Farewell: Comedy of Life Begins with A Lie  グッドバイ 嘘からはじまる人生喜劇 Dir: Izuru Narushima (2020)

Farewell: Comedy of Life Begins with A Lie 

Goodbye Life Comedy of Starting From a Lie Film Poster

グッドバイ 嘘からはじまる人生喜劇  Guddobai: Uso kara Hajimaru Jinsei Kigeki

Release Date: February 14th, 2020

Duration: 106 mins.

Director: Izuru Narushima

Writer: Satoko Okudera (Script), Keralino Sandrovich (Stage play)

Starring: Yo Oizumi, Eiko Koike, Ai Hashimoto, Tae Kimura, Nobue Iketani, Asami Mizukawa, Yoji Tanaka, Gaku Hamada, Yutaka Matsushige,

Website IMDB

This film can best be described with the phrase, “less than the sum of its parts,”

By no means awful, Farewell: Comedy of Life Begins with A Lie fails to live up to expectations.

The elements were all there for a promising screwball comedy.

It finds its origins in an unfinished work by Osamu Dazai that was turned into a stageplay by Keralino Sandrovich of absurdist comedy Crime or Punishment?!? fame.

Director Izuru Narushima has a filmography stacked with solid titles, the best being Rebirth (2011). Scriptwriter Satoko Okudera, who has worked with Narushima previously, has a fine selection of other titles rich with emotions like Summer Wars (2009) and The Wolf Children (2012).

There is a cast to DIE for with affable-to-the-point-of-attractive and very smooth-talking leading man Yo Oizumi taking the lead as a philandering fool with a bevy of beauties played by some of the most talented actresses currently working, including Tae Kimura (Starfish Hotel, Zero Focus), Ai Hashimoto (The Kirishima Thing), and Asami Mizukawa (A Beloved Wife). Plus Yutaka Matsushige and Gaku Hamada are on hand to provide ample support. Most promisingly, Eiko Koike, a thoroughly underused thesp was reprising her role from the theatre version. With so much talent, it was a surprise that the final result is so underwhelming.

The story takes place in post-war Japan, a nation transforming itself and shedding its old identity. As part of this, the locales are the hustle and bustle of Tokyo’s black markets and the more dignified air of editorial rooms of literary magazines. They soon crash together in an unlikely way through the meeting of two people from those two different worlds for a very sordid reason that promises comedy gold.

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Dynamite Graffiti 素敵なダイナマイトスキャンダル Dir: Masanori Tominaga (2018)

Dynamite Graffiti   Dynamite Graffiti Film Poster

素敵なダイナマイトスキャンダル Suteki na Dainamaito Sukyandaru

Running Time: 138 mins.

Release Date: March 17th, 2018

Director: Masanori Tominaga

Writer: Masanori Tominaga (Screenplay), Akira Suei (Autobiographical Essay)

Starring: Tasuku Emoto, Atsuko Maeda, Toko Miura, Machiko Ono, Kazunobu Mineta, Yutaka Matsushige, 

Website IMDB

Adult magazines are big business worldwide, including in Japan where it is still possible to walk into some convenience stores and see them on open display although in the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics, this is getting cleaned up. Masanori Tominaga’s biopic Dynamite Graffiti tells the history of raunchy magazine mogul Akira Suei, starting from childhood to the peak of his infamy in the 1980s when his publications had a circulation of over 300,000 copies a month and he publicly challenged censors with his magazine’s content.

Tominaga aims big and scores some smiles with behind-the-scenes looks at the smut trade but the scale of his script’s ambitions in trying to capture changing times delivers a cast of characters who are little more than cyphers while Suei remains a joker.

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Dear Doctor ディア ドクター (2009) Miwa Nishikawa

Dear Doctor    Dear Doctor Film Poster

ディア・ドクター  Dea Dokuta-

Release Date: June 27th, 2009

Running Time: 127 mins.

Director: Miwa Nishikawa

Writer: Miwa Nishikawa (Screenplay/Original Novel)

Starring: Tsurube Shofukutei (Dr. Osamu Ino), Eita (Keisuke Soma), Kimiko Yo (Akemi Ohtake), Teruyuki Kagawa (Masayoshi Saimon), Kaoru Yachigusa (Kaduko Torikai), Haruka Igawa (Ritsuko Torikai), Ryo Iwamatsu (Lieutenant Yoshifumi Okayasu), Yutaka Matushige (Sergeant Hatano),

Website    IMDB

Miwa Nishikawa follows up her perfect twisted Tokyo-based family drama Wild Berries with this title about a countryside doctor who may not be what he appears to be. Despite the bucolic setting replacing Tokyo the themes are much the same as in her debut film, deception and desperation.

Dear Doctor takes place in a remote town in the middle of the countryside. It’s nighttime and creatures lurking in the rice fields croak and murmur in the darkness.  A man riding into town on a bicycle along a poorly lit road stops and puts on a doctor’s coat he finds lying on the ground. He continues cycling all the way to the clinic where a cluster of elderly villagers and police officers question him. Where did he find the coat? Where’s the doctor it’s normally attached to?

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Miss Hokusai 百日紅 ~Miss HOKUSAI~ (2015) Dir: Keiichi Hara

I recently landed a role as contributor to V-Cinema and I have reviewed a number of films for the website. I have been something of a fan and enjoyed listening to their podcasts when they have covered Japanese cinema so I’m pretty excited to be a part of the team and helping to highlight Japanese cinema. Writing reviews is something I enjoy doing and I hope people enjoy reading my reviews!

Here’s a snippet of my review of the film Miss Hokusai (2015), the latest from Keiichi Hara Colorful (2010). It tells the story of one of Katsushika Hokusai’s daughters, O-Ei, who was an artist in her own right. It is a historical tale played with some comedy and a touch of fantasy and rich in period detail.

Miss Hokusai Image

The film is based on a manga from an award-winning creator Hanako Sugiura who is an interesting person. She was the daughter of a kimono merchant and

Hinako Sugiura
From the website Prominent People of Minato City

made her manga debut in 1980 in the experimental magazine Garo, the place where artists Yoshihiro Tatsumi, Oji Suzuki, and Usamaru Furuya all came to fame. The website Prominent People of Minato City states that Sugiura defined her work with intricately researched historical stories about Japan’s Edo period with a focus on customs and manners and her unique storytelling won the Japan Cartoonists’ Association Award in 1984 and the Bunshun Manga Award in 1988. She retired from being a manga artist in 1995 and became a regular participant on NHK’s television program Comedy: Oedo de gozaru (Comedy; This is Edo) and was popular as the expert guide who gave interesting easy-to-understand commentaries about Edo culture. She passed away in 2005 at the age of 46.

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The Japanese Embassy in London will Screen Shinobu Yaguchi’s Film “Adrenaline Drive”

This month’s film screening at the Japanese embassy is Adrenaline Drive which is a late ‘90s comedy action flick directed by Shinobu Yaguchi. Shinobu Yaguchi has made family friendly films as well as experimental ones. Waterboys (2001), Happy Flight (2008), Swing Girls (2007) and, most recently, Wood Job! (2014) are what I would see as broad comedies designed to appeal to wide audiences but as good as these are (and they are good) it’s his early experimental film The Rain Women which has me most intrigued after I wrote about it screening at the Berlin International Film Festival this year.

Adrenaline Drive Film Image

Anyway, this is a parody of action and romance movies and it contains slapstick comedy. It is held together by likeable performances from lead actors Masanobu Ando and Hikari Ishida.

Masanobu Ando should be familiar to J-film fans from his incredible performance as Shinji in Kids Return (1996) and Kiriyama in Battle Royale (2000). He has appeared in many other cult films and worked with a variety of directors and has proven himself to be a great leading man, so it is a shame he isn’t used more… Hikari Ishida is another underused actor although I must admit that the only other film I have seen her in is Séance (2000)…

Here are the details:

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Charisma カリスマ (2000)

Charisma

カリスマKarisuma

Release Date: Feburary 26th, 2000 (Japan)

Running Time: 99 mins.

Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Writer:  Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Screenplay)

Starring: Koji Yakusho, Hiroyuki Ikeuchi, Jun Fubuki, Yoriko Doguchi, Ren Osugi, Yutaka Matsushige, Akira Otaka,

IMDB

Happy Halloween! This is the fourth year where I highlight horror movies on Halloween night. So far I have reviewed Nightmare DetectiveStrange CircusShokuzai, and POV: A Cursed Film. This year I take on Charisma!

Kiyoshi Kurosawa is my favourite director and for much of his career he has focussed on horror movies. Post Tokyo Sonata (2009) Kurosawa has become more conventional and mainstream as he slides into making dramas and adaptations of novels so it is great to revisit one of his horror films for Halloween 2015!

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The Guard From Underground 地獄の警備員 (1992)

Genki The Guard From Underground Film Review Banner

The Guard From Underground  The Guard From Underground Film Poster

Japanese Title: 地獄の警備員

Romaji: Jigoku no Keibin

Release Date: 1992

Running Time: 97 mins.

Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Writer: Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Kunihiko Tomioka (Screenplay),

Starring: Makiko Kuno, Yutaka Matsushige, Hatsunori Hasegawa, Ren Osugi, Taro Suwa

Akebono Corporation is a major business and Akiko Narushima (Kuno) is on her way to a new job. She used to be a curator at a gallery and is now the new adviser for the purchases of paintings for the corporation. Akebono are also hiring a new security guard in the rather tall and solidly built shape of former sumo wrestler Fujimaru (Matsushige), a man who is wanted by the police investigating the case of the murder of his lover and her lover, another sumo wrestler…  He was released due to being insane but the police are looking to prosecute again. Akiko starts her first day brightly and meets her new colleagues, the flighty Hanae Takeda, the rather useless Ken Nomura, and anonymous bald dude Minoru Yoshioka (Suwa). Her workmates are great… apart from her lecherous manager Kurume (Osugi), a carefree head of human resources named Hyodo (Hasegawa) and the mighty Fujimaru who takes a liking to her.

The Guard From Underground Security Booth

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