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Takuma

Miscellaneous Japanese Cinema Thread

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Athough I haven't been so impressed with Ryuichi Hiroki recently, this sounds semi-interesting:

Shota Sometani and Atsuko Maeda to star in Ryuichi Hiroki's "Sayonara Kabukicho"

- http://eigapedia.com/blog/shota-sometani-and-atsuko-maeda-to-star-in-ryuichi-hirokis-sayonara-kabukicho

Written by Haruhiko Arai, who has scripted many wonderful films like Distant Thunder, Oh Women! A Dirty Song, Tragedy of W, Vibrator, It's Only Talk). A bit less excited about the cast, although Maeda proved in Moratorium Tamako that she can be a rather good actress.

January 2015 release.

(Empty) Website:

http://www.sayonara-kabukicho.com/

kabukicho_zps48b45efa.jpg

Review:

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/kabukicho-love-hotel-sayonara-kabukicho-730099

Also, Hiroki was publicly complaining about Maeda not doing any nudity in the film a while back

http://www.asagei.com/25269 (in Japanese)

Sad but expected. Maeda 1, Male Audiences 0 :mad:

(and perhaps Maeda 1, Common Sense 0, considering this is a film about love hotels and sex...)

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vci1.jpg

Toei's V-Cinema (straight to video) line is celebrating it's 25th anniversary. The series begun in 1989 with Crime Hunter and has since produced countless action, yakuza, horror and exploitation films like Lady Battle Cop (1990), The Fighting King (Sho Kosugi, 1993), and Ju-on (Takashi Shimizu, 2000). Toei are now releasing (somewhat ironically) a theatrical film to celebrate the event. 25 Nijyu-Go will naturally star the king of V-Cinema, Show Aikawa. Opens November 1.

Special teaser

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Trailer:

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Here are trailers for a couple of real V-Cinema films. Toei is currently having a campaign to let fans vote which films they'd like to see issued on dvd.

Manila Gokudo Senso (マニラ極道戦争 暗黒街の勲章) (1992)

Dir. Kyoshi Miyakoshi

Cast: Tatsuo Nadaka

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The Fighting King (ザ・格闘王) (1993)

Dir. Sho Kosugi

Cast: Kane Kosugi, Yasuaki Kurata

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The Fighting King 2 (ザ・格闘王2) (1994)

Dir. Sho Kosugi

Cast: Kane Kosugi

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DOG FIGHT (野良犬たちの挽歌) (2000)

Dir. Atsushi Muroga

Cast: Show Aikawa

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And a couple of VHS arts

Lady Battle Cop (1990)

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Crime Hunter (1989)

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The Fighting King (1993)

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Manila Gokudo Senso (1992)

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Lady Battle Cop, Crime Hunter and some others are already coming to DVD later this year.

Crime Hunter (1989) (MidnightEye review here), The Hitman (Teruo Ishii, 1991), Lady Battle Cop (1990), Soshiki bôryoku: Ryûketsu no kôsô (Yasuharu Hasebe, 1999)

Vcin1_zpsa971bcbe.jpgVcin2_zpsf4906787.jpg

Vcin3_zpseb606e34.jpgVcin4_zpsd5f48248.jpg

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BiS is not dead!

20140928-biscannonball_v.jpg

BiS disbanded, but you can see them in theaters in February in BiS Cannoball Run 2014, which is a documentary film about their last days before disbanding. What makes it really interesting is the director: Company Matsuo (yes, his first name really is "Company") is a legendary porn director famous for the hamedori style AV which he started. In hamedori Matsuo, who is the only crew member in his movies, doesn't only film himself having sex with "ordinary" girls, he documents every bit from receiving a call from a girl to travelling (possibly to another side of the country) to meet her, and thoroughly getting to know her and her motivations before the sex which might or might not come. This is all done to make it far more personal and real than the typical platonic sex seen in AV.

Now Matsuo is using his skills to make a doc about BiS. It seems like he used the same technique as Koji Shiraishi in Shirome and created some sort of fake program that his crew was supposed to be filming while not letting the girls know that they are actually making a documentary!

The tagline: Idols vs. Porn Director!

Website (almost empty):

http://bis-cannon.jp/

MidnightEye article on Company Matsuo

http://www.midnighteye.com/features/company-matsuo-and-the-world-of-japanese-adult-video/

The film's title, BiS Cannoball Run 2014, is also a direct reference to Matsuo's other famous concept, Cannoball Run, which is a series of AV films in which contestants race through Japan, competing in both speed and the number or amateur" girls they have sex with during it. The latest one, from 2013, was edited into a movie version (the original dvd release is over 8 hours) called Telekura Cannoball Run 2013 and became a small phenomena - it's been playing in various arthouse cinemas (Shibuya Auditorium), movie theaters focusing on documentaries (Pole Pole) and trendy cinemas focusing on indie films Tokyo (Theater Shinjuku). Seems like, once again, Matsuo managed to capture something more than just sex on his cameras.

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Athough I haven't been so impressed with Ryuichi Hiroki recently, this sounds semi-interesting:

Shota Sometani and Atsuko Maeda to star in Ryuichi Hiroki's "Sayonara Kabukicho"

- http://eigapedia.com/blog/shota-sometani-and-atsuko-maeda-to-star-in-ryuichi-hirokis-sayonara-kabukicho

Written by Haruhiko Arai, who has scripted many wonderful films like Distant Thunder, Oh Women! A Dirty Song, Tragedy of W, Vibrator, It's Only Talk). A bit less excited about the cast, although Maeda proved in Moratorium Tamako that she can be a rather good actress.

January 2015 release.

(Empty) Website:

http://www.sayonara-kabukicho.com/

kabukicho_zps48b45efa.jpg

Review:

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/kabukicho-love-hotel-sayonara-kabukicho-730099

Also, Hiroki was publicly complaining about Maeda not doing any nudity in the film a while back

http://www.asagei.com/25269 (in Japanese)

Sad but expected. Maeda 1, Male Audiences 0 :mad:

(and perhaps Maeda 1, Common Sense 0, considering this is a film about love hotels and sex...)

Twitch review:

http://twitchfilm.com/2014/10/busan-2014-review-kabukicho-love-hotel-a-raunchy-charmer.html

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Japan's Oscar candidate for 2015, The Light Shines Only There (そこのみにて光輝く 豪華版 / Soko nomi nite hikari kagayaku), is coming out on Japanese DVD and BD November 14, 2014 with English subs

light.jpg

Site:

http://hikarikagayaku.jp/

Trailer:

r4b-qU4_Pl0

Japan Times Review:

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/culture/2014/04/24/films/film-reviews/soko-nomi-nite-hikari-kagayaku-light-shines/

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Lady Battle Cop, Crime Hunter and some others are already coming to DVD later this year.

Presumably with no English subs right? That's a real shame, back when I lived in Tokyo hanging out at the dedicated V-cinema section in Tsutaya was one of my favorite past times! In January it'll be 3 years since I returned to "the real world", and sadly I find I've lost the ability to watch Japanese movies without English subtitles and more or less understand 90% of what's going on. 'Manila Gokudo Senso' looks amazing though.

Japan's Oscar candidate for 2015, The Light Shines Only There (そこのみにて光輝く 豪華版 / Soko nomi nite hikari kagayaku), is coming out on Japanese DVD and BD November 14, 2014 with English subs

Takuma have you seen this one? The synopsis sounds like it has similar themes to 'Himizu', curious to know if it's worth checking out.

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Presumably with no English subs right? That's a real shame, back when I lived in Tokyo hanging out at the dedicated V-cinema section in Tsutaya was one of my favorite past times! In January it'll be 3 years since I returned to "the real world", and sadly I find I've lost the ability to watch Japanese movies without English subtitles and more or less understand 90% of what's going on. 'Manila Gokudo Senso' looks amazing though.

No subs unfortunately.

Laputa Asagaya is currently having a V-Cinema retro in Tokyo... which I find a bit ironic. Theatrical retro for V-Cinema movies? :tongue: Anyway, the selection is pretty amazing (Lady Battle Cop, The Fighting King, Manila Gokudo Senso etc.).

Takuma have you seen this one? The synopsis sounds like it has similar themes to 'Himizu', curious to know if it's worth checking out.

I haven't seen it but I've head good things about it.

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夜だから (Night, Because)

This looks interesting. I really don't know what's it gonna be like, but both the site and the trailer are oddly intriguing. The R18 rating only adds to the interest. Directed by Kouki Fukayama. Opens in Tokyo next month.

Trailer

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Site:

http://jillmotion.com/night.because/

nigh1.jpgnigh2.jpg

nigh3.jpg

nigh4.jpg

nigh6.jpg

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Here's an odd one: Chonoryoku kenkyubu no 3 nin. A harmless looking idol film project starring some Nogizaka 46 members but directed by Nobuhiro Yamashita and co-written by Kosuke Mukai (who has written all Yamashita classics) and pink director Shinji Imaoka (who also wrote one of Yamashita's earlier films)! WTF!

Trailer:

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Opens in December. Will go see it.

Yamashita was no doubt the best director working in Japan about 10 years ago. He made absolutely fantastic slacker films - the best the genre has ever seen. Ramblers (Realism no yado) (2003) especially is so good there's no words to describe how amazingly good it is (I've seen it 7 or 8 times and consider it the second best Japanese film of the 2000's, after Love Exposure). Yamashita has often been compared to Aki Kaurismäki but the comparison is not quite fair. Both men love silent losers but Kaurismäki has a tendency to be mean and feast in misery. Yamashita on the other hand loves his testicle-faced losers and always treats them with utmost sympathy. His protagonists are usually played by Hiroshi Yamamoto, a fantastic actor who is at his best when under-reacting to all the incredibly unlikely misfortunes life continuously throws at him.

Yamashita also made two other great slacker films - Hazy Life (1999) and No One's Ark (2002) - and one great drama based on ero manga (Cream Lemon, 2004) before going mainstream with Linda Linda Linda (2005) which is a rare gem of a mainstream film. It's a total crowd pleaser, but directed with the finesse of a slacker specialist and still full of Yamashita's trademark quiet humor. After that Yamashita also made the excellent black comedy / drama Matsugane Potshot Affair, which is totally not suitable for mainsteam audiences, and the mainstream friendly and gorgeously cinematographed small village drama A Gentle Breeze in the Village (2007), before running out of work for a long time.

He's back now, and although not at the level of his masterpieces, still making very nice films like Tamako in Moratorium (2013).

Hazy Life (Hiroshi Yamamoto and Teppei Uda)

Hazyseikatsu.jpg

Hazy Life: every damn stranger on the street wants to touch Yamamoto's hair. Typical Yamashita humor

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No One's Ark: Yamamoto once again perfectly cast:

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Ramblers: two men trapped in a God forsaken small town that is trying to suck the life out of them

ramb2.jpg

Ramblers: Yamamoto in the bus

ramb1.jpg

Linda Linda Linda: bus shots work in mainstream, too

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Lovely behind the scenes footage from Linda Linda Linda

linda3R2J11.jpg

Matsugane Potshot Affair: a little boy finds a dead woman in the snow. He of course stars touching her boobs instead of getting help

Matsuga.jpg

Matsugane: we later discover she wasn't dead. She recovered in the morgue

Matsuga2.jpg

A Gentle Breeze in the Village: mainstream again

tenne4.jpg

A Gentle Breeze in the Village: absolutely lovely visuals

tenne5.jpg

Tamako in Moratorium: return to slacker cinema (well, Drudgery Train was also). Atsuko Maeda makes unexpectedly good Yamashita heroine

mora1.jpg

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Finally got to see Chotto kawaii Iron Maiden (The Torture Club) on VoD. Let me quote for a brief introduction first:

Noriko Kijima, a gravure idol best known for winning the Grand Prix of Miss East Sports 2012, will be starring in a live-action adaptation of Makoto Fukami and Alpha AlfLayla's BDSM fetish manga Chotto Kawaii Iron Maiden, which will include scenes of full nudity. Fellow gravure idol Haruna Yoshizumi will make her film debut as Kijima's co-star.

The manga was originally serialized in Monthly Young Ace. The story revolves around a secret "torture club" at a prestigious girls' high school in which students engage in various forms of discipline and torture on a daily basis for the purpose of spy training. Upon entering the school, Kijima's character Yuzuki is immediately recruited to the club by an older student named Aoi (Yoshizumi) who wants to get Yuzuki in on the action.

- http://eigapedia.com/blog/noriko-kijima-to-star-in-live-action-chotto-kawaii-iron-maiden

AisRuxQMGi4

I saw the R18 version (10 min longer) and I gotta say it's quite underwhelming. The first 60 min somewhat kept my interest, but after that I started looking for the fast forward button. It's a lesbian love story with some soft torture/bondage, plenty of nudity, and a storyline that just goes on for too long (107 min!). The problem is the lesbian melodrama isn't really going to engage anyone. In this sense the film reminded me of Noboru Iguchi, who also tends to imagine that people are interested in the serious drama that he often insers at the end of in his otherwise whacky movies. It's a shame, director Kota Yoshida can actually be a masterful drama director at times (Sumida-ku Kyôjima 3-chôme, 2010) but none of that is visible here.

I gotta say though, Noriko Kijima was much cuter than I remembered. And she does full frontal nudity thoughout the film! There's also another lead girl who "gives her all", but the rest fall into the gravute idol category, meaning they find ways to be naked yet somehow cover the strategic bits.

There's quite a bit of below-the-belt nudity in the film, ranging from non-sex scenes with uncensored pubic hair galore to sex scenes with very thin mosaic (so thin that at first I thought the camera was just off-focus). Some people who saw the R15 theatrical / festival version mentioned "censorship strawberries" that appear in the image, but no such thingies are in the R18 version. In fact, there's even something that looks like a fake-pussy in a very dark shot (there's certainly some flesh between her fingers...) that they miraculously got away with uncensored.

Summary: It would be hard to argue against of you wanted to see the film just to enjoy naked Noriko Kijima, but there isn't much else to write home out. It's not a terrible movie; it's just not very interesting one. The film also looks quite digital, but at least it's high quality digital so it's not much of a problem.

Interesting note: Not a single male is ever seen in the movie, not even in the background!

Occasional stylish shot.

chotto1.jpg

Nori-chan is really hot

chotto2.jpg

Shower slapping

chotto4.jpg

This is probably the funniest torture scene but I won't spoil it

chotto5.jpg

If I posted the screencap I took a few seconds later, you could see her boobs.

chotto6.jpg

Sorry, I can't really post pictures from the torture scenes, or even the film's chirashi poster, because they would violate the forum's nudity policy.

The film's release strategy follows the exact same path as Red x Pink (Girl's Blood). R15 version in theaters, followed by over-priced R18 VoD. The rental version comes one month later but is only the R15 version. Retail releases include R15 DVD, over-priced R18 Special Edition DVD with both versions and an even more over-priced R18 Special Edition BD with both versions but only the R18 version in HD. Yes, it's confusing as hell and yes, you cannot see the R18-version without playing premium price.

Japanese DVD and BD will be released November 21, 2014.

kawa2.jpg

BD Box

- Disc 1: R18 version (BD)

- Disc 2: R15 version (DVD)

- Disc 3: Bonus materials (120 min) (DVD)

DVD Box

- Disc 1: R18 version (DVD)

- Disc 2: R15 version (DVD)

- Disc 3: Bonus materials (120 min) (DVD)

Standard Edition DVD

- Disc 1: R15 version (DVD)

Even the artwork is nearly identical to Red x Pink...

51FfdClN4mL_zps19273f5f.jpg

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Athough I haven't been so impressed with Ryuichi Hiroki recently, this sounds semi-interesting:

Shota Sometani and Atsuko Maeda to star in Ryuichi Hiroki's "Sayonara Kabukicho"

- http://eigapedia.com/blog/shota-sometani-and-atsuko-maeda-to-star-in-ryuichi-hirokis-sayonara-kabukicho

Written by Haruhiko Arai, who has scripted many wonderful films like Distant Thunder, Oh Women! A Dirty Song, Tragedy of W, Vibrator, It's Only Talk). A bit less excited about the cast, although Maeda proved in Moratorium Tamako that she can be a rather good actress.

January 2015 release.

(Empty) Website:

http://www.sayonara-kabukicho.com/

kabukicho_zps48b45efa.jpg

Review:

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/kabukicho-love-hotel-sayonara-kabukicho-730099

Also, Hiroki was publicly complaining about Maeda not doing any nudity in the film a while back

http://www.asagei.com/25269 (in Japanese)

Sad but expected. Maeda 1, Male Audiences 0 :mad:

(and perhaps Maeda 1, Common Sense 0, considering this is a film about love hotels and sex...)

Trailer:

eDfX15GwzUk

Speaking of Hiroki, although I think It's Only Talk is his masterpiece, I really like L'amant (2004). It's been a slow burner; I've never considered it a masterpiece and it certainly has its weaknesses, but I find myself returning to that film once in every two or three years. The topic (a schoolgirl selling herself to three middle aged men for one year), the cast (Tomorowo Taguchi, Ren Ohsugi etc.), the mesmerizing lovely gray cinematogrpahy and the perfect soundtrack...

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And Hiroki's masterpiece: It's Only Talk (which, contrary to it's title, features little talk). Mesmerizing film + amazing performance by Shinobu Terajima (she's Junko Fuji's daughter, btw)

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US label Pink Eiga have just made a return to the world of physical media thanks to popular demand from fans. For those that aren't familiar, the label was first released in 2008 and specialized in releasing, well, Pink Eiga flicks on Region 1 DVD. They quickly gained a following thanks to extensive coverage from the likes of the now defunct hkflix, before gradually making the transition to VOD only thanks to the DVD market dropping out a couple of years after they hit the market. 2014 marks their return though, and one of their first releases is 'Prison Girl', a 2008 movie starring Asami from 'Gun Woman'. You can check out my review here -

http://www.cityonfire.com/prison-girl-2008-review/

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Japan's Oscar candidate for 2015, The Light Shines Only There (そこのみにて光輝く 豪華版 / Soko nomi nite hikari kagayaku), is coming out on Japanese DVD and BD November 14, 2014 with English subs

light.jpg

Site:

http://hikarikagayaku.jp/

Trailer:

r4b-qU4_Pl0

Japan Times Review:

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/culture/2014/04/24/films/film-reviews/soko-nomi-nite-hikari-kagayaku-light-shines/

The guys over at Twitch recently posted an interview with the director of the movie, Mipo O, check it out here -

http://twitchfilm.com/2014/12/director-mipo-o-speaks-on-academy-awards-submission-the-light-shines-only-there.html

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aipo1_zpsb0f5a9dc.jpg

I finally translated my Finnish review (in slightly shortened form) for Love's Whirlpool (Ai no uzu):

http://sketchesofcinema.wordpress.com/2014/06/07/loves-whirlpool/

In short: It's absolutely fantastic! Excellent study on group behavior, anonymity vs. openess, sex vs. feelings. Does many things contrary to expectations, including placing Mugi Kadowaki in the most sexually explicit role. The only flaw is a couple of slightly naive turns which make the film more romantic and less realistic. Visually stylish as hell.

Story summary:

"The story revolves around a nightly gathering in which a group of men and women attend an orgy event held in the back of a sex shop from midnight to 5am. This situation leads to much of their time being spent sitting around in bath towels having awkward conversations with each other as they decide who to have sex with."

- http://www.nipponcinema.com/blog/sosuke-ikematsu-and-mugi-kadowaki-to-star-in-sex-themed-film-ai-no-uzu

In case you don't know Miura, he's a controversial playright famous for driving his actors to the verge of nervous breakdown with his ultra-realistic and largely unscripted theater plays. Miura's previous films, Boys on the Run, was one of the more delighting Japanese films in recent years. It's a mainstream romantic comedy (or anti-romantic film with dislikable characters, as one reviewer put it) but has Miura's touch in it, resulting in a fresh romantic comedy with bite.

Trailer:

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Seems to have come out on English subbed HK DVD (no BD unfortunately)

aiu.jpg

Probably my favourite Japanese film of the year if you don't count The Tale of Iya.

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Here's an odd one (looks like it was literally a stage show, filmed, then turned into a feature). It's called Seven Souls in the Skull Castle.

It's being released by Ytinifni Pictures (through Allegro), on March 24th.

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Here's the trailer:

METYULrKZYk

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I went to see Sayonara Kabukicho (Kabukicho Love Hotel). This is exactly what I was hoping from Hiroki and Arai. A perfect mix of relatively mainstream friendly bittersweet drama and indie sensibilities. Also, it's Hiroki back at urban cinema which is what he excels at (e.g. his masterpiece It's Only Talk, also scripted by Arai). Very well captured city atmosphere, too.

There's about half dozen stories, all taking place in a love hotel in Kabukicho during the course of one day and night. It's a lot of characters, but their stories are served as small fragments sprinkled around the main narrative, which follows the the young manager (Shota Sometani) doing a very long shift in the hotel. As a result, it doesn't even feel episodic. It's a very good script by Arai.

Also, I only now realized how good Hiroki is at directing his cast. Fine performances by everyone, including Atsuko Maeda. Although Hiroki complained publicly about Maeda not going topless I think that was the right decision because her performance thoroughly fine and it would've been a shame if it had been overshadowed by her boobs. The rest of the cast do the on-screen sex and nudity, but it's all depicted with humour and compassion. Of course, for cinematic reasons the hotel's customer base isn't exactly your average young and middle aged couples (but rather a Korean prostitute working her last day in Japan, an AV crew, a young yakuza etc.) but none of that usual narrow minded preaching is here to be found.

Easily Hiroki's best film in nearly 10 years from the ones I've seen. And the ending scene is just lovely. I wouldn't mind seeing the film again immediately.

Oh, and Sometani! This guy is 22 years old and during the past four years he has worked with Sion Sono (twice), Takashi Miike (twice), Ryuchi Hiroki, Sogo Ishii, Koji Wakamatsu, Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Shinji Aoyama. He just keeps appearing in interesting films one after another, and he's always good.

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Schilling's review is also pretty much spot on:

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/culture/2015/01/21/films/film-reviews/sayonara-kabukicho-life-love-shinjukus-red-light-district/#.VMe8vy5-Dk8

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I watched Suicide Club by Sion Sono the other night, wtf did I just watch???:tongue: I watched it with my Japanese gf who was just as confused as I was, so I believe nothing was lost in translation. Now I got that song that gay guy broke out in the middle of the movie in my head, have to say I didn't see that coming lol.

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I watched Suicide Club by Sion Sono the other night, wtf did I just watch???:tongue: I watched it with my Japanese gf who was just as confused as I was, so I believe nothing was lost in translation. Now I got that song that gay guy broke out in the middle of the movie in my head, have to say I didn't see that coming lol.

What were you confused with? I'll try to answer your questions if I can.

It's one of the most un / misunderstood films I know of, although I think it makes pretty much sense if you think about it. But you need to be familiar with a lot of aspects of Japanese culture and life before you can even try to understand half of it...Being Japanese doesn't always help either, because the film is making very cruel fun of Japanese people, and a lot of Japanese people were offended by it. You need to approach it from an outsider's perspective to some extent, like Sono did. He wrote it when he was living in San Francisco.

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Just watched Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964, original Japanese version).

Had very vague memories of seeing this a few years ago (managed to download some German version). Watching the original movie in its original form, I liked it okay. I gotta be honest and say I'm not too fond of Mothra (she doesn't seem like a very threatening monster IMO), but she has a very developped backstory and that's fairly unusual for this type of films - most of the time, these monsters seem to drop out of nowhere (King Ghidorah for instance is really badass, but he has next to no backstory except that he's a three-headed dragon from space). Strangely enough, I still got the Rebirth Of Mothra trilogy where she is the main protagonist... Go figure.

One element that's great in the movie is the treatment of Godzilla: his entrance is spectacular, he looks fierce (even in the 1965 movie Invasion Of Astro-Monster they seem to have toned down his more agressive look - and is it me or does it look like there's something protecting his eyes ? I noticed there seemed to be something covering his eyes) and is clearly radioactive (besides this film and the very first one, I don't recall many Godzilla movies addressing the radiations linked to the monster...). However, he seems pretty clumsy, constantly tripping on something (like when he destroys the castle in Nagoya which I suppose is a real-life landmark; like the castle that's destroyed in Godzilla Raids Again - I recall looking it up on the Web and while I don't remember its name, there's definitely a castle like the one Godzilla and Angilas destroy near Osaka) or getting his tail caught in everything - sure it's more realistic in terms of how a real animal would move, but it's a bit overdone at times IMO.

I wouldn't put it among my very favorite Kaiju movies, but the depiction of Godzilla (minus the clumsiness), the solid FX (I've rarely seen this many sequences with people and the monsters together on screen in just one same movie) and the epic score (Akira Ifukube is one of my favorite soundtrack composers just because of this movie's great theme, and the "Mothra song" is nice, though it made me mad that everything in the movie is subbed EXCEPT for the song, as I wanted to know what the lyrics meant - assuming it's an actual language and not some invented language spoken only on Infant Island, which I guess is possible) are some really solid material. So this could make it reach the first half of my ranking I guess.

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Daigo Matsui's latest film Watashitachi no haa haa (私たちのハァハァ) (Luv Ya Hun!) (2015) was the best movie in Yubari this year! A wonderful youth film following 4 high school girls who run from home in Kitakyushu to attend a concert on the other side of the country in Tokyo. They actually try to ride bicycle to Tokyo but they only manage to get till Hiroshima; then they have to start thinking how to manage and finance the remaining 800 kilometres. They film everything on video camera, too, so about half of the film is POV.

It's a wonderful film with terrific young actresses and shot from the youth's point of view. That's something you don't really see in Western youth movies. Western youth movies tend to be somewhat conservative, even the great ones like Boyhood or Blue is the Warmest Colour, in that they feel like a grown up director looking back at childhood and telling a tale that has some kind of lesson to teach. At the end of the film the characters have always grown up and learned from their mistakes. Both the positives and the negatives of youth are shown. Watashitachi no haa haa, and some other Asian films, dare to take the opposite approach. They're basically coming of age films without the coming of age part. You might consider them a bit dangerous in that sense, e.g. Watashitachi no haa haa doesn't really judge its protagonists who run from home and try a ridiculous stunt but instead shares their excitement with the viewer. It leaves most of the moral judgement for the viewer.

You could compare Watashitachi no haa haa to

(2014), which was in Yubari last year, and which was about a group of high school girls deciding to get pregnant together. However, Watashitachi no haa haa is better acted, more exciting and the cinematography is much better. Other, though more distant, comparison points would be All About Lily Chou Chou and Love & Pop. If you liked About Lily Chou Chou and Love & Pop (two of the three best Japanese youth films ever made) you should love Watashitachi no haa haa. My friend also brought up Taifu Club (the third of the three best Japanese youth films) but I didn't really see much similarity.

Site (empty): http://haa-haa.jp/

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Set for Summer 2015 release.

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