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Features Live Action Movies

ManHunt (Zhui bu, 追捕)

Director – John Woo – 2017 – China, Hong Kong – Cert. 15 – 109m

*****

Hong Kong action director John Woo’s return to form – currently on Netflix.

The late Japanese actor Ken Takakura who died in 2014 appeared in more than 200 films and made his name playing ex-cons and gangsters for Toei studios between the mid-fifties and mid-seventies. He was a major inspiration for Hong Kong director John Woo who here remakes the 1976 Takakura vehicle Manhunt.

Du Qiu (Chinese actor Zhang Hanyu) finds himself in a Japanese bar swapping notes on movies with the mama-san Rain (Korea’s Ha Ji-won). Almost immediately, a loutish group of men in suits storm into the same bar to demand he leaves so she can give them her full attention. Once he’s gone, Rain and her partner Dawn (the director’s daughter Angeles Woo) proceed to gun down the suits, the camera whirling around them as Woo choreographs the mayhem.

Du is a lawyer working for a pharma company. The morning after a huge corporate event he wakes up to find a dead woman (Tao Okamoto) lying next to him in his bed. Implicated in her murder, he goes on the run.… Read the rest

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Live Action Series Television

A Day-Off Of Kasumi Arimura Ep. 1 (Arimura Kasumi No Satsukyu, 有村架純の撮休 第1話)

Director – Hirokazu Kore-eda – 2020 – Japan – 42m

****

In the first episode of director Hirokazu Kore-eda’s TV series A Day-Off Of Kasumi Arimura, the actress Kazumi Arimura plays herself in a fictionalised version of her life – on BFI Player as part of the BFI London Film Festival 2020 from 13:00 Saturday, October 10th to 13:00 Tuesday, October 13th

This is a curiosity, one-off festival screening that admirers of contemporary Japanese cinema are going to want to see. Kore-eda (Shoplifters, 2018) is one of the highest profile, contemporary directors in Japan and like many other directors around the world in between his theatrical cinema films he also works in small screen television. This is the first of eight episodes of the TV series A Day-Off Of Kasumi Arimura in which actress Kazumi Arimura plays herself in a fictionalised version of her life. As the subtitle of the end title indicates, this drama is fictional. It has nothing to do with Kazumi Arimura’s real life. 

There’s a little pre-amble in which Kazumi learns that tomorrow’s shoot is cancelled because someone has gone down with the ‘flu. Which you might think makes the episode rather close to or currently perilous pandemic times, but it doesn’t really.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Air Doll (Kuki ningyo)

Director – Hirokazu Kore-eda – 2009 – Japan – Cert. 18 – 111m

****

Fantasia Film Festival 2020 virtual edition from Thursday, August 20.

An unusual film for director Kore-eda, closer to After Life (1998) than almost anything else he’s done because of both fantasy element and whimsical tone. An inflatable sex doll is affectionately cared for by its owner Hideo (Itsujo Itao) who has sex with it at night. He has named the doll Nozomi after a former girlfriend. One morning when he’s at work, Nozomi wakes up as a flesh and blood woman played by Doona Bae, goes to the window and feels rainwater on her hands.

Nozomi tries on some of her (sexualised fetish) clothes, settling on a chambermaid costume. She heads out into the world, where everyone is busy getting to school or work. She follows an old widow (Sumiko Fuji) around, then a party of young schoolchildren. She passes an old man in a park. Eventually she stumbles into the video store where Junichi (Arata) works. The shop appears to her as a wonderland and she lands herself the counter assistant’s job. However she’s not very good at it, her experience of life being virtually nil and her knowledge of movies even less.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Shoplifters (Manbiki Kazoku, 万引き家族)

Director – Hirokazu Kore-eda – 2018 – Japan – Cert. 15 – 121m – Palme d’Or winner

*****

Sleight of hand. A family of small time criminals takes a little girl into their care – now out on VoD

The nuclear family. Dad Osamu (Lily Franky) takes son Shota (Jyo Kairi) shoplifting at a local convenience store. Mum Nobuyo (Ando Sakura), a former sex worker, dispenses advice to her younger sister Aki (Mayu Matsuoka). Grandma (Kirin Kiki) lives with the family making a total of five persons in one small living space.

Father and son spot a little girl (Miyu Sasaki) sitting on the street. She’s hungry, so they take to theirs and give her a meal. Taking her home, it’s clear that neither father nor mother wants the child currently nor ever did. So the family decides to take Yuri in as its newest member.

Shota takes Yuri on a shoplifting trip but it doesn’t go so well… [Read the rest]

Out on Thunderbird Video. Also currently on Amazon Prime, BFI Player and Curzon Home Cinema (all rental). This review originally appeared in DMovies.org.

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