A lot of trailers this week – blame it on all the “Best of 2011” and “Most Anticipated of 2012” lists floating around the internet these days – and quite heavily Japanese. It’s not all cheer and laughter, but it’s not all gloom and doom either (I did try).

  • Dreams of a Life (UK, 2011) – You can read a lengthy (but fascinating) piece on the real story behind this docudrama. Dreams of a Life premiered at the BFI Film festival in October and is currently in UK cinemas. The Guardian has a whole host of articles on it. Starting off with gloom here, I’m afraid.
  • 生きてるものはいないのか (Ikiteru Mono Wa Inai No Ka, literally Are Any of You Alive?, Japan, 2012) – Directed by Ishii Sogo (now goes by Ishii Gakuryu) and based on the absurdist play of the same title by Maeda Shirō (前田司郎), it is “a lyrical and humorous piece depicting death that grew out of a workshop involving the 17 actors who were selected from auditions, and for reasons never explained, all the characters die. It has been acclaimed as strict yet fresh theater of the absurd.” Doom-y scenario, but it’s absurd. UPDATE 5/10/2012: Review added on Otherwhere.
    Premieres in Japan on February 16, 2012.
  • ももへの手紙 (Momo e no Tegami/A Letter to Momo, Japan, 2012) – Premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. Trailer not subtitled, but you can check wikipedia for plot details. It screened at Scotland Loves Anime in October – I will really have to attend this event next year! A bit of gloom and some cheer? UPDATE 18/6/2012: Review added on Otherwhere.
  • ヒミズ (Himizu/Himizu, Japan 2011 – trailer not subtitled) – Based on a manga with the same title, this is all gloom & doom I’m afraid. But it’s apparently chock-full of raw emotion and even critics who found the violence portrayed hard to swallow have praised the ending. Although the script was already done when the March 2011 earthquake happened in Japan, the film’s director, Sono Sion, opted for a rewrite to incorporate the disaster – one more reason to watch this. Release dates: January 14th, 2012 (Japan) and April 27, 2012 (UK). UPDATE 5/6/2012: Review added on Otherwhere.
  • ヘヴンズ ストーリー (Hevunzu sutorii/Heaven’s Story, Japan, 2010) – This one is not for everyone: it clocks in at an epic 278 minutes and is obviously an experiment of sorts. The plot line is inspired by real-life events: a young man kills a woman and her child, the woman’s husband threatens revenge. The film looks into the perpetrator’s side of the story. Definitely gloom & doom.
  • 바비 (Babi/Barbie, Korea, 2011) – A man from a poor Korean family decides to sell one of his nieces to an American man interested in adopting the girl. The two of the Ron sisters star. Again, based on a real-life story. Not sure why the horror-poster (and play on words)? One more for gloom.
  • ฝนตกขึ้นฟ้า (Headshot, Thailand, 2011) – This isn’t the kind of film I would normally watch – it’s a violent-looking crime noir thriller – but I’m riveted by the premise: a hitman gets shot in the head and wakes from a coma two months later to discover he sees everything upside down – something the director carries over into the cinematography (at least in some scenes). You know which category this one is in…
  • キツツキと雨 (Kitsutsuki to Ame/The Woodsman and the Rain, Japan, 2012 – trailer not subtitled) – This one’s cheer! A comedy about a rookie filmmaker who ventures into a mountain village for his next project and finds one of the villagers, a 60-year old lumberjack, rather unwilling to help him.  We get Oguri Shun with a rather ruffled looking mane of glory. UPDATE 15/5/2012: Review added on Otherwhere.
Bonus Links
  • Hosoda Mamoru (細田 守)  is currently working on his next animated film: おおかみこどもの雨と雪 (Ōkami No Kodomo Ame To Yuki, literally The Wolf Children Rain and Snow). I loved Hosoda’s 時をかける少女 (Toki o Kakeru Shoujo/The Girl Who Leapt through Time). His follow-up, サマーウォーズ (Samā Wōzu/Summer Wars), didn’t impress me quite as much, but I am still looking forward to Ōkami No Kodomo (truth be told, I’m quite excited). The anime is slated for release (in Japan) for July 2012. Details are scarce, but Halcyon Realms has a bit more info. There is more also in this interview (in Japanese only), as well as on the official website (again, in Japanese). I will keep checking the Anime News Network for updates and let you know if there are any major news to report.
  • Born of Hope (UK, 2009) – An impressively good Lord of the Rings fan film that “is set in the time before the War of the Ring and tells the story of the Dúnedain, the Rangers of the North, before the return of the King. Inspired by only a couple of paragraphs written by Tolkien in the appendices of the Lord of the Rings we follow Arathorn and Gilraen, the parents of Aragorn, from their first meeting through a turbulent time in their people’s history.” You can watch the trailer, but the filmmakers have also kindly made Born of Hope available to view online for free.
  • Here is hoping that Kon Satoshi’s 夢みる機械 (Yume Miru Kikai/The Dream Machine) will see the light of day in 2012. Kon (director of パーフェクト・ブルー/Perfect Blue; パプリカ/Paprika and other gems) died in 2010, but the script for the anime was already completed. The film is apparently half done, but seems to be going in and out of production.

Kon Satoshi’s Yume Miru Kikai