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Takuma

Miscellaneous Japanese Cinema Thread

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Sogo Ishii hasn't been so interesting in the recent years (although I'm one of the few people who rather enjoyed Isn't Anyone Alive?) but these stills for his new film That's It (Soredake) sure have an old school Ishii wibe to them!

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- http://rooftop.cc/news/2015/03/05060000.php

And yes, that's Shota Sometani. That guy's 22 years old and he has already worked with Sion Sono (three times), Sogo Ishii (twice), Takashi Miike (twice), Koji Wakamatsu, Ryuichi Hiroki, Shinji Aoyama, Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Takahisa Zeze, just to mention a few examples. Damn...

Opens May 27th

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And another Yamashita coming in Fabruary, Misono Universe, starring Subaru Shibuya and Fumi Nikaido.

Trailer in now on the official website (didn't work on Firefox for me, Internet Explorer plays in fine)

- http://misono.gaga.ne.jp/

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Went to see it last weekend. Mini-review below:

Misono Universe (Japan, 2015) [DCP]

Nobuhiro Yamashita is one of the few Japanese indie favourites who never lost their distinctive style even after going mainstream. In fact, he appears to be unable to make a bad movie. Misono Universe is a pure crown pleaser on the surface - a gangster with a memory loss becomes a pop star after he is taken in by a small band - but Yamashita helms it with his usual deadpan humour, slow pace and attention to detail. He does a lot of small things against mainstream norms, e.g. the short beating in the beginning leaves the protagonist's face scarred for the rest of the film. As a whole, however, probably due to the script penned by Tomoe Kanno instead of Kosuke Mukai, the film is not a good as Yamashita's other movies. Pop star Subaru Shibutani is decent in the lead role, but it's the hugely talented Fumi Nikaido who is the real star of the film. Her acting is such a pleasure to follow even in scenes where supposedly nothing is happening.

Schilling makes some good points, too.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/culture/2015/02/11/films/film-reviews/misono-universe-screaming-gutter-stars/#.VPsrAS5-Dk8

Unfortunately I missed Chonoryoku kenkyubu no 3 nin. It was playing around Christmas and I just couldn't find the time.

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wow, I was browsing through my mini review files and realized I never posted some of this stuff... here's one review from the 2013 Yubari fest:

Fuck Me to the Moon (2013)

The best Japanese slacker comedy since Nobuhiro Yamashita’s early 2000’s masterpieces? Probably yes!

Fuck Me to the Moon follows two dumbass slackers and part time musicians whose work finds little success among club audiences. “Mass audiences don’t understand art”, they tell themselves. Then one night they stumble across a sexy lady “Princess Kaguya” who, to their surprise, wants to move in with them. The guys think they're gonna score, but as it turns out, everyone except them seems to be scoring with her. The poor guys eventually make a deal with her: they'll get their share if they can compose music that will make her come.

It was stated in the film’s official promotional materials that the film will make the audience laugh, cry, and give them an erection. I'm not sure about crying, but the other two would be quite accurate. However, the film is far less coarse than you might expect. With its lovable antiheroes and all-around romantics it’s quite sweet, in fact.

Fuck Me to the Moon premiered in Moosic Lab, which is an interesting project focusing on young filmmakers who believe in the power of cinema as well as that of music. Moosic Lab is basically a film festival that tours Japan, starting from Tokyo and then progressing to other cities like Osaka. It's been held since 2012 and was originally inspired by the films of Yi Irie. Fuck Me to the Moon, too, is packed with great music by the band Mikeneko Homeless.

The storyline– two guys and a girl – is hardly original, though. The genre conventions, however, only distract towards the end, and even then the final few scenes are excellent. And for those were wondering, “Princess Kaguya” is indeed a reference to the old fairytale of a princess who gives impossible tasks for men who fall for her.

Female lead Shoko Akiyama deserves an extra mention. She is, in fact, an AV actress. Nevertheless, her performance is quite charming. She was the third AV performer in 2013 whose mainstream film (either as actress or as director) was nominated for the Grand Prix at the Yubari Film Fest (the other two were the Gun Woman actress Asami, and Kept director Maki Mizui).

It’s interesting how mainstream AV stars have become in Japan, being a rather common sight in indie dramas, splatter films, late night TV dramas, and as media personalities. Sora Aoi (whose Hong Kong thriller Revenge: A Love Story played quite widely around the world), Mihiro (who acted in Yu Irie’s Saitama Rappers) and Aino Kishi (who was charming in the romantic comedy Rubbers) are just a few further examples.

Because of some storyline clichés Fuck Me to the Moon isn’t quite on par with Nobuhiro Yamashita’s early minimalist masterworks, but it’s certainly in the same alley. It's a very enjoyable romantic slacker comedy with great soundtrack and good charcatres, and should appeal to relatively wide audience as well. Begs for a DVD release.

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(screencaps from the trailer)

trailer:

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Another review I found in my files that I believe I've never posted. I must have written this more than 4 years ago because I sold the DVD in 2011 or 2012...

Bara no hyoteki (Target) (1980)

Yusaku Matsuda made one of his biggest hits with the hugely popular but somewhat underwhelming series of Yugi/Game –action films (1978-1979). After the final installment in 1979, Toei Central and director Toru Murakawa went on to deliver another film in the same vein, this time starring rocker turned actor Hiroshi Tachi.

Much like with the Matsuda trilogy, the film is a sloppily written action drama selling itself with stylish poster and charismatic star. It even has a Matsuda cameo, and a theatrical trailer that utilized the exact same still photos technique that was used for Matsuda’s The Execution Game (1979) trailer.

The storyline follows a double-crossed conman (Tachi) who goes after what rightfully belongs to him after being released from prison. Typical to Toei Central productions, action scenes are few and far between, and the film assumes cliché melodrama is enough to hold the viewer’s interest.

Leading star Tachi is the film’s asset. Tachi gave several good performances in the late 70’s, including school gang boss in Classroom of Terror, and a wounded gangster in Hell’s Angels: Red Roar, where his charisma and intensity overcame his somewhat limited repertoire. Bara no hyoteki is no exception.

Overall Bara no hyoteki is by no means a terrible film – it’s just an underwhelming one. It’s a relic from the era when Toei’s action cinema was moving away from the exploitative 70’s mayhem, yet did not quite manage to compensate the lack of action with good storylines or interesting characters.

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Trailer (superb):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYjyOT2td7U

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Sogo Ishii hasn't been so interesting in the recent years (although I'm one of the few people who rather enjoyed Isn't Anyone Alive?) but these stills for his new film That's It (Soredake) sure have an old school Ishii wibe to them!

And yes, that's Shota Sometani. That guy's 22 years old and he has already worked with Sion Sono (three times), Sogo Ishii (twice), Takashi Miike (twice), Koji Wakamatsu, Ryuichi Hiroki, Shinji Aoyama, Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Takahisa Zeze, just to mention a few examples. Damn...

Opens May 27th

No trailer yet, but website + poster

- http://soredake.jp/

news_xlarge_soredake_postervisual.jpg

According to the poster the film's sound mix is "3 Channel Bazooka Sound"

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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

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Site:

http://hikarikagayaku.jp/

Trailer:

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Japan Times Review:

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

Korean-Japanese director Mipo Oh directs her third full length feature with 'The Light Shines Only There', which was Japan's submission to the Oscars last year.

The tale centers around 3 characters - a depressed former quarry-man played by Go Ayano, and his relationship with a sister and brother played by Chizuru Ikewaki and Masaki Suda, who live with their bed ridden father and exhausted mother in a ramshackle dwelling on the Hokkaido coastline.

'The Light Shines Only There' is far from cheeful viewing, all 3 characters are on the bottom of Japan's social ladder, with limited prospects and problematic histories. However like the title implies, despite the oppresive bleakness of their surroundings and seemingly dead end existence, through each other sometimes a small glimmer of light shines through, and the final implication is that this could be enough to justify carrying on.

The movie is based on a novel by Yasushi Sato, published in 1989, he commited suicide a year later. This fact alone adds weight to the movies tone, which constantly borders on portraying the characters as hopeless in their destinies. However it's a credit to both Oh & scriptwriter Ryo Takada, along with the actors portrayals, that eventually all three of them get under our skin, and as an audience we're rooting for something good to happen for them, to get some kind of break, as unlikely as the circumstances seem.

There's no such thing as a happy ending in 'The Light Shines Only There', at least not in the conventional sense. However in place of everyone walking off into a glorious sunset, we're left with the image that perhaps not everyone needs one, and that maybe for those who have been battered and bruised by life, a few of its beams are enough,

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After Watashitachi no haa haa I naturally rushed to see Matsui's earlier film Wonderful World End as soon as it opened here. Comment's below:

Wonderful World End (Japan, 2015)

A quiet 13 year old runaway goth-loli girl (Jun Aonami) falls in love with her idol, a 19 year old schoolgirl model / small time idol (Ai Hashimoto) who is running her own webcast from home. After a slight misunderstanding her boyfriend invites the young fan to their home to stay, which starts eating out their relationship.

This film somewhat resembles another similarly themed - and also music driven - movie: The End of the World and the Cat's Disappearance. Wonderful World End, however, is a more intimate, quiet and realistic film, minus the ending which goes to Takashi Miike territory.

Ai Hashimoto is pretty good in the lead as a girl who is mainly interested in her own looks, and the film makes some good points about youth, social media and idol culture, despite not being quite exceptional in any way. Director Daigo Matsui made himself an interesting name with the excellent schoolgirl drama Luv Ya Hun (to be released later in 2015). This one isn't as good, but it's still decent.

The film is based on two highly cinematic music videos by Seiko Ohmori, both directed by Matsui, both starring the film's cast, and both released in 2013. Some of that that footage is also used in the film, plus Ohmori appears in the film as herself in a concert scene.

Music Video 1: Kimi to eiga:

https://youtu.be/-mvVmOdRlIY

Music Video 2: Midnight Seijun Isei Kouyuu

https://youtu.be/WdQ6wmap8U4

Some screencaps from the trailer:

The film is a bit uneven visually, but at times it looks very nice

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Seiko Ohmori

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I loved this scene. Reminded me of Jun Ichikawa's How to Become Myself

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Site:

http://ww-end.com/

Trailer:

ww.jpg

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Tokyo Mukokuseki Shoujo (東京無国籍少女), a new film by Mamoru Oshii coming July 25. Apparently a remake of Kentaro Yamagishi's short film of the same title (2012). Stars Nana Seino.

Trailer:

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Trailer for the original short:

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Site:

http://mukokuseki-movie.com/

Via Brian Ruh

- https://twitter.com/animeresearch/status/593573519302209536

- https://twitter.com/animeresearch/status/593573816540000256

Doesn't look too good to me, but let's see.

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"Oh my! Nikkatsu are "rebooting" their Roman Porno label next year, screening classics & producing new films by directors new to the genre."

- https://twitter.com/ryuganji/status/593958595835736064

Not too interested in new films, but hopefully this means new DVD releases of some classics that aren't available yet. About half of my favourite Roman Porno films are missing on DVD (e.g. Female Delinquent, Rape Ceremony, Red Violation...) or only available on OOP DVD (Oh Women! A Dirty Song, Crazed Fruit...).

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Makeup Room

I discussed this film before in the Yubari thread. It's nice seeing how things are turning out for it. Kei Morikawa, a veteran of more than 1000 porn films, directed this hilarious peek behind the scenes of an AV shoot (mostly starring real AV stars) with no great expectations for success. However, not did the film only won Grand Prix at Yubari, but it also got immediately picked up by Third Window Film's Adam Torel who is now pushing it to international film fests.

I bet Morikawa and star Riri Kuribayashi didn't expect a few months ago that they'd soon be in Italy in front of a 1200+ crowd and Italian newspapers writing about them.

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All photos via Third Window Films

Here's what I wrote about the film a few months ago:

Makeup Room (Japan, 2015) [Yubari Fanta] - 4/5

This year's Yubari Grand Prix went to AV veteran Kei Morikawa, whose resume contains more than a 1000 porn films. Makeup Room, one of his first mainstream releases, is an utterly hilarious look behind the scenes of a porn shoot. The movie, which takes place entirely in one room, follows a makeup artist who is trying to prepare the female stars on time for the shoot that is taking place in the next room. However, the day escalates into an apocalyptic farce when everything imaginable goes wrong. Lead star Aki Morita aside, the cast is made up of real AV stars. It's a very funny, well made film that gets funnier scene by scene. And yes, there's boobs. From the typically cynical Western perspective, however, it is surprising how the AV industry is presented in a very positive light: chaotic shoots aside, people are nice and working is rather fun. Director Morikawa said he never even dreamed of winning the main price, let alone international recognition. That's exactly what the film is now heading for with UK's Third Window Films prepping it for UK release and pushing it to international film festivals.

Here's Twitch review:

http://twitchfilm.com/2015/04/udine-2015-review-make-room-makes-perfect-use-of-its-limited-location.html

And here's some of my own photos from Yubari

From the screening. Morikawa brought the entire cast and I couldn't fit more than half of them in the frame...

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Awards ceremony

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The man in the middle is of course Yoshihiro Nishimura, who was a member of the jury

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I ran into the director on the street one night in Yubari with a few friends, btw. Seemed like a nice guy. He was very happy to hear that we all loved his film.

* as for the film's title, it's currently doing rounds with the Japanese-English title メイクルーム (Make Room) though the correct English-English title should be Makeup Room.

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Here's a very interesting post regarding film distribution by Third Window Films' Adam Torel:

Actually, to be fair many of those directors you have mentioned we were the first to release their titles in the West and at the time they were not bankable names and their film rights were incredibly cheap. For Sion Sono we paid almost nothing for Love Exposure and titles like Himizu and Cold Fish we were the first to release them so didn't pay very much. In fact we were actually the first in the world, and that includes Japan, to release Cold Fish on home video...

Same goes for Tetsuya Nakashima. We were the first to release both Memories of Matsuko and Confessions in the West and therefore picked them up before their prices rose. In fact, our sleeve designs for Confessions, Himizu and Love Exposure were used by nearly all other territories for their releases, with Confessions used in all Western releases (Spain, Italy, Germany, etc) and Himizu and Love Exposure not just used in Western territories, but even the Japanese video releases!!

Nowadays we cannot afford to release the latest films from directors like Sion Sono and Tetsuya Nakashima, but when we first started releasing them we picked them up for very cheap as they were not as well known in the West and therefore we were actually the ones who took risks on them before other distribution companies came in and escalated the prices to a point where we could no longer compete...

In fact it can be much harder with the bigger titles, as usually these are titles not just with higher price tags, but with releases in other territories with english subtitles, so many people on here will go to sites like Yesasia and buy the Korean or Hong Kong releases before we have the chance to release overseas, and it's not easy to convince a sales agent that this is the case...

The titles which do best for us are usually unknown ones as despite their unknown title which assumes there's a larger risk, the prices on them can usually be that 10 can be bought for the price of a Miike film or a big Korean blockbuster like FRIEND 2. Titles like SHADY and GREATFUL DEAD are perfect examples of quality films that have no other releases in the world, plus cost next to nothing to acquire so the risk is infinitely less. Most of our biggest sellers have been titles or thought of as hard-sell genres such as 'Fine, Totally Fine', 'Funuke: Show Some Love You Losers', 'Turtles are Surprisingly Fast Swimmers', 'Adrift in Tokyo', 'Fish Story', 'Sawako Decides', yet titles like LESSON OF EVIL which you'd imagine would have all the necessary box-office potential don't make money as they're much more expensive to license and have already found their audience due to releases overseas...

- http://forum.blu-ray.com/showpost.php?p=10426456&postcount=1154

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Most of our biggest sellers have been titles or thought of as hard-sell genres such as 'Fine, Totally Fine', 'Funuke: Show Some Love You Losers', 'Turtles are Surprisingly Fast Swimmers', 'Adrift in Tokyo', 'Fish Story', 'Sawako Decides', yet titles like LESSON OF EVIL which you'd imagine would have all the necessary box-office potential don't make money as they're much more expensive to license and have already found their audience due to releases overseas...

Great find Takuma, and a really interesting and insighful read.

It's ironic, as I received the Third Window Films newsletter at the beginning of this month that had a special offer to use on their website.

Just as the article suggests, the big titles that they have in their catalogue I'd already purchased on other labels, however I did pick up 'Confessions of a Dog', 'Teenage Hooker Became a Killing Machine' and the Miki Satoshi Collection ('Tokyo Story', 'Turtles are Surprisingly Fast Swimmers' and 'Instant Swamp')...all of which caught my eye exactly because I'd never heard of them before.

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Sogo Ishii hasn't been so interesting in the recent years (although I'm one of the few people who rather enjoyed Isn't Anyone Alive?) but these stills for his new film That's It (Soredake) sure have an old school Ishii wibe to them!

And yes, that's Shota Sometani. That guy's 22 years old and he has already worked with Sion Sono (three times), Sogo Ishii (twice), Takashi Miike (twice), Koji Wakamatsu, Ryuichi Hiroki, Shinji Aoyama, Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Takahisa Zeze, just to mention a few examples. Damn...

Opens May 27th

No trailer yet, but website + poster

- http://soredake.jp/

news_xlarge_soredake_postervisual.jpg

According to the poster the film's sound mix is "3 Channel Bazooka Sound"

Trailer for That's It (Soredake)!

7Kq2tTbpFwE

Gonna go see this as soon as it opens.

Saw this tonight. After the first 15 minutes everyone in the audience were like:

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In other words, it was rocking everyone's socks off.

It does slow down after that, and frankly you could lose 20 minutes from the middle part. Towards the end it picks up again and comes close to greatness until the crappy gun and blood CGI kinda takes you out of it.

But it's not a bad movie. I think I'd watch the whole thing again just for the first 15 min. That's the Ishii who gave us Crazy Thunder Road and Shuffle there.

Needless to say Shota Sometani is fine in the movie. He's now what Tadanobu Asano was 12 years ago. Erina Mizuno is good, too, and pretty. And the bazooka sound and the music by Blood Thirsty Butchers rocks.

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Did I never write anything about Tetsuichiro Tsuta's shot on 35mm epic The Tale of Iya? Anyway, the Japanese BD is coming out August 4th, and it will contain English subs.

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As for the film, let me copy my old comments from another board:

My God, this was fantastic! Schilling put it perfectly when he described it as "magical realism in the mountains". Haunting, meaningful and breathtakingly beautiful. I never thought Rina Takeda could be this good. Some small flaws, like weaker ending, and lesser acting but a foreign actor, but this something that will stay in your mind for a long time. I didn't think Japanese cinema could still produce something this epic.

First trailer:

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Second trailer:

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and a few reviews:

"A work of instant and startling brilliance"

- http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/filmreviews/10396797/The-Tale-of-Iya-review.html

"A modern classic of Japanese cinema"

- http://www.milngavieherald.co.uk/what-s-on/leisure/move-review-the-tale-of-iya-1-3365553

"A film of serene and organic beauty"

- http://www.soundonsight.org/gff-2014-the-tale-of-iya-is-a-film-of-serene-and-organic-beauty/

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Did I never write anything about Tetsuichiro Tsuta's shot on 35mm epic The Tale of Iya? Anyway, the Japanese BD is coming out August 4th, and it will contain English subs.

You did! But for reasons known only to yourself, you decided to write about it in the 'Danger Dolls' thread :tongue: -

http://www.kungfucinema.com/forums/showthread.php?t=21142

If it's going to be an English subtitled DVD, then count me in for a purchase.

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Wow, this was real surprise! I had almost no expectation for this... I mean, how good can a zero budget film taking place in a container, directed by the frequently disappointing Yudai Yamaguchi (Yakuza Weapon, Deadball), be?

Well, so good that I was nearly moved the tears a few times and the ending blew my mind. I came damn close to rating this 4.5/5 immediately after the ending, though 4/5 would be the more accurate overall rating.

Best viewed without knowing almost anything about the story. Below is my non-spoiling mini-review.

Abductee (Japan, 2013) [DVD] – 4/5

A middle aged man wakes up in a steel container, all alone, tied up, with no idea who has abducted him, why, and where he's being taken. This is a minimalist gem from director Yudai Yamaguchi, who normally helms trashy exploitation comedies. Despite literally taking place in one container from start to finish the 96 minute movie doesn`t let the viewer off the hook even for moment. On the contrary, it`s an incredibly intense thriller with an intriguing mystery, lively camerawork, stylish score and terrific leading performance by Yoichi Nukumizu, who is the only actor in the movie for over 90% of the time. The ending will divide audiences to those who love it and those who hate it – I was firmly in former camp. What a surprise from mediocre-at-best director Yamaguchi.

Sadly, there doesn't seem to be an English subbed DVD anywhere. I viewed the Japanese DVD. Not much talk in this one; intermediate Japanese skills should get you through one this easily.

Note: The Japanese DVD onky contains a new cut of the film, with a new extended ending. The original ending, which was used in the festival print, is actually a bit better in my opinion. The new ending is about 90 seconds longer and a bit less mysterious. The original ending (with ending credits) is included on the DVD as an extra in flawless quality. If you knew how to edit DVDs, you could easily reconstruct the original cut simply by switching the ending scene. Sadly, I don't.

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I'm a little late with this, but:

Cannes: Toei Pitches Shunji Iwai Return to Live Action Film

- http://variety.com/2015/film/asia/shunji-iwai-return-to-live-action-1201498906/

"...Iwai set out a multi-seasonal shooting schedule to fulfill an ambition to shoot a film that captures the beauty of Japan’s four seasons. Lensing will wrap in August, with theatrical distribution in Japan set between February and April next year.

The story involves a couple, their online personas, jealousy, divorce and cynical manipulations...."

Very much looking forward to this. Swallowtail Butterfly and All About Lily Chou Chou are both among the 10 best movies ever made for me, and April Story is right behind them. Iwai's latest live action, Vampire, was very uneven but still fascinating. Interesting to see how the new film will turn out.

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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 Schoolgirl's Gestation (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.

 

And here we go: full trailer:

 

 

That's a pretty good trailer, especially the first 50 seconds until the CreepHyp song kicks in. If you like what you're seeing, you'll love the movie.

It's been a highly disappointing year for Japanese cinema so far. This is the only film that premered this year that I feel confident to call excellent. Some others were pretty good but had their flaws (Makeup Room, Love & Peace), or they actually premiered last year (e.g. Sayonara Kabukicho). Then there's been a long line of not-bad but still more or less underwhelming films like Yakuza Apocalypse, Real onigokko (Tag), That's It, etc. and some pretty bad ones (e.g. Shinjuku Swan, Torakage, Gonin Saga).

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And here's Schilling's somewhat conservative take on the film, which now seems to have a new silly English title Our Huff and Puff Journey
- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/culture/2015/09/09/films/film-reviews/schoolgirls-dubious-impulses-run-wild-huff-puff-journey/

 

 

 

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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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HK DVD came out Sept. 10

I don't know which version it is. The Japanese theatrical version actually had some mosaic added to it because Lee Eun-woo's body movement was apparently a bit too convincing for R15+. I assume the JP BD features this same version. I don't quite understand what good mosaic does when you don't see any naughty bits in the first place, but they, that's Japan for you. They did the same for Spring Breakers. Anyway, I believe the international festival print was uncensored. I'm not 100% sure, though.

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JP BD came out as well, without subs though.

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Edited by Takuma

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A new film by Eiji Uchida (Greatful Dead), produced by Third Window Films' Adam Torel *

Tetsuo is a lowlife. As a film director, he had an indie hit many years back, but refuses to go against his artistic integrity. One day, two new students come to his school: Minami, a naive girl from the countryside who wants to be an actress, and Ken, a scriptwriter. Tetsuo thinks Minami could be a real star, and Ken has a brilliant script that could relaunch his career as a director. With the help of an unsavory film producer, they strive to turn this project into something tangible, but Minami's ability starts to impress others, and Tetsuo's world soon falls apart.
- http://2015.tiff-jp.net/en/lineup/works.php?id=56

Trailer:

 

More at Twitch:
http://twitchfilm.com/2015/09/exclusive-directors-producers-are-all-lowlifes-proclaims-the-exclusive-new-trailer-for-uchida-eijis.html

* Earlier this year I tried super hard to venture to a new level by making my first 100% self-produced film! Selling half my personal collection of 60s vinyl and running crowdfunding campaigns in both the UK and Japan I could make the film 「下衆の愛」- 'Lowlife Love' possible!
- https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10153697888977425&set=a.10150273391212425.374442.724467424&type=3&theater

 
 
Edited by Takuma

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Is the film worth more than the title implies? 100 Yen Love!

 

https://filmmomaticreviews.wordpress.com/2015/09/23/movie-review-100-yen-love/

 

Also visit my review site, like and follow on FaceBook (https://www.facebook.com/FilmMomatic) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/FilmMomatic) for more reviews!

Edited by FilmMomatic

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