Genkina hito’s Top Ten Films to Get in 2020

I have been writing about films here for a decade and ever since I started writing badly translated synopses to highlight interesting films, I have had a list in my mind of titles that I want to watch. I add and subtract films from said list but many listed here have remained in my mind. These ten films I have never forgotten and since it has been ten years since I first started blogging, I want to make an effort and track them down to review them the next time I am in Japan. Which is… SOON!

Will I see any of these films? Who knows, but I want to watch them.

Continue reading “Genkina hito’s Top Ten Films to Get in 2020”

Films I Wish I Had Seen in 2013 and will Hopefully see in 2014

Genki Fuse Best of 2013 Header Banner

2013 has ended and I haven’t published my best ofs yet. I better start now. I have to admit that 2013 year has been rather excellent in terms of my experience with Japanese films considering I saw so many in their year of release, played a small part in helping bring one over to the UK and interviewed a few directors and yet, and yet… There were a few releases that I wish I had seen. Every trailer post always brings up a few titles I wish I could see in a cinema and so here’s a list of 14 Japanese films released in 2013 I hope I get to see in 2014!

Shin Shin Shin                               Shin Shin Shin Film Poster

Japanese Title: しんしんしん

Romaji: Shin Shin Shin

Running Time: 135 mins.

Release Date: January 12th 2013 (Japan)

Director: Kouhei Sanada

Writer: Kouhei Sanada

Starring: Ikeda Houshi, Miwako Wagatsuma, Kazuhiro Sano, Yuya Okutsu. Megumi Kagurazaka

Shin Shing Shin is a film which was directed by Kouhei Sanada who was mentored by Kiyoshi Kurosawa at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. That same university played a massive part in another title below, Fairy Tale. The film’s title comes from a song of the same name by the folk rock band Happy End who hail from the 70’s. Is this it and it is a road movie which stars Miwako Wagatsuma who was in Sentimental Yasuko and End of Puberty and Megumi Kagurazaka who was in Cold Fish and The Land of Hope.

 

Tomoyuki (Ishida) is a high school student who lives with the Tekiya family, a group of strangers with no other place to go. A girl named named Yuki (Wagatsuma) joins the group but when their home is demolished they head off on a journey that leads them from town to town with no particular destination in mind.

Website

 

A Fairy Tale        Yuki Sasaki Film Poster

Japanese Title: あるいは佐々木ユキ

Romaji: Aruiwa Sasaki Yuki

Running Time: 79 mins.

Release Date: January 12th 2013 (Japan)

Director: Kenji Fukuma

Writer: Keiko Fukuma (Screenplay),

Starring: Saori Kohara, Akira Yoshino, Hideyo Sengoku, Makiko Kawano, Yumi Fuzuki

This was a victim of my bad translation skills… The first in a long line of victims… Anyway this is written and directed by the poet Kenji Fukuma, a man with two other directorial efforts to his name – Summer for the Living (2011), which starred Saori Kohara, and My Dear Daughter of Okayama (2008). He reunites with the actress Kohara for this fantasy drama about the emotions of a 20-year-old Tokyoite which interweaves interviews, poetry and dances so that the film blurs dreams and reality.

 

Watashi wa Sasaki Yuki. Hatachi desu. 

20-year-old Yuki Sasaki who lives by herself in Tokyo. One day she chances upon a poetry reading by poetess Yumi Fuzuki and the experiences makes her lose sight of her purpose in life. In the process, another Yuki (Kawano) appears before her. We see her reality and dreams in a series of interviews and performances like dancing and poetry that are captured on film. 

Website

  Continue reading “Films I Wish I Had Seen in 2013 and will Hopefully see in 2014”

Midsummer Formula, Princess Sakura: Forbidden Pleasures, Uzumasa Jacopetti, God’s Tongue Kiss Championship THE MOVIE, Ami? Amie? Tsukiatteneeyo, New Theatre Version of Hanako of the Toilet, Trail, Moon Dream and Other Japanese Film Trailers

Sannin JitenshaThe week started with a post about a talk about film festivals hosted by the Japan Foundation. I then followed it up with a rather late review for Zero Focus, a film I saw back in February. This was my first film review since April which was quite a surprise but then I have been focussing on anime as of late. As far as my film viewing goes I watched World War z during the week and I enjoyed it a lot. Monday sees July start which means that it’s the beginning of the summer anime season and I will get more film reviews in and I’ll probably get a wrap-up post for the spring anime done at some point. Enough from me, here are the trailers.

Midsummer Formula                    Midsummer Formula Film Poster

Japanese Title: 真夏の方程式

Romaji: Manatsu no Houteishiki

Release Date: June 29th, 2013

Running Time: 129 mins.

Director: Hiroshi Nishitani

Writer: Masato Ozawa (Screenplay), Keigo Higashino (Original Novel)

Starring: Masaharu Fukuyama, Yuriko Yoshitaka, Anne Watanabe, Kazuki Ktamura, Gin Maeda, Jun Fubuki, Hikaru Yamazak

Oh great, another Keigo Higashino adaptation! He writes great modern detective thrillers and this one looks pretty good. The trailer opens with a very cool looking Masaharu Fukuyama calmly dealing with a very vocal Anne Watanabe before being drawn into a murder mystery by the sea. It looks like a lot of fun what with all the sun, sea and murder and the staff/cast list assures me that this will be solid at the very least. Both the director Nishitani, lead actor Fukuyama  and supporting actor Kazuki Kitamura were involved in the adaptation of Higashino’s novel Suspect X. The police detective in the trailer is Yuriko Yoshitaka who was really impressive in Noriko’s Dinner Table, Adrift in Tokyo and A Story of Yonosuke, three great films from totally different directors/genres. I can’t leave without mentioning Jun Fubuki who is fantastic in Séance and Rebirth.

Manabu Yukawa (Fukuyama) is in the port city of Harigaura to take part in a discussion on submarine mineral resource development. He’s staying at an inn run by his aunt’s family and things seem to be going smoothly until one of the guests is found dead. He teams up with detective Kishitani (Yoshitaka) and a schoolboy on summer break named Kyohei (Yamazaki) to solve the case!

 

Princess Sakura: Forbidden Pleasures    Princess Sakura Forbidden Pleasures Film Poster

Japanese Title: 桜姫

Romaji: Sakura Hime

Release Date: June 29th, 2013

Running Time: 95 mins.

Director: Hajime Hashimoto

Writer: Hajime Hashimoto, Masahiro Yoshimoto (Screenplay)

Starring: Kyoko Hinami, Munetaka Aoki, DenDen, Yuma asami

Whoa, what a poster! I was almost sold but I’m not a complete sucker and I won’t fall so easily for a pretty face (and sexy body). What’s the trailer like? Whoa, what a trailer! It is pretty fun and colourful and sexy. This is going to be racy stuff with little left to the imagination but there does appear to be an equal amount of “antics”. The plot sounds silly but it is based on a kabuki place called Sakura Hime Azuma Bunsho which was written by Nanboku Tsuruya back in 1817. The gorgeous girl is Kyoko Hinami who is a new actress but she is very beautiful and will probably feature in more films. Munetaka Aoki (Fly with the Gold), Denden (Cold Fish) and the AV actress Yuma Asami (Siren X).

When Princess Sakura (Hinami) is attacked by a mysterious assailant she falls in love with him. The only way she can identify him is a tattoo on his body. In order to find the chap she gets the same tattoo and gives up her former life as a princess to work as a prostitute… Yeah. Anyway, the man who caused the princess to lose her mind is called Gonsuke (Aoki) and he is the target of assassins because he stole a scroll.

 

Uzumasa Jacopetti                      Uzumasa Jacopetti Film Poster

Japanese Title: 太秦ヤコペッティ

Romaji: Uzumasa Jacopetti

Release Date: June 22nd, 2013

Running Time: 83 mins.

Director: Moriro Miyamoto

Writer: Moriro Miyamoto, Toshihiko Matsunaga (Screenplay)

Starring: Shinji Wada, Kiki Hanaka, Masaki Kitahara, Shishimaru Ozawa, Seizo Fukumoto, Donpei Tsuchihira

The plot sounds crazy, the trailer features actors who look crazy, this could be the greatest film of 2013. It premiered at this year’s Nippon Connection so I went searching for some reviews and Midnight Eye came to the rescue and there was this ntriguing description:

Despite what its title suggests, Uzumasa Jacopetti plays less like Kansai mondo than a downtown version of Jeunet and Caro’s surreal slaughterhouse comedy Delicatessen.

The trailer looks so funny but there is gore so you have been warned.

The story is set in Uzumasa, Kyoto and it follows Shoji Hyakkan (Wada),a man who gives up his job to make a house held together by magnets for himself, his wife and son. When he’s caught stealing and killing a cow for its hide by a police officer (Kobayakawa) he isn’t locked up. No, in fact he’s given an interesting offer involving his dismemberment skills and local hoodlums. It’s an indie production from first-time director Moriro Miyamoto.  Please someone, release this in the west!

 

God’s Tongue Kiss Championship THE MOVIE  God Tongue Film Poster

Japanese Title: ゴッドタン キス我慢選手権 THE MOVIE

Romaji: Goddotan kisugaman senshuken THE MOVIE

Release Date: June 28th, 2013

Running Time: 112 mins.

Director: Nobuyuki Sakuma

Writer: Nobuyuki Sakuma, Okura (Screenplay)

Starring: Shogo Kawashima/Hitori Gekidan, Hiroaki Ogi, Ken Yahagi, Osamu Shitara, Yuki Himura

God Tongue, the TV Tokyo late-night variety show chaos is on the big screen with plenty of erotic action in this spy thriller starring Shogo Kawashima who has lost his memory and is paired up with a sexy woman to take down an evil organisation who use erotic tricks to beat their enemies. Sounds awful. I mean awfully fun. It stars Hitori Gekidan (Rebirth, Dororo).

 

Ami? Amie? Tsukiatteneeyo                                Ami Amie Film Poster  

Japanese Title: ami? amie? つきあってねーよ!

Romaji: ami? amie? Tsukaitteneeyo!

Release Date: June 29th, 2013

Running Time: 52 mins.

Director: Tomohiko Iwasaki

Writer: Tomohiko Iwasaki (Screenplay)

Starring: Koichiro Takami, Yuka Yoshino, Riko Matsui, Tomoko Hayakawa, Ikeshima Yutaka

This short drama comes from Tomohiko Iwasaki and was screened at the Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival. The tagline on the poster reads, ‘Boy meets girl, girl meets girl…’ and the trailer looks like fun. In this story, Gumi (Yoshino) and Tetsu (Takami) might be lovers. Or not because when a woman named Keiko (Matsui) shows up, Gumi gets second thoughts.  Midnight Eye describes it as being… “clunky but also possessed a certain charm, largely thanks to an engaging young cast.” Watch the trailer and judge for yourself.

Moon Dream         Moon Dream Film Poster

Japanese Title: ムーン ドリーム

Romaji: Mu-n Dori-mu

Release Date: June 29th, 2013

Running Time: 105 mins.

Director: Bobby Ologun, Keiji Miyano

Writer: Masato Ozawa (Screenplay)

Starring: Bobby Ologun, Nao Minamisawa, Naomasa Musaka, Thane Camus, Yayoo, Dante Carver, Toshikazu Fukawa, Akira Nakao, Guts Ishimatsu

This is the directorial debut of Bobby Ologun who is one of those talent dudes who turns up on panel shows. I won’t say anything snide because he’s also a mixed martial artist and famous in Japan. I am neither of those things and so I have to fear and respect his achievements in that order. This is his autobiographical film in which he plays himself and it is based on his experiences in Japan as he aims to become famous, the realities of prejudice shown to foreigners that some show and the kindness of others – especially Sayuri (Minamisawa), a foxy lady who helped him out. The film has a lot of foreign actors like Dante Carver and Thane Camus. The film trailer looks pretty good and seeing a non-Western perspective on Japan is quite a rare thing.

Trail                  Trail Film Image

Japanese Title: トレイル

Romaji: Toreiru

Release Date: June 29th, 2013

Running Time: 100 mins.

Director: Shuhei Hatano

Writer: Shuhei Hatano (Screenplay)

Starring: Yosuke Yamaguchi, Eiji Mitomi, Toru Fujimoto, Risa Tokmasa

This is the feature-length debut film of Shuhei Hatano. It’s about a group of creative types – a painter, a musician, a poet and… a girl, not sure what her skill is – who travel around forests and villages and encounter a writer of folklore from Argentina. The trailer doesn’t inspire any reaction from me. Characters lead us somewhere, their backs to us. Hardly engaging until the very end when the girl stares defiantly back into the camera.

I mean… What’s the deal? Why are you looking at me?? STOP IT!!! I’m the viewer!!!!

 

New Theatre Version of Hanako of the Toilet Hanako of the Toilet Film Poster

Japanese Title: トイレの花子さん 新劇場版

Romaji: Toire no Hanako-san Shin Gekijouban

Release Date: June 29th, 2013

Running Time: 88 mins.

Director: Masashi Yamada

Writer: Kokoya Anzu (Screenplay)

Starring: Yuka Ueno, Misaki Ayame, Ai Kiyoshi, Hitomi Tanaka, Rina Yamakawa

I had to do a double-take on the title because it reads strangely. Hanako-san of the toilet. A quick search revealed that it’s an urban legend and I do know of it. Here’s Wikipedia’s take:

According to the legend, a person who goes to the third stall in the girls’ bathroom on the third floor and knocks three times before asking “Are you there, Hanako-san”, will hear a voice answer “I’m here”. If the person enters the stall there will be a small girl in a red skirt.

Hanako-san is a popular and widespread urban legend, often played by school children as a rite of courage, or a method of hazing for new students, similar to the Bloody Mary urban legend in Western schools.

This is the third feature film to be based on the legend and the first film to be made in 15 years. It stars Yuka Ueno and is directed by Masashi Yamada, ace expert at making horror films set in schools as X-Game 2 and Scary Hide and Seek Alone attest. Here’s a creepy anime where Hanako is a character overseeing the grisly fate of a poor victim.

Sayo Nagasawa (Ueno) has moved to a rural town in the country to stay with her grandmother. She finds herself in the nightmare position of being the new transfer student in her high school but makes a friend in Maho. When Maho turns up dead in a toilet stall, Sayo finds herself in the middle of a series of grisly deaths. Love the J-pop happy opening before the blunt introduction of misery and horror in the trailer. The film looks better than a lot of low-budget J-horror I have reviewed.

 

Movie ‘Candidacy’                                   

Japanese Title: 映画 「立候補」 Candidacy Film Poster

Romaji: Eiga “Rikkouho”

Release Date: June 29th, 2013

Running Time: 100 mins.

Director: Fujioka Toshimitsu

Writer: N/A

Starring: Shinzo Abe, Toru Hashimoto, Mak Akasaka, Koichi Toyama, Hideyoshi Hasiba Seizo

This documentary looks at different politicians like Mac Akasaka, a fringe politician from the Japan Smile Party who has contested various elections and lost them all (and his 3 million yen deposit). What makes him special is his flamboyant speeches and costumes. I guess the other candidates in this film are strange and/or controversial like Toru Hashimoto who the American woman seems shocked by.

 

Classic Cinema Kabuki

Japanese Title: シネマ 歌舞伎 クラシック

Romaji: Shinema Kabuki Kurashikku

Release Date: June 29th, 2013

Running Time: Various

Director: Masato Ozawa

Writer: Kokoya Anzu (Screenplay)

Starring: Utaemon Nakamura,  Kanzaburo Nakamura, Shikan Nakamura

The Kabuki-za is a famous theatre in Tokyo which has played host to Kabuki shows since 1889. In 2010 the structure was demolished amid concerns about its ability to survive earthquakes (something the film Intermission picked up on) but in March, 2013, the theatre was recently reopened. To celebrate the reopening, four classic Kabuki plays with titles like Sumida River which is about a mother who is searching for her lost son I have little knowledge of Kabuki but the film company and owners of Kabuki-za, Shochiku, have put together this handy website. Each screening lasts somewhere between 20 and 60 minutes.