular readers of this blog will know that Sion Sono is a favourite director of mine so it is with some joy that I can report that Third Window Films are helping film fans get closer to one of the best directors in Japanese cinema with a release of his sci-fi arthouse film The Whispering Star which will be paired with the feature-length documentary The Sion Sono. The two will be released as a DUAL FORMAT blu-ray/dvd on April 16th.
Check out the webpage over at the Third Window Film site for more details. Scroll down for trailers and details!
Not every romance is clean and tidy but the latest film from Eiji Uchida, director of Greatful Dead (2014) and Lowlife Love (2016) is the messiest and grimiest one you will see without Takashi Miike levels of gore and craziness involved. This story of star-crossed lovers is, however, everyday crazy as we see the lowest of Japanese society try and claw their way out of small town criminality and exploitation.
The film’s central couple are Ai (Sairi Itoh) and Ryota (Kenta Suga). The two meet in school and sparks start flying almost immediately but their passion is of the confrontational kind where arguments flare up. Unable to recognise love or express it, they part ways and meet up again at various points in their lives. The reason for their fractious relationship is that neither has had a stable home. We get Ai’s story for the most part and glimpses of Ryota’s while he also offers narration over the entire film which acts like a Greek chorus summing up what has gone wrong for the characters. Indeed, Ai’s story is one of constant tragedy and a search for a family.