A film by Kôji Fukada
Cast : Mariko Tsutsui, Tadanobu Asano, Kanji Furutachi
Cannes un Certain Regard award winning Japanese psychological thriller about a recently released prisoner named Kusataro Yasaka who shows up at his friend shop well let’s just say to say hi. Well of course there is more to it than that.
Toshio has spent the last 8-10 years building his life, having taken over his deceased father’s machine-shop business, gotten married to a lovely, quite innocent protestant wife Fumie ( Mariko Tsutsui ) and together with Fumie has come to have a 8 year old daughter named Hutaru (played by Momone Shinokawa).One day, at the front day of his shop, stands … Toshio’s friend Kusataro. Toshio give him a job and a place to stay at his house. That is the first mistake.
This film becomes a quirky comedy but becomes a sharp-edged drama of deceptions and secrets. It is a dark family drama where they will be a few twist along the way and what a beautifully well written story by the director himself. It is is master piece. The title here is Harmonium his daughter plays it but lack harmony as well as the relationship of the couple and pay attention that way later in the film you will see it again and the meaning will be slightly different. As the film goes on you will see this normal couple eating getting ready for work and taking the kid to school. But the couple is a little cold with each other. It feels like they are just there not saying much to each other. Until Kusataro shows up. Pay attention his he filmed this. Every thing has a meaning. The film is going to build up slowly and boom right in your face. Here is an edgy drama worth a look no disappointment here.Kôji Fukada knows how to tackle this subject, after all he is on familiar grounds.
A film by Makoto Shinkai
Cast: Ryûnosuke Kamiki, Mone Kamishiraishi, Ryô Narita
Shinkai Makoto’s dreamily emotional animation romance, the highest grossing film in Japan so far this year. Your Name is about a high school girl and boy, named Mitsuha (Mone Kamishiraishi) and Taki (Ryunosuke Kamiki) respectively, who wake up one day realising that their bodies have been swapped and they’ve never met each other before. Their bodies are not permanently switched, it happens 3-4 times a week on random. They reluctantly try their best to adapt to each other’s life following respective rules. After a while, Taki decides look for Mitsuha to meet her for the first time but as the film progresses, it starts to add a time-travelling supernatural element and the tense challenge of a natural disaster.
Tony surprise i found this story telling beautifully well done here and it has become a master piece. The body swap stories and been around for a long time but the director put some more element into it and in the second act there is an impressive twists. The body-swapping phenomenon are kept vague. I think it makes the mystery more of a compelling drama. It is quite spectacular toward the third act. And yes there is humour in there somewhere a nice touch and of course It’s so beautifully crafted and meticulously detailed.
A film by Naomi Kawase
Cast: Kirin Kiki, Masatoshi Nagase, Kyara Uchida
This jewel of emotions and poetry is perhaps the most accessible film by Naomi Kawase. He made the opening of the Un Certain Regard section of Cannes 2015.
Sentaro (Masatoshi Nagase) is the manager of a small bakery which specialises in a traditional Japanese pastry known as ‘dorayaki’. You see spring is here and Sentaro is unhappy, he goes to work like a machine, the job became mechanical to him and it is just an other day that he is going to dread. He chats with a young school girl who has her own problems, namely with an inattentive mother. One day an elderly woman Tokue (Kirin Kiki) shows up at the shop at asks for a job. He brush her off. But one day she return to give him some red bean to taste. When Sentaro decide to taste them he find himself surprise it is so good it persuades Sentaro to give her a chance.
The is film is based on the books by Tetsuya Akikawa, Kawase is is a story of 3 lost people who find each other of which Tokue will teach them about life but will have a sense of direction toward their own lives. The film takes us and teach us about the cooking of the beans it is a long tedious process. Tokue is trying to teach Sentaro about cooking the beans the odor, the scent, talking to the beans where they came from. Slowly as the story goes little by little the 3 characters has secrets that will be unraveled. You see it is 3 lost soul who found each other and who needed each other in order to move on to the next step. Life is a series of road that you will take from time to time. Also life is trying to tell you something and most people are not listening but Tokue as she gotten older has began to listen to it and to find her way to the other 2 lost soul’s life. Here is a poetic jewel of a film filled with emotion which at times will be a tear jerker, but hey! life is beautiful.
A film by Seijun Suzuki
Cast: Jô Shishido, Misako Watanabe, Tamio Karachi
Joji Mizuno (Jo Shishido) is former cop who was framed by the Yakuza and sent to prison. Joji decides to uncover the truth behind his friend’s death when a friend of his turns up dead as part of an apparent double suicide. In his search for the truth Joji turn the two rival Yakuza clans against each other as he uses each side for his own gain. Will the Yakuza find out about his double dealings before he can find his friends murderer?
This film is the sleekest and coolest from Seijun Suzuki who has done a little cameo at the beginning of the film which is in black and white his trade mark. The scene at the night club is brilliant Suzuki uses the shot in the club where there is jazz music and people talking, there he shows the next room who is downstairs in the office where you see the people dancing to the music but the thing is that the office is sound proof he uses that to build the tension. At the time violence against woman is seen here he experimented with film and that back then was rarely seen. There is a seen where Yakuza taunts his girlfriend who is hooked on dope as she crawls across the floor. Also where a Yakuza is a sadist and can’t get off until he brutally beats his girlfriend that was never done in film before. Mizen here turns the two gang against each other which has been copied many times after that in many films. Yes there is action shooting scene of course.
I love those old gangster film you get to see the old japan back in the 60’s plus the costumes and the cars that they are driving. The score is jazz here back then the jazz score was in the 50’s 60’s films. Here is a sleek film that you should miss plus it has influenced many directors like Tarantino , John woo, Scorsese.
A film by Seijun Suzuki
Cast: Jô Shishido, Kôji Wada, Yumiko Nogawa
It is after the second world war and it is in the slump of a bunch of abandoned building in a chaotic crime area of Tokyo that a bunch of prostitutes living by a strict code resides. Jo Shishido plays Shintaro Ibuki, a macho renegade former soldier who deals on the black market shack with this gang of women. Maya who is this young woman who is hungry resort to prostitution in order to survive and struggles to find love.
Here is Suzuki master piece a director who did not listen to the studio and made this renegade film of sex, torture, violent, with nudity and sex scene everything at the time that the studio did not want. The film is colorful as hell there was the wardrobe of the prostitute colors back in the 60’s were bright with some pastel colors in the mixed. Only the strong survive in this business. survival is key here, not too far there is an US military base of course in order to survive the prostate also rob the US soldier of pickpocketing the pocket even robbing them of their watches. It is not your typical crime film here but it has influence directors like John Woo, Quentin Tarantino and many others. It became a visually stunning cult film. In a way it is an exploitation Japanese film. A pulp story that keeps on ticking as the years goes by and thrust me when I say this film still stand out to this day. That is why I love foreign film it is done differently back then they were not afraid to experiment.
A film by Seijun Suzuki
Cast: Jô Shishido, Kôji Nanbara, Isao Tamagawa
After more than ten years and forty films at the Nikkatsu company through the 1950s and 60s, cult Japanese director Seijun Suzuki was fired for making incomprehensible cinema. How do you like them apples? You’ve have got to be kidding me. Known for visual panache, and disjointed editing with a particular dreamlike quality. You see the studio wanted him to make commercialized film but he instead wanted to make the film that he wanted to make so the studios decided to fire him to top it all off he could not work for 10 years.
The story goes like this a hitman who is the third best in the Japanese underworld. Number Three, Hanada (Jô Shisido), is given a routine assignment to knock off an unknown foreigner that goes sour and he finds himself being pursued by his bygone friends. They attempt to get to him through his wife and the girl that he falls for but the bullets misses him. When number one comes in play the challenge begins to get a little harder.
Shisido’s piercing killer’s is this cool cat with sunglasses most go the time with some strange cheeks bones. His sexual appetite is insatiable, but is also stirred most strongly by the aroma of steamed rice he goes nuts for it. It is like an obsession. Had the time you didn’t know if you were watching a dream sequence or reality. There are some cool things though about this film a sequence with the other car was blocking the road and our killer who is to protect his client at any cost ram the other car gets out and start shooting. Later the drunk killer his partner runs like in the samurai film somewhat hug the guy and shots are heard one of them falls down, the other one walks and falls down a bit later pay attention what he does it is so funny here Suzuki has put a little humor into it, all through out the film. It is a quite inventive, and creative film here but unfortunately after he go back from getting fired tens years later he did not have the same panache that he had before. A film to look. A must see. I am going to try to find more about his films and review more of them for you. Do I love those foreign gangster film.
A film by Naomi Kawase
Cast: Nijirô Murakami, Jun Yoshinaga, Miyuki Matsuda
On the subtropical Japanese island of Amami,16-year-old Kaito discovers a dead body, floating in the sea. His girlfriend declares her love for him. Timid he finally says to her that he loves her. But someone on the island knows who the dead naked body belong to. Kyoko dive in the ocean and lives life to the fullest but kaito is shy and not crazy about the ocean because it is alive and mysterious.
Great film here . You have a young boy who does not believe in love, because his father left her mother and her mother is trying to find someone else to love but does not succeed and she goes out with several men who are passing through. His father told him that it was destine that brought his mother and him together but later on they separated. He is deprive of maternal and paternal love therefor he does not believe in love he does not express his love to Kyoto. On the other hand Kyoto has a mother and father which both loves her very much, she is happy. But her mother has a illness and her days are numbered. The girl then seeks refuge with his family in order to face the inevitable. Some great scene in this film like the end of life of the mother when they sing this spiritual song to make her happy so she can go to the next life easier. Kawase cinematography is beautiful and sensitive but yet contemplative. It is a work of art the spectators at the festival were moved by the film that there on one long stand ovation, the film won the best competition selection at the Cannes festival.