Being Natural 天然☆生活 Dir: Tadashi Nagayama (2018)

Being Natural    Being Natural Film Poster

天然☆生活 Tennen Seikatsu

Release Date: March 23rd, 2019

Duration: 96 mins.

Director: Tadashi Nagayama

Writer:  Tadashi Nagayama, Yuriko Suzuki (Screenplay),

Starring: Yota Kawase, Kanji Tsuda, Natsuki Mieda, Tadahiro Tsuru, Shoichiro Tanigawa,

IMDB

Tadashi Nagayama goes back to nature with his second feature following his debut, Journey of the Tortoise (2017) but where the film ends up will prove to be a surprise after a delightful, if slightly disturbing social satire of a sojourn in the Japanese countryside.

It starts off as a gentle comedy where we follow Yota Kawase’s good-natured lead character Taka, an easy-going chap who lives a quiet life in a rural town in his uncle’s traditional Kayabuki (thatched roof) house. Unemployed and easygoing, he lives a simple life of taking care of the old man with dementia, hanging out with friends, BBQs, and playing his bongos but his peaceful life changes when his uncle dies and his cousin Mitsuaki (Shoichiro Tanigawa) tries to sell the house.

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The Kamagasaki Cauldron War 月夜釜合戦 Dir: Leo Sato (2018) [Japan Cuts 2019]

The Kamagasaki Cauldron War  The Kamagasaki Cauldron War Film Poster

月夜釜合戦 Tsukiyo kama gassen

Release Date: March 09th, 2019

Duration: 115 mins.

Director:  Leo Sato

Writer: Leo Sato (Screenplay),

Starring: Naomichi Ota, Yota Kawase, Kiyohiko Shibukawa, Kazu, Makoto Nishiyama, Shoji Omiya, Naori Ota, Tsumugi Monko, Maki Nishiyama, Marie Decalco, Susumu Ogata, Masao Adachi

Website IMDB

Kamagasaki is a slum-like part of Osaka’s Nishinari district which is notorious for having a high concentration of day labourers, homeless and a history of civil unrest, not to mention its proximity to the Tobita Shinchi red-light district. When I lived in Japan and moved from Tokyo to Nishinari I was given warnings and advice from friends. The way some people talked about the history of Kamagasaki made it sound anarchic and dangerous. By the time I got there things had become tamer thanks to gentrification driven by the boom in tourism and my experience was positive. Indeed, as soon as I was off the train a day worker with a sunny disposition struck up a conversation and offered to buy me a drink before my landlady rescued me from the surprise invitation and showed me around the district. They were the first of quite a few residents who took the time to talk to me and dispelled myths by telling me different stories of a poor but proud community who have had to fight for their human rights and dignity. The history and feel of Kamagasaki is strong and director Leo Sato has managed to bring it to life in his debut feature fiction film which creates a feel for the place.

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Demolition Girl JK エレジー Dir: Genta Matsugami (2018) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019

Demolition Girl  Demolition Girl JK Elegy Film Poster

JK エレジー JK Ereji-

Release Date: 2019

Duration: 88 mins.

Director: Genta Matsugami

Writer: Yoshitaka Kasui, Genta Matsugami (Screenplay),

Starring: Aya Kitai, Hiroki Ino, Yota Kawase, Haruka Imo, Yura Komuro,

Website IMDB

A man’s get up and go is what defines him, according to the writer Yukio Mishima. If that’s the case then Cocoa, the main protagonist of Genta Matsugami’s debut film, has a lot going for her. Super-smart and determined, she seems like a student who can be anything she wants but she faces a tough challenge in escaping the poverty of her background in a film that mixes class analysis with a coming-of-age story.

Cocoa Umeda lives in a small rural city. It feels like a slow and tranquil place where the biggest events are the seasonal festivals but for Cocoa and her friends things are getting intense as they approach their final exams and high school graduation. Cocoa could go on to higher education because she has potential but her options are limited by her financial situation.

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