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I’m busy busy, so I’ll keep it short and go straight to this week’s selection of trailers.

  • 乱暴と待機」(Ranbou to Taiki/Vengeance Can Wait, Japan, 2010, dir. by Tominaga Masanori) – I first caught a glimpse of this at the end of another trailer and then found it on a past Japan Cuts programme. It’s manga and anime inspired (as we can see from the lovely poster! Can we please have more posters like this?) and looks bizarre but somehow also appealing: A couple – the woman pregnant – moves to the countryside, where their nearest neighbours turn out to be two people that mysteriously pretend to live as siblings. There are grudges involved – the fake brother bears a gripe against the fake sister, and the father-to-be bears one against them. Why or how exactly, I’m not too sure, but reviews are all peppered with the sort of keywords I like to hear: it’s an “oddball comedy“, it’s “kinky” and “quirky“.
  • The Pool (USA, 2007, dir. by Chris Smith) – London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts is showing this film in the week of 16-22 November, 2012. Set in Goa, Venkatesh and Jhangir are two poor hotel workers, who find an unused swimming pool on an exclusive estate. After some time the wealthy owner, from Mumbai, turns up, bringing along his teenage daughter. “Moving at a languid, almost hypnotic pace befitting of the film’s sweltering setting, […] Smith examines the interplay between these polar social opposites and the opportunities this creates for each of them.” (ICAThe Pool won the Sundance Special Jury Prize in 2007.
  • My Brother the Devil (UK, 2012) – I first noticed My Brother the Devil when reading its synopsis in the London International Film Festival programme. Then today I received an email via the UWC alumni mailing list, alerting me that the film will be released in the UK cinemas coming Friday. The reason: Sally El-Hosaini, the Egyptian director and scriptwriter of My Brother the Devil, is a UWC alumni. I wouldn’t blindly support all UWC stuff, but the film has won awards and critical acclaim at a number of festivals already, including the Best Newcomer award for the director at the BFI London Film Festival, Best European Film (European Cinemas Label Award) at the Berlinale and Worldview Sundance Impact Award at Sundance. That’s actually pretty impressive. The story is about two brothers in East London, the older one trying to escape gang life, the younger, impressionable one, slipping into it to play the tough guy. Words of praise come from everywhere: “A crackling debut…Slick, muscular, entertaining and emotionally satisfying” (The Hollywood Reporter), “[a]n energetic and imaginative tale…a film that so artfully refuses to surrender to convention” (Variety) and “a luminous event” (Screen International), among others. So, if you are wondering which film to watch this coming weekend, consider making it My Brother the Devil.
  • スマグラーおまえの未来を運べ」(Sumagura Omae no Mirai o Hakobe/Smuggler, Japan, 2011) – Just keeping with the tradition of featuring a Tsumabuki Satoshi film on the Trailer Weekly every week (until we’ve run through them all of course). Nah, more seriously, this also appeared on a Japan Cuts programme in 2011 and sees Tsumabuki-san play a failed actor (ha!) that is forced to work for a mob, disposing dead bodies. He soon finds that acting skills are needed if he wants to remain alive.
  • レオニー」(Reoni/Leonie, Japan, 2010) – I’m not really that into historical films, nor into biographical ones. Although part of me thinks this film could be cheesy, there is also something interesting. Matsui Hisako puts the real-life story of Léonie Gilmour, an American woman, and her love & life entanglements with Japanese poet Noguchi Yone on the screen. They meet in the US in the late 19th century, where Léonie falls pregnant with Noguchi’s child. When she follows him to Japan, she discovers he has another family. Refusing to be the second woman, she builds her own life in a time and place that judges single mother’s harshly. Central to the film is Leonie’s son, Noguchi Isamu, who grows up to be a world-reknown artist and landscape architect.
  • ナイン・ソウルズ」 (Nain Souruzu/9 Souls, Japan, 2003) – You may have heard of (or watched) Toyoda Toshiaki’s Nain Souruzu already. The film is nearly 10 years old, although the trailer makes it seem more like, umm, 20? 30? Not that it matters, it still looks powerful, this story about 9 convicted criminals – murderers and killers, most of them – who manage to break out of prison and find themselves on the run together. The film falls into the jailbreak genre (yes, apparently there is such a thing), “[s]tarting out as absurd comedy with surrealist touches” but “grow[ing] increasingly dramatic as the story progresses” (Midnight Eye). Japan Cuts, which screened it in 2012, described it as having “a feel of Les Miserables mixed with a hallucinogenic, cut with speed” (quote). And here’s one more compelling review that says it’s a must-watch.

Bonus Bits

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