Categories
Animation Features Movies

The House Of The Lost On The Cape (Misaki no Mayoiga, 岬のマヨイガ)

Director – Shinya Kawatsura – 2021 – Japan – 100m

*****

Two children separated from their respective parents are taken in by an old woman in a benevolent, magical house with a malevolent monster nearby – plays in the Annecy Animation Festival 2022 which is taking place in a 100% on-site edition this year right now in the Official Competition section

A younger girl and an older girl find themselves at Kitsunezaki (Fox Cape) Bus Station that’s been wrecked in the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. An old lady appears and takes them under her wing. They walk through forests, then up a hill, until eventually they arrive at a huge bungalow with a thatched roof which is to be the girls’ home. Kiwa, the old lady, claims to be their granny.

There’s something odd about the house, though. The older girl Yui accidentally makes a hole when she puts a finger through a paper wall. Later, the hole has mysteriously vanished. Then there are the drinks which appear out of nowhere when Yui says she’d like such and such a drink. At night, outside, strange turtle spirits (kappa) gather.

The younger girl Hiyori never speaks. This appears to be the result of some sort of trauma.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Documentary Features Live Action Movies

Film Festivals

Click the links below for coverage of:

2022

Japan Foundation (JPF) Touring Film Programme – on now

Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival (YIDFF)

Focus Hong Kong 2022 Chinese New Year

2021

BFI Japan 2021

MUBI New South Korean Cinema season

London Korean Film Festival (LKFF)

London East Asia Film Festival (LEAFF)

BFI London Film Festival (LFF)

Scotland Loves Anime

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Categories
Features Live Action Movies

KIBA: The Fangs Of Fiction (Damashie No Kiba, 騙し絵の牙)

Director – Daihachi Yoshida – 2020 – Japan – 112m

*****

Forward thinkers take on the conservative old guard within a Japanese publishing corporation – plays UK cinemas in the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2022 between Friday, 4th February and Thursday, 31st March

Megumi Takano (Mayu Matsuoka from One Night, Kazuya Shirashi, 2019; Shoplifters, Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2018; A Silent Voice, Naoko Yamada, 2016; Lesson Of Evil, Takashi Miike, 2012; Love Exposure, Sion Sono, 2008), daughter of local bookstore owner Takano (Shinya Tsukamoto), is as dedicated an editor as you’ll find anywhere in publishing. Alas, she lacks the political savvy needed to survive in its ruthless, corporate, dog-eat-dog world. When the owner of the publishing company Kunpu which employs her dies unexpectedly, she finds herself caught up in the machinations of a large organisation where some employees resist change while others plan to completely reinvent the business model to ensure the company’s survival, possibly at the expense of some of its employees.

Thus it is that new CEO Tamatsu (Koichi Sato from Fukushima 50, Setsuro Wakamatsu, 2020; Sukiaki Western Django, Takashi Miike, 2007; Where The Last Sword Is Drawn, Yojiro Takita, 2002) comes in with plans to restructure the company.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Spaghetti Code Love (Supagetikodo rabu, スパゲティコード・ラブ)

Director – Takeshi Maruyama – 2021 – Japan – 96m

***1/2

The intersecting lives of several young Tokyoites suggests they don’t know how to communicate with one another – plays UK cinemas in the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2022 between Friday, 4th February and Thursday, 31st March

A young woman hangs out in an amusement arcade. Suddenly she’s aware of a young boy. Running, shouting, “why me”. He needs something. She steps into the breach and – for a moment, at least – provides it by holding him tight, a surrogate mother, an understanding human connection.

How far this understanding goes, it’s impossible to say. We never find out the source of the boy’s malaise, we never learn anything more about the woman who holds him in the arcade. However they have connected on some level – physically and emotionally. And that’s what this film seems to be about.

It’s basically a series of character study vignettes in which the characters occasionally cross paths which could well have been written or conceived as a half dozen of so short films. They connect with or become alienated from one another. It’s set in Tokyo with a title suggestive of complex networks and computer language with the catch-all ‘love’ tacked on the end.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

The Lone Ume Tree (Ume kiranu baka, 梅切らぬバカ)

Director – Kotaro Wajima – 2021 – Japan – 77m

*****

New next door neighbours pose challenges for a man with learning difficulties and his carer mother – plays UK cinemas in the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2022 between Friday, 4th February and Thursday, 31st March

Chu-san (Muga Tsukaji) gets up with his alarm, saying “it’s 6.45”. He folds up his bedding into a neat pile, starts to unbutton his pyjamas. By the time he’s saying, “it’s 6.56”, he’s heading for the loo. Everything runs on a rigid time grid. There’s only two minutes for his mother Tamako (Mariko Kaga) to shave him between 7.01 and 7.03; if it doesn’t get done, she has to stop. At breakfast, she tells him, “chew 30 times.”

Outside their modest house and courtyard, an Ume tree overhangs the fence, a public hazard. One of the removal men helping the new neighbours the Satomuras move in next door bangs his head and drops a box of things, out from which, unnoticed, falls a child’s ball. The husband Shigeru (Ikkei Watanabe) tells his wife Eiko (Yoko Moriguchi) that she – or he – needs to talk to the neighbours about the tree.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Shape Of Red (Red)

Director – Yukiko Mishima – 2020 – Japan – Cert. N/C 15+ – 122m

****1/2

A woman trapped in a stultifying marriage experiences freedom and laughter in both returning to work and pursuing an extramarital relationship – played online in the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2021 in the UK

Married to Shin (Shotaro Mamiya) with a six-year-old girl Midori, Toko (Kaho – Our Little Sister, Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2015) is a stay-at-home mum. Shin works with a trading company and judging by the size of the house is not lacking financially. Shin’s mother is a constant fixture in their home and the first time we see Shin come in from work of an evening, he rejects the meal his wife has prepared because he’s “not hungry” only to readily accept a favourite dish his mother has prepared.

That doesn’t bode well for the marriage. In bed she dutifully performs a blow job on him which satisfies him but not her. As she wipes away the results with a tissue, you feel that she’s not so much a wife, more a sort of sexual skivvy.

As his wife, Toko accompanies Shin to various work social events where she similarly appears to be little more than an appendage.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

One Night (Hitoyo, ひとよ)

Director – Kazuya Shiraishi – 2019 – Japan – Cert. N/C 15+ – 123m

****1/2

A woman murders her violent husband after years of his beating up the kids, goes to prison then returns 15 years later to find the siblings in turmoil – played online in the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2021 in the UK

A night of torrential rain proves a defining moment in the lives of the Inamura family which owns and runs a taxi business. Koharu (Yuko Tanaka – Princess Mononoke, 1997) enters, dressed in her usual suit she wears to drive customers around, to announce to her three teenager children, “I’ve just killed your father. Nobody will ever beat you again. You can live however you want. You’re totally free.” Expressing no remorse and convinced she’s done the right thing, she promises to return in fifteen years then disappears to hand herself in to the cops.

Koharu’s designs of freeing her kids from their father’s years of violent abuse don’t quite play out the way she had hoped. Their father would beat them for any suggestion that they’d want to do anything other than work in the family taxi business. The eldest Daiki (Ryohei Suzuki – Our Little Sister, Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2015; Tokyo Tribe, Sion Sono, 2014) is a stutterer whose relationship with wife Fumiko (Megumi) is mired in divorce proceedings as he struggles to hold down a regular job.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Mrs. Noisy (ミセス・ノイズィ)

Director – Chihiro Amano – 2019 – Japan – Cert. 12a – 106m

****

A writer and young mother struggling with an elusive second novel finds herself dealing with a noisy, futon-beating neighbour in a rapidly escalating row exacerbated by viral internet videos – plays online in the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2021 in the UK

Two women neighbours get involved in a petty feud which escalates out of all proportion, fuelled by videos on the internet. While parts of the feud are riotously funny to watch, this is less a comedy and more a warning as to how badly things can go wrong between ordinary people isolated in their separate domestic units in our ever-evolving technological age of phone cameras and social media. The housing block in urban Japan could just as easily be in any city in the UK. It looks all too horribly familiar.

Having published one hugely successful novel, Maki (Yukiko Shinohara) gives birth to a daughter and resolves to use the experience to feed into the next novel. She keeps writing, but her publishers tell her that nothing she’s written is up to par. Six years on Maki, her husband Yuichi (Takuma Nagao) and their small daughter Nako (Chise Niitsu) move into a new flat in a new block hoping that the change of scene will be just what Maki needs to get the writing back up to standard.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Movies

Hello World (ハロー・ワールド)

Director – Tomohiko Ito – 2019 – Japan – 97m

****

A social misfit schoolboy must rescue a girl classmate from the rogue software underpinning a virtual, future version of Kyoto with the help of his time travelling, ten years older self who is in love with her – plays online in the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2021 in the UK, 48 hour rental window from 6pm, Monday, March 1st

Kyoto, 2027. Bookwormish Naomi Katagaki (voice: Takumi Kitamura) doesn’t really fit in at his Kyoto school. When he walks there in the morning, the fact of his head being buried in a self-improvement book seems the perfect metaphor for his complete lack of social skills. Asked by a bright, pretty classmate if he’d like to join her and a bunch of others for karaoke after school, he doesn’t really know how to respond and before we know it, she and the group have gone.

He doesn’t really pay attention to those around him, so he gets ignored. While he’s working out what food to select in the canteen lunch queue, everyone has dived in and taken everything but the one option no-one wants. Only when the subject of who is to volunteer for the library duty comes up do his fellow students take any interest in him – by recommending him for the post to which he agrees more out of an inability to say no than from any real desire to take it on.… Read the rest