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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Unforgiven, Taka no Tsume GO Utsukushiki Eriēru Shōshū Purasu , ATARU The First Love & The Last Kill, Miss Zombie, Code Geass: Akito the Exiled Second Volume: Wyvern Torn Apart, Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions The Movie, Venetia’s Garden of the Four Seasons and Other Japanese Film Trailers

Masayoshi Sukita David Bowie in Japan 1980How have you lot been? All’s well? Plenty of films and anime to watch like me? A good week at work? Great weather? Perfect. Yet today is going to be even better because I have a lot of time set aside for the thing I like most… gazing at gravure idols… I mean, writing reviews! By the time this is posted I will be finishing reviewing a lot ofMasako Natsume films the process of which started at 5am this morning. It’s a good thing too because after posting about the Japanese films at Raindance I launched into my Kiyoshi Kurosawa Season and then a review of Serpent’s Path. Right after this I will watch Gatchaman Crowds. This week I watched Insidious 2 and The Drudgery Train and my heart was torn to shreds by the latest episode of Watamote.

I have also discovered great soundtrack to write reviews to with some 80’s inspired music. My day is set for fun with more films and anime. Enjoy the trailers for the Japanese films released this weekend!

Unforgiven                                           Unforgiven Japanese Film Poster     

Japanese Title: 許されざる者

Romaji: Yurusarezaru Mono

Release Date: September 13th, 2013

Running Time: 119 mins.

Director: Lee Sang-Il

Writer: Lee Sang-Il  (Screenplay),

Starring: Ken Watanabe, Jun Kunimura, Eiko Koike, Yura Yagira, Koichi Sato, Akira Emoto, Shiono Kutsuna, Kenichi Takito, Youkiyoshi Ozawa, Takahiro Mirua, Sjiori Kutsuna

This is the remake of the 1992 Clint Eastwood film of the same name. It swaps out the US and cowboys for Japan in the late 1800’s and samurai. I have reviewed one Lee Sang-Il film and that was Villain where he got a fantastic performance from lead actor Satoshi Tsumabuki. This is his first film since Villain and he gets a star-studded cast with Ken Watanabe (Letters from Iwo JimaInceptionTampopo), the grizzled Akira Emoto (A Woman and WarStarfish Hotel), Koichi Sato (Infection), and two of my favourites, Eiko Koike (RebirthPenanceKamikaze Girls2LDK) and Jun Kunimura (Outrage,VitalAudition). It played at the Venice Film Festival.

Jubei Kamata (Watanabe) was once a loyal samurai for the Edo shogunate government. Famous for being a skilled and deadly fighter he killed many and became infamous in Kyoto but disappeared during the battle of Goryoukaku. Ten years later and he is living with his child, looking after his wife’s grave in peace after vowing never to pick up his sword again but being in poverty forces him to do just that as he accepts the assignment of being a bounty hunter.

Website

Continue reading “Unforgiven, Taka no Tsume GO Utsukushiki Eriēru Shōshū Purasu , ATARU The First Love & The Last Kill, Miss Zombie, Code Geass: Akito the Exiled Second Volume: Wyvern Torn Apart, Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions The Movie, Venetia’s Garden of the Four Seasons and Other Japanese Film Trailers”

Japanese Films at the Toronto International Film Festival 2013

It is September and the greatest film festival in the world is about to take place. It is time for The Toronto International Film Festival.

Genki Toronto International Film Festival 2013 Banner

This year’s festival looks to be better than last year’s one. There are so many of my favourite Japanese directors like Sion Sono, Hirokazu Koreeda and Kiyoshi Kurosawa (a season dedicated to him starts here next week!) getting their works screened and great films from around the world in general. As I looked at the list of titles I have never felt so bad about not being in Canada. This time next year I will be Canadian. I will live in Toronto and I will do Canadian things… I’m not sure what Canadians do exactly but Goregirl is cool and she’s Canadian and they have this awesome festival in Toronto where there are lots of great Japanese and South Korean films and I want to be there…

Here are the Japanese titles (click on the titles to go to the page for more info)!!!

STARTO!

Real                                                                Real Film Poster               

Japanese Title: リアル 完全なる首長 竜の日

Romaji: Riaru Kanzen’naru Shuchou Ryuu no Hi

Toronto Screening Dates: June 01st, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 127 mins.

Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Writer: Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Screenplay), Rokuro Inui (Original Novel)

Starring: Takeru Sato, Haruka Ayase, Jo Odagiri, Miki Nakatani, Shota Sometani, Keisuke Horibe, Kyoko Koizumi, Keisuke Horibe, Yuki Kan

I champion Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s films. Even the bad ones. Out of the ones I have seen, his best is Tokyo Sonata. I’ll admit, as much as I love his J-horror like Pulse, Cure and Retribution, his dramas and crime thrillers are pretty strong. I haven’t seen a science fiction film from him yet but he does have one. It’s this title, Real. I have heard mixed things about it but I’m staying hopeful. It reminds me a little of Inception but does it have the budget to make as much of an impact? What I do know is that it has a great cast of actors but with Takero Sato and Haruka Ayase taking the limelight, will they be up to the high standards set by Sometani, Koizumi, Odagiri, Nakatani and the rest of the supporting cast? Check the trailer!

 

Koichi (Sato) and Atsumi (Ayase) are childhood friends who have become lovers. Despite this closeness when Atsumi attempts suicide Koichi is at a loss as to what the reason that drove her to do such a thing could be. Now she is in a coma and Koichi needs to find out the reason. Since Koichi is a neurosurgeon he has access to the latest studies and so he takes part in a medical procedure that will allow him to enter Atsumi’s subconscious through her central nervous system.

When he arrives she asks him to find a picture of a plesiosaur she drew as a child. It is the key to a suppressed memory connected to a childhood trauma. Finding this picture will allow Koichi to truly get close to knowing his love.

 

R100                                    R100 Film Poster

Japanese Title: R100

Romaji: R100

Running Time: 100 mins.

Director: Hitoshi Matsumoto

Writer: Hitoshi Matsumoto (Screenplay)

Starring: Nao Omori, Mao Daichi, Atsuro Watabe, Shinobu Terajima, Hairi Katagiri, Ai Tominaga, Eriko Sato, You, Suzuki Matsuo, Hitoshi Matsumoto, Gin Maeda, Naomi Watanabe, Haruki Nishimoto

Hitoshi Matsumoto is unknown to me but lots of people like his feature Big Man Japan. A lot of the cast are familiar to me. Nao Omori (Mushishi), Atsuro Watabe (Love Exposure, Heat After Dark), Shinobu Terajima (Kitaro and the Millennium Curse, Vibrator), Eriko Sato (Crime or Punishment?!?), You (Nobody Knows, Still Walking) are all great actors and I believe they can make this comedy work. The concept is hilarious – a guy into a bit of S&M is hounded by dominatrixes in public.

 

Takafumi Katayama (Omori) is a mild-mannered father who escapes the pressures of everyday life by joining a mysterious S&M club where the dominatrix will visit the client in real life settings. At first the pinch and tickle treatment he receives from these girls in leather is fun but t becomes relentless. He is now at the mercy of a gang of dominatrixes who torment him!

Can I just say that while I’m not into S&M, Eriko Sato looks so good that I’d let her harass me at work or in public.

R100 Eriko Satwhoa

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Japanese Films at the Venice Film Festival 2013

Genki 70th Venice Film Festival Banner

The 70th Venice Film Festival is due to take place at the end of this month (August 28th – September 07th). Last year saw a neat but small selection of Japanese films and a drama. This year there seem to be even more on offer but they include some of the latest titles. Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises gets its world premiere and as a result is in competition at the festival. Out of competition we see the likes of Kim Ki-Duk returning after his win last year. He has stiff competition from Lee Sang-il who brings his Japanese remake of Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven and Shinji Aramaki’s rather nice looking Captain Harlock movie. Here’s the line-up:

The Wind Rises                              Kaze Tachi Nu Film Poster

Japanese Title: 風立ちぬ

Romaji: Kaze Tachi Nu

Running Time: 126 mins.

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Writer: Hayao Miyazaki (Screenplay)

Starring: Hideaki Anno, Miori Takimoto, Hidetoshi Nishijima, Masahiko Nishimura, Steven Alpert, Morio Kazama, Keiko Takeshita,

Miyazaki’s latest film was recently released in Japan where it has done good numbers at the box office. It has been five years since Hayao Miyazaki’s last film, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea. Since then he has written scripts and manga. He’s back with a new film which tells the story of Jirou Horikoshi, the designer of Japan’s famous Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter plane of World War II. We witness his upbringing and his struggles with poverty, an earthquake and war and his relationship with a woman named Naoko Satomi who is suffering from tuberculosis. Jirou Horikoshi is voiced by Evangelion creator Hideaki Anno. The mecha anime maestro is surrounded by live-action film actors like Hidetoshi Nishijima (Zero Focus) amd co-star Miori Takimoto (Sadako 3D 2Rinco’s Restaurant).

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