I am a bit behind with Trailer Weeklies, which has in part to do with the fact that I was prioritising the reviews for「ももいろそらを」 (Momoiro Sora wo/About the Pink Sky, Japan, 2011), due to its short re-lease in Japanese cinemas recently, and The Whole Hog Theatre’s「もののけ姫」(Princess Mononoke) Stage Adaptation, because of its upcoming Tokyo run. So today it’s catch-up time, two-fold, for the weeks I missed.

Note 1: Trailers are in no particular order (they never are, but I thought I’d remind you just so you make sure to read till the end and don’t to miss a gem!).

Note 2: A particularly weak offering of film posters – some I couldn’t find, most are rather small in size and too many are just terribly designed! Honestly, the Mushishi poster is the only one I actually like.

  • 「おれさま」 (Oresama/Rock Star, Japan, 2003)

Dir. by Kondo Hiroyuki/Marumo.

The video isn’t the official trailer, which seems to be impossible to track down (and that, in turn, doesn’t bode well for finding the film itself). Still, I have had Oresama in my bookmarks for a while, so onto the Trailer Weekly it goes. Miyavi (played by the real Miyavi) is a popular rock star currently on tour. It’s all going well until something unexpected happens after he falls asleep during a car ride: When he awakens people are suddenly wearing out-of-fashion clothes, there is a TV commercial that aired years ago and a yen note that no one is willing to take. Miyavi soon realises he has gone back in time to 1984 where people he knows, including his younger self, still live.

  • 「桜並木の満開の下に」 (Sakura Namiki no Mankai no Shita ni/Cold Bloom, Japan)

Dir. by Funahashi Atsushi.

Sakura Namiki no Mankai no Shita is set right after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, at a moment when the economic and psychological repercussions of the disaster are extremely palpable. At that time Kenji, who is married to Shiori, dies in an accident caused by his co-worker Takumi, leaving the wife devastated. Racked by guilt, Takumi begs for forgiveness but Shiori refuses his offers of compensation. Over time however they build a friendship. Reviews seem to be mixed and I also don’t think that the ending will be as straightforward as the friendship twist might suggest.

  • 「遠くでずっとそばにいる」 (Toku de Zutto Soba ni Iru/Far Away, So Close, Japan, 2013)

Dir. by Nagasawa Masahiko.

Only a teaser for this film which is set to be released in Japan in June. After a car accident, Sakumi, who is 27, cannot remember anything from the past ten years of her life. Bothered by the loss of her memory, she wants to remember, with Yoshishiko – who says that he is her boyfriend and friend from high school days – trying to help. This synopsis doesn’t reveal all that much, but there is potential for interesting trajectories here.

  • 「黒い四角」(Kuroi shikaku/The Black Square, China/Japan, 2012)

Dir. by Okuhara Hiroshi.

When Hosoda Mamoru’s 「おおかめこどもの雨と雪」(Ookami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki, Wolf Children, Japan, 2012) won the top prize at the Dutch Imagine Film Festival, I browsed event’s website for other things and stumbled across this instantly intriguing film: Zhao-ping, a Chinese artist, and Hana, his Japanese girlfriend, live together in an artists’ colony in Bejing. One day Zhao-ping sees a black square floating through the sky. When it lands on solid ground, a young, naked man appears who does not seem to know who he is or where he comes from. Zhao-ping takes him home. There, the rest of the story plays out somewhat less fantastically, a tale of love & friendship as well as disappointments, fears & hopes slowly unfolding. It’s lined by the existentialist angst of youth living in the no man’s land of in-between.

Note: I have also seen this listed as 黒四角, which is nearly the same as 黒い四角. My guess is that the former is the Chinese title (features only Kanji characters), while the latter is the Japanese one (い is a Japanese Hiragana character).

  • 「はなればなれに」 (Hanarebanareni/Kuro, Japan, 2012)

I have seen this described as an ‘indie gem’ at the Tokyo International Film Festival, but I’ve also seen lukewarm reviews, so it could really be either. Hanarebanareni is about three people who meet by coincidence after things in their lives go awry: Kuro has her dream of becoming a baker shattered after being fired from the bakery where she worked, Eito’s relationship with the girl he intended to marry has just ended and Gou, a photographer, is being blamed for an actress that has gone missing. Kuro, Eito and Gou have really nothing in common, but as they stay together in a remote hotel by the seaside, bonds of friendship form between them. Then Momo, a schoolgirl, briefly enters the picture, both strengthening and weakening their triangular relationship. I think this looks like a spectacular nothing-much-happens film that I’m going to love to bits.

Update 16/8/2013: REVIEW added.

  • 「孤独な惑星」 (Kodokuna Wakusei/In a Lonely Planet, Japan, 2011)

Dir. by Tsutsui Takefumi.

For some unexplainable reason Ayano Gou has mostly been relegated to small or second lead roles in films and doramas thus far – a pity, I think, because he has very much of a screen presence and can certainly also act. Although I didn’t really enjoy his character in 「最高の離婚」 (Saikou no Rikon/Matrimonial Chaos, Fuji TV, 2013), his newest dorama「空飛ぶ広報室」(Soratobu Kouhoushitsu/Public Affairs Office in the Sky, TBS, 2013) is off to a good start despite its sleep-inducing title – in large part thanks to the phenomenonal breakdown of Ayano’s character over three separate scenes that packed quite some emotional punch into the opening episode (I swear, I wanted to reach through the screen and hug that pained soul for at least the final ten minutes).

As for Kodokuna Wakusei, here’s the story: Mari is a single woman who lives by herself in the suburbs of Tokyo. Next door to her is a couple, whom she can sometimes hear conversing happily, other times arguing fiercely. One night she finds her neighbour Tetsuo (Ayano) in front of her door, having locked himself out. He waits at Mari’s for his own girlfriend to return home. A few days later Tetsuo is back, having been thrown out of his place after another quarrel. Mark Schilling writes: “If this were a typical love-triangle story, the standoffish Mari, skeptical of love since a former (and far shorter) boyfriend dumped her for his current bride, would soon succumb to the advances of Tetsuo, he of the sensitive doe eyes and wolfish desire. Instead, she pushes him off her bed and tells him he can stay on one condition: He must sleep on the veranda and never set foot inside.” I like that set-up. A lot.

「月とチェリー」 (Tsuki to Cherii/Moon & Cherry aka Electric Button, Japan, 2004)

Dir. by Tanada Yuki.

A naïve, young man and woman meet in an erotic writing class. The man turns out to be a virgin, so the woman decides to instruct him in the ways of the bedroom by having sex with him. When things get more and more unpredictable, he begins to wonder whether he is not merely a pawn in an erotic game – i.e. a test subject for the woman’s own writing. Mark Schilling writes that although “Tanada’s later films are more humanly insightful and creatively off-kilter” Tsuki to Cherii is “an excellent place to start” (quote), leaving me both curious both about this work as well as later creations by the director. Note: the film is now getting a DVD release from Tidepoint Pictures (USA).

  • 「蟲師」 (Mushishi, Japan, 2007)

Dir. Otomo Katsuhiro.

Genki Jason recently reviewed Mushishi on his blog, piquing my interest enough to make me want to place it onto my to-watch list. Based on a manga and previously adapted into an anime, I’m interested in all forms of this tale about Ginko, a white-haired and one-eyed ‘Mushishi’ – a person who studies the Mushi, strange, iridescent beings that are invisible to most but however cause illnesses in people. Being a healer, Ginko enters the house of Tanyu, a woman who fell ill after hearing a tale from a blind Mushishi woman. It’s a tale that sounds strangely familiar to Ginko. The film stars Odagiri Joe and Miyazaki Aoi by the way.

  • 胭脂扣 (Yānzhī kòu/Rouge, Hong Kong, 1988)

Dir. by Stanley Kwan Kam-Pang.

Here’s an older offering – or least older than most of the films I watch. Yānzhī kòu recently popped up in a conversation with my fellow London Asian Film Society bloggers. Then Terracotta announced that their June festival would celebrate Hong Kong cinema legends Anita Mui and Leslie Cheung, which, I think, means a good chance that this “certifiable Hong Kong movie classic” (quote) will be shown on the big screen in London soon. I am keeping my fingers crossed, since I haven’t ever seen Yānzhī kòu before but am transfixed by it already: it’s about “a ghost looking to reunite with her long lost true love” and, furthermore, a “tragic love story […] made all the more tragic by the untimely real-life deaths of its two leads, Hong Kong cinema legends Anita Mui and Leslie Cheung” (quotes). Wahhhhh! I’m going to bring a pile of tissue papers for sure.

  • Hotboy nổi loạn và câu chuyện về thằng Cười, cô gái điếm và con vịt (Lost in Paradise, Vietnam, 2011)

Dir. by Vũ Ngọc Đãng.

Khoa is an innocent 20-year old country side boy who arrives in Saigon. He meets Dong, who invites him to stay at his place. When Khoa visits the apartment he meets Lam, who turns out to be Dong’s boyfriend – and partner in crime, as the two steal all of Khoa’s cash. After Lam is abandoned by Dong, Khoa runs into him again on the streets, where they try to survive through menial jobs and, in the case of Lam, prostitution. Both lonely, they are drawn to each other and begin a tender relationship which however is threatened when Dong returns. The trailer hints at a film made with a delicate hand, but some critical reviews suggest that it’s all too saccharine. Yet others emphasise that Lost in Paradise is the first Vietnamese film that doesn’t use gay people as side characters for denigrating comedy but places the predicament of individuals on the fringes of society at the heart of the story, making it an “empathetic portrayal” (quote) as well as a film important in the country’s cinematic history.